Elizabeth Daly Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Elizabeth Daly’s sixteen novels featuring Henry Gamadge, a New York gentleman of independent means whose interest in mysteries associated with old books and manuscripts frequently leads him into mysteries associated with crimes, follow the tradition established in Great Britain during the Golden Age of detective fiction. Working in the vein of Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Agatha Christie (who once named Daly as her favorite American author) , Daly superimposed on the geography of New York and New England the upper-class settings of these writers’ novels. Although Gamadge is American, his language and his social habits are British, to the point that individuals use “torches” instead of flashlights and cars “hoot” rather than honk. Despite these anomalies and sometimes awkward dialogue when working-class individuals are involved, Daly’s books are, for the most part, carefully crafted, reflecting her conviction that detective fiction is a high form of literary art.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Barzun, Jacques, and Wendell Hertig Taylor. A Catalogue of Crime. Rev. ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1989. Massive, nearly one-thousand-page critical bibliography of mystery, detective, and spy stories. Provides context for understanding Daly. Includes an index.

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. Although Daly is only mentioned, the Golden Age female writers of which she is a part are discussed at length.

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

Klein, Kathleen Gregory, ed. Great Women Mystery Writers: Classic to Contemporary. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. Contains a biocritical essay on Daly.

Rowland, Susan. From Agatha Christie to Ruth Rendell: British Women Writers in Detective and Crime Fiction. New York: Palgrave, 2001. Although Daly is not discussed in this work, it describes the work of Agatha Christie, who admired Daly’s writings.

Waldron, Ann. “The Golden Years of Elizabeth Daly.” Armchair Detective 7 (November, 1973): 25-28. Mystery writer Ann Waldron looks at the best writings of the creator of the Henry Gamadge series.