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Black Amber by Phyllis A. Whitney (1964)
This is the first adult novel by Phyllis A. Whitney that I've read. I'd give it a solid B, even though it's really just a derivative of Rebecca.

Here's what I liked:

1. The main character was independent and strong-willed, especially for a "damsel in distress" novel from 1964. I was pleasantly surprised.
2. I learned a lot about Turkey and Istanbul. Phyllis Whitney evokes a real sense of place and history.
3. I was really caught up in the mystery. I didn't know who the killer was until near the end and, even then, I wasn't exactly sure.
4. Bit of a hard edge even for a 1964 romance.

Here's what I didn't like:

1. The hero, of course. I thought he was just a cranky old man. He is the stereotypical Maxim of Rebecca.
2. The love story. It was weak. They fall in love in a few days? Please.
3. A small bit of unexpected animal cruelty. Be forewarned.

And, here is a description from the Phyllis A. Whitney site.

To Tracy Hubbard, at home in New York, a masquerade had seemed the only possible way to track down the answer to a tragedy for which she felt partly responsible. But now that she was in Istanbul, an impostor in the exotic household of Sylvana Erim, Tracy was baffled and alarmed by a series of mystifying events and drawn, in spite of herself, into a whirlpool of conspiracy and intrigue.

She has come here as an assistant to Miles Radburn, the well-known artist. Radburn appears to hold the answers to several life or death questions. Is he suffering grief over the death of his young wife, or is he responsible for some loathsome secret that lies hidden in the past? Tracy finds it requires all her own stubborn defiance to resist this violent man who can at times be so strangely tender. There is no one she can trust in the hostile and enigmatic household. Suddenly Tracy realizes that she knows too much and that her very life is in danger.
Sounds interesting, thanks! I might give it a read...if I can find it locally. Smile

Oh yeah, this "met 10 minutes ago/madly in love" stuff. Puh-leeze. ;-P

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