Women of Mystery: The Lives and Works of Notable Women Crime Novelists

December 16, 2014 - Comment

In this remarkable book, Martha Hailey DuBose has given those multitudes of readers who love the mystery novel an indispensable addition to their libraries. Unlike other works on the subject, Women of Mystery is not merely a directory of the novelists and their publications with a few biographical details. DuBose combines extensive research into the

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In this remarkable book, Martha Hailey DuBose has given those multitudes of readers who love the mystery novel an indispensable addition to their libraries. Unlike other works on the subject, Women of Mystery is not merely a directory of the novelists and their publications with a few biographical details. DuBose combines extensive research into the lives of significant women mystery writers from Anna Katherine Green and Mary Roberts Rinehart with critical essays on their work, anecdotes, contemporary reviews and opinions and some of the women’s own comments. She takes us through the Golden Age of the British women mystery writers, Christie, Sayers, Marsh, Allingham and Tey, to the leading crime novelists of today, focused on the women who have become legends of the genre. And though she laments, “so many mysteries, so little time,” she makes a good effort a mentioning “some of the best of the rest.”

When DuBose writes of the lives of her principal players, she relates them to their times, their families, their personal situations and above all to their books. She subtly points out that Sayers, whose experience with the men in her life was inevitably disastrous, created in Lord Peter the ideal lover — one who is all that a woman desires and needs. DuBose gives us the curriculum vitae that Dorothy Sayers created to help her bring Peter Wimsey to a virtual actuality. Ngaio Marsh would give up an active presence in the theatrical world she loved, but she recreated it for herself as well as her readers in many of her novels. The biographies of these woman are as engrossing as the stories they wrote, and Martha DuBose has shined a different, intimate and intriguing light on them, their works, and the lives that informed those works.

This book is so full of treasure it’s hard to see how any mystery enthusiast will be able to do without it. And what a gift it would make for anyone on your list who has been heard to announce “I love a mystery.”

Some of the treats inside:

In the Beginning: The Mothers of Detection
Anna Katherine Green
Mary Roberts Rinehart

A Golden Era: The Genteel Puzzlers
Agatha Christie
20 Dorothy L. Sayers
Ngaio Marsh
Margery Allingham
Josephine Tey

Modern Motives: Mysteries of the Murderous Mind
Patricia Highsmith
P.D. James
Ruth Rendell
Mary Higgins Clark
Sue Grafton and more!!

Comments

Harriet Klausner says:

A must read woork of non fiction dealing with mystery WOMEN OF MYSTERY looks into the lives of some of the all time great female authors of detective tales. The short biographies are divided into three eras: the beginning, the golden age, and the modern period. The “Beginning” occurs in the latter half of the nineteenth century into the early decades of the twentieth century. Though it lists short-short bios on others, this section chronicles two of the genre’s “grandmothers”, Green and Rinehart. The “Golden” age…

kellytwo "kellytwo" says:

Sumptuous, but — This book is indeed a surfeit of riches! My only complaint (and the reason for four stars instead of five) is that it is just simply too big for one volume. It’s chock-full of wonderful information presented in a very accessible manner, in which any fan of the GoldenAge mysteries would be interested. How much nicer it would have been for the reader (not to mention easier to hold!) if it had been done in two or three volumes. Granted, it might not be possible to do as thorough a biography of a…

P. Lozar "plozar" says:

Belongs in every mystery lover’s library As an avid mystery reader (and someone who’s dabbled in the genre myself), I was delighted to stumble across this book in the library. I’d already read biographies of some of the writers Dubose profiles (e.g., Sayers and Christie), but this book puts them in their social, historical, and literary context as well as describing their personal lives (which are often even more astonishing than their books). And I knew next to nothing about some of the foremothers of the mystery genre (e.g., Anna…

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