12 October 2012

Crazy, But That's How It Goes

Crazy to Kill
Ann Cardwell [pseud. Jean Makins Pawley]
Winnipeg: Harlequin, 1949
191 pages

This review now appears, revised and rewritten, in my new book:
The Dusty Bookcase:
A Journey Through Canada's
Forgotten, Neglected, and Suppressed Writing
Available at the very best bookstores and through


  1. For once I've actually read a Canadian mystery before you have! Thanks for the plug, too. I thought this absolutely kooky. How apt for a tale set in a mental home, eh? There are two reviews at Mystery*File about this book where my review appears. In fact it was the first one by the extremely knowledgeable collector, fan and reviewer, Bill Deeck which teasingly hints at the surprise ending that influenced me in tracking down a copy to discover just what he meant. I had a chance to see the opera last year in a Toronto production but had to cancel my trip when finding affordable airfare proved fruitless. I was upset - puppets, murder and opera music. How can it go wrong? I may never know.

    1. Yes, you beat me to it... and I'm betting you're ahead of me on Margaret Millar.

      On that subject, I was tempted to mention Millar because her debut novel appeared in the same year as Cardwell's. Another coincidence is that the two were then living in the same pocket of southern Ontario. And then there's Millar's reputation as the queen of psychological mysteries.

      I suppose I recommend Crazy to Kill. Somewhere in there is a very good novel. I thought the ending strong, and only began to believe things might not be quite as Miss Lawson describes until approaching the end. As it should be.

      It seems nearly unbelievable that one could craft an opera from Crazy to Kill (good on Reaney for keeping the title), but the reviews glow. Here's hoping for a revival. I expect I'll see you there.

    2. Wait: Brian: Why don't we have Margaret Millar. Did she write under a different name? Is she not Canadian? Enquiring minds want to know (without reading too deeply because I'm busy rewriting Pawley's entry right now...

    3. What? Do you not have Margaret Millar? She was indeed Canadian - born and bred! Several years ago, when I was a contributor, I convinced the Canadian Encyclopedia that she had to have an entry. Visit their site and you'll see I wrote it myself, and made a very bold claim!

  2. Everything is wrong with that last cover. How do you do everything wrong? I mean, except in television?

    1. Agreed. It does nothing that a cover it meant to do. The title is fairly legible, I suppose, but just try to make out the author's name. And how about that Introduction by James Reaney? You'd think that'd be a selling point. I suppose the publisher thought otherwise.

      A final comment: I kept expecting a praying soldier to appear.

      He never does.

  3. YOUR BOOK IS IN MY OFFICE; I'm working at home today. Dang. Can't finish her entry today, then, I guess.