Mystery on Main Street

Women Crime Writers: 8 Novels

Though women crime and suspense writers dominate today’s best seller lists, the extraordinary creations of the mid-century female pioneers of the genre are largely unknown. Their work, influential in its day and still vibrant and extraordinarily riveting, is long overdue for rediscovery. Now The Library of America makes these classic books available in a deluxe two-volume collector’s edition.

From the 1940s, here are Vera Caspary’s famous career girl mystery Laura; Helen Eustis’s intricate campus thriller The Horizontal Man; Dorothy B. Hughes’s In a Lonely Place, the terrifyingly intimate portrait of a serial killer; and Elisabeth Sanxay Holding’s The Blank Wall, in which a wife in wartime is forced to take extreme measures when her family is threatened.

The 1950s volume includes Charlotte Armstrong’s Mischief, the nightmarish drama of a child entrusted to a psychotic babysitter; Patricia Highsmith’s brilliant The Blunderer, which tracks the perverse parallel lives of two men driven toward murder; Margaret Millar’s Beast in View, a relentless study in madness; and Dolores Hitchens’s Fools’ Gold, a hard-edged tale of robbery and redemption.

Edited by Sarah Weinmann 

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