mystery books page

This NIPPIES® column is about Mystery!
I love them all...mystery magazines, mystery books, mystery movies, mystery everything!

Edward Hoch passed away in 2008. Those of you who are fans of the wonderful Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine know that Mr. Hoch was one of the most prolific writers of mystery short story fiction.

The New York Times wrote of Mr. Hoch:
"Edward D. Hoch, a crime writer who during his lifetime was widely believed to have been the world's most prolific author of short mysteries, died last Thursday at his home in Rochester. He was 77.
The cause was a heart attack, his wife, Patricia, said. The former Patricia McMahon, she is his only immediate survivor.
Over five decades, Mr. Hoch published more than 900 mystery stories in periodicals like Argosy, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and The Saint Mystery Magazine. For the last 35 years he was a fixture of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, which published a story of his every month from 1973 until his death."

Read Edward Hoch's full obituary in the New York Times: Edward Hoch / NYTimes Obituary.

This great writer was my favorite mystery writer in adulthood. I read everythihg she had ever written. and felt a contentment while reading them that I cannot explain.
My first dog was named after Ms. Christie. We just called her Aggie for short.

There is o much to be said about Dame Christie - and not just about her writing, but also about her private life. But I'll stick to one not ver frequently mentioned tid bit which came from the great writer herself: she loved to munch on apples while writing.

NIPPIES® alotted me this column to write about my favorite mystery magazine stories, mystery authors, mystery novels, and mystery films.
I've been a mystery fan all my life.
So...let's start at the beginning...

I was introduced to the mystery genre at about age 9. Like most other little girls at the time, I fell in love with the Nancy Drew® mystery books.

The small, Catholic grade and high school which I attended had an ample selection of the popular series of novels by Carolyn Keene, I suppose. But there were never enough to go around. Each week, on library day, the girls from my fourth grade class would, literally, stumble all over each other in a race to get to the Nancy Drew® shelf. If you were fortunate enough to grab one of the Carolyn Keene novels that you hadn't already read, you considered it a very good day. I loved those books so much that I can still smell the musky, sweet scent they exuded.

Mildred Wirt Benson, the author of 23 of the first 30 Nancy Drew® mystery books, died on May 28th, 2002. She was 96 years old. Although she was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1997, she was back at her desk, and writing her column, at The Toledo Blade the day after her diagnosis. And she kept on writing On The Go With Millie Benson until the day she was stricken ill. Millie left work after feeling ill and passed away later the same day, at 8:20pm, at the Toledo Hospital, where she had been taken by a medical emergency squad.

Millie Benson won her first writing award at age 14. She wrote her first Nancy Drew ® novel, entitled The Secret of the Old Clock, in 1930 after she was commissioned by publisher Edward Stratemeyer. The Hidden Staircase and The Bungalow Mystery were published around the same time. Mildred Benson was paid only $125.00 for each Nancy Drew® book she authored and received no royalties. She wasn't even allowed to reveal her true identity.(Her identity was revealed in 1980 when she testified at a case involving the publisher). The books were written from a plot summary and outline given to her by the publisher. The publisher may have supplied the outline, but Mildred Wirt Benson breathed life into the character of Nancy Drew®.

Mildred Benson considered herself to be very much like the adventuresome character she created in her books. She was independent at a time (the 1920s,1930s, and 1940s) - when women just were not that way. Mildred earned her pilot's license, carved out a career for herself, and outlived two husbands. Her first husband, Asa Wirt, worked for the Associated Press, and it was through him that she first began to write her newspaper column which ran for over 58 years.

There have been other authors who have written under the name of "Carolyn Keene" , most notably Harriett Stratemeyer Adams, who was the daughter of Edward Stratemeyer. But as an avid fan of the old-time Nancy Drew® mystery novels, I can say that the first books, the ones written by Mildren Wirt Benson, were, in my opinion, the best!

Mildred Wirt Benson is survived by one daughter, Peggy Wirt.

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