Charlotte MacLeod Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

In her mysteries, Charlotte MacLeod created local communities that, along with her principal series characters, served as continuing elements within her fiction. Her development of these communities, with all their customs and eccentricities, the new residents who bring change, and the movement of minor characters into major roles in particular novels, made her work distinctive. To define these communities further, MacLeod used domestic detail, conveying realism and evaluating her characters’ states of mind by the states of their domestic circumstances. A love interest in each series culminates in marriage, indicating the importance of stability in the domestic sphere of her sleuths, amateur and professional. MacLeod’s portrayals of domestic detail and marital relationships to support the development of her characters places her in a company that includes Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Simpson, and Patricia Moyes, among others. The light touch MacLeod brought to her mysteries, in which humor and satire are as important to the overall effect of her work as the plot, further distinguished her fiction from that of her contemporaries and allowed her to present mysteries that were also comedies of manners.

MacLeod was a member of the Mystery Writers of America and Crime Writers of Canada. In 1992 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Bouchercon convention and in 1998 she received the Malice Domestic Award for Lifetime Achievement. She also received the Nero Wolfe Award for The Corpse in Oozak’s Pond (1987), and she was twice nominated for Edgar Allan Poe Awards and three times nominated for an Agatha Award.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

DeCandido, GraceAnne A. Review of The Balloon Man, by Charlotte MacLeod. Booklist 95, no. 2 (September 15, 1998): 203. Although the reviewer objects to MacLeod’s persistent whimsy, she says the novel will appeal to those who can set aside their skepticism.

Lindsay, Elizabeth Blakesley, ed. Great Women Mystery Writers. 2d ed. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2007. Contains an essay on McLeod that examines her work and her life.

Long, Tom. “Charlotte MacLeod, Author of More than Thirty Mysteries.” Boston Globe, January 21, 2005, p. C21. Obituary of MacLeod that looks at her distinctive personality, penchant for white gloves and elaborate hats, and childhood influences and motivations for being a writer.

Oliver, Myrna. “Charlotte MacLeod, Eighty-two: Author of ’Cozy’ Mysteries, Juvenile Books.” Los Angeles Times, January 19, 2005, p. B9. Obituary that notes how the MacLeod’s ladylike manner and white gloves fit the cozy genre. MacLeod, who lived in Maine, was regarded by some as the inspiration for Jessica Fletcher in the Murder, She Wrote (1984-1996) series. Contains substantial biographical information.

Publishers Weekly. Review of The Balloon Man, by Charlotte MacLeod. 245 (November 2, 1998): 73. This brief review praises the zaniness of the novel’s events and MacLeod’s witty urbanity.

Publishers Weekly. Review of Exit the Milkman, by Charlotte MacLeod. 243, no. 27 (July 1,1996): 45. This brief review praises MacLeod’s whimsy and wit in the Shandy novels.

Reddy, Maureen T. “The Female Detective: From Nancy Drew to Sue Grafton.” In Mystery and Suspense Writers, edited by Robin Winks. New York: Scribners, 1998. This detailed study offers insight into a variety of female detectives, both hard-boiled and amateurs like MacLeod’s Sarah Kelling. Bibliography.

Routledge, Chris. “Detective Fiction.” In St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Detroit: St. James Press, 2000. This basic essay offers an overview of the conventions of detective fiction through the centuries, concentrating on the subgenres of the subject. Sheds light on MacLeod’s work. Bibliography.