Monday, August 28, 2017

Mystery Monday: The Award Winning Author - Helen Eustis

Mystery Monday: Author Helen Eustis

Like an industry, the publishing industry has ebbed and flowed with its own set of "rules and regulations." Recently, there seems to be a trend for authors to write under a pseudonym if they change genres or series (e.g. Nora Roberts, Roberta Isleib, J.K. Rowling). I wonder what publishers would have thought about Helen Eustis who worked as a copywriter and wrote two mysteries, children's books, and short stories. She also translated numerous books from French into English.

She only published one mystery, The Horizontal Man, that won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 1947. Based loosely on her experiences at Smith College, about which the author said in an interview, there were plenty of people at college she wanted to murder. Her undergraduate degree was in art, and she attended Columbia University for a time to study literature, but did not finish, instead pursuing a writing career.

The Horizontal Man includes psychologically unstable students and professors, and her 1954 release  about a boy's adventure traveling the Midwest with an amnesiac Civil War veteran, also included psychological drama. In 1965, the book was made into a movie starring Anthony Perkins and Edward Albert. Perkins's role is said to have been quite like his Psycho character Norman Bates.
The Fool Killer

Eustis won the O. Henry prize for her short story, An American Home, and her other stories appeared in Harper's Monthly, The Saturday Evening Post, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, and other notable publications.

Unfortunately, her personal life was not as successful as her writing live. She married twice. Her first marriage to her professor, Alfred Young Fisher, with whom she had a son, and her second marriage to press photographer Martin Harris, both ended in divorce. Her mother died when she was a young child, and father committed suicide shortly before her first book came out.

Check your local library for her classic stories.

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