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Beast in View

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  1,164 ratings  ·  207 reviews
Hailed as one of the greatest psychological mysteries ever written and winner of the 1956 Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for Best Novel, Beast in View remains as freshly sinister today as the day it was first published. 

Thirty-year-old Helen Clarvoe is scared and all alone. The heiress of a small fortune, she is resented by her mother and, to a lesser degree, her
Kindle Edition, 176 pages
Published December 8th 2015 by Soho Syndicate (first published 1955)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,164 ratings  ·  207 reviews

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Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
"If I killed everyone I hated, people would be dying like flies all over town."

Helen Clarvoe recieves a disturbing and threatening phone call. Is the woman on the other end of the line involved in some sort of twisted extortion racket, or just a psychopath in it for the thrills? That's what she asks her old family retainer to find out, and his attempts at playing amateur detective may bring Helen closer to danger than she's ever been.

This is an utterly engaging thriller that won the 1956 Edgar
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A gripping and unsettling thriller that's brilliantly written.

Margaret Millar was the wife of Ross MacDonald. What a talented couple! This is considered to be her masterpiece, winning the Edgar Award over another wonderful literary thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley and finding a place in Crime and Mystery: The 100 Best Books as chosen by H.R.F. Keating amongst other similar lists.

Helen Carvoe receives a crank call, with the help of her semi-retired stockbroker cajoled in to working as a reluctant
Nancy Oakes
Like a 3.75 rounded up. My first, but not last, novel by Margaret Millar, Beast in View is really more of a story of psychological suspense rather than a full-blown crime novel, set in Southern California of the 1950s.

Helen Clarvoe, a young woman now 30, lives alone in a small hotel in Hollywood. Her mother, with whom she only rarely communicates by mail, lives six miles away with her brother Douglas. Helen lived there in a self-imposed isolation from the rest of the world, "behind her wall of
Mar 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Margaret Millar was a Canadian writer known for her marriage to Ross MacDonald one of the most well respected mystery writers of all time. However don't fall into the trap of thinking she married a prominent mystery writer, adored him, and lived contentedly in his shadow. Margaret did not need to stand in any body's shadow when it came to writing suspense novels. She was a force. Think of Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Rendell and you have female mystery writers who wrote in a similar vein and ...more
RJ from the LBC
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This tautly written Edgar-winning mystery novel, published at or near the zenith of Millar's career, features a young women terrorizing others through the power of words, and no I'm not talking about the author. How good was Millar? Her husband Kenneth Millar changed his pen name in 1949 to Ross Macdonald in order to avoid any confusion with his wife.
Carla Remy
Aug 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century-lit
Very 1950s (came out in 1955), with psychology (multiple personality disorder) and a portrait of homosexuality that made me cringe. I so want to love Margaret Millar but, despite her good writing, interesting plots and memorable situations, I do not.

Mar 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't let the quaint 1950s setting and dated social attitudes mislead you. This is a first-rate psychological suspense mystery. Devastating climax helps to make it MM's masterpiece. Won the Edgar in 1956.
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Soho Syndicate is in the process of re-publishing many of Margaret Millars suspense novels. Millar was a renowned, award-winning suspense novelist of the fifties. Interestingly, her husband is better known by his pen name, Ross MacDonald. Truly, a literary power couple.

Beast in View is a rather short novel, even by mid-fifties standards. It has an unusual feel to it of distance and detachment and has been described as a psychological suspense novel.

I dont know if its typical of Millars
robin friedman
Oct 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Beast In View

Margaret Millar's 1955 novel, "Beast in View" is the third of four novels included in a new Library of America anthology, "Women Crime Writers: Four Suspense Novels of the 1950s". The LOA book is part of a two-volume box set with the first book including four novels by women crime writers from the 1940s. Sarah Weinman, an authority on women's suspense fiction selected the contents and edited both volumes.

"Beast in View", the title of a poem by Muriel Rukeyser, refers in Millar's
Beast In View was a true gem. I've enjoyed a couple of her other books in the past few years, when I've been able to find copies. The Soft Talkers was one of my favourites of last year. Beast in View is another 5-star read. It's such an interesting story. I love how Millar develops her plots. Is it about Helen Clarvoe, who lives alone in her apartment, isolated from the world about her? Is it about Mr. Blackshear, Helen's financial adviser, bored with his work, who she asks to help her find the ...more
Oct 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dated, but who gives a ship. This was a thorny, garish little novel with a dark dark heart, and worth it for that astonishing last line alone.
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
TL;DR: 4-4.5 stars. An very enjoyable psychological thriller tarnished a bit by 1950s psychological ideas and handling of a gay character.

I have been aware of Margaret Millar for years, largely from Tom Nolan's excellent biography of her husband, one of my favorite authors, Ross Macdonald. (Real name Kenneth Millar.) I had never, until now, actually read any of her work. That error has now been corrected, and I'm excited to see at least 14 of her novels are currently available on kindle and
COUNTDOWN: Mid-20th Century North American Crime
BOOK 221 (of 250)
I've been looking forward to reading this book, as I knew it had won an Edgar for "Mystery of the Year" in a year (1955) that also included the publication of Patricia Highsmith's brilliant "The Talented Mr. Ripley." I always try to be objective, and will try here.
HOOK - 4: Here are the first 7 lines:
>>>The voice was quiet, smiling. "Is that Miss Clarvoe?"
>>>"You know who this is?"
Phillip Thurlby
An absolute masterpiece, they should stick this in some sort of series of masterpieces of crime...

...oh yeah - "Crime Masterworks" - they did it already.

So not surprisingly this was a brilliant work. It was deeply dark in a elegantly sinister way that not so much stabs you in the back but convinces you that you need to stab yourself in the back. The perpetrator leaves no evidence and does nothing criminal but drives their victims to destruction in such a way as to make the evil undeniable.

Dec 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That was a lot of fun! I would suggest reading this one straight through in one sitting.
Ben Loory
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
"She pressed the knife into the soft hollow of her throat. She felt no pain, only a little surprise at how pretty the blood looked, like bright and endless ribbons that would never again be tied."
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This thriller/mystery isn't of the style I generally prefer (too dark & creepy) but it is extremely well written and the ending came as a complete surprise to me.
Spoilers ahead.
The book industry seems to have a longstanding sizing code in place for its product; differing products get their own standardized treatment, via formatting or editing, to a genre-specific size. Popular Pocket books and Penguins of the forties and fifties seemed to have pretty set dimensions, and the page count was reliably 120 to 160 pages. Very often when we read a title these days it may come in a different format and the fact that it was squeezed or stretched to fit a
Sep 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beast in View is a suspenseful psychological thriller by Margaret Millar. Winner of the 1956 Edgar Award for Best Novel and also named one of the Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time by the Mystery Writers of America, the novel may be a bit dated in its views of homosexuality and use certain psychological terms but it still packs quite a punch.

At thirty, Helen Clarvoe may be rich but she is lonely. Her only visitors are the staff at the hotel where she lives and her only phone calls come from a
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
This seems to be my season for reading about fragmented and disintegrating personalities. An isolated, neurotic woman starts receiving nasty phone calls from a mysterious stranger. As more people start to receive these calls, always containing information, true or false, that has a devastating impact on their lives, it turns out that the caller is no stranger at all. How little of a stranger she is becomes clear only as the story reaches its perfectly-pitched climax. Millar's writing is ...more
Jim Angstadt
Jul 21, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
Beast In View
Margaret Millar

This edition used a bold, normal-sized font everywhere. That made it a little difficult to read. The story was dated, perhaps from the mid-1960s. The dating apparently was needed to set up the initial reader interest. Three strikes, you're out.

2017.07.25 update: This book was published in 1955, so my comment on the story being dated was just plain wrong.
John Mccullough
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a classic psychological thriller and murder mystery set in 1960s Los Angeles. The book is short perhaps a novelette but a great deal is packed into the pages.

Helen Clarvoe receives a phone call from Evie who knows her, but Helen cannot immediately remember who Evie is. The phone call is passively threatening, forecasting Helens face gashed and covered in blood. Helen is frightened and calls Paul Blackshear, her dead fathers financial advisor, to ask him to look into the phone call and
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good psychological crime novel from 1955. Beast in View is the kind of novel that women crime writers of the 40s and 50s did best, delving deep in to the psyches of their characters.
This is very much a product of its time, enjoyable, well-written, but kind of zany. I think I'll have to reread it to get a better sense of it.
Deb Jones
The plot takes off on the first page and keeps moving forward at a quick pace -- such a good pace that I read this book in one sitting. It's not only the pace of the story that held me captive, but I kept wanting to know what would happen next -- and to whom.

Rebecca Hyland
Never heard of this author, but happened to catch that this was the March 2019 selection for the Goodreads Pulp Fiction book group, and hey, Megan Abbott gave it five stars. Its short length looked refreshing to me after reading two huge books back to back.

As other reviewers have noted, this 1956 novel comes across a bit dated to modern readers. Homosexuality is viewed as some shameful disease, women are old maids at 30, it's okay to say "the n-word" (although only one person says that, and
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first heard about this book when I was looking through a list of the 100 best mystery books of all time. Beast in View is a classic and had apparently been out of print for awhile like many of Margaret Millar's other books. This one was written the same year as The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith, one of my all-time favorite author and psychological thrillers. Beast in View even won the Edgar Allan Poe Mystery Award over Ripley in 1956. Well, what do you know.

This book had me
Kim Fay
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three down, seven to go in my goal to read the first 10 Edgar Award winners for best novel. (It turns out I'm a little out of order because I thought the award started in 1954 but it actually started in 1951 - despite that shift, the first 10 are a balance of men and women, something I hope to explore once I'm done reading them all.) As for "Best in View," while I was reading it I found myself thinking about a lot of today's suspense novels - many rely heavily on shock value. This one, on the ...more
Samantha Glasser
Of course a book all about gossip is written by a woman. The characters are tough and flawed and create havoc in each others' lives. The writing is very tight and it breezes by, a satisfying read. The twist ending is enjoyable and appropriate.

"'The story,' she said, 'is too long to tell, and too dull to listen to.'"

"'I think it would be a good idea if you took a vacation. Leave town for a while. Travel. Go some place where this woman can't find you.'
'I have no place to go.'
'You have the whole
Apr 03, 2018 rated it liked it
There is so much ugliness and pain in Beast in View, which, granted, is essential to the book's plot, but still is so disturbing. Even understanding this and knowing that it was written during a different time than ours, I still have trouble with the novel's archaic attitudes about certain things. The writing is superb and I have a feeling the reader is not supposed to feel comfortable in any way at all, but, still, this is so unsettling I had to watch several episodes of Golden Girls ...more
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Margaret Ellis Millar (née Sturm) was an American-Canadian mystery and suspense writer. Born in Kitchener, Ontario, she was educated there and in Toronto. She moved to the United States after marrying Kenneth Millar (better known under the pen name Ross Macdonald). They resided for decades in the city of Santa Barbara, which was often utilized as a locale in her later novels under the pseudonyms ...more

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“Animosity hung between them like a two-edged sword; neither of them could use it without first getting hurt herself.” 2 likes
“You have a low opinion of yourself, Helen."
"I wasn't born with it."
"Where did you get it?"
'The story" she said, "is too long to tell, and too dull to listen to.”
More quotes…