B. M. Gill Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Two of B. M. Gill’s mystery novels, Victims (1980) and Seminar for Murder (1985), are tightly written police procedurals with high puzzle value and fairly conventional “whodunit” plots. Death Drop (1979) and The Twelfth Juror (1984) are psychological portraits of victims, criminals, bereaved families, and innocent bystanders all trapped together by tragic events and emotional stresses beyond their control. The Fifth Rapunzel (1991) combines elements of both. Nursery Crimes (1986) is a sardonic analysis of a six-year-old murderess who wipes out pesky playmates and interfering adults with the cool aplomb of a baby Lizzie Borden.

Gill’s greatest contribution to the mystery genre lies in her ability to button herself (and her readers) into the skins of her characters. Their deeds and psyches are not merely described but rendered as well. Gill makes her readers feel each emotion—from humor to horror—and think each thought along with the character. Gill’s versatility in several genres and her emotional range are remarkable.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Callendar, Newgate. “Crime.” Review of Death Drop, by B. M. Gill. The New York Times, September 28, 1980, p. A20. Reviewer praises Gill’s ability to portray disturbed states of mind.

Priestman, Martin. The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. An excellent general reference that offers much insight into the genre. Contains a chapter on postwar British crime fiction.

Reynolds, Moira Davison. Women Authors of Detective Series: Twenty-one American and British Authors, 1900-2000. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2001. Contains information on female writers of detective series. While Gill is not covered, the essays provide context for her work.

Talburt, Nancy Ellen. “B. M. Gill.” In Great Women Mystery Writers, edited by Kathleen Gregory Klein. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. This valuable source places Gill in critical context with other women writing on similar themes.

Virginia Quarterly Review. Review of Time and Time Again, by B. M. Gill. 66, no. 3 (Summer, 1990): S97. Review of work in which Maeve Barclay has served time for injuring a police officer during a demonstration and her alienation from her former life draws her into crime. Reviewer praises the clarity of Gill’s writing.