About the Book
Virginia Barkeley is a nice, well brought-up girl. So what is she doing wandering through a snow storm in the middle of the night, blind drunk and covered in someone else’s blood?
When Claude Margolis’ body is found a quarter of a mile away with half-a-dozen stab wounds to the neck, suddenly Virginia doesn’t seem such a nice girl after all. Her only hope is Meecham, the cynical small-town lawyer hired as her defence. But how can he believe in Virginia’s innocence when even she can’t be sure what happened that night?
And when the answer seems to fall into his lap, why won’t he just walk away?
Format: Paperback (256 pages) Publisher: Pushkin Press
Publication date: 25th October 2018  Genre: Crime, Modern Classics
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Mrs Hamilton, Virginia’s redoubtable mother, is convinced Virginia is innocent of the murder of Claude Margolis but not so sure about the abilities of Eric Meecham, the lawyer hired to defend her daughter. On the other hand, the view the reader gets of Virginia via Meecham isn’t quite the ‘butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth’ opinion held of her by her mother.
A late night encounter draws Meecham into the investigation of the circumstances of the murder with the picture becoming more of a puzzle by the moment as a web of tangled relationships is revealed. As he observes, ‘Another equation to be solved… and each new equation led to still another, and on and on into the infinity of the human mind’.
Alongside the murder mystery, the book also charts the beginning of a relationship that is intense from the outset, as if the two people involved were somehow fated to meet, and to be together.
Vanish In An Instant is a taut, well-crafted crime mystery sprinkled with red herrings but also with a few clues for the (very) observant reader to pick up on. As an author, Margaret Millar was renowned for her clever plotting and last few page reveals and Vanish In An Instant definitely lives up to both those accolades.
My thanks to Pushkin Press for my review copy of Vanish In An Instant, along with A Stranger In My Grave, which I have yet to read, and The Listening Walls which I reviewed in November 2019.
Vanish In An Instant is the penultimate book on my Classics Club list and one of the two books I plan to read for the latest Classics Club Spin. (The other is the final book I need to earn my place on the Classics Club Wall of Honour, Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont.)
In three words: Intriguing, ingenious, assured
Try something similar: The Listening Walls by Margaret Millar
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About the Author
Margaret Millar (1915-1994) was the author of 27 books and a masterful pioneer of psychological mysteries and thrillers. Born in Kitchener, Ontario, she spent most of her life in Santa Barbara, California, with her husband Ken Millar, who is better known by his nom de plume of Ross Macdonald. Her 1956 novel Beast in View won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel. In 1965 Millar was the recipient of the Los Angeles Times Woman of the Year Award and in 1983 the Mystery Writers of America awarded her the Grand Master Award for Lifetime Achievement. Millar’s cutting wit and superb plotting have left her an enduring legacy as one of the most important crime writers of both her own and subsequent generations. (Bio credit: Publisher author page/Photo credit: Goodreads author page)