Lucy Sussex was born in New Zealand in 1957. She has degrees in English and Librarianship from Monash University, and is a freelance researcher, editor and writer. She has published widely, writing anything from literary criticism to horror and detective stories. In addition she is a literary archaeologist, rediscovering and republishing the nineteenth-century Australian crime writers Mary Fortune and Ellen Davitt. Her short story, `My Lady Tongue' won a Ditmar (Australian Science Fiction Achievement Award) in 1988. In 1994 she was a judge for the international Tiptree award, which honours speculative fiction exploring notions of gender. Her first adult novel, The Scarlet Rider, is about biography, Victorian detective fiction, voodoo and a ghost.
This book is a study of the "mothers" of the mystery genre. Traditionally the invention of crime writing has been ascribed to Poe, Wilkie Collins and Conan Doyle, but they had formidable women rivals, whose work has been until recently largely forgotten. The purpose of this book is to "cherchez les femmes," in a project of rediscovery.