Contribution

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Jill McGown adapted her chosen genre, the traditional whodunit, to make it more appealing to contemporary readers. Like her predecessors, she satisfied the intellectual needs of her readers by presenting them with brilliantly devised plots. Where McGown diverged from the tradition, however, is in making penetrating psychological analyses of her characters and their relationships. Both of her detectives are careful observers of human nature; though they begin their investigations by looking for evidence at the scene of the crime, they proceed by gathering information about the suspects, then by watching not only their responses to the most casual questions but also their behavior in informal situations. Thereafter these sleuths do much of their most productive investigating by withdrawing to discuss their findings and to present various hypothetical solutions for analysis. These sessions, which are often stormy, hold additional interest for McGown’s readers because as they spar, Hill and Lloyd reveal a good deal about themselves, and because their romance is one of the threads that unifies the series, readers find themselves watching the two detectives as closely as the sleuths observe their suspects. By so brilliantly uniting mind and heart as well as thought and feeling, McGown transmuted the classic whodunit into a far more satisfying literary form.