"Does experiencing a suspenseful situation allow one to develop virtue?" "The suspense writer, Charlotte Armstrong (1905-69), no doubt believed that it could. In her works she implied the benefits of experiencing suspense by illustrating the rhetorical benefits of resolving it ethically or virtuously. Thus, in their dealings with other characters, her protagonists discover a virtuous approach to resolving suspense that involves an expanded view of the language one uses and the perspective one adopts." "After writing a number of theatrical plays, Armstrong began writing mysteries - whodunits - and then, at the advice of her literary agent, changed directions. She began writing suspense stories so that her readers, if not the other characters, would know the identity of the villain. This move left her free to focus on how one creates suspense and to what end." "Her shift in focus coincided with the family's move from New Rochelle, NY, to Glendale, CA, in the mid 1940s in time for Armstrong to absorb the elements of suspense in the new genre of film noir. Nonetheless, while informed by film noir, Armstrong's work is set in the everyday, the commonplace, where with one simple action, a series of events are set into motion that keep readers in high suspense." "In Armstrong's correspondence, one observes the lucrative market of women's magazines and newspapers for serialized novels and short stories, the painful bottom line of publishing houses, the diplomatic skills of literary agents toward their authors, the advent of television and its markets for, and marketing of, literary works, and the ever-present and ever-elusive offers from the film industry." "This book seeks to understand Armstrong's contribution to popular fiction through an exploration of her childhood diaries, her adult correspondence, her published and cinematic works, the reviews of those works, and the recollections of her agent, children, and grandchildren. What emerges is the portrait of a writer whose determination, curiosity, analytic mien, and ideas about humanity shaped her writing in ways that fascinated her critics and readers, a fashion that perhaps unconsciously recognized the virtue of suspense in her written works."--Jacket.