Read Black Alibi by Cornell Woolrich Free Online

Ebook Black Alibi by Cornell Woolrich read! Book Title: Black Alibi
The author of the book: Cornell Woolrich
Edition: Ballantine Books
Date of issue: October 12th 1982
ISBN: 0345307070
ISBN 13: 9780345307071
Language: English
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 8.44 MB
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 1723 times
Reader ratings: 7.1

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“The road was empty behind her, in moonlight and shadow, back as far as the eye could reach. There was only silence, on it and the thickness that bordered it. Silence and moonlight and shadow.”

This is one of very few Woolrich tales I had not yet read, my familiarity more shaded to the great Val Lewton produced thriller, The Leopard Man, which was based on this fabulous novel of suspense. It is one of Woolrich’s “Black” novels, written during that period which cemented him not only as the greatest purveyor of pure noir suspense fiction, but as one of the great writers of the twentieth-century. The opening chapter, while well written and engaging, seemed more straightforward than I’d expected, as American publicity agent Jerry Manning hoists a black Jaguar onto pretty red-haired singer/dancer Kiki Walker, a Detroit girl who, after some misfortune, has found celebrity and influence in the third largest city south of the Panama Canal. But then the Jaguar escapes, and Black Alibi becomes an extraordinary novel of mystery and suspense. Woolrich paints to perfection the atmosphere of “his” Ciudad Real — not Spain, but South America:

“The poor don't cheat one another. They're all poor together.”

Having lived much of his youth in Mexico (if you’re a fan of the tortured author, you know the story) perhaps helped him capture so beautifully the flavor and ambiance of a place through its people. One of those is a policeman named Robles who is under pressure from above to end the brutal, horrific killings of young women by the escaped Jaguar. But it is the victims Woolrich focuses on, letting the reader live in their hearts and minds until that horrific moment when each is overtaken by that unknown thing in the darkness. There is descriptive brilliance in the telling, suspense building to nearly unbearable heights as Woolrich paints a rich and evocative portrait of each young woman, and builds the suspense in each chapter to such a fever pitch, we can’t stop reading:

“She couldn't go back into that maw of darkness behind her that she had passed through once already. True, it was as dark ahead of her, but there was something even worse about darkness revisited than about darkness already explored. As though she would be giving latent evil a second chance at her if she returned.”

There is a bit of The Bride Wore Black/Rendezvous in Black feel to Black Alibi as one by one, someone/something stalks its prey. The savage killings begin with seventeen/eighteen year old Teresa Delgado. She is apprehensive of leaving her home in the evening because there are rumors that the cat is out and about, killing. Frustratingly, her mother sends her out for charcoal despite these rumors. Teresa at first tries to assuage her own fears:

“What can happen to me? This is Ciudad Real.”

But she does not reach the nearest place in time before it closes, and must go farther into the darkness, her fear building as she hears something in the shadows. When she reaches the place farther from her home, both she and the reader feel momentarily relieved. In her encounter with the man selling her the charcoal, however, we can feel Teresa’s apprehension:

“She tried to prolong the trivial little transaction all she could. Because while it lasted it spelled safety, light, another’s company. Afterwards would come darkness, fear, solitude again.”

What follows is one of the most frustrating and harrowing moments in suspense fiction — yes, in ALL suspense fiction — when we want to open a door for Teresa her stupid mother will not. It is a lesson for the blood and gore crowd — both writers and readers — that it is unneeded, because what the mind can imagine is far more horrific than any crass or explicitly described violence could ever evoke. It’s a brilliant piece of writing.

Then there is the lovely Conchita Contreras, slipping out to meet her young boy, despite warnings from her mother:

“It is hard not to be beautiful at eighteen, and for her it would have been a physical impossibility.”

But her night is fraught with peril, and she finds herself trapped, and alone, in the last place on earth she wants to be:

“Even the afterglow of the sun was gone now. Only a slight greenish blackness, like oxidized metal, above the trees in the west, showed where it had been. The rest was dark, dark, dark; night was in possession and had caught her in its trap.”

And later, as she’s pursued:

“She had no leisure to think of anything but the present moment, in the midst of all these terrors, but if she had she would have realized the darkness already had its victory. She was already a little dead. Whether she ever got out of here again or whether she didn’t she would never be the same. Fright had pushed her permanently back into some atavistic past, lived long ago.”

We then get the part-time hooker named Clo-Clo, who wants to marry at thirty-six and have a family. And finally we get young Americans Sally O’Keefe and Marjorie King, only one of whom will escape with her life. Each chapter is mesmerizing, even if it does ad an episodic quality to the narrative. Another type of mystery is slowly building as well, because Manning doesn’t believe it’s the Jaguar doing the killings. He can’t get Robles to agree with that a human being is behind the killings, however. The evidence all points to the Jaguar, but why hasn’t it been caught? Woolrich uses Manning to sway the reader, making enough arguments in favor of a real flesh and blood, two-legged animal being responsible, that we begin to wonder which it is. But then a girl survives, and Manning begs her to help him:

“But I can’t get them to listen to me. They’re as sure on their side as I am on mine. And they’re the police and I’m just—a loose guy.”

She’s having none of it at first, but finally agrees. It is also the beginning of a romance — unless she too, falls prey to whatever is out there in the darkness. Manning finds another ally, but his elaborate plan goes awry, and it is one of the most exciting, heart-stopping conclusions Woolrich ever wrote.

Is it the Jaguar? Is it a crazed killer? Is it both, or neither? Despite what you may have heard, not all of Woolrich’s tales end horribly. That’s sort of a “rookie” mistake. Is this one of those with a happy ending, or one of his novels where fate pulls everyone into its jaws and laughs? You’ll have to read it to discover the answer. Written in 1942, Black Alibi reads surprisingly fresh, as though it could have been written last week, but for a minor tweak here or there. A few may downgrade it a bit for a somewhat episodic quality to the narrative, but it’s very involving, and has an incredibly satisfying conclusion despite all the victims. I absolutely loved Black Alibi, and rank it just below my all-time favorite of his novels, Deadline at Dawn. Awesome!

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Read information about the author

Ebook Black Alibi read Online! Cornell Woolrich is widely regarded as the twentieth century’s finest writer of pure suspense fiction. The author of numerous classic novels and short stories (many of which were turned into classic films) such as Rear Window, The Bride Wore Black, The Night Has a Thousand Eyes, Waltz Into Darkness, and I Married a Dead Man, Woolrich began his career in the 1920s writing mainstream novels that won him comparisons to F. Scott Fitzgerald. The bulk of his best-known work, however, was written in the field of crime fiction, often appearing serialized in pulp magazines or as paperback novels. Because he was prolific, he found it necessary to publish under multiple pseudonyms, including "William Irish" and "George Hopley" [...] Woolrich lived a life as dark and emotionally tortured as any of his unfortunate characters and died, alone, in a seedy Manhattan hotel room following the amputation of a gangrenous leg. Upon his death, he left a bequest of one million dollars to Columbia University, to fund a scholarship for young writers.

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Reviews of the Black Alibi


Black and White


Books are incredible magic that you can carry with you.


I keep this book in my hand and feel so happy.


After reading this book, Your life will change!


Easy to read, easy to understand!

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