Unpunished: A Mystery

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Author, Catherine J. Golden, Editor, Denise Knight, Editor Feminist Press $18.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-55861-170-2
When New York attorney Wade Vaughn is discovered in his home office with a knife in his back, a cord around his neck, a wound to his scalp, a bullet hole in his temple and a glass of poison by his side, the mystery is ""not merely in the usual question of who did it, but in the unusual one of who did it first."" Written in 1929 but previously unpublished, Gilman's (The Yellow Wallpaper; Herland) only full-length fictional work is sure to delight mystery lovers and anyone interested in the history of early feminism. As husband-and-wife detective team Jim and Bessie Hunt delve into Vaughn's death, they discover that just about everyone who knew Vaughn had a reason to detest him: his servants, doctor, immediate family, clients, co-workers and neighbors. But would any of these people actually kill him, or was the death a suicide? While the Hunts' investigation reveals a man so despicable that he is almost a caricature of evil, his misanthropy is the vehicle Gilman uses to denounce sexism and class domination, and she weaves this overt political message into the story with wit and verve. Although the book offers a humorous look at sexist and classist posturing, its own occasionally racist dialogue provides a window into the sociological attitudes of the first part of this century. Nonetheless, the book's surprising ending, fast-paced action and endearing detectives make it far more than a valuable historical artifact; it's a smart, entertaining whodunit by a writer who understood (and clearly enjoyed) the genre, even as she put it to polemical use. QPB selection. (July)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1998
Release date: 09/01/1998
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-1-55861-185-6
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