|Eleanore Kelly Sellars|
The novels by these two women had similar settings and characters because the two authors had similar personal and professional backgrounds. Both came from small cities in the north central states (Fetta from Richmond, Indiana, which had a population of around 18,000 in 1900, and Sellars from Monessen, Pennsylvania, a factory town which had been founded in 1897 and in 1920 had almost the exact same population as Richmond had had in 1900.)
|Emma Lou Fetta|
I think that clearly both writers were influenced in their mysteries by the socially observant and posh British "manners" detective novels of Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham and Ngaio Marsh. In 1938 Allingham herself had published a hugely successful and much lauded mystery, The Fashion in Shrouds, that was set in the London fashion industry milieu.
Sellars suggested such a connection, I believe, when she stated that with Murder a la Mode she had aimed to "write a murder mystery in which all the people were intelligent and logical in their behavior and remained intelligent and logical throughout the book." In her story, she declared, "everyone did what shrewd, well-bred and practical people would do if they were actually living through the experiences of murder."
|opening the door to manners mystery|
Fans of the tony books of the British Crime Queens or the American author Elizabeth Daly (who also started writing mysteries at this time) should agree.