Still more about Carter Brown’s female private detective, Mavis Seidlitz (see the preceding post):
Why did Carter Brown choose such an odd name for this character? Sure, many twentieth century names can seem a little clunky today: Bertha, Edna, Sophie, Norma, Bernice, Lottie and many others. But…Mavis? Mavis Seidlitz? Consider some of the 1930’s – 1960’s era women private detectives, cops and crime fighters from film, fiction and comics. Honey West. Torchy Blane, Sally O’Neil, Jill Trent, Starr Flagg, Tony Gayle. They have a little more zing to them, don’t they? Lets assume Yates settled on ‘Mavis Seidlitz’ to be cute. The clumsy name suited an often clumsy and ‘daffy’ character.
So, are the Mavis Seidlitz novels any good? Well, a lot of postwar era paperback original crime fiction is an acquired taste. The Carter Brown books are pretty slim, typically 128 pages, so more like novelettes by today’s measure. Mavis’ undercover work strains credibility in some cases. The mysteries can seem a little convoluted sometimes. Red Herrings abound. They may seem hastily written, with that vintage ‘first draft is the only draft’ feel. If you’ve read your share of the genre, you know what I mean. I won’t say that I like them. But I do plan on reading the rest of the series.
Still…120 million books.
Mavis Seidlitz won’t make V.I. Warshawsky, Kinsey Millhone or Ellie Stone nervous. But the character still commands an important place in the history of women detectives, cops and crime-fighters, particularly back in a time when any ‘stiletto gumshoes’ were woefully few and far between.