Weinman, Sarah, Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives: Stories from the Trailblazers of Domestic Suspense
Decades before Desperate Housewives there were plenty of desperate women struggling with toxic domestic situations from which there seemed no escape—except, vicariously, via the kind of diabolic schemes that unspool in this provocative anthology. Writing between WWII and the rise of the feminist movement in the mid-’70s, the 14 female pioneers selected knew, some of them firsthand, the thornier reality inside those white picket fences. Crime connoisseur Weinman has thoughtfully selected a Whitman’s Sampler of wickedness that includes a few stars like Patricia Highsmith, but more whose work has been eclipsed by the flashier femme fatales for whom they paved the way. A couple of the stories have aged less gracefully than others. Still, standouts such as Highsmith’s psychological time bomb “The Heroine” and Shirley Jackson’s twisty “Louisa, Please Come Home” feel quite contemporary. Weinman’s insightful introductions to each selection for the most part successfully walk the line between saying enough to set up the story and spoiling its surprises.