(Contains spoilers)

Image from https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rendezvous-Black-Cornell-Woolrich/dp/1613471505 — Cover art for Cornell Woolrich’s Rendezvous in Black (1948)

The electric company, that I use, offered me a two month free trial on Viaplay, so what do you know, I have been catching up on Grey’s Anatomy. That’s why I have been inactive with my reviews (not that anyone was bothered by it, but you know, a little validation for me). Rendezvous in Black is, once again, a book that I haven’t manage to read during all those years that it has laid in my bookcase. I don’t remember when I got this book, but I must have gotten it free or payed a small price for it, because it was removed from my hometown’s city library. It still has the library’s laminated shelf number, and the bar code that you have to scan before lending it, on it. I promise that I didn’t stole it!

Rendezvous in Black is Cornell Woolrich’s 1948 published fiction, crime and mystery novel. A 1972 released Italian movie called Seven Blood-Stained Orchids (Sette orchidee macchiate di rosso) is also based on this story. I don’t know how heavily though, because I haven’t seen the film, and I also can’t find any mentioning of the Woolrich’s novel in the Wikipedia or IMDb pace of the Seven Blood-Stained Orchids. (Wikipedia, 2020; IMDb, 2020b). Drama and comedy series Playhouse 90 also did an episode based on Rendezvous in Black in 1956 (IMDb, 2020a).

Rendezvous in Black tells a story of a young man called Johnny Mar, who recently just lost a fiancée due to an unusual accident — a bottle was thrown out of a plane and hit his beloved Dorothy. The private plane was transporting Graham Garrison, Hugh Strickland, Bucky Paige, Richard R. Drew and Allen Ward to an annual fishing and camping trip near to the Canadian border. These five men sneaked alcoholic beverages on the plane, even though it was forbidden, and tossed the evidence away. Firstly, how is that even possible? Most (if not all) planes don’t have opening windows, and the pressure don’t let you open the door either. Anyhow, this carelessness resulted in Dorothy’s death, and after a long depressed period of time, Johnny decided to focus his grief on something else. He began a vengeance journey, where he didn’t target the men, but instead their loved ones — ”Now you know how I feel”. All the murders were planned to happen on the 31st of May, the day of Dorothy’s death. Johnny shielded himself with fake names, such as Jack Munson and Joe Morris, in order to get close to his victims, and this immediately made me think of the A.M.’s in Ghost Story! Come on villains, get more creative with your aliases…

I personally would have liked to get more insight on Johnny Mar’s doings. He seemed to be more like a side character in his own story. The whole police work felt kind of pointless to me if the reader already knows who the killer is. It did, however, capture my interest to the end, but not necessarily for the reasons that I would’ve hoped for. I don’t know these characters well or care about them (expect Allen and Martine), so why would I feel troubled by the passing of some character’s wife or the sentencing of an innocent man? I mean, those are horrible things to happen, but because this is fiction and I should be able to react to fictional events that happens to them, and feel like I live alongside those fictional characters, I needed more insight. I felt like I was watching these scenarios behind a milk glass window — everything just felt a little bit unreachable.

That being said, I really liked Allen and Martine’s story line. They were old friends and lovers, who decided to keep their relationship just platonic. Allen ultimately had married someone else, but I assume that he still stayed very close with Martine. They both were classy, loyal and righteous people, and you could feel that their eventual romantic affair wasn’t due to lust, convenience and overall stupidity, that some other affairs easily can be. I, of course, don’t accept cheating of any kind, but I noticed the same indifference in Allen’s wife as well as in him. They were staying together out of habit. You just have to wonder how Johnny managed to choose the most important person in the lives of these men. The first clear and obvious choice for Allen would’ve been his wife. Also, how was Johnny able to track Allen and Martine better than police were? How did he even have enough money to travel after them? The insurance money that he got at the beginning of the book couldn’t have lasted all these years. I guess he just had as good luck with money as he had with some of the murders. He couldn’t have planned the sentencing and executing of Hugh, or the tetanus of Graham’s wife this accurately. He left many things at the mercy of fate, but I guess that’s also how Dorothy died and his vengeance begin.

I was not expecting to like this book at all, because of how the cover and summary made the story feel like. I had to take a picture of the cover art, because it’s just so corny to me. I automatically had prejudices about this book. And not only based on the cover art, but the summary is so horribly worded that it made me not want to read it. It’s maybe the worst description of a story that I have ever read before. It, for example, straight up lies about the viewpoint of what the revenge journey is portrayed in, and about how the events begin. I know the saying “never judge book by it’s cover”, but I don’t know how else you’re supposed to pick and buy a book from a store or a library. However, ignoring the exterior, I really liked the story line. It was frustrating, intriguing and sorrowful, but also heartfelt and wishful. It wasn’t gruesome or detailed, like some other crime novels, and it was kind of refreshing for a change. It was quite easy and light to read even though it dealt with dark subjects. Nothing unique or ground-breaking, but definitely a book worth reading!

3½/5

References:

IMDb (2020a). Playhouse 90. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048893/?ref_=ttep_ep_tt

IMDb (2020b). Seven Blood-Stained Orchids. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067696/

Wikipedia (2020). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Blood-Stained_Orchids

Reviewing books I happen to stumble upon. Definitely just an amateur’s opinions. Enjoy!