Margaret Atwood (born 1939, Ottawa, Ontario) is now the best known Canadian author that ever was: Americans dress up in costumes from the gratuitously grisly tv adaptation of her dystopian 1985 novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, somehow thinking that wearing bonnets in public is really going to show them, while all the Canadian writers that matter hate her forever for not being all-in feminist enough to knee-jerkedly denounce due process whenever emotions run high. Margaret Laurence (born 1926, Lakewood, Ontario) wrote way too Canadian to gain fame outside Canada, and, because of this, remains maybe the most respected Canadian writer there is, by Canadians. Laurence invented (as hundreds of thousands of doomed Canadian undergraduate students assigned this book as mandatory reading well know) and set many of her most famous stories in Manakawa, a fictional small town in Manitoba that became much more famous than any actual small town in Manitoba, give or take a Gillam I guess. Margaret Millar (born Margaret Sturm in 1915 Berlin, now Kitchener, Ontario) was an author of dark and sophisticated murder mysteries, Agatha Christie-esque but verging into the vernacular of North American hardboiled noir, not only emergent across the continent, but also in Millar’s own family: Millar lived in the literary shadow cast by her much more famous (but equally Canadian) husband, the hardboiled author Ross Macdonald. Ross wasn’t really named Ross he was Kenneth Millar, the name he used at his day job, as a history professor in Santa Barbara, California. Kenneth and Margaret, who knew each other from when they was just kids way back in Kitchener, had bumped into each other in London, Ontario where Kenny was going to school. They reminisced about old times. They got hitched. They both wrote. Margaret, who’d already attended University of Toronto, found literary success first.
Margaret so owned the name Millar, that Kenneth struggled to break through, just another Millar writing mysteries. After knocking off a few titles as Kenneth Millar he gave it up and became Ross Macdonald instead. Margaret Millar’s early mysteries have exquisitely Canadian backdrops. Fire Will Freeze (1944) is a bunch of American tourists marooned on a socked-in “Snobus” at a remote and mountainous Quebec ski-resort populated by weird-talking Canadian-types up to no good. Wall of Eyes (1943) is set in the anglo-varsity milieu of clubby Toronto at its waspy-as-fuck 1930iest. Millar moved with Kenneth, the Ross, to Santa Barbara when hubby got his tenured position down there, and the setting of her novels switched accordingly. But California in the 1950s belonged to the hardboiled boys of which her husband became the best of the whole post-Chandler bunch; and, although novels such as Do Evil in Return (1950) are no less well-written than her Canadian novels, her whodunnit style of writing seemed to strike red-meat detective readers as quaint and fussy, not enough murderous misogyny for their Mickey Spillaned minds.
The Third Mag: Margaret Millar.
“The sun was becoming stronger and warmed the back of his neck. It was pleasant to sit in this strange bright little room and consider the destinies of other people and not have one of your own. Alice and Philip would marry, and eventually Maurice and Letty, and Maurice, in the manner of men who marry too late, would show his affection by patting Letty’s rear. The pats would be too hard to be playful, yet not hard enough to be anything else. They would undress, partly in the dark, and Letty would close her eyes and think things. What did women think of at such a time? It had never been told or written. Women never gave themselves away completely.”
Margaret Millar, Wall of Eyes, (pp. 198-99)
The Dell mysteries of this era come with a "crime map" on the back cover. They are highly collectible. As you can see, the murder scene in Toronto-based novel Wall of Eyes is set on St. Clair Avenue, which, during the era in which the book is set, would have looked something like below.