Helen Keremos

Created by Eve Zaremba

The Globe and Mail called HELEN KEREMOS "the best of the feminist lesbian detectives." I'm not sure about the best, but she certainly was one of the first, and certainly the first (1978) to be printed by a mainstream press (Paperjacks).

Personally, I found her a little shrill and strident at times, but hey, consider the time in which the books were written. And thelatter books do at least offer a definite in-your-face approach that is far preferable to the coy, by-the-numbers take offered by most of the rest of the sub-sub-genre of lesbian private eye fiction that erupted in the mid-eighties. This was a shot across the bows.

Then again, considering how upfront about Helen's sexuality the latter books are, it's surprising how hard it is to figure out her sexual preferences at all in her debut, A Reason To Kill (1978). As Kathleen L. Maio points out in 1001 Midnights, "it is only from her empathy with male gay characters and occasional name-calling by disgruntled straight men that give her sexual identity away." In fact, it took eight more years -- until her long-delayed second novel, Work For a Million (1986) came out for her to come out of the print closet. But she's definitely out now.

Vancouver-based, although she does get around, Helen's a middle-aged private eye of sorts (she tends to take on cases that she has personal connections to) with a background in naval intelligence, both in the States and Canada. She's also one tough cookie, with a taste for pickup trucks, and a vast network of contacts among the gay/leftist/feminist/radical liberal fringe. I guess the fact that she's a lesbian makes her more trustworthy.

Eve Zaremba was born in Poland and, after a brief detour to the U.K., emigrated to Canada in 1952. A graduate of the University of Toronto, she has worked in libraries, in advertising, marketing, research and business consulting, and ran a used bookstore and a publishing enterprise. She was a founding member of Broadside: A Feminist Review. Last I heard she was living happily in Toronto with her partner. She apparently has no plans to continue the Helen Keremos series at this point, but her creation remains a pivotal figure in the genre.



Includes "A Reason To Kill," "Work For a Million" and "Beyond Hope"

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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