Ann Granger Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Ann Granger’s best-known Mitchell and Markby series derives from the traditional cozy crime novel that was made popular in the 1920’s by writers such as Agatha Christie. These early cozy mysteries were set in rural England in a society made up of a few ruling families who had lived in their country houses for generations; their dutiful, subservient servants; equally dependent cottagers; and the local farmers and townspeople, who were also well aware of the need for deference to those of a higher social class. As everyone had a role to play in this society, murder was a shocking aberration, and the purpose of the novel was to put things right as speedily as possible. Readers did not expect to find acts of violence and descriptions of bloody bodies in these mysteries; it was appalling enough that a murder had been committed in what was assumed to be an ideal society. However, as this society disappeared, the genre declined in popularity.

In the 1970’s, some talented writers saw how the cozy mystery could be redefined and refocused, and revived the genre. Granger’s popular Meredith Mitchell and Alan Markby series is among the best of the new cozies. In this series, Granger retains the village setting and many of the character types found in the traditional cozy, but she is uncompromisingly realistic about the changes that threaten to destroy English country life. Because of both its style and its substance, the Mitchell and Markby series is highly regarded by critics. Granger’s works have been translated into French, German, Swedish, and Finnish.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Ashley, Mike, comp. The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Modern Crime Fiction: The Authors, Their Works, and Their Most Famous Creations. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2002. Essay on Ann Granger includes biographical information and traces the author’s use of pseudonyms. Praises plotting and characterization in the Mitchell and Markby series. Notes that the Varady series, though also well written, differs markedly as to setting and social class.

Heising, Willetta L. Detecting Women: A Reader’s Guide and Checklist for Mystery Series Written by Women. 3d ed. Dearborn, Mich.: Purple Moon Press, 2000. Brief entry on Granger differentiates between the author’s two series and lists mysteries written through 1999. An extensive index points out numerous other references to the author and her works.

Oleksiw, Susan. “Cozy Mystery.” In The Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing, edited by Rosemary Herbert, Catherine Aird, John M. Reilly, and Susan Oleksiw. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Defines the genre and traces its history. Oleksiw’s suggestion that the form has once again become popular as a way to explore issues of community is clearly applicable to Granger’s mysteries.

Publishers Weekly. Review of Shades of Murder, by Ann Granger. 248 (September 24, 2001): 72. This book exemplifies Granger’s success in modernizing the traditional village mystery. Her handling of a double plot, involving two poisonings more than a century part, is superb.

Windrath, Helen, ed. They Wrote the Book: Thirteen Women Mystery Writers Tell All. Duluth, Minn.: Spinsters Ink, 2000. Essays by British and North American female mystery writers on subjects including setting, characterization, plotting, and research. One particularly illuminating essay discusses the use of women sleuths.