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.