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.
Adrian, Jack. “Jill McGown: Author of Intelligent Whodunits.” The Independent, April 27, 2007, p. 1. Obituary of McGown that discusses her background and how it influenced her writing career.
Heising, Willetta L. Detecting Women: A Reader’s Guide and Checklist for Mystery Series Written by Women. 3d ed. Dearborn, Mich.: Purple Moon Press, 2000. Brief entry on McGown notes her skill in characterization and narration. References to her works are scattered throughout the volume. Indexed.
Lindsay, Elizabeth Blakesley, ed. Great Women Mystery Writers, 2d ed. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2007. Contains an essay on McGown that discusses her work and her life.
McGown, Jill. Jill McGown. http://www.jillmcgown.com. Web site maintained by the author. Contains up-to-date biographical information, photographs, a commentary on each book, a section on settings, and an imagined interview with McGown’s series detectives.
Times Literary Supplement. Review of Redemption, by Jill McGown. 4460 (September 23, 1988): 1448. The reviewer finds the characters in this book interesting and the plot well developed. Regards the author worthy of placement in the top rank of mystery writers because of this work.
Windrath, Helen, ed. They Wrote the Book: Thirteen Women Mystery Writers Tell All. Duluth, Minn.: Spinsters Ink, 2000. Essays by well-known British and North American female mystery writers on such subjects as research, choice of setting, character development, plotting, and style. Includes comments on special problems of female writers.