Laura , is a detective novel by Vera Caspary. It is her best known work, and was adapted into a popular film in , with Gene Tierney in the title role. Houghton Mifflin republished Laura in book form the next year; afterwards, Caspary sold the film rights to Twentieth Century Fox , resulting in a hit movie starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews. In , Caspary sold the story for a fourth time, this time co-writing a theatrical version with George Sklar. Since its original publication, the novel has been reissued many times. I Books released an edition in , billing it as a "lost classic;" however, this edition is out of print.
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Return to Book Page. Preview — Laura by Vera Caspary. Laura by Vera Caspary. Laura Hunt was the ideal modern woman: beautiful, elegant, highly ambitious, and utterly mysterious. No man could resist her charms—not even the hardboiled NYPD detective sent to find out who turned her into a faceless corpse.
Laura won lasting renown as an Academy Award-nominated film, the greatest noir romance of all time. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Laura , please sign up.
Why does Waldo say that he first met Laura in '34 on page 12 , but then mentions going to a show with her in "the fall '33" on page Does he just have a faulty memory? Fleet Sparrow Because it was serialized and continuity frequently misses in collected versions.
Why do Waldo's fictional books have such odd titles? Kurezan Waldo has a massive ego, and this is reflected in his writing and narration. See all 4 questions about Laura…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Laura. Jun 12, Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it Shelves: hardboiled , book-to-film. This was strange. I had never felt anything but respect and tenderness for this brilliant, unhappy friend.
And I made myself think of Waldo dutifully; I thought of the years we had known each other and of his kindness. I felt sick within myself, ashamed of hysteria and weak shrinking. I made myself stand firm; I did not pull away; I accepted the embrace as women accept the caresses of men they dare not hurt.
I did not yield, I submitted. I did not soften, I endured. Not just dead. Her face has been blasted by buckshot, obliterating her loveliness, leaving only the painting on the wall as a memory of her alluring elegance. It is certainly very personal to shoot someone in the face, but to shoot a lovely woman in the face is somehow a larger crime, a more vicious offense.
Who shot Laura Hunt? Mark McPherson, a Scottish cop, has already made a name for himself as being a man on the upward track. He has recently recovered from being shot, and so not only is he gaining a reputation for being smart and creative, but he has also proven his metal as well. He is thoughtful and oddly vulnerable. A murder case is too simple for what he wants to investigate, but as he starts chasing down leads and hears the lies and the half truths of everyone involved, he starts to become interested.
There is one other complication: He falls in love with Laura, well the painting of Laura. This is her at her absolute best, immortalized with gorgeous eyes and alabaster skin. Waldo Lydecker is also in love with Laura. I felt nothing, neither shivering repulsion nor answering flame.
The lovely Gene Tierney is cast as Laura in the movie. He helped her get started, and her career has seen a steady climb because of her association with Waldo. She is grateful, but his possessiveness, treating her as if she is a sculpture he formed with his own hands, is becoming a problem.
He is wealthy, successful, an intellectual snob who is completely self-centered. His alibi for the night of the murder did make me laugh out loud. He was supposed to have dinner with Laura, but she never showed. Maybe it is because he can recognize the finer things in life and express his reverence so eloquently for art, books, and plays.
There is also Shelby Carpenter. One thing that Mark McPherson and Waldo Lydecker can agree on is that he is not the man either one of them would choose for Laura. Of course, they each feel they are a much better choice than he.
Shelby comes from a different world. He is an expensive habit, but he is charming and capable of looking very good in a nice suit. Vera Caspary, as you can tell from some of the quotes I shared, has not only written a great noir novel, but also expresses the difficulty that women have in building a career and navigating the uncertain waters of the relationships they must maintain with the men who are helping them.
Men rarely do anything without expecting something in return. The interplay with Shelby, Waldo, and Mark, who each want her but want her for different reasons, adds some depth to a plot that was crafty enough not to need such great characterization. Men who help men expect loyalty in return, but men who help women expect compliance. A woman desired is a woman with power, but that power is built with a shaky foundation too reliant on the changing whims of men.
There was a terrific noir film made of this book in , starring Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews. This is one of my favorite noir films. I watched the movie first and felt that the twist was not only handled well, but was so deliciously shocking. The characters are all developed with more depth in the book, so there is certainly merit to reading the book as well.
View all 30 comments. Director Otto Preminger's masterpiece is one of the finest mysteries in the history of motion pictures. But that does not detract from how wonderful the story is in novel form. Quite simply, this is one of the finest and most unusual mystery novels ever written. Caspary used an unique narrative structure to create an atmospheric and involving mystery which has stood the test of time.
McPherson has somewhat of a celebrity status within the department due to some front page cases with which he has been involved. But he is unprepared for the high society circles Laura moved in, and Caspary allows the reader to see through the detective's eyes the affectations of the rich. It is a world where people begin their insults with endearing terms like darling, then proceed to use words the roughest seaman wouldn't use to tear you apart.
Laura's benefactor and sometimes companion, Waldo Lydecker, is the poster boy for such behavior. He uses his well known newspaper column to destroy all of Laura's would-be suitors. Only the man she was set to marry, Shelby Carpenter, was able to withstand the glare of Lydecker's poison-pen scrutiny. But on the weekend before she was to be married, a knock on the door late at night, followed by a shotgun blast, cuts her life short.
Waldo Lydecker begins the narration, then McPherson picks up where he left off. It is during McPherson's narration we get to see events as they really are, bringing about for the reader an understanding of the detective's thought process and actions so twisted out of context by Lydecker. Caspery's descriptions of the encounters between Lydecker and McPherson are splendid. You can almost feel the breeze in the popular open-air restaurant where they dine and hear the young woman going from table to table singing, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.
Caspary also allows the reader to feel McPherson's frustration with the pretty-boy, Shelby Carpenter. Above all this, however, Caspary paints a picture of Laura that allows us to understand how McPherson has fallen in love with a dead girl, because we have also. Laura could not have been more different than these people, her inner beauty inspiring loyalty in her working-class maid, Bessie.
McPherson soon begins to wonder how a smart girl like Laura managed to surround herself with such morally empty people, their arrogance and gutter ethics only surpassed by their lack of character. But Caspery is smart enough to let us see into a woman's heart as well, and make us understand.
The Secrets of Vera Caspary, the Woman Who Wrote "Laura"
Afterword by A. Emrys Laura was the ideal "modern woman" and the ultimate femme fatale. No man could resist her charms--not even the hardboiled NYPD detective sent to investigate her murder. This psychological thriller is as gripping and brilliantly constructed as the Preminger film. The first is Waldo Lydecker, Laura Hunt's mentor, the vain deliciously nasty newspaper columnist who narrates. Its second strength is an ingenious plot twist that I won't spoil.
Here, for example, is a good Caspary story. Late in , she was having dinner at the Stork Club when the director Otto Preminger walked in. The mix-up makes her a suspect in her own murder. He was big, too. Caspary was shorter, older, framed by a cloud of frizzy hair.