Velda Johnston Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

For readers, particularly young women, Velda Johnston provides easy-to-read novels with interesting, carefully planned plots. The mystery in each novel is presented early, and progress toward the solution is logical and evenly paced. Beyond the sheer entertainment of her fiction, however, Johnston, who clearly enjoys the process of writing, seems to have a message for young readers. She provides examples in her novels of young women who seek happiness and fulfillment in a more assertive, independent manner than have the women of the previous generation. The mother or the aunt who reared the heroine has often been abandoned or widowed and left in financial straits by the man on whom she depended. Although often dismissed early in the story, the maternal character’s life stands in vivid contrast to that of the heroine. The motif of the independent young woman is consistent throughout Johnston’s work, and those who read two or more of her novels are unlikely to miss it. From the publication of her first novel in 1967 through the late 1980’s, Johnston produced one or two novels per year, presenting in each a mystery to test the heroine’s intelligence and eagerness to solve problems.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

The Armchair Detective. Review of The Crystal Cat, by Velda Johnston. 19 (Fall, 1986): 360. Summary of the plot plus comments on the relationship between Johnston and other writers in the genre.

Dunn, Kathryn. Review of Fatal Affair, by Velda Johnston. School Library Journal 33 (November, 1986): 113. Reviewer feels that Guy, the male lead, is presented ambiguously, suggesting he may be the villain. That ambiguity is a staple in Johnston’s work.

Henderson, Leslie. Twentieth-Century Romance and Historical Writers. 2d ed. Detroit: St. James Press, 1996. Stresses the middle-class backgrounds of the Johnston heroines and notes that they often have recently experienced tragedy or mishaps that initiate the action.

Levine, Susan. Review of The Shadow Behind the Curtain, by Velda Johnston. School Library Journal 31 (May, 1985): 114. Sympathetic summary of the novel with some reservations about Deborah’s “mousiness,” ignoring Deborah’s visiting hostile territory, getting shot at, and staying alone in a house and experiencing a break-in.

Smothers, Joyce. Review of Never Call It Love, by Veronica Jason. Library Journal, 103 (December 1, 1978): 245. Positive review of the work, which calls it a “sweet savage swashbuckler” that is “slightly sadomasochistic.”

Wilson Library Bulletin. Review of Shadow Behind the Curtain, by Velda Johnston. 59 (May, 1985): 613. Reviewer believes the theme of the book has been done better by P. D. James and finds very little “detecting” in the novel, which is described as possessing “passable romantic suspense.”