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In a villa on the California coast, a murderer stalks a young heiress
Laila Breen is a strangely naïve girl. Her father Jonas is an adventurer, a robber baron who made his fortune traveling exotic climes. Laila speaks French and knows how to order fine food, but she cannot read a newspaper and can barely write her own name. Jonas settles in California, planning to get this strange eighteen-year-old tutored in the ways of practical life. He dies soon after, leaving his daughter rich, clueless, and alone. Her only friend is Dee Allison, a cousin who tries to help Laila even after the orphan catches the eye of Dee’s fiancé. Standing in Dee’s way is a gang of relatives who care more about Laila’s fortune than her future. When a housekeeper falls victim to poisoning, Dee fears for Laila. For a young girl with money, nothing is more dangerous than family.
“Lurid and unusual . . . Miss Armstrong [outdoes] herself on the villain.” —The New York Times “A suspense tale you’ll want to read in one sitting.” —Spokane Daily Chronicle “If you’ve read Charlotte Armstrong before, you’ll know you’re in for an excellent, well-written suspense story.” —The Montreal Gazette
Edgar Award–winning Charlotte Armstrong (1905–1969) was one of the finest American authors of classic mystery and suspense. The daughter of an inventor, Armstrong was born in Vulcan, Michigan, and attended Barnard College, in New York City. After college she worked at the New York Times and the magazine Breath of the Avenue, before marrying and turning to literature in 1928. For a decade she wrote plays and poetry, with work produced on Broadway and published in the New Yorker. In the early 1940s, she began writing suspense. Success came quickly. Her first novel, Lay On, MacDuff! (1942) was well received, spawning a three-book series. Over the next two decades, she wrote more than two dozen novels, winning critical acclaim and a dedicated fan base. The Unsuspected (1945) and Mischief (1950) were both made into films, and A Dram of Poison (1956) won the Edgar Award for best novel. She died in California in 1969.