LAWRENCE TREAT Biography - Writers


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American writer frequently called the "father" of the modern police procedural     
novel, although Treat himself did not accept the honour. Treat's early novels       
paved the way for the radio and television police series Dragnet, John Creasey's   
Gideon stories, and Ed McBain's 87th Precinct novels. (See also Chester Himes       
and his series of Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones.)                       
But as a pioneer in the mystery genre, Treat developed a narrative framework,       
which differed from the traditional detective story, where the story centres on     
a single person, like Sherlock Holmes or Inspector Maigret. In Treat's novels       
there is a group of police detectives with family problems. They have conflicts     
inside departments, and work under-staffed and for long hours. The formula,         
which he started in the 1940s, has since been used repeatedly in books, movies,     
and television series.                                                             
Lawrence Treat was a New Yorker, who graduated from Darthmouth in 1924 and         
attained a law degree from Columbia in 1927. He worked as a lawyer, but then       
moved to Paris in 1928, and started to write mystery stories. Treat's earliest     
contributions to mystery fiction were picture puzzles, some of which were           
collected in BRINGING SHERLOCK HOME (1930).                                         
After returning to the United States, Treat devoted himself to writing and         
produced 17 novels and over 300 short stories. His first novel, RUN FAR, RUN       
FAST (1937) was published under the name Goldstone. Treat was one of the           
founders of Mystery Writers of America. He twice won the Edgar Allan Poe Award:     
in 1965 for the short story 'H as in Homicide,' which first appeared in Ellery     
Queen's Mystery Magazie, and in 1978 for MYSTERY WRITERS' HANDBOOK.                 
Among Treat's best-known characters are Commander Bill Decker, Carl Wayard, a       
professor of psychology, and Mitch Taylor, a veteran police officer, and his       
sidekick Jub Freeman, an easygoing forensic expert. B AS IN BANSHEE (1940), D AS   
IN DEAD (1941), and O AS IN OMEN (1943) featured Carl Wayward, an intuitive         
criminologist. Taylor's greed leads to his involvement in graft and he is           
removed from the NYPD in THE BIG SHOT (1951).                                       
Freeman appeared alone in H AS IN HUNTED (1946) and Decker was introduced in F     
AS IN FLIGHT (1948). With V AS IN VICTIM Treat created the police procedural as     
we know it and established his place in crime-fiction history. In the story         
Mitch Taylor bemoans the policeman's lot, tries to find ways to improve his         
chances of promotion, and investigates a hit-and-run accident. For the young       
detectives he wrote such exercises in observation, creativity and logic as CRIME   
AND PUZZLEMENT (1981-82) and YOU'RE THE DETECTIVE! (1983), in which the reader     
is asked to solve mysteries using clues found in the brief story and               
accompanying illustrations. - Treat died on January 7, 1998, in Oak Bluffs,