Some time back, I featured in Patti Abbott's series of Forgotten Books a novel by Catherine Arley called Woman of Straw, which was filmed with Sean Connery (although I continue to hunt in vain for a showing of the movie on the schedules). That is my favourite of the two Arley books I've read so far, but Dead Man's Bay also proved worth reading.
Arley was a French writer, several of whose thrillers were published in translation by Collins Crime Club in the late 1950s and early 1960s. She was an exponent of psychological suspense with startling plot twists in the same school as Boileau and Narcejac, Japrisot and Montheilet, although her reputation has not lasted as well.
Dead Man's Bay starts off as a routine woman-in-jeopardy novel, but eventually develops into something more sinister; the ending is very dark indeed. The set-up is straightforward: Ada is alone in a house on a remote Breton clifftop and has evidently suffered a mental collapse. She seems emotionally dependent on her rich husband Andre, but he is away on business and a sequence of troubling, though at first trivial, events causes Ada to fear for her sanity.
The flaw - to my mind - in the novel is that one needs to root for Ada, but in truth she is such a misery that one’s sympathy for her predicament soon becomes tested up to, and beyond, the limits of tolerance. Yet I found the book interesting enough to want to seek out more of her work, and discover whether she was able elsewhere to marry her undoubted talent for tension-building with more adept characterisation. In Woman of Straw, she did just that.