Margaret Truman Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

In her mystery novels, Margaret Truman gave the world a close and private look into the sleaze of Washington Beltway politics. Her Capital Crimes mystery novels are set mostly in Washington, D.C., often at familiar sites, such as the White House, the Kennedy Center, agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and major parks. Truman also used sites of historic significance such as Ford’s Theatre and Union Station. For more than a quarter of a century, at a pace of about a book per year, she produced these tales of violence and mayhem, mostly involving individuals in high places or those connected with them. Truman highlighted the wheelings and dealings of politicians and other powerful people and explored their secret agendas.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Broyard, Anatole. “Books of The Times.” Review of Murder in the Smithsonian, by Margaret Truman. The New York Times, June 24, 1983, p. C26. Considers Truman’s Murder in the Smithsonian as reminiscent of the work of Helen McInnes, both being attractive to readers seeking escape from reality.

Cannon, Peter. Review of Murder at Ford’s Theatre, by Margaret Truman. Publishers Weekly 249, no. 42 (October 21, 2002): 58. Describes how this historic national landmark is used by the author to contrive her drama.

Klein, Kathleen Gregory, ed. Great Women Mystery Writers: Classic to Contemporary. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. Contains an essay on the life and works of Truman.

Quinn-Musgrove, Sandra L., and Sanford Kanter. America’s Royalty: All the President’s Children. Rev. ed. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1995. Explains the positives of being President Harry S. Truman’s daughter (such as being his personal representative abroad) but also its negatives (such as the Secret Service’s presence limiting Margaret’s romantic opportunities). With illustrations, appendix, bibliography, and index.

Salzberg, Charles. “Books in Brief: Fiction.” Review of Murder at the Watergate, by Margaret Truman. The New York Times, August 16, 1998, p. BR 17. In this case involving the famed apartment complex, the reviewer suggests that Truman’s masterly description of Washington, of the trappings of power, and of the various attractive but irrelevant menus do not redeem the weak plot and the obvious resolution of the mystery.

Williams, Nick B. “A Skunk Tips the Scales of Justice: Margaret Truman Makes Her Best Case.” Review of Murder in the Supreme Court, by Margaret Truman. Los Angeles Times Book Review, January 30, 1983, p. 2. Review provides a sociological and moralistic spin, speculating on whether the bad people in the story are typical of the age and consequently are where the country may be heading.

Zvirin, Stephanie. Review of Murder at the Washington Tribune, by Margaret Truman. Booklist 102, no. 1 (September 1, 2005): 71-72. This reviewer says that Truman’s twenty-first mystery involving the death of a Tribune reporter found strangled in a closet in the newsroom falls flat but offers a strong portrait of a middle-aged veteran police reporter forced to face the fact that his life is unraveling.