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The young widow by Eleanor Elford Cameron
A lot of books reviewed here aren't exactly gothics, so I think this book won't look amiss, even though it's just a suspense story.

It's written and probably also situated in 1973 so lots of people are smoking all the time. "Her small zippered bag of cut velvet patterned with brilliant orange and yellow flowers..." will also set this book in the 70s. Heroine Erin, her stepbrother Danny, evil lawyer George and his secretary Martha embark on a 44-hour train trip from Chicago to Seattle, accompanying the dead body of her husband to his final destination. Circumstances around her husband's death are rather weird and Erin suspects evil lawyer George of foul play. George was described as a George Sanders type and while casting for the movie I found Lara Flynn Boyle came closest to the heroine.
On the train she meets good lawyer John Cornell who will be played by Kevin Kilner. The good lawyer is interested in our heroine, not only because he's attracted to her, but also professionally, as he overhears a strange conversation between Erin and George. He keeps an open mind and won't rule out that Erin herself did her husband in: there's a big age difference, she's to inherit millions, he was a morphine addict and a philanderer, and there was no love lost between them. So for many a chapter the good lawyer is grilling Erin to tell what happened before and after her husband's death, who said what and when etc. etc. And unfortunately it's not Erin, a mere female, who deduces and concludes, but the superior male who of course is better equipped with the right amount of brain cells. I think the editor thought so too and had Ms. Cameron make some changes so Erin would come across a bit cleverer. Alas, this was resolved by having a few people say to and about Erin that she's extremely intelligent, even too clever for her own good. Yes, you're right, so said a male person.

The story is told in third person but it might as well have been first person as all we see is what Erin does, sees and thinks. Near the end there's just one chapter with only the males, the good lawyer and some detectives, who come to a conclusion about the murder and think they can lure the murderer into giving himself away. Of course, they aren't as clever as they thought and the murderer is free to pursue Erin trying to kill her. It's funny that in this book the chased heroine is running towards a light, instead of from the castle with one lighted window as we're used to see on book covers.

The reader will know early on who the murderer is; we just need to find out the motive, the means, the opportunity and the proof in the course of the novel. It's nice to have almost everything happen on the train ride. In a foreword the author thanks the Great Northern Railway Company for letting her use the actual train name, and its personnel for helping her with her research. I'd say the Great Northern Railway Company will be grateful for this book too, as it can be seen as one big advertisement. People will be very comfortable on such a train ride with sleeping compartments and porters who make your bed and change your towels, and provide drinks in the lounge and food in the dining car. Only, don't choose the fish next time...

There's an attraction between Erin and the good lawyer, but this is not a romance novel. The suspense is the main course. This was nicely done, so my verdict is a 6 out of 10.

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