Vintage Domestic Suspense: DO EVIL IN RETURN by Margaret Millar


Publisher: Avon Books
Release Date: 1974 (first published 1950)
Rating: ★★★★


Girls like Violet often came into Dr. Charlotte Keating’s office. Violet wore a wedding ring, but then they all did. They bought them at the dime store just before the appointment. And Charlotte’s response was the same each time: firm but sympathetic refusal.

But there was something about Violet. Perhaps it was her cheap clothes, or her forlorn predicament; perhaps it was her air of terror and grief. Charlotte went to visit her…and found instead a shabby rooming house full of sinister characters, all of whom claimed that Violet was gone and had left no forwarding address. All too soon poor Violet was found—and a chain of events began which would subject Charlotte to a harrowing ordeal like none she’d ever experienced!


Very good! DO EVIL IN RETURN is a mystery/domestic suspense novel first published in 1950. It was considered controversial at the time because the victim in this case is a young woman seeking an abortion (which would be illegal for another two decades in the United States).

Protagonist Dr. Charlotte Keating is torn — she wants to help Violet but doesn’t want to break the law. Violet runs away in frustration, but later Charlotte tries to track her down to see if there’s some way to improve her circumstances. Unfortunately it’s too late for Violet, and Charlotte’s interference puts her career and safety in jeopardy.

The mystery was twisty and surprising. I thought I had it figured out, but no! Some of the language and attitudes are dated, of course, but I thought that Charlotte was a compelling heroine.

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