22 June 2018

The Mysterious Women of Dell Magazines: Linda Landrigan

Linda Landrigan
Linda Landrigan
We complete our hat trick of interviews with the editorial staff of Dell's mystery magazines. Today we introduce editor Linda Landrigan.
— Robert Lopresti

Linda Landrigan is the editor-in-chief of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. She edited the commemorative anthology Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Presents Fifty Years of Crime and Suspense (2006), and the e-anthology Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine Presents Thirteen Tales of New American Gothic (2012). Before assuming the role of editor of AHMM, Linda served as the associate editor of the magazine under Cathleen Jordan for five years.

What are you reading right now?

I’ve been reading the Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea cycle, but I am taking a break right now to read The World of Yesterday, Stefan Zweig’s autobiography of growing up in Vienna.

What do you do in your free time?

I really enjoy weaving, knitting, and sewing, but I’m not very good at any one thing. I enjoy exploring my environs on my bike on nice days, too.

Do you have any pets?

Just a cat, Libby.

What’s the last movie you watched?

Black Panther.

What TV shows do you enjoy?

I love Vera and Shetland (Thank you, David Edgerley Gates, for turning me onto Shetland). I recently watched (and liked very much) an Icelandic series called Trapped.

What great short story or collection have you read recently?

I love rediscoveries. Though at this point not all that recent, Sarah Weinman’s anthology Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives is a terrific book. It’s always fun to see what Crippen & Landru are bringing out. I’m enjoying working my way through Martin Edward’s anthology Capital Crimes: London Mysteries right now.

Do you read any other periodicals?

I love the New Yorker and the Atlantic Monthly, and I always read the daily newspaper. I get my ideas for what to read next from Mystery Scene (If only I read faster!).

Have you always been a fan of mysteries?

My mother and grandfather were big fans (and AHMM subscribers) and always trading books, and when I was eight or nine and wanted to be part of their club, my mother handed me the 87th Precinct books. Later, after college, I rediscovered mysteries starting with P.D. James’s Inspector Dalgliesh series. Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine books were also early favorites.

What is your personal editorial philosophy?

I read for the melody of the prose, and am hooked by a well-drawn character. I confess a good plot is the last thing I look for when I read manuscripts. Though, if the plot is thin or poorly paced or relies on obvious tricks, I become frustrated and bored with the story.

What I like to find in a story are characters with honesty and integrity (whether or not they are good or bad at heart), who are touched in some way by the events of the story. I am turned off by affected language—straining to sound like Chandler or Hammett, for instance.

Thank you, Linda. We look forward to a never-ending supply of top grade stories. Thank you also, Janet and Jackie. Look for the women of mystery in Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines.


  1. Linda, it’s fascinating to get insight into the process. And I love the way you put it about reading for the “melody of the prose.” I’m going to remember that phrase.

    My mom was also a big reader of mysteries and thrillers. That might be where my interest was sparked. I think it’s always great when one’s parents “lead by example” and then the children are exposed to good things and hopefully take them up on their own.

    And it’s great to have you and Janet and Jackie here. Thanks to all of you for taking the time and stopping by.

  2. I also like the part about the melody of the prose. It's wonderful to realize there is art within the art.

    Linda, thank you for appearing today. You are absolutely legendary.

  3. Hi, Linda! Laurie and I also really enjoyed TRAPPED. Have you tried FALLET? Very entertaining. Thanks for the interview!

  4. I ditto everything Paul and Leigh said. Nice interview, Linda.

  5. "Melody of the prose" — I add my voice to the chorus. Yes. Rhythm, texture, beat, cadence, phrasing... the language of music is the same as prose (I started writing stories when I was 10, the same year I started piano lessons).

    Thank you, Linda. Great interview!

  6. Interesting insights. "... hooked on a well-drawn character." Yes. Yes.

    The Christian Brothers at my high school, the Jesuits at Loyola, the laid-back professors at Troy and especially the grad school profs at the University of New Orleans – all made me read Faulkner – and more Faulkner. Maybe it's a southern thing. Haven't read much Faulkner since, but I've been following his advice –

    "It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does." William Faulkner

  7. "Melody of the prose" - Oh, how I'm tempted to change that to Melodie! grin - I'll add my own favourites for your viewing pleasure: Fallet on Netflix is the funniest thing out there. A quiet, clever spoof of Scandi-Noir by themselves.
    And thanks for the input on what you look for. I can see now why you chose the stories you did of mine (and not others :)

  8. Yes, yes, yes to the "melody of the prose." I'm still very auditory, so if the language I'm reading sounds clumsy or unnatural, I have to quit. It's like listening to an out-of-tune piano. My mother was also a big 87th Precinct fan, along with Ngaio Marsh and New Yorker. I'm sure she's a big reason I write mysteries.

    Great insights, Linda. Thanks for sharing them with us.

  9. A fine interview- and what a nice photo- it just says 'thoughtful editor'. I think you might like the mysteries of Fred Vargas ( the French historian) if you haven't read her, she is a master at unusual characterization.

  10. Great to see you here, Linda -- and I'm struck by what you wrote about your editorial philosophy, putting prose first above plot. Does seem to work! AHMM is in great hands!

  11. LInda, it's great to have you here at SleuthSayers!! Wonderful interview. Thanks for taking the time to do this!

    Carolyn sends best regards, and says to keep sewing!

  12. Rendell/Vine has always been one of my favorites, too. Wonderful interview, Linda! Thanks.

  13. Linda, always good to see you, whether it’s in person or in print. And if I haven’t said so before, thanks for the short story suggestions in the past.

    Kiti says hi.

  14. Enjoyed the interview -- especially the emphasis on your viewing of sound/voice of the story and its characters vs. editors who only concentrate on plot.

  15. Great interview— who knew that Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct started it all. I love those.


  16. Interesting glimpse into your world, Linda. I've enjoyed these interviews with you, Janet, and Jackie. Thanks for giving us these insights.

  17. "It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does." William Faulkner

    Luv this quote...says a lot, in a little!


Welcome. Please feel free to comment.

Our corporate secretary is notoriously lax when it comes to comments trapped in the spam folder. It may take Velma a few days to notice, usually after digging in a bottom drawer for a packet of seamed hose, a .38, her flask, or a cigarette.

She’s also sarcastically flip-lipped, but where else can a P.I. find a gal who can wield a candlestick phone, a typewriter, and a gat all at the same time? So bear with us, we value your comment. Once she finishes her Fatima Long Gold.

You can format HTML codes of <b>bold</b>, <i>italics</i>, and links: <a href="https://about.me/SleuthSayers">SleuthSayers</a>