Contribution

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Emma Lathen is a pseudonym used by the writing team of Mary Jane Latsis and Martha Henissart. Latsis, an economist, and Henissart, a lawyer, looked to their professional journals and activities for ideas and information to create the Emma Lathen novels, which make a witty contribution to the tradition of the amateur sleuth whose specialized knowledge leads to the solution of crimes. Even readers unfamiliar with the language or activities of the world of high finance can enjoy the explorations of the workings of Wall Street and the financial shenanigans that lead to murder.

Lathen’s ability to condense the complicated world of corporate finance into a recognizable form for the uninitiated, while framing it in the tradition of the Golden Age of mystery and crime fiction, was something of a novelty in the early 1960’s. The mixture of business and murder allowed Lathen to address a wide range of social issues (and political ones in the Ben Safford series). It also provided rich fodder for expanding the dimensions of the traditional mystery novel. Lathen received the Crime Writers’ Association’s Gold Dagger Award for best crime fiction in 1967 for Murder Against the Grain, the Ellery Queen Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 1983, and the Agatha Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1997.