Myrl Adler Norton was, by all accounts, one of the most remarkable women of the early twentieth century. The daughter of the acclaimed opera singer, Irene Adler, and distinguished lawyer Godfrey Norton, she was a respected professor of logic at Smith College as well as one of the most famous consulting detectives of all time. The books of her exploits, written by her lifelong friend and confidante, Faye Martin Tullis, are among the most popular in the history of detective literature. Now, with thanks to the Irregular Special Press and Breese Books, many of these titles, so long out of print, will find new readers.
Myrl Adler Norton was a genius, a logician of the highest order and the only female private detective operating in New England in the 1920s. Myrl, of course, would never announce herself as a detective, though my aunt clearly saw Myrl’s role as such. I have long believed critics tried to find fault in Aunt Faye’s accounts only because of her sex. I think men of the day, with few exceptions, simply could not believe two women could possess the mental and physical agility to put to shame so many of their own.
Conflicted, argumentative, misanthropic. All could be applied to Myrl Adler Norton. Brilliant, she was a poor teacher. Excruciatingly perceptive, she had no sense of her impact in social settings. Plagued by depression, she avoided all alcohol and any substance which could lead to addiction. Fiercely loyal to the man who raised her, she kept the dark secret of her strange lineage even from herself.
Myrl and Fayes’ cases involved murder, theft, arson, kidnapping, blackmail and a mix of the some of the above and took them overseas: England, Japan, Switzerland, and India.
It is my wish as my aunt’s editor, that for those meeting Myrl and Faye for the first time, it will be a rewarding introduction.