(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Hugh Pentecost created a world of characters who, to his wide readership, are as familiar in their personalities and relationships as old friends. His characters are generally affluent, physically striking, urbane, intelligent, and articulate. Most of his series are set in New York City, with the specific setting featured in one series likely to appear peripherally in another. When the action called for a rural environment, Pentecost chose the vicinity of Lakeview—located in a New England state sometimes, though not always, identified as Connecticut. The issues treated in Pentecost’s work are usually defined in terms of right and wrong (with occasional moralizing—against drugs, for example), and although nice people sometimes die, virtue triumphs in the end. The writing is clear, the characters are both believable and likable, the plots are deviously complex, and the solutions seem both inevitable and surprising. Pentecost published his first short story in 1923, and by 1936 he had begun the prolific output of novels that, though unlikely to become literary classics, clearly contribute to the mystery and detective genre.