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"Letter to a Lover" seems to promise a less than sterling THRILLER, but looks can be deceiving. One of the series' best crime episodes, it begins with a doctor's nurse entering her employer's office, discovering his dead body lying on the floor, and spotted fleeing the scene is Andrew Lawrence (Murray Matheson, previously seen in "The Poisoner"), whose wife Sylvia (Ann Todd) had an appointment with the doctor at the exact hour he was murdered. Opting to remove the evidence before phoning the police, the nurse (Avis Scott) intends to blackmail Andrew, who believes his wife committed the murder, while Sylvia believes that it was her husband. An understandably concerned Andrew decides that a trip to the country will work wonders for Sylvia's nerves (but not the viewer's, with a fine, fog shrouded atmosphere). Certainly on a par with "The Merriweather File" as a complex yarn of twists and turns, with no one above suspicion. Murray Matheson is fine, as always; Ann Todd had appeared with Christopher Lee in 1961's "Taste of Fear" (AKA "Scream of Fear") and with Patrick Magee in 1971's "The Fiend" (AKA "Beware of the Brethren").
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've been watching Boris Karloff's Thriller in series order now for a few weeks, and this is the only one after forty four stories (thirty seven in Season 1) where the host doesn't mention the title of the episode by name in his opening monologue. This one can be a little tough to follow so you need to pay attention. Andrew Lawrence (Murray Matheson) thinks his wife Sylvia (Ann Todd) killed her psychiatrist, while Sylvia thinks that her husband did it. She stresses over things she doesn't remember, while he thinks Sylvia was having an affair. Well, she was, but it was an unrequited one with Donald Carver (Felix Deebank). The psychiatrist's nurse figures to cash in on the situation with a little blackmail, but it all turns out to be a red herring for what really happened. Sound confusing? Well, like I said, you have to pay attention until the very end when the Inspector who breaks the case lets us all in on the way it happened a la Charlie Chan. As for that letter - well, nothing really very incriminating about it at all.
This episode takes us a joyride. A murder has been committed and this brings together forces from all over. In this Agatha Christie style mystery, there are a host of suspects and a plethora of red herrings. At the center is an unstable woman who has been gaslighted by her husband. His suspicions and lack of affection have led to her seeking out other men. One of those men is the murdered man. Soon there are all these people trying to figure things out, using insufficient evidence. Hang on with this one. It is hard to watch at first because nothing makes much sense. But if you are patient, there is a real reward at the end. There are some nice performances. One thing, though. How is it that so many women fainted in the sixties? And, how is it that there's always a guy to pick them right up an put them on the couch?
Murray Matheson stars as Andrew Lawrence, who is deeply concerned about his wife Sylvia(played by Ann Todd) whom he thinks is guilty of murdering a London doctor in his office. Sylvia in turn thinks that Andrew is the killer, and seeks out the help of an old flame named Donald Carver(played by Felix Deebank). Andrew meanwhile is being blackmailed by the murdered doctor's nurse(played by Avis Scott) in a scheme to become a permanent part of his household. Of course, the actual murderer was in plain sight the whole time... Nearly forgotten episode is rather good, if a bit slow, with a most clever(if complicated) plot and a neat twist ending.
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