Cover image for The chocolate cobweb
Title:
The chocolate cobweb
ISBN:
9781613161678
Physical Description:
vi, 242 pages ; 21 cm.
General Note:
Copyright ©1948 by Charlotte Armstrong; copyright renewed 1976 by Jack Lewi; introduction copyright ©2020 by A.J. Finn.
Added Author:
Summary:
When Amanda Garth was born, a mix-up caused the hospital to briefly hand her over to the prestigious Garrison family instead of to her birth parents. The error was quickly fixed, Amanda was never told, and the secret was forgotten for twenty-three years until her aunt thoughtlessly revealed it in casual conversation. But what if the initial switch never actually occurred, and what if the real accident was Amanda's being "returned" to the wrong parents? Determined to discover her true identity, Amanda calls on her almost-family, only to discover that a deadly secret lurks.
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Summary

Summary

When Amanda Garth was born, a nearly-disastrous mix-up caused the hospital to briefly hand her over to the prestigious Garrison family instead of to her birth parents. The error was quickly fixed, Amanda was never told, and the secret was forgotten for twenty-three years . . . until her aunt thoughtlessly revealed it in casual conversation.But what if the initial switch never actually occurred, and what if the real accident was Amanda's being "returned" to the wrong parents? After all, her artistic proclivities are far more aligned with painter Tobias, patriarch of the wealthy Garrison clan, than with the uncreative duo that raised her. Determined to discover her true identity within her aunt's bizarre anecdote, Amanda calls on her almost-family, only to discover that the fantasy life she imagines is not at all like their reality. Instead, she encounters a web of lies and suspicions that ensnares her almost immediately, and, over a murky cup of hot chocolate, realizes something deadly lurks just beneath the surface. . . .Mixing tense family drama with edge-of-your-seat psychological suspense, The Chocolate Cobweb finds the "mistress of day-lit terror" at the top of her game (New York Times). The book, adapted to film by Claude Chabrol in 2006, remains as fresh today as it was when Armstrong wrote it over seventy years ago.


Author Notes

Charlotte Armstrong (1905-1969) was an Edgar Award-winning American author of mystery short stories and novels. Born and raised in the mining region of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, she moved to New York and received a B.A. degree from Barnard in 1925. She had two plays produced on Broadway but neither was successful, so she turned to writing mystery fiction, beginning with Lay On, MacDuff (1942), the first of three detective novels featuring Professor MacDougal Duff. Several of her novels were adapted for film, including The Unsuspected, The Chocolate Cobweb, and Mischief.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Gifted artist Amanda Garth, the heroine of this superior 1948 mystery from Edgar winner Armstrong (1905--1969), has her world upended after a chance remark from a visiting cousin, Edna Fairchild. When Edna spots a newspaper article about a painting by Tobias Garrison, a celebrated California artist, she connects Garrison with a mix-up at the hospital at the time of Amanda's birth 23 years earlier. Amanda's mother and Tobias's wife both delivered babies at the same facility within a few hours of each other, but when Tobias asked to see his new child, the student nurse held up Amanda by mistake. Thinking she may have been given to the wrong parents at birth, Amanda visits Tobias at his home in L.A., where she learns that his first wife is dead; she is then disturbed to spot his current spouse deliberately break a jug of hot chocolate before it can be consumed. When Amanda, suspicious of what might have been in the jug, has a handkerchief with some of the spilled liquid tested, poison is detected. Readers soon know the culprit, but will Amanda be able to stop the killer in time? Armstrong maintains nail-biting suspense throughout. Hopefully, more of Armstrong's undeservedly forgotten work will be reissued in the American Mystery Classics series. (May)


Kirkus Review

In this reprint originally published in 1948, Armstrong (1905-1969) deftly inserts a young woman into a family she's just met in hopes of thwarting a murder. Amanda Garth and Tobias Thone Garrison were briefly switched in the hospital at birth. In fact, they may have been switched twice, so that the parents both babies were restored to--in Thone's case, noted California painter Tobias Garrison and Belle Garrison--may not have been their birth parents at all. Raised by Kate Garth and her late husband, Mandy's never known about the mix-up until a visiting aunt spills the beans on her way out the door. Intrigued, Mandy, an art student who hopes to become a fabric designer, pays a visit to the painter's family, now including Ione Garrison, the wife who preceded and followed Belle, and accidentally witnesses what she's convinced is a murder attempt, especially in view of the suspicious circumstances aging actress Fanny Austin describes surrounding Belle's death six years ago. When her attempts to warn the intended victim fall on deaf ears, she can think of only one thing to do: wangle herself a longer-term invitation as a houseguest, offer herself up as a new and improved victim, and pray she can catch the killer in the act before the curtain falls on her own life. A.J. Finn, in her perceptive introduction, praises Armstrong's decision to limit her cast and dole out revelations in a steady drip. Readers will also appreciate her skill in delicately intensifying the suspense as the characters maintain coolly decorous facades. Reason enough, if any were needed, for an Armstrong revival. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

This new entry in Otto Penzler's American Mystery Classics series features features Amanda Garth, who, until the age of 23, was unaware that there was a mix-up at the hospital when she was born. A wealthy artist, Tobias Garrison, whose wife had a baby boy on the same day, was told Amanda was his child before the error was corrected. When Amanda hears this story from her aunt, she becomes curious and wonders if she is really the artist's daughter because she's always been interested in art. Attending his exhibit, she meets the family and learns that Tobias has remarried his first wife, Ione, after his second wife, Belle, died in a strange accident. Visiting the Garrison house, Amanda accidentally witnesses Ione trying to give Belle's son, Thone, poisoned hot chocolate. She warns Thone that his stepmother is planning to kill him as she killed Belle to stop his father from remembering her. Thone disbelieves Amanda at first, but she finally convinces him, and they form a romantic relationship. Ione then focuses her murderous plans on Amanda, whom she now believes is Belle's real child. Together, they try to outsmart the cunning Ione. Armstrong's outstanding early example of psychological suspense and domestic crime fiction, originally published in 1948, will catch readers in its web of intricate plotting.