THE BLACK CURTAIN (1941) is the fourth Cornell Woolrich novel I've read in the last year or so. Although it starts out strong, the ending feels a bit forced and contrived. However, that in no way lessened my enjoyment of the book and my anticipation of savoring more Woolrich novels in the future.
CURTAIN deals with the classic noir trope of amnesia. A freak accident restores Frank Townsend's memory one day but he's left with a three year gap in his life that he has no recollection of. He soon finds himself hunted by a mysterious man in gray. Townsend goes back to the street where the narrative opening accident occurred, hoping to find some clue to his missing past. He finds a young girl who knows him as Dan Nearing and knows he's wanted for murder. Townsend and the girl team up to discover the real killer and it's here where things get a bit stretched.
From out of nowhere, Townsend suddenly develops and employs deductive skills second only to Sherlock Holmes. He can decode Morse Code sent by eye blinks (!) and figures out how the deadly shotgun blast was engineered in a fantastical way.
Still, Woolrich keeps the tension turned up to maximum throughout resulting in a satisfying thriller of psychological suspense. BLACK CURTAIN was filmed as STREET OF CHANCE in 1942 (a film I have not seen but will be on the look out for), as a radio drama on SUSPENSE in 1943 and as a Sydney Pollack directed episode of THE ALFRED HITCHCOCK HOUR (no surprise, this material is straight up Hitch's alley) in 1962.
Recommended for all noir fans.