When New Orleans coffee merchant Louis Durand first meets his bride-to-be after a months-long courtship by mail, he’s shocked that she doesn’t match the photographs sent with her correspondence. But Durand has told his own fibs, concealing from her the details of his wealth, and so he mostly feels fortunate to find her so much more beautiful than expected. Soon after they marry, however, he becomes increasingly convinced that the woman in his life is not the same woman with whom he exchanged letters, a fact that becomes unavoidable when she suddenly disappears with his fortune. Alone, desperate, and inexplicably love-sick, Louis quickly descends into madness, obsessed with finding Julia and bringing her to justice – and simply with seeing her again. He engages the services of a private detective to do so, embarking on a search that spans the southeast of the country. When he finally tracks her down, the nightmare truly begins…
A dark tale of the destructive power of love, Waltz into Darkness is a classic “femme fatale” narrative that shows “the father of the modern suspense story” (LA Times) at the top of his unsettling craft. It has been adapted for film twice, most notably serving as the basis for Francois Truffaut’s Mississippi Mermaid.
Penzler Publishers, 2020 (1947)