The Strange Case of Miss Annie Spragg Is Understated Gem

If you can imagine a novel written by Alfred Hitchcock, you’ll understand the fascination of Louis Bromfield’s 1928 bestseller The Strange Case of Miss Annie Spragg.

Annie Spragg, an American, dies in a small Italian village. Her body shows what villagers say are stigmata. Mr. Winnery, who dabbles in writing, decides to investigate the “miracle.”

He learns Annie was one of 13 legitimate children of a frontier cult leader murdered by a jealous lover of one of the virgins who served him. After their parents’ deaths, Annie and Uriah, her creepy preacher-brother who idolized their mother, lived together until Uriah was murdered.

Suspicion fell on Annie. She was stripped, examined, and questioned. Investigators found she had unusual scars. There was a heavy whip in the cabin and handcuffs that Uriah used to chain her in her bed at night.

No one was ever charged in Uriah’s murder.

Like a horde of letters and newspaper clippings in somebody’s attic, Annie Spragg leaves plenty of clues but no conclusion.

Bromfield increases the fascination of the story by his squeaky-clean presentation. Readers grasping for clues can’t be sure whether the sordid story they infer is in the material or in their own dirty minds.

The Strange Case of Miss Annie Spragg
By Louis Bromfield
Grosset & Dunlap,  1928
314 pages
1928 #
My Grade: A
© 2007 Linda Gorton Aragoni