Margaret Millar began her writing career with three successive novels about the amusing psychoanalyst-detective Dr. Paul Prye, but she became successful when she decided to make the psychological profiles of demented criminals and their victims her focus. With The Iron Gates (1945), her sixth book, Millar scored her first major success. The book centers on the effect that the monsters of fear can have on the mind of an outwardly happy, well-adjusted, well-to-do woman.
After The Iron Gates, Millar wrote more than a dozen books of suspense, most of which have been both critically acclaimed and commercially successful. She helped turn the psychological thriller into an art form, and she created books brimming with three-dimensional characterizations: real, breathing people, portrayed in crisp, vivid prose.
Millar’s novels are concerned with the inner life of the individual, with the distortions of reality that psychopathology and stressful situations can forge in the mind. Although Millar did not focus as heavily on social analysis as did her husband, Ross Macdonald, her novels do present current social concerns whose treatment deepens over the span of her work. Her characters exist in Freudian microcosms, shaped and determined by their significant relationships: parent/child, husband/wife, brother/sister.