Lowndes is mostly known for The Lodger, a novel that inspired Hitchcock’s first thriller, but I read a couple of her other books in an omnibus with The Lodger. This one is a bit more rote when it comes to plot and conception than The Lodger. It’s a fairly typical story of a sociopathic woman who uses her beauty and sex appeal in order to increase her social standing; and when those things fail her, she can’t help slipping a little arsenic powder into an envelope for use later. Lowndes is a good writer of interior life and she really makes Ivy into much more than a cardboard femme fatale and she also gives even some pretty minor characters, like an abrasive doctor and his meddling wife, feel like real people. I really enjoyed this one actually. 3 ½ stars.
tl;dr – story of sociopathic female social climber is somewhat rote but Lowndes makes every character come vividly to life with her intricate, detailed writing. 3 ½ stars.