A stodgy New England writer meets a sultry siren with a screw loose, setting the scene for murder and mayhem in Ben Ames Williams riveting novel Leave Her to Heaven.
Richard Harland meets Ellen Berent in New Mexico where she has come with her mother and sister to scatter her father’s ashes. Richard is fascinated by Ellen but something about her troubles him.
He decides he’ll remain a bachelor.
Ellen has other ideas.
Writing off her finance-lawyer, she maneuvers Richard into marriage, telling him, “I will never let you go.”
Ellen is jealous of Richard’s younger brother, Danny; of her sister, Ruth; of Richard’s friends; of his writing — of anything that takes Richard’s attention from her.
There’s a series of unfortunate accidents.
Ellen’s baby is stillborn.
Ellen herself dies of acute gastritis.
About two years later, Richard marries Ruth. They are just home from their honeymoon when Ruth is charged with Ellen’s murder.
To show Ruth’s innocence, her lawyer must show Ellen committed suicide. He puts Richard on the stand and probes the details of his deteriorating relationship with Ellen.
Leave Her to Heaven is well-plotted with keenly-drawn characters. Pristine New England forests provide stark contrast to Ellen’s poisonous malevolence, making this spine-chilling, can’t-put-down reading.Leave Her to Heaven
By Ben Ames Williams
Houghton Mifflin, 1944
1944 bestseller #7
My Grade: A-
© 2014 Linda Gorton Aragoni