Michelle Spring Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Michelle Spring began her writing career with Every Breath You Take (1994), which introduces Laura Principal as private investigator, and followed it with four other novels that are concerned with Principal’s forays into crimes in and around Cambridge, England. Her sixth book, The Night Lawyer (2006), a suspense novel, dispenses with Principal and focuses on the efforts of Eleanor Porter to become strong and independent.

Most readers find Spring’s Laura Principal series well crafted, readable, and imbued with a strong sense of place. Spring places Principal, a contemporary woman and a former history professor, confidently in Cambridge, where she moves through an intricate plot realistically searching for answers. Her compelling investigations, which make the most of the English countryside in and around Cambridge, have been compared to those of Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse in Oxford. Like Morse, Principal’s investigations frequently uncover the dark side of existence beneath a cultured, refined facade.

For her first novel, Spring was nominated and short-listed for two awards, but for In the Midnight Hour (2001), she was awarded the Arthur Ellis award, given by the Crime Writers of Canada for the best novel of the year. She is one of six novelists who make up the Unusual Suspects, a group of mystery writers who entertain audiences in Britain, Canada, the United States, and Europe with their commentaries on crime fiction. Spring was selected by the London Times as one of the twentieth century’s one hundred masters of crime.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Beard, Mary. Review of Nights in White Satin, by Michelle Spring. Times Literary Supplement, July 16, 1999, p. 23. Beard compares Spring’s novel of Cambridge’s scandalous decadence with the depiction of Oxford’s “dispassionate” quality by Colin Dexter (creator of Inspector Morse) and finds her lacking.

Block, Allison. Review of The Night Lawyer, by Michelle Spring. Booklist 103, no. 2 (September 15, 2005): 33. Review praises Spring for her characterization, particularly of Eleanor Porter, but criticizes the lack of suspense.

Dubose, Martha Hailey, with Margaret Caldwell Thomas. Women of Mystery: The Lives and Works of Notable Women Crime Novelists. New York: St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2000. Provides information on more than one hundred women writers, with especially good coverage of Patricia Highsmith, whom Spring admires.

Klett, Rex E. Review of Every Breath You Take, by Michelle Spring. Library Journal 199, no. 4 (March 1, 1994): 123. Brief article, interesting because of its sharp criticism of Spring’s narrative and faulty plot construction.

Stazio, Marilyn. “Crime.” Review of Nights in White Satin, by Michelle Spring. The New York Times Book Review, July 11, 1999, p. 29. Stazio’s review praises Spring’s ability to use a beautiful setting that conceals an ugly interior.

Unusual Suspects. The Unusual Suspects. http://www .unusualsuspects.co.uk. Web site maintained by crime writers in the Unusual Suspects, of which Spring is a member. She discusses her beginning as a writer, her main character, Principal, and the development of her plots.