Monday, July 8, 2019

Mystery Monday: Who was Virginia Rath?

Mystery Monday: Who was Virginia Rath?

Despite her short life, Virginia Rath managed to publish thirteen mystery novels that comprised two series. Both set in Northern California outside San Francisco where she was from, featured Sheriff Rocky Allan. The second series of eight books featured an unusual amateur sleuth. Fashion designer Michael Dundas and his wife Valerie appeared between 1938 and 1947. In his books readers could count on observation and commentary of the women’s outfits.

Born Virginia McVay in 1905, she graduated from the University of California and initially taught high school in a California mountain railroad town. She then married Carl Rath, a railroad telegrapher. While working in a railroad telegraph office herself during the war, she apparently took a break from writing as there is a publishing gap from 1942 to 1947.

The only photo I could find of Rath
Her last publication was under the pseudonym of Theo Durrant. She penned a chapter in the round robin novel (a book in which multiple authors write one chapter) The Marble Forest that came out in 1951 (a year after her death).

Neither cozy nor hard-boiled, Rath’s books are more traditional murder mysteries. She is well-known for her street chase scenes that use genuine locations. Embedded in her novels are studies of base human motives and the corruption of mankind as well as views on cultural and social mores of the times. In Murder on the Day of Judgment, she also explores issues of race and prejudice.

Her novels are difficult to find, but with any luck, you’ll find one or two in your local public library.

Have you ever heard of Virginia Rath?


Set in 1942 and taking place in London, Under Fire tells the story of Ruth Brown, whose missing sister Jane is declared dead. Following clues from her tiny New Hampshire town overseas to England, Ruth stumbles resistance fighters, the IRA, and smugglers, all of whom want her dead for what she has discovered. 

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