A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Susan Dunlap:

LENORE GLEN OFFORD – The Glass Mask. Duell Sloan & Pearce, hardcover, 1944. Paperback reprint: Dell #198, mapback edition, 1947.


   Lenore Glen Offord is one of the truly underrated writers of the World War II and postwar periods. Her characters are engaging and true to their times and environments.

   Her heroine, Georgine Wyeth, is the forerunner of today’s feminists — a single mother supporting her daughter with short-term jobs, forcing herself to deal with her fears, to stand up for herself, insisting all the time that she’s tired of being saved.

   Most of Offord’s books are set in Berkeley or other areas of northern California. She excels in portraying the uniqueness of the university town and the wartime atmosphere — the paranoia as well as the desperate excitement.

   Although she deals more with innocent romantic situations than is stylish now, every seeming digression into a character’s personal life is relevant to the plot.

   In The Glass Mask, the chief responsibility for detection shifts from Georgine Wyeth to pulp writer Todd McKinnon, though the story is told from Georgine’s viewpoint. Todd, Georgine, and Georgine’s eight-year-old daughter stop off in a Sacramento Valley town to satisfy his curiosity about a family mystery: Did Gilbert Peabody hasten the death of his ailing grandmother in order to inherit her house and thus be able to afford to marry?

   There is no proof, only verdict by rumor. Unable to face the innuendo, Gilbert has enlisted in the army and gone, leaving his wife to deal with the townsfolk and the more unpleasant relatives.

   By varying means, she tricks and inveigles the McKinnon-Wyeth menage into staying on day after day to investigate the nocturnal footsteps in the attic, the family patriarch who rants and feigns seizures, and the mystery of what the old lady got from the bank the day she died and where she hid iit.

   This is an entertaining tale, and one of Offord’s best. Georgine Wyeth is also at her most appealing in Skeleton Key (1943), in which she investigates the murder of a wartime air-raid warden during an unexpected blackout.

   Unfortunately, Offord’s output was not great: merely eight mysteries, four other adult books, and a juvenile. Especially good among the other mysteries are Murder on Russian Hill (1938), The 9 Dark Hours (1941), and The Smiling Tiger (1951).

   Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.

Editorial Comment:   Some additional bio-bibliographical information on Lenore Glen Offord follows the review preceding this one, that of The Smiling Tiger, written by Bill Deeck.