Femme Fatale: Blanche Lake

What makes Blanche Lake a femme fatale?

She doesn’t try to seduce the detectives who are investigating the case of her missing daughter as  did Kitty Keeler in The Investigation.

Although Blanche Lake is an attractive woman who has just moved into New York City with her three-year old daughter she is not drop-dead gorgeous as is Jennifer Rockwell  in Night Train.

Nor is she money hungry like Dolly Henderson in Honor Bound.

Blanche Lake is very frightened and very disturbed.

Though little physical violence is present in the novel,  Piper brutally deals with the psychological violence that is a common theme throughout her noir thrillers.

Evelyn Piper was Merriam Modell’s pen name. She has also been referred to as Miriam Levant, the name she was given on her birth in Manhattan in 1908.  Her novel The Innocent – a domestic suspense novel  was nominated for the Edgar Award for Best First Novel and Bunny Lake is Missing was made into a Hollywood film.

It’s unfortunate that in the movie version changed Blanche Lake’s name to Anne Lake. Blanche, conjures up Tennessee William’s femme fatale, Blanche Dubois – a clear connection to Blanche Lake.

In an excellent article on the movie versus the book, Jake Hingston at criminalelement.com wrote this about Blanche’s character.

Is Bunny real? Or did Blanche imagine a daughter for herself, the result of some trauma in her past? All we know for sure is that Blanche’s terror is real. As daylight bleeds away and night falls, she struggles to keep herself together. Is this frightened young woman going insane? Piper doesn’t reveal the answer too soon, and by keeping us guessing she pulls off a neat trick: we’re certainly pulling for our heroine against all the skeptical people around her, even though we’re not sure if we believe her. For most of its length, Bunny Lake Is Missing is a complex page turner…Is she crazy? Or is she a woman caught up in the grinding machinery of a man’s world? It’s the urgency of those questions, and not the plot mechanics, that stays with you after you finish the book.


31 thoughts on “Femme Fatale: Blanche Lake

  1. Oh, my goodness, Carol, I hadn’t thought of that film in years!! Wow! And you’re right about the femme fatale qualities here. Not in the traditional sense, as you point out, but definitely there!


    • Reading Bunny Lake is Missing was a nail-biting experience for me. As I read I kept wondering why Blanche Lake was a femme fatale. She didn’t fit the mold. But she was definitely a damsel in distress.


  2. As I child, I admired Xena: Warrior Princess because although she was beautiful, she didn’t really use seduction to get what she wanted.


  3. Sometimes the psychological threat is more scary than the real one. I always love a good psychological thriller. ‘Gone Girl’ definitely fits the bill. Loved that book (though I know many people didn’t.)


    • I still haven’t gotten around to reading Gone Girl. That you loved the book and many people didn’t just proves two things: 1) write what you like and 2) you can’t please everybody.
      I hope you’re still enjoying your holidays. 🙂


  4. Wow, what a flash from the past. I remember watching that movie when I was quite young. If my selective memory serves me right, wasn’t it Lee Remick who played Anne? I remember the distraught mother and the mystery of, was there even a child? Great post! Nice to see you back. 🙂


    • You made me go back to my research. In the 1965 movie version of Bunny Lake is Missing.Carol Lynley played Anne. Originally it was supposed to be Jane Fonda.
      Although some internet sites link Lee Remick with Bunny Lake, her filmography does not show that she played in that movie. I don’t know…
      Because I’m busy trying to edit and publish my novel The Dating Club, I’m not posting as often. 🙂


      • Thanks for checking Carol. You are probably right now that I think of it. Perhaps I mixed them up? And I hear you on the editing! I am at that point with my newest book. Barely time to catch our breaths! 🙂


  5. This is good how you explained what a femme fatale is and how it can encompass more than looks, Carol! I enjoyed this biography about Blanche Lake. I think the book that intrigues me, is the one with the mother moving to NYC, with a young child. This is unusual plot, in and in itself. There weren’t so many ‘single mom’ heroines, this would be definitely a page-turner! I remember watching that movie, but have only a few memories of the plot. I enjoyed this post, immensely, Carol!


    • Thanks, Robin. I’m glad you appreciated my post. I like what you said about not being many single mother heroines. You make a good point. 🙂 Thanks so much for adding to this post. 🙂


    • Hilary, I went on Amazon and did a look inside of your novel, Unseen Unsung. Those are thrilling first pages, Hilary.
      I was so taken in by what i read that I downloaded your book. I don’t know when I’ll get to it but I’m looking forward to reading it.:).


  6. Excellent article, Carol. The questions, oh the questions, when presented well they stay with us long after we put the book down. Taking our imagination on a wild ride, that’s great talent. A good artist is one who possesses the rare gift of leaving the reader with questions, even after the plot has been masterfully solved. Loved reading this.


  7. Carol – Another interesting contribution in your femme fatale series, and refreshing that a character can be a femme fatale not based on looks or style alone … Great photo of Evelyn Piper – love that cigarette:-)


  8. very interesting, Carol… we use to say: on en apprend tous les jours… – we learn something (new) each day… 🙂
    * * *
    what about Lauren Bacall – the FEMME TOTALE?… RIP.


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