Charlotte Armstrong Lewi (May 2, 1905, in Vulcan, Michigan – July 7, 1969, in Glendale, California) was an American author. Under the names Charlotte Armstrong and Jo Valentine she wrote 29 novels, as well as short stories, plays, and screenplays. She also worked for The New York Times’ advertising department, as a fashion reporter for Breath of the Avenue (a buyer’s guide), and in an accounting firm.
Armstrong Lewi graduated from Vulcan High School in Vulcan, Michigan, in June 1921. She attended the junior college program at Ferry Hall in Lake Forest, Illinois for one year (1921–22), during which time she served as Editor-in-Chief of the student publication, Ferry Tales. She attended the University of Wisconsin and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Barnard College in 1925. She had a daughter and two sons with her husband, Jack Lewi.
In 1957, she received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for her novel A Dram of Poison. She wrote two other Edgar-nominated novels: The Gift Shop (1966) and Lemon in the Basket(1967). Three of her short stories, all published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, were nominated for Edgars: “And Already Lost” (1957), “The Case for Miss Peacock” (1965), and “The Splintered Monday” (1966).
A Dram of Poison
For fifty-five years, Kenneth Gibson has lived in backwaters. A former army clerk, he makes a quiet living teaching poetry to indifferent undergrads. His life is happily dull until the day he meets Rosemary, a damaged girl whose frailty compels Kenneth to try to make her well. They wed, and as Rosemary recovers from her depression, Gibson falls in love, transforming his world.
But his wife will never love him.
She is smitten with their landlord, a dashing young chemical engineer named Paul. Gibson wants to let her go, but he cannot bear to be parted with the first love he has ever known. In Paul’s house is a case of poison, and this love triangle can only end in death.
The Happiest Days, 1939 (play)
Ring Around Elizabeth, 1941 (play)
Lay On, Mac Duff! 1942
The Case of the Weird Sisters, 1943
The Innocent Flower, 1945 (also known as Death Filled the Glass)
The Unsuspected, 1945/6, Coward-McCann
The Chocolate Cobweb, 1948
The Black-Eyed Stranger, 1952
Catch-as-Catch-Can, 1953 (also known as Walk Out on Death)
The Trouble in Thor, 1953 (as Jo Valentine; also known as And Sometimes Death)
The Better to Eat You, 1954 (also known as Murder’s Nest)
The Dream Walker, 1955 (also known as Alibi for Murder)
A Dram of Poison, 1956
The Albatross, 1957 (short story collection)
Incident at a Corner, 1957
The Seventeen Widows of San Souci, 1959
The Girl with a Secret, 1959
Something Blue, 1959
Then Came Two Women, 1962
The One-Faced Girl, 1963
The Mark of the Hand, 1963
The Witch’s House, 1963
Who’s Been Sitting in My Chair?, 1963
A Little Less Than Kind, 1964
The Turret Room, 1965
Dream of Fair Woman, 1966
I See You, 1966 (short story collection)
The Gift Shop, 1966
Lemon in the Basket, 1967
The Balloon Man, 1968
Seven Seats to the Moon, 1969
The Protege, 1970
Night Call and Other Stories of Suspense, ed. Rick Cypert and Kirby McCauley, Crippen & Landru Publishers, 2014
“Incident at a Corner”, episode of Startime, dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1959
“The Summer Hero,” episode of The Chevy Mystery Show, 1960
Three episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents: “Sybilla” (dir. Ida Lupino); “The Five-Forty-Eight” (adapted from the John Cheever short story); and “Across the Threshold”, 1960
The Mark of the Hand was adapted for an episode of the Thriller television series.
The following films were adapted from Armstrong’s novels and stories.
Merci pour le chocolat, 2000 (from the novel The Chocolate Cobweb) (dir. Claude Chabrol)
The Sitter, 1991 (from the novel Mischief) (dir. Rick Berger)
La Rupture, 1970 (from the novel The Balloon Man) (dir. Claude Chabrol)
Talk About a Stranger, 1952 (from the short story, “The Enemy”)
Don’t Bother to Knock, 1952 (from the novel Mischief) (dir. Roy Baker)
The Three Weird Sisters, 1948 (from the novel The Case of the Weird Sisters) (dir. Daniel Birt)
The Unsuspected, 1947 (dir. Michael Curtiz)