Melville Davisson Post Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Melville Davisson Post’s crime and detective fiction followed basic conventions of the puzzle mystery. Like Edgar Allan Poe’s C. Auguste Dupin and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Post’s series characters generally repudiate tough-guy violence in favor of detached, superior rationality to pierce the mystery and restore social order. Post wrote short fiction for a variety of popular magazines. Although often using the inflated language of melodrama, his stories nevertheless evoked horror and suspense and convincingly used surprise endings. Through the use of series characters, he sought to give novelistic continuity and organic form to published collections of stories, which first appeared separately in family magazines; most of his fiction underwent that transformation. A superlative entertainer, Post would have been quite comfortable writing scripts for presentation on radio, film, or television.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Hubin, Allen J. Introduction to The Complete Uncle Abner. San Diego: University of California, 1977. Hubin provides both the critical introduction and an annotated bibliography to this collection of the Uncle Abner mysteries.

Norton, Charles A. Melville Davisson Post: Man of Many Mysteries. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1974. Study of Post’s life and work. Includes extensive bibliography of Post’s writing, as well as of writing about him.

Norton, Charles A. “The Randolph Mason Stories.” The Armchair Detective 6 (October, 1972): 86-96. Overview of Post’s tales of an unethical attorney manipulating the law.

Panek, LeRoy Lad. The Origins of the American Detective Story. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2006. Study of the beginnings and establishment of American detective-fiction conventions, focusing especially on the replacement of the police by the private detective and the place of forensic science in the genre. Sheds light on Post’s work.

Peters, Ellis. Foreword to Historical Whodunits, edited by Mike Ashley. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1997. The well-known practitioner of historical crime fiction comments on Post’s entry in the subgenre.

Van Dover, J. K., and John F. Jebb. Isn’t Justice Always Unfair? The Detective in Southern Literature. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1996. Critical examination of the narrow tradition of southern detective fiction and the distinctive contributions of southern authors to the mystery genre. Includes a chapter on Post and Irvin S. Cobb.

Williams, Blanche Colton. “Melville Davisson Post.” In Our Short Story Writers. Reprint. Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1969. Profile of Post emphasizing his prowess as a crafter of short fiction.