Saturday, February 09, 2008

Woman With a Past

I just returned from my Democratic Party caucus meeting--Washington being perhaps the biggest prize among the three U.S. states that hold presidential primary elections or caucuses today--and read in the Mystery*File blog that American mystery writer Phyllis A. Whitney, whose first adult novel, Red Is for Murder, was published in 1943, has died at the age of 104.

As The New York Times reports:
Phyllis A. Whitney, a prolific best-selling author of romantic mysteries, young-adult novels and children’s mysteries for more than a half-century, died on Friday in Faber, Va. She was 104 and lived in Faber.

Her death was confirmed by her daughter, Georgia Pearson, who said the cause was pneumonia.

Ms. Whitney, who once said she stayed young by writing, continued to publish books until she was 94. Her last was “Amethyst Dreams” (1997), about a young woman who stands to inherit a fortune but who has disappeared from a family seaside villa. Only her best friend can help find her.

Her first book, in 1941, was “A Place for Ann,” a young-adult novel about girls who create a personal service organization doing jobs like dog walking.

In all, Ms. Whitney produced 39 adult suspense novels, some with a Gothic twist (with titles like “Woman Without a Past” and “The Glass Flame”); 14 novels for young adults (“A Window for Julie,” “Nobody Likes Trina”); 20 children’s mysteries (“Mystery of the Scowling Boy,” “Secret of the Missing Footprint”); several books about writing; and many short stories for magazines.
Whitney received the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement in 1988. She was said to be working on her autobiography at the time of her death, a book we may now never have a chance to read.

It seems like it was just yesterday that we were celebrating Whitney’s most recent birthday ...

READ MORE:Phyllis A. Whitney, 1903-2008,” by Elizabeth Foxwell (The Bunburyist); “In Memory of Phyllis A. Whitney,” by Julia Buckley (Poe’s Deadly Daughters).

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