The McFarland Companion series, edited by Elizabeth Foxwell, has been consistently excellent, both in its choice of subjects and its quality of scholarship and writing. This latest addition is well up to the standard set by earlier volumes on John Buchan, E.X. Ferrars, and Evan Hunter/Ed McBain, and contains the usual features: a biography of the subject, a life chronology, and alphabetical and chronological lists of works, followed by a main text in dictionary form including works, major characters, locales, associates and influences, and topical essays (e.g., “Female Detectives and Marriage”).
Though usually associated with a single famous title, Lady Audley’s Secret (1862), Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1835-1915) produced a huge body of work between 1860 and the year of her death. Beller makes a strong case for her historical importance to the development of detective fiction and the changing status of women. Many readers (including this one) will be set on the trail of her less well-known novels, readily available on the print and ebook markets.