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Eunice Mays Boyd (1902-1971)


Eunice won an honorable mention in the 3rd Mary Roberts Rhinehart Mystery contest for her first mystery, Murder Breaks Trail. She wrote during the Golden Age of detective mystery writers whose hallmarks were intelligent, puzzle-based mysteries. The Kirkus Reviews described it as “A better than most brain workout.” Her three published books which include Doom in the Midnight Sun and Murder Wears Mukluks, and her fourth unpublished book, One Paw Was Red, are set in Alaska in the 1940s mostly during the war. Eunice lived in Alaska for 12 years when she was married to George Lloyd Boyd. Before moving to Alaska, she graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1924. Her grandfather, George J. Ainsworth, a member of the university’s charter class of 1873 nicknamed “The Twelve Apostles," later served as a Regent of the University. Eunice's mother, Mable Ainsworth, was a published poet and her father, Edwin Mays, was a lawyer. 


Eunice was born in Oregon. Pioneers who crossed the continent by covered wagon are found on both sides of her pedigree. After a pregnancy that ended in a stillbirth, she divorced her husband and moved in with her widowed mother in Berkeley. There she wrote all of her books. The forward to Murder Breaks Trail highlights how she viewed her contributions to the war effort.

She was a member of a San Francisco Bay Area mystery writers group. With eleven selected writers, including Anthony Boucher, she co-authored The Marble Forest that was made into the movie Macabre, starring Jim Backus.

She worked as a writer for UC President Robert Gordon Sproul. 



How long could a four-year-old girl live buried in a casket?  The man on the phone said five hours, maybe six.

Dr. Barret had known that there were those in Red Forks who disliked him, but only a madman would have tried to strike at him through Midget.  Telling Dr. Barratt that his daughter was buried alive in the cemetery might have been a trick, but as he dug frantically, a pattern appeared.  And as the story flashes back to the lives of the people in whose graves he is hunting, and they tell their tales the jigsaw of his horrifying puzzle fits together bit by bit. 

This is a high-tension and frightening mystery, unusual in concept, express-train fast, and genuinely different.

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I, Theo Durrant dedicate this book to the twelve who have recalled me to life: Terry Adler, Anthony Boucher, Eunice Mays Boyd, Florence Ostern Faulkner, Allen Hymson, Cary Lucas, Dana Lyon, Lenore Glen Offord, Virginia Rath, Richard Shattuck, Darwin L. Teilhet & William Worley.


“…whether or not they ever discover the committers of this crime matters little to me now, for I, before the whole world, announce my innocence…” (my words on the scaffold)



Agrim graveyard tryst in which Rod Barratt, attempting to find his little girl who had been kidnapped and buried alive in a stolen casket, spends a long night in the cemetery, opening up graves. And as their tenants speak, a ghost town comes to life, as do the scandals of the past. There is Doc Whittleby, distorted by his wife's infidelity; Donna Parks, the young girl he helped to kill; Barratt's wife, prim and protected; Tyloe, the chief of police, who had driven his sister into marriage with the local undertaker from which she could only escape in death; etc., etc. And from the cemetery to the funeral parlor and back again, Barratt's desperate search is finally rewarded with the rescue of his child and an exposure of crazed hatreds. Strong stuff- for a carrion trade. –Kirkus Reviews (1950)

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