(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Vera Caspary’s tales of life in large American cities and their suburbs are among the most evocative in the annals of mystery writing. Many of her works, however, have suffered the fate of less powerfully written works by lesser writers because they are out of print and hard to find even on library shelves. Without overtly judging the mores of her twentieth century America, Caspary nevertheless depicts a society of aloof, self-absorbed, and predatory loners and their unrealistic, selfless victims. Dreamers and romantics have little chance of seeing their dreams come true, and too many times they open themselves up to friendship or love, only to be hurt or killed by those whom they trusted.

Caspary’s characters each have individual voices and distinct, original, and often unforgettable personalities. The majority of her characters are developed as three-dimensional rather than as the often disposable, one-dimensional characters of much mystery fiction. Neither her main characters nor her richly constructed settings are easily passed over en route to the conclusion of her stories, for she spends time and effort making certain that they are as real as possible. Caspary writes not only to entertain but also to say something important about the kind of people and places she knows best.