Sarah Weinman is the editor of the two-volume compilation Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s. From her Q & A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: What impact did war, or the threat of war, have on the themes running through these books?--Marshal Zeringue
A: You see it most explicitly with The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, featuring a middle-aged heroine whose husband is serving in World War II (they exchange many letters), and In a Lonely Place, [which includes] the specter of veterans coming back, broken and traumatized, to a civilian world unsure what to make of them.
But the whole notion that women were tasked with working to supplant men serving overseas hangs over so many of these books - especially when, once the surviving men came home, the "traditional" roles of husband and wife and family were supposed to come back into favor.
Q: How do these novels compare to the works of male crime writers of the same period?
A: This may be a surprising observation but I found the male crime writers had a real sentimentality streak running through them that the women did not. Chandler is all romanticism. Mickey Spillane all...[read on]