(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

When Helen Reilly began writing detective stories in the 1930’s, most female writers followed the Had-I-But-Known style. In this type of plot, a young woman unwittingly becomes involved in a romance with a handsome but evil man. The author usually tells the story from the woman’s point of view. Reilly wanted none of this. Instead, she wrote police procedurals, giving a detailed and realistic picture of a homicide squad in operation. Her female characters are not “flighty young things” but rather mature, competent persons. Reilly has been recognized by Howard Haycroft, an authority on the detective story, as one of the most important mystery writers of the 1930’s.

Helen Reilly Bibliography

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

DuBose, Martha Hailey, with Margaret Caldwell Thomas. Women of Mystery: The Lives and Works of Notable Women Crime Novelists. New York: St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2000. Briefly mentions Reilly but elaborates on other Americans writing in the Golden Age of mysteries and thereby places her in the genre.

Haycraft, Howard. Murder for Pleasure: The Life and Times of the Detective Story. 1941. Rev. ed. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1984. Discusses the aesthetic appeal of tales of murder and intrigue; provides background for understanding Reilly.

Huang, Jim, ed. They Died In Vain: Overlooked, Underappreciated, and Forgotten Mystery Novels. Carmel, Ind.: Crum Creek Press, 2002. Reilly is among the authors discussed in this book about mystery novels that never found the audience they deserved.

Reynolds, William. “Seven ’Crimefiles’ of the 1930’s: The Purest Puzzles of the Golden Age.” Clues: A Journal of Detection 1 (Fall/Winter, 1980): 42-53. Includes Inspector McKee in a list of Golden Age genre-defining puzzles and the detectives who solved them.