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I Married a Dead Man
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I Married a Dead Man

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  726 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
Pregnant, abandoned by her slimy husband and destitute, Helen Georgesson boards a train going west. In the crowded train car she meets happy newlyweds Patrice Hazzard, also expecting, and Hugh. They are on their way to visit Hugh’s parents, whom Patrice is meeting for the first time. After Patrice hands Helen her wedding band so she can wash her hands in the rest room, the ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 1st 1994 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 1948)
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Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This first edition hardcover has the original $2.75 price on the dust jacket and is marked "First Edition" on the copyright page.

I read this book in the Centipede Books edition.
Bobby Underwood
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would have to term this one, as mentioned in the edition of the book I have, a Soap Opera noir. Even for Woolrich, this was an unusual work of suspense. For those who've read a lot of the great author's work it is fabulous, but others may have some difficulty getting into the style and flow. Once they do, they're hooked, but it can be jarring if you're used to the modern - and mundane - type of storytelling.

Woolrich places the reader into the mind of someone and you feel and experience the wor
Dec 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just ran across this first edition of "I Married a Dead Man" in a box of books I had put into the back room perhaps ten or so years ago. The book is J. B. Lippincott Company, A Story Press Book, copyright 1948. Stated First Edition.

The book still had the sales receipt in the back and it seems that I paid $2.98 for the book at a used book store.

What a pleasant surprise.
Rebecca McNutt
Jun 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime, mystery, fiction, noir
For Helen, a future mom with no man and no money to her name, she finds a rather morbid and twisted way to get herself into a wealthy family. What ensues is dramatic and emotional, and I Married a Dead Man is as eye-opening as it is dark. It's a story of a woman who isn't really a bad person, but she's desperate and her ordeals are very intense.
Dec 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mysteries, noir
Cornell Woolrich is one of the glories of American noir literature. And I Married a Dead Man is one of his best books. Unless you've spent the last half century cowering under your bed, you've heard of such films as The Bride Wore Black, Rear Window, Phantom Lady, The Leopard Man, and Mississippi Mermaid. Not once, not twice, but scores of times, Woolrich's stories have been turned into films.

I Married a Dead Man tells the story of an abandoned young pregnant woman who takes a cross-country tra
Sep 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reread
Easily my favorite book in the collection. Melodradramatic as hell, but I could hardly put it down. Woolrich builds suspense, menace and character empathy like the best noir author, but there is something so simple and almost sweet about this tragic little tale that elevates it for me. The ending was classic and ambiguous and Excellent.

Read in Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1930s & 40s collection from the library.
Randolph Carter
One of the few books I've ever read twice (actually three times). A title that just makes you have to pick it up. Steeped in paranoia it is one of the best noir novels ever written, full of Woolrich's creepy imagery. The only thing I have never bought is the ending and the only thing that keeps the novel from being perfect. Woolrich in an effort to put yet another layer of paranoia on the existential cake leaves us with a footnote that just doesn't ring true given the characters he has drawn for ...more
Carla Remy
Jul 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
(February 2017):

I read I Married a Dead Man several years ago in the Library of America's Crime Novels of the 1930s & 40s. I had never read anything by Cornell Woolrich before, and apparently it incited in me a drive to read everything by him I could get my hands on. So I was curious to examine this again.
I believe, in this, I was attracted to Woolrich's detached, fable-like writing and the way this mixes with melodrama of almost cheesy sentimentality. And all with a edgy darkness, often li
Kirk Smith
Jan 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: top-noire
The tone is very 1940's. It brings to mind John O'Hara or Graham Greene, but not quite at their level. I really like the way Woolrich can pump up the drama, but this is probably not his best work.
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't you hate it when the Goodreads synopsis gives away the entire plot? This is supposed to be a suspense novel, after all.

Well, no matter. It's beautifully written. Dark, spare, and melodic. Despite the B-movie title, it felt to me most reminiscent of Nella Larsen or Jean Rhys in its rhythms. Indeed, the female protagonist was so relatable to me, I had to double (and triple) check that the author was in fact male! Men tend to shy away from portraying female experiences of vulnerability. Wheth
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I MARRIED A DEAD MAN. (1948). Cornell Woolrich. ****.
Woolrich certainly had the knack for picking out titles that would grab prospective readers.
This was one of them. I have to admit that I have read this novel before – many years ago – and did not realize it until about forty pages into it. Since I obviously did not remember any of the details, and was enjoying the story, I plodded on to the end. It is a well-conceived plot with a unique device as the base of the story. A young woman, five-mon
Jan 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book very much as a mystery novel. I was fascinated with the story when I saw the movie "No Man of Her Own" with Barbara Standwyck years ago (not to be confused with a movie of the same name with Clark Gable. I had also viewed a remake called Mrs. Winterbourne with a terribly miscast of Ricky Lake, but other characters were strong. The book reads as a Perry Mason episode, and does not bog itself down with too much verbage. The story is of an abondoned pregnant girl who is given a ...more
Nancy Loe
Oct 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The basis for my second favorite Stanwyck noir, NO MAN OF HER OWN (1950). Woolrich does not disappoint, but beyond that I will just say lovers of noir will enjoy this book hugely, all implausibilities aside.
Dec 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
I picked this up after watching Mrs. Winterbourne, and noticing that it was based on a novel. I enjoyed the period. Really great story for such a short book.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Cornell Woolrich wrote so many novellas, short stories and novels which were turned into great classic noir cinema. I Married a Dead Man is one such novel, I came to it from the Barbara Stanwyck film No Man of her Own, and I find the novel is just as good as the film, they didn't change a thing in the film apart from the final scene. Gripping, unusual, sense of dread, just marvelous.

Cornell Woolrich è uno dei più grandi giallisti americani. Ne ho lette tante delle sue storie crime, ma è questo il romanzo che me lo ha fatto adorare. HO SPOSATO UN'OMBRA ha saputo appassionarmi e coinvolgermi gradualmente. Il personaggio di Helen mi ha portata a guardare nell'incubo. È un giallo mozzafiato che si trasforma progressivamente in un thriller serrato dove niente è lasciato al caso. È la storia di come può essere complicato e pericoloso trasformarsi in qualcun altro.
Helen è una donn
Dec 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fear, paranoia, dread, anxiety, and desperation are dripping thickly off these pages. A great work of psychological suspense. My heart was pounding fast while reading and I was anxious to find out what would happen next as if I was personally involved myself. What I appreciated most was the ambiguous morality. There were no clear cut answers if the main character was good or bad. A tale of mistaken identity after a train derailment leads Helen to assume the life of Patrice. But she did not murde ...more
Nov 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: noir, crimefiction
Talk about a dark tale. A woman is abandoned by her pimp, who has also left her pregnant. On the train back to California, she mixes with a young married couple on their way home to introduce the woman to the family. A train crash occurs. A switched identity and now the woman is living in desperate hope that she'll be able to get away with assuming a new identity so as to keep her child comfortable and well. Only...the pimp comes back! And then things get really interesting.

Found out that this
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-crime
As much American gothic as it is noir. Woolrich has an incredible prose that elevates this novel above standard fare. Real characters that one can sympathize with.
⊱ Poppy ⊰
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
This is a very emotional, melodramatic book. I enjoyed it, but it's not what I expected. This isn't hard-boiled, by comparison this feels slow, emotional, thoughtful, sentimental and sad. This is noir; but it's definitely it's own, "gentle" flavor of it. If this was made into a film noir, it would be of the atmospheric sub-genre variety called "woman’s noir." There's some crime and action, but not a lot, and those aren't really what the story is about.

Woolrich generates a good sense of paranoia
Mar 10, 2015 rated it liked it
I am a longtime fan of the movies that have been made of some of Woolrich's books - mystery classics like Hitchcock's "Rear Window", and Truffaut's "The Bride Wore Black" and "Mississippi Mermaid". There are a number of others too. At his best, his stories are moody, passionate, and mysterious, with fascinating plots and intriguing characters. And like a number of my favorite suspense authors (Patricia Highsmith comes to mind), he wrote about troubled, passionate individuals who stumble into cri ...more
Randolph Carter
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of noir and suspense novels.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Woolrich appears to have written this noir thriller based on the KISS philosophy: Keep it Simple Stupid. His prose is almost brutal in its efficiency, as is his plotting. There are no distracting subplots or contrived "twists" dropped into the novel to artificially "raise the stakes" for the heroine. I Married a Dead Man manages to keep a consistently high level of tension throughout by placing its protagonist in an extraordinary yet still fairly plausible predicament, and then simply letting th ...more
Gerald Kinro
Mar 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
A Classic from the noir genre set during the Great Depression. A woman befriends a wealthy newlywed couple on a train. During the ride, she somehow “trades places” with the young bride. The train is in an accident, the real married couple dies, and the woman assumes the identity of the rich bride.

This is a fast-paced story that kept me reading on. It had excellent plotting and suspense. A scenario like this would probably not happen in the United States today. Who cares? We are talking noir fic
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
A short take:

What a set-up! Once I realized where Woolrich was taking the story, I felt a chill. What parent wouldn't make a similar decision and try everything he or she could to maintain the myth that protects the family? I'm being vague here, because I don't want to give away a single detail to anyone who has yet to read this book.

My sole complaint: downer ending borders on the melodramatic and vies with the real human pain that Woolrich weaves into the rest of the story.
Jan 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: noir-pulp
Woolrich with his noir writing style and atmosphere, really bring you into the gloom of his characters. With despair hanging over them, looking over their shoulder into the shawdows. Living in a fog of fear at times, but more like everywhere they turn, there's a street light burned out. Wonderful suspense.
Ralph Carlson
Apr 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great novel. A novel that no one can go wrong by reading, as can be said about everything else that Woolrich wrote.
Feb 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Almost a noir domestic drama and rather paranoid in tone; good but far from the author's best.
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I watched a silly romantic comedy called "Mrs. Winterbourne," and, while watching the credits, noticed that the movie was based on this suspense story by Woolrich. While the movie actually follows Woolrich's storyline pretty closely, the book is definitely not humorous. I thought it was a very good suspense story, if just a bit dated. I'll definitely try some of his other books.
Rita O'Connell
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Hardly believable; a married couple is killed in a train wreck, and because she had put on the married woman's ring while she was washing her hands, the survivor is taken for the married woman. Didn't they check dental records in the 1920s?
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Cornell Woolrich is widely regarded as the twentieth century’s finest writer of pure suspense fiction. The author of numerous classic novels and short stories (many of which were turned into classic films) such as Rear Window, The Bride Wore Black, The Night Has a Thousand Eyes, Waltz Into Darkness, and I Married a Dead Man, Woolrich began his career in the 1920s writing mainstream novels that won ...more
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