For months, MysteryPeople has been anticipating the release of The Library of America’s Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s, edited by celebrated crime fiction expert Sarah Weinman. The collection comes out Tuesday, September 1st, and we’re excited to tell you a bit more about it. With works from both well-known and long-forgotten luminaries, including Margaret Millar, Patricia Highsmith, Vera Caspary and Dorothy B. Hughes, this two-volume set is a crash course in classic works by female suspense writers.
Much of the noir canon that has stayed in print is of male authorship, leading many a mystery enthusiast to believe that few women were involved in the genre until more recent times. The two volumes together showcase many of the women who shaped and contributed to the mystery genre, and those who read this compilation will understand the roots of the genre in an entirely new way.
“Why devote two volumes to women crime writers? Here is a rich, nuanced tradition of American crime writing that got left behind and neglected. They may not have called themselves feminists—Dorothy B. Hughes openly chafed at the term, while others were more ambivalent—yet their novels remain all-too-relevant to the current conversation on topics like gender bias in publishing.” – Sarah Weinman Read full essay.
The two volume set, decorated with a stylized brunette on the cover of one volume and a blond on the other, gives an eye opening look at an era of fiction and at writers who truly deserve their due. To get an idea of the books, check out the Library of America’s fantastic companion website, with essays on each book from the likes of Sara Paretsky, Megan Abbott, and Duane Swierczynsky. You can also read essays from Sarah Weinman exploring the history of women’s suspense fiction, and detailing the efforts behind the publication of this impressive collection.
Keep an eye out over the course of the month for more in-depth reviews from MysteryPeople on each volume of this wonderful set!