Lawrence Treat is generally regarded as the father of the police procedural, that subgenre of detective fiction that emphasizes the realistic solution of mysteries through routine police methods, including dogged interrogations, stakeouts, tailings, and utilization of the technology of the police laboratory. Treat established some of the conventions of the police procedural that have appeared almost unfailingly in novels in this category ever since. Among them is the convention of the cop who is unable to maintain a normal family life because his work requires irregular hours and alienates him from everyone except other cops. Another convention is the theme of rivalry and tension within the law enforcement agency, caused by many different personalities trying to win glory and avoid blame. Finally, there is the convention of the police officer being a hated outsider, lied to, ridiculed, maligned, and occasionally made the target of attempted seduction. These conventions have become familiar not only in police procedural novels but also in motion pictures about police officers and in many popular television series.
Dove, George N. The Police Procedural. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1982. One of the first major studies of the subgenre pioneered by Lawrence Treat.
“Lawrence Treat, Ninety-four, Prolific Mystery Writer.” The New York Times, January 16, 1998, p. B11. Obituary of Treat details his contributions to mystery and detective fiction.
Panek, LeRoy Lad. The American Police Novel: A History. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2003. Traces the evolution of the police procedural and Treat’s influence on the subgenre. Bibliographic references and index.
Reitz, Caroline. Detecting the Nation: Fictions of Detection and the Imperial Venture. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2004. This study of Victorian crime fiction should be read as a prehistory of the American police procedural; shows the state of narrative conventions inherited by Treat and throws his contribution into greater relief.
Vicarel, Jo Ann. A Reader’s Guide to the Police Procedural. New York: G. K. Hall, 1995. Geared to the mainstream reader, this study introduces and analyzes the police procedural form. Provides a perspective on Treat’s work.
Washer, Robert. Review of “P” as in Police, by Lawrence Treat. The Queen Canon Bibliophile 3 (April, 1971): 18. Review of Treat’s collection of short crime fiction.