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Beast in view

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  684 Ratings  ·  113 Reviews
A psychological thriller by a mistress of suspense at the top of her form and 1956 winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award.

What starts with a crank call from an old school chum sets the lonely, aloof, financially comfortable Miss Helen Clarvoe on a path as predictable only as madness. Lured from her rooms in a second-rate residential Hollywood hotel, she finds herself stranded
160 pages
Published July 29th 1993 by Penguin (first published 1955)
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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 m
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 shar ...more
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.
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.

The ra
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.
Ben Loory
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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."
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 st
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 impeccab ...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.
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.

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 now-none
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 munchin
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
BEAST IN VIEW. (1955). Margaret Millar. ****.
Margaret Millar was the wife of Ross Macdonald, and a very popular and prolific writer on her own. This novel explores an eerie relationship between a woman with ‘phoneitis’ (you will have to read the book for a definition here) and a host of people from her past. Today we would call Evelyn Merrick a crank caller – a person who persistently calls people on the phone and ultimately threatens them with revealing happenings from their past. It’s not blac
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 ot ...more
Sherry Schwabacher
I was seven when this book was first published. It is so easy to forget how different the world felt to women, gays, African-Americans back then. If you wonder if we are making any social progress, read this. Millar was known for the psychological depth of her books and the plot of Beast in View certainly plays that up. You may find yourself shaking your head, wondering "How can they think that way?" Well, remember, they really did!
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.
Lukasz Pruski
This is a very difficult review for me to write, perhaps the most difficult of the 300+ lame reviews I have produced so far. Margaret Millar's "Beast in View" received the "coveted" Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel of the year in 1956, yet I do not like it at all, and had to work hard to finish reading it. There must be something wrong with me.

Helen Clarvoe, a well-off, young, but lonely woman receives a nasty phone call from one Evelyn Merrick, who predicts that bad things will happen to He
This psychological novel must have seemed very new and shocking at the time it was written, but feels quite old hat now. Another book with truly unengaging characters, it was the third winner of the Edgar for Best Novel. It took me 6 weeks to get through this rather short book, as it was a distasteful subject and (once again) not a
classic detective story. I would term it a psychological thriller.
Helen Clarvoe, a wealthy recluse although she is only 30-ish, calls her attorney to report that she
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After that disappointing Vargas experience, I was very pleased to have read Millar’s book that same day I checked it out of the library. I came to this book, published in 1955, after having read an article about “Gone Girl”, by G. Flynn. It had been out of print for some time, but it seems to be back. It is a psychological thriller written in the likes of Highsmith and Rendell. The ambiance is definitely 1950s LA, which I really enjoyed; and do I dare mention there is something about this book t ...more
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
Sam Reaves
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the 1956 Edgar winner by Margaret Millar, wife of Kenneth Millar aka Ross Macdonald. The husband wound up being better remembered; many will argue he was not the better writer. I'm not going to weigh in on that until I read a lot more Margaret Millar, but on the basis of this one I'd say the woman could hold her own at that table.
A lonely, neurotic woman lives estranged from her mother and brother. She is harassed by phone calls from the brother's ex-wife and calls on her deceased father
May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novela-negra
La protagonista de esta historia es una millonaria excéntrica que vive encerrada en un cuarto de hotel porque no soporta a su familia. Una vez dicho eso, resulta un poco más comprensible porqué habría de recibir una llamada extraña y amenazadora de una mujer misteriosa.

Este hecho, desencadenada la trama del libro. Helen, al no tener ni un solo amigo en el mundo, decide recurrir a su abogado para que le ayude a identificar a esta persona que la está llamando para decirle que va a morir en formas
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was also in Women Crime Writers: Four Suspense Novels of the 1950s. I guessed the outcome about halfway through the book. Also, there's some pretty serious homophobia going on here, so be warned. At one point, the male protagonist/hero type suddenly seems to fall in love with our damsel in distress. Literally from one page to the next, you go from avuncular to wooing. Weird.

WOW. Just looked at some of the other reviews and can't believe this beat out The Talented Mr. Ripley for the Edgar Aw
Jul 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
This is part of Library of America's collection Women Crime Writers of the 1940s and 1950s. It's a little tough to rate. It's got a nice twist, and some really sharp descriptive and psychological writing. The final image in the final sentence is marvelous. On the downside, it is marked by its time, and some pretty dated views about sexual orientation. (One gay character is written with some sympathy and care, but it's fair to say that, structurally, these characters are not treated very generous ...more
Carol Masciola
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun pulp fiction short novel from he 1950s, well-written, if a little tired in subject matter for the 2017 reader.

Helen Clarvoe is a dry, paranoid agoraphobic woman of 30 living in a hotel in Los Angeles. She has inherited a fortune. One day she receives a menacing phone call from somebody whose name sounds familiar but who she can't immediately remember. She brings in her deceased father's financial adviser, Mr. Blackshear, to find out about the caller. His investigations lead him to a very di
DeAnna Knippling
I'm on the fence with this one--four stars or five? I called the twist *very* early on. That's not horrible, but you expect a masterpiece to be readable whether or not you call the ending, and having called the ending, it felt clunky. Not re-readable.

And yet it did bite off such a big bite, and it was completely on the nail for style and tone, and the characters were all very economically written and vivid. So...a five, with quibbles.
Sep 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe I'm just not a mystery reader. Or maybe I need a mystery set in the present time, with more character development. This book has an interesting psychological premise, but (maybe a spoiler) since it plays out in a completely unbelievable form of psychosis (written in 1955), I couldn't feel invested.

There is one really awesome scene where a character goes into an alley and sniffs/eats stray cat fur. And then enjoys having an evil, hair-filled mouth. That I enjoyed.
Will Zeilinger
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book in a compilation called "Women Crime Writers of the 1950's" because my wife and I write hard-boiled 1950's detective novels. I enjoyed the suspenseful story that I would compare to anything by Alfred Hitchcock. Very well crafted. I'm not going to spoil it for you. You'll be happy you read it - I am.
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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 o ...more
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“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.”
“The sidewalks swarmed with people, the night was full of the noises of the living. They struck Miss Clarvoe's ears strangely, like sounds from another planet.” 1 likes
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