Skip to Content
ublogo print

University at Buffalo Libraries

George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

Rendezvous in Black

cover image By: Woolrich, Cornell (male)
Publisher: Pocket Books, Inc. (570)
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 272: PS3515 .O6455 R46 1949
Contributor: T. McElroy, S. Roe


Era: 1940s Author as on Cover: Cornell Woolrich Geographic Locale: unidentified small town in the United States Date of Publication: 1949  |  Original Date: 1948 Setting: starts and ends in a small town with a town square. Killer does some traveling to bring down his victims. Motives: revenge, murder

Plot Summary

A senseless accident ends the life of a young woman just before her wedding day. She and her beau always met at the same time, in the same place every day, and he was always there first, to watch her arrive. On this day he arrives late and finds a crowd surrounding the body of a young woman in the middle of the street. At first he doesn't recognize her; then comes denial. Every day he stands in the same spot, waiting for her to return. Abruptly, the young man disappears and is soon forgotten. Then, in a distant city, other women begin to die and after each death, their husband, father or lover finds a note asking "how does it feel?" It takes three deaths before the police officer begins to notice a pattern, but he is powerless to make potential victims believe him. Only after the last man knows "how it felt" do the police catch the murderer.

Major Characters

MacLain Cameron adult male, detective. Too thin, his face wore a chronically haggard look. His cheekbones stood out and his cheeks stood in. His manner was a mixture of uncertainty, followed by hasty actions. He always acted new to any given proceedings, as if undertaking them for the first time.

Johnny Marr adult male, average, wholesome, conventional, commonplace. Sandy hair, brown eyes. People who had seen him hundreds of times could not describe him because he looked so much like the average.

Dorothy adult female, "never was a lovelier girl," Johnny's fiancee

Graham Garrison adult male, and Jeanette Wright Garrison, his wife

Hugh Strickland adult male, and Esther Holliday, tall and lithe, his mistress

Bucklyn Paige "Bucky," adult male, soldier and Sharon Paige, his wife, brown hair, hazel eyes, wartime factory worker

Richard R. Drew adult male, and Madeline, his daughter, adolescent, long dark hair, gray eyes

Allen Ward adult male, and Martine Jensen, the love of his life, beautiful, blind, melodious voice


tetanus (rusty nail), hands (strangulation), fists, extreme cleverness (deceit), needle (poison)

Level of Violence

the element of suspense is more critical to the story than the actual deaths of the victims. In some cases, the reader is not even told how they were killed. Three of the five deaths are only implied. The killer takes out one person each year on the anniversary of the death of his fiancee.


in two cases, the killer slowly seduces the victims to gain their trust and confidence before killing them. Implied seduction and adultery.

Gender Roles

the killer sets out to punish five men by killing the woman that each one loves the most, sometimes first destroying their relationship. In each instance, the killer focuses on this criteria rather than simply killing the man's wife without looking further. Consequently, not all deaths involve the man's spouse. Gender roles are traditional, and do not have a lot of bearing on the plot.


none evident

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

drugs are used to kill one of the victims; social drinking and smoking are evident, but do not directly affect the plot.

Law Enforcement

local police departments

Added Features

seduction is used heavily by the murderer to get close to most of his female victims. Although he must have been insane, he was extremely successful in playing the part of the attentive lover, Mr. Nice Guy, and a "good fellow," fooling both men and women.

Subject Headings

Murder/ Revenge

Psychological Elements

There is no paranoia, guilt or substance abuse on the part of the murderer -- just a cold, calculated, and well researched progression towards his goal. From time to time, he does seem to believe that his girlfriend is still alive, still coming to meet him. He whistles at her old bedroom window years after her death.