Before the Fact: Inspired Hitchhock's Masterpiece Suspicion
Arcturus Crime Classics showcase unjustly neglected works by great writers from the 1930s—the so-called golden age of crime writing—through to the 1970s. From conventional whodunnits to slick thrillers, the series encompasses every facet of this ever-popular genre.
Described on its first publication in 1932 as "one of the finest studies of murder ever written", Before the Fact tells the tale of wealthy but plain Lina Mclaidlaw, who marries the charming and feckless Johnny Aysgarth against the advice of her father. Lina is certain she can change him for the better, until she is forced to acknowledge that he is a compulsive liar, a crook and a murderer. But still she loves him, while fearing she will inevitably become one of his victims.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Francis Iles was a pseudonym of Anthony Berkeley Cox, who was born in 1893 in Watford. After serving in the army during the First World War, Berkeley worked as a journalist for many years before his first foray into the crime genre with The Layton Court Mystery (1925).
His two primary nom-de-plumes were Francis Iles and Anthony Berkeley. As the former, he was a master of the psychological suspense genre, always with a wry humorous tenor to his writing; as the latter he acted as a trailblazer in the classic ‘Golden Age’ of crime and detective novels.
An intensely private man who always shunned public attention, Berkeley died in 1971.
would answer reproachfully, “you know I wouldn’t live on your father for good. I only thought he might help us over this gap. Something’s bound to turn up soon.” Johnnie continued to reiterate this comfortable creed all the evening. There was no need to worry. Something would certainly turn up. Something always did. It was clear to Lina that he was quite content to wait until something did. She would never be able to shame him into active search for a job. Johnnie had made what was to him the
can have met the right sort, Ronald. There really are plenty of nice women, you know.” Ronald held her to him. “There’s one; and that’s all that matters to me. And I’m going to marry her.” “Are you, though?” Lina laughed. “You haven’t asked her yet, you know.” “Will you marry me, Lina?” “No. I don’t know you. I couldn’t marry a man I didn’t know. The registrar would have to introduce us, and think how awkward that would be. No, Ronald, seriously, it’s absurd to talk like that now. Wait till
must be sure.” “Yes, of course. But I’m not a celibate; and since I met you ... Lina, sweetheart, they say there’s nothing like a really good woman to drive a man who loves her to prostitutes. I’ve always said that was nonsense. Don’t make me understand what they mean.” Lina sighed again. “You must do as you think best.” It was a favourite observation of hers. It evaded responsibility. But for all Ronald’s hint, she could not make up her mind to that first, final step. 2 For a fortnight or
as Johnnie was with most of the old families living in Dorsetshire, the Aysgarths were on intimate terms (so far as it is possible for terms among old families to be intimate) with houses into which Lady Fortnum was not received at all. On the other hand, the Lady Fortnums of the county, and there were plenty of them, looked down on Johnnie as definitely below their social level because he had worked for his living. He and Lina were invited to Whinnies on little more than sufferance. And yet it
three times a week at least. “Hullo, begun the new book yet? Look here, I’ve thought up a new method of murder for you.” “Have you? Good man. Let’s have it.” And then they would plunge into discussion. It seemed to Lina that whenever she found Johnnie and Isobel together now, they were talking about new methods of murder. She did not altogether like it. Indeed, she did not like it at all. It seemed to Lina supremely ironical that Johnnie should be trying to find new methods of murder for