by Carol Westron
Lorac died in 1958 at the age of sixty-four. She had never married and left her estate to her sister, Gladys, with whom she had lived for the last few years of her life.
So why would such a prolific and popular author have fallen into obscurity? Part of the reason must surely lie in her desire for personal privacy. Although a few other women crime writers of that time used a male pseudonym, as a practise it was becoming less popular, and writers such as Dorothy L. Sayers were increasingly aware of the need for publicity to promote their books. It is not clear whether Sayers knew of Lorac’s gender when she wrote the review in which she referred to ‘Mr Lorac’, although she would have discovered the truth two years later when Lorac joined the Detection Club. It is possible that Sayers was aware of it and respected a fellow author’s desire for privacy. Certainly Lorac’s readers were unaware of her identity. H.R.F. Keating described the shock he felt when he discovered that ‘this trenchantly logical, pipe smoke-wreathed hero of my boyhood was Miss Edith Caroline Rivett.’ (Murder Must Appetize, 1975.)
Nevertheless, Macdonald is a clever and honourable detective and Lorac’s books are well worth reading. Her prose is elegant, her settings are exquisitely portrayed, and her plots are ingenious enough to keep the reader
turning the pages.