Nancy Oakes's Reviews > Ashes to Ashes

Ashes to Ashes by Isabel Ostrander
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** spoiler alert **

like a 3.5 but not rounded up to 4

Ashes to Ashes is neither your average crime story of the time nor a whodunit. The fact is that we already know who the killer is, an egotistical, "impulsive" and not-so-clever man of the country club set by the name of Norman Storm.

As Norman is leaving his lawyer's office in New York City, he sees his wife Leila coming out of another office building. Later, at home he asks her about it, and she denies having been there, claiming instead to have gone to lunch with a friend. As little things begin to build up (an overheard telephone call, an envelope with the name of the building where he'd seen her in the city), he comes to believe that Leila has been unfaithful, and during a confrontation, picks up a golf club and beats her to death. An ungrieving Norman knows that if caught he'll face the death penalty, but he's more worried about the publicity and disgrace. After ensuring that Leila's death will be ruled accidental (you can actually see the gears grinding in this man's head as he sets up his elaborate plan), he congratulates himself on winning a "supreme battle of wits, his against the rest," including his friends, who, not aware of what he's done and to Norman's dismay, will continue to stand by him. After Norman Storm learns the truth about his wife's supposed infidelity, he finds that he has "descended to the nethermost depths," but trust me, he hasn't even started his descent as events will ultimately prove. Normally I can squeeze out some sympathy for someone like Norman, but not in this case. There is no room for it here, and I don't know about anyone else who's read this novel, but based on his personality alone (never mind his horrific deeds), I couldn't wait for him to get cut down to size.

Ashes to Ashes worked well for me precisely because it wasn't your average murder mystery. In this book the action is focused on the machinations of one man's mind, rather than on the investigation of a crime or the quest for a solution, making it much more personally appealing. Given that it was written in 1919, the writing is pretty reader friendly, although I will say she must have had a thing about exclamation points because they're everywhere. This one I can easily recommend for readers like myself who a) like these old books and b) are more into character than plot.
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Reading Progress

December 18, 2016 – Shelved
December 18, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
January 14, 2019 – Started Reading
January 14, 2019 –
page 168
49.12% "Inverted murder mystery from 1919 in which the main character is about to do something really stupid once again. It's pouring here today so I'll very likely finish it. Luckily I travel with a suitcase filled with books."
January 16, 2019 – Shelved as: crime-fiction
January 16, 2019 – Shelved as: crime-fiction-america
January 16, 2019 – Shelved as: 1910s
January 16, 2019 – Shelved as: obscure-women-writers
January 16, 2019 – Shelved as: forgotten-books
January 16, 2019 – Finished Reading

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