America in the 1950s was a place of Eisenhower, the Korean Conflict, McCarthy, and Sputnik. Women were trapped in the mold of Donna Reed and June Cleaver, marginalized by the hyper-masculinity of the age. Mystery fiction had become a male bastion, promoting hardboiled private eye novels and spy fiction. It would be another three decades before groups to promote equality between the sexes in mystery fiction appeared.
Yet seven women carved out a place in the genre during that post-World War II era. These women became the bestsellers of their time by innovation and experimentation. Margaret Millar, Patricia Highsmith, Leslie Ford, Charlotte Armstrong, Dorothy B. Hughes, Mignon Eberhart, and Phoebe Atwood Taylor are in no way similar in style, theme, or subject matter. However, their writings created an Atomic Renaissance that continues to impact today’s mystery field.