As an academic, Carolyn Gold Heilbrun was a Guggenheim Fellow, a Senior Researcher at the National Endowment for the Humanities, President of the MLA (Modern Language Association), an English professor at Columbia University, and author of texts as well as a biography of Gloria Steinem, but most fans of her mystery stories know her as Amanda Cross, creator of fictional sleuth and English professor Kate Fansler.
Although she kept her identity secret from her colleagues, Cross used her erudite characters to reveal the cynicism inside the ivy-covered walls – and maybe get a little quiet revenge. The Kate Fansler mystery series started in 1964 with The Last Analysis and ended in 2002 with The Edge of Doom.
In 1997, Heilbrun had promised herself to not write fiction until she finished her memoir – The Last Gift of Time: Life Beyond Sixty. But Kate would not be denied, and a series of short stories emerged – written by Amanda Cross and published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery magazine and other collections. “The Disappearance of Great Aunt Flavia” caught my eye, the name reminding me of that perspicacious eleven-year-old star of Alan Bradley’s mysteries. Cross has her elderly Flavia saving the residents of Merryfields nursing home from an unscrupulous television evangelist of The Divine Church of the Air who traded heaven for their money. Cross offers ten short mysteries in this collection; you can dip in anywhere.
With her academic background and reluctance for using her real name when writing outside the Canon – colleagues can be brutal critics – Cross has a special appeal for me.
Next, I’m revisiting her Death Without Tenure. Have you read any of her books?
Related posts: Flavia de Luce mysteries