Monday, January 06, 2014

Pat Browne, founding editor of Clues, 1932-2013.

Pat Browne, the founding editor of Clues, passed away on December 27, 2013, at age 81. Her obituary has been published in the Toledo Blade, and a memorial event is planned for the Popular Culture Conference in Chicago in April. Memorial contributions may be directed to BGSU's Browne Popular Culture Library.

With the help of her husband, Ray, Pat provided one of the few venues for serious scholarship on the mystery genre, starting with the first issue in spring 1980: the product of a November 1978 conference at the University of South Florida on the work of Travis McGee creator John D. MacDonald. Wrote Pat in the issue:
...[W]e decided that the Popular Press would like to inaugurate a publication devoted exclusively to the detection genre, and I decided that the papers that had been presented at the MacDonald Conference and Mr. MacDonald's comments would constitute the core of that new publication—Clues: A Journal of Detection—under the assumption that few publications could be launched under such auspicious circumstances. (65)
Wrote JDM in this first Clues on Francis M. Nevins Jr.'s piece about his pulp work:
My work habits accounted, I think, for not only the diversity of plot and structure and societal themes in early work, but also for the diversity of the places where they were published. . . . When I tried to work exclusively within a specific genre, everything went stale for me. The words died. (66)
JDM noted elsewhere in this commentary piece, "Were I forced to define my strength, I would say that I am best at creating an illusion of contemporary reality" (66).

After serving as Clues editor for approximately 20 years, Pat retired in 2001, and I spearheaded the acquisition of the journal by Heldref Publications from Bowling Green State University in 2003, with the first issue under new management published in 2004. Clues is now published by McFarland, and we can only hope that Pat's "auspicious circumstances" have been fulfilled, as the journal enters its 32nd year of publication with a theme issue on the work of Tana French.

Excerpt from the table of contents for
Clues 1.1 (spr 1980)

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