The Three Roads by Kenneth Millar, published in 1948. This is Millar’s fourth novel and the last one written under his given name.
|Publisher||Alfred A. Knopf|
|Publication Date (initial)||June 7, 1948|
As the novel opens, Naval officer Lt. Bret Daniels has been recuperating in a Naval hospital for nine months, recovering from war wounds, and suffering amnesia. Paula visits him regularly, never mentioning Lorraine, whom Daniels has no memory of. With help from Paula, he begins to learn more about forgotten events, including that on the eve before his departure to the Pacific theater of war, Daniels argues with his girlfriend, screenwriter Paula West, gets very drunk and meets and marries Lorraine (unknown to Paula). Paula writes to Bret during the war, hoping to reconcile, until he finally admits to his marriage.
When Daniels returns from the war, he goes to the home he had bought for him and Lorraine, only to find her murdered.
When Bret Daniels finally finds out about Lorraine, he at first remembers that he killed her, though Paula convinces him that he could not possibly have killed her, based the evidence. Daniels goes off on a search to find her killer. There are several suspects, including Paula, and Daniels finds a lot of rough company as he searches for the truth.
The New York Times Book Review published a positive short review in the “Companions for Vacation Hammocks” section on July 25, 1948, written by Helen Parker.
Obviously, Mr. Millar is quite a student of psychiatry. He is also deft at the suspense novel. And, so, there are really only two roads in “The Three Roads”–the one faithfully describing a kind of Gestalt arc, and the other obeying the dicta of the type of fiction which demands surprises and the suspension of disbelief. In this story of a newly discharged lieutenant’s frantic struggles through some memory blocks concerning his murdered bride, there is real excitement when the roads meet, but one is sometimes disappointed when he chooses the Hitchcock fork rather than the Jungian curve, say. However, this is probably carping. Mr. Millar is a writer with more than average talent for characterization and description. Los Angeles, San Francisco and points between have by now been ground to fine sand in film and fiction, but Mr. Millar re-invests them vividness.
Millar reached into his classical education in basing The Three Roads, in part, on Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannous. In fact, Millar includes this quote
For now am I discovered vile, and of the vile. O ye three roads, and concealed dell, and oaken copse, and narrow outlet of three ways, which drank my own blood…
Alfred Knopf was quite pleased with The Three Roads and felt it was Millar’s best so far, even though he did suggest that Millar tighten up the book, resulting in some 10,000 words being cut.
The Three Roads is the last novel written in Millar’s own name. It also marks the last of his novels that deal directly with World War II or its direct aftermath. Next, he adopts his (temporary) pen name of John Macdonald. Upon completion of The Three Roads, Millar returned to the University of Michigan to resume work on his doctorate in English Literature.
Additional Publication Information
The information is here is accurate to the best knowledge of the site’s author, but should not be presumed to be definitive.
|1950||Cassell and Company||1st English edition|
|1960||Bantam||4th edition, 1st printing|
|1962||Transworld Corgi||5th edition|
|1968||Bantam||4th edition, Canadian printing|
|2011||Vintage Books/Black Lizard||1st Vintage/Black Lizard edition|
|1948 1st edition Alfred A. Knopf|
|1949 Dell 2nd edition|
|1960 Bantam 4th edition|
|unknown Allison & Busby UK|
|2011 Vintage / Black Lizard|