Author(s): June Wright
The return of Maggie Byrnes, heroine of "Murder in the Telephone Exchange, " finds her married, with a young son, and living in an outer Melbourne suburb. But violent death dogs her footsteps even in apparently tranquil Middleburn. It's perhaps not that much of a surprise when widely disliked local bigwig James Holland (who also happens to be Maggie's landlord) is shot, but Maggie suspects that someone is also trying to poison the infant who is his heir, and turns sleuth once more to uncover the culprits. First published in 1949, "So Bad a Death" is June Wright's second novel, which she originally planned to call "Who Would Murder a Baby?" Her publishers demurred, but under any title it's a worthy sequel to "Murder in the Telephone Exchange." Novelist and crime fiction historian Lucy Sussex contributes an introduction to this reissue, which also includes a revealing interview she conducted with June Wright in 1996.
June Wright (1919-2012) was born in Melbourne, Australia and published six well-received mysteries between 1948 and 1966, when she stopped writing in order to earn a regular salary and support her family after her husband became unable to work. Her novels are characterized by feisty female protagonists and realistic social settings. Lucy Sussex is a novelist and story writer ("The Scarlet Rider, Matilda Told Such Dreadful Lies"), and also a renowned literary historian ("Women Writers and Detectives in Nineteenth-Century Crime Fiction: The Mothers of the Mystery Genre").