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And now Lisa's guest post about the DuBois's Anne and Jeffrey McNeill mysteries. I hope you enjoy another take on this series, from someone who is very familiar with it. (We don't totally agree about Anne!)
A LITTLE BACKGROUND
American mystery writer Theodora DuBois (1890-1986) started her sleuth series at the age of 46, in 1936. She had begun writing commercially after contracting tuberculosis and spending several months in a sanatorium. Little by little she expanded her writing endeavors from stories for magazines to novels and plays.
|Ride the pink horse....|
Her last Anne and Jeffrey McNeill novel, the suggestively titled Seeing Red (1954), was published during the McCarthy Era and met with some backlash because it negatively portrayed the Red Scare, with her heroes, the McNeills, getting called before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).
I came across Theodora DuBois's Death Wears a White Coat at a flea market. It caught my eye because it was an old mystery novel, copyright 1938. I got it got a couple of dollars. It languished in a pile of other try 'em out books for a while before I read it.
Death Wears a White Coat is the second mystery in the McNeill series by DuBois. The first novel, Armed with a New Terror (1926), is the only one I haven't read. It is extremely difficult to find.
According to Colleen Barnett its story line is as follows:
Anne and a child were part of an extended household dependent upon the largess of a dominating grandfather, Jeffrey McNeill, a neighbor and distant relative intervened when Anne was accused of the murder of a cousin from whom she inherited. Anne loved Jeffrey, but he did not share his feelings for her until he had unmasked the surprise killer.
THE HAPPY COUPLE
Over the series the McNeills reside in various houses--I won't spoil all the why's--on the east coast. They also sail quite a bit. (The nautical information in the novels is accurate.) They have children whom they adore. In his capacity as a scientist Jeffrey gets involved in government jobs. Anne is a lovely wife with blonde hair and charm to spare.
DuBois's series has some intriguing plotting set-ups, the earlier ones being a bit more interesting than the later books. DuBois' strength is that she is really good at creeping out the reader, building tension with palpably real characters.
Her mysteries are also a bit quirky as money is not the only reason for murder-- though, let's face it, it's pretty high up on the list! She reminds me a little of Elizabeth Daly, whose detective uses tiny anomalies to highlight a crime. Anne McNeill also observes and remembers elements (e.g., the details of a dress) that end up pointing to the murderer.
A DuBois Half-Dozen (Six Favorite McNeill Mysteries)
1. Death Wears a White Coat (1938)
2. Death Comes to Tea (1940)
3. Death Tears a Comic Strip (1939)
4. The Cavalier's Corpse (1952)
5. Death Dines Out (1939)
6. The Body Goes Round and Round (1942)