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Full Name: Anne "Davvie" Davenport McLean
Nationality: American
Organization: Naval Intelligence
Occupation Other - Nurse

Creator: Margaret Tayler Yates
Time Span: 1937 - 1941


"Davvie" McLean is an agent with the U.S. Naval Intelligence.

She is also a nurse. And a housewife. And a pretty good detective although being a female in the late 30s, it would be a very strange man who would think to admit that lady could do much with her head other than look pretty. But she can think with hers and luckily for the Navy she does it well.

McLean is an officer in the Naval Nurses Corp. [It would not be unexpected to think that McLean was an officer in the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) as most people would think WAVES when talking about females serving in the Navy in the 30s-50s but McLean was in the service in 1937 and had likely been so for a year or two beforehand and the WAVES did not come into existance until 1942.]

She is not, when the first recorded adventure takes place, at all involved with Naval Intelligence and would have likely frowned at you if you suggested such a thing. Her desire was to tend to the infirm and that is where we first meet her in 1937. Stationed onboard a hospital ship, McLean was one of those aiding in the evacuation of dependents from a China in the midst of war with Japan. She is single in that escapade but is quite close to one of the doctors on the ship and it is when that doctor becomes the chief suspect in a murder that McLean shows she has a special talent for digging for the truth.

It is in the second adventure that she comes to the attention of the intelligence community when, in Cuba with her now husband doctor, she assists in solving another murder (all of her adventures have a dead body or three lying around) and that one involved codes and clandestine meetings and all the things operatives love so much. Having proven her intelligence and her tenacity, she is a perfect candidate for further use by them in the last two tales we have of her.


Number of Books:4
First Appearance:1937
Last Appearance:1941

1 The Hush-Hush Murders The Hush-Hush Murders
Written by Margaret Tayler Yates
Copyright: 1937

When the wife of a U.S. naval ship's captain is murdered, and the ship's doctor is a prime suspect, his nurse, "Davvie" McLean, becomes part of the group investigating the incident in Shanghai. Things get complicated when a typhoon heads their way.

2 Death Sends A Cable Death Sends A Cable
Written by Margaret Tayler Yates
Copyright: 1938

The action is at the naval base on Guantanamo, Cuba. Now married to Dr. Hugh McLean, she challenges the decision that a man named Patterson committed suicide and looks into the matter herself. She is soon in among "ghosts" and spooks and secret codes and a mysterious figure sent from Washington.

3 Midway to Murder Midway to Murder
Written by Margaret Tayler Yates
Copyright: 1941

"Davvie" McLean is sent by Naval Intelligence to the small Midway Island posing as a mystery writer. People mistake her for Leslie Ford as she investigates the strange matter that prompted her mission, accompanied by her husband, Hugh.

4 Murder By The Yard Murder By The Yard
Written by Margaret Tayler Yates
Copyright: 1941

Set during the weekend of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, "Davvie" McLean sights a man she knew from a previous encounter to be a Japanese agent. Suspecting bad things, she follows him and is kidnapped by him and his cohorts.


The Davvie McLean adventures are mysteries first and spy stories second, which was extremely common back in the day these were written. This is especially necessary when the main protagonist is female and therefore could never legitimately be considered a spy. Yes there were many examples in history prior to these writings of real-life female spies (Mata Hari leaps to mind) but in the fictional world, it was the man who was the spy. Period.

So the author worked her way slowly into having her female protagonist become a spy by having her in a job more "suitable" for a woman, in this case a nurse, and then forcing her to take a bigger role. In the instance of McLean, though, the character was pretty self-assured already so did not need any prodding.

Good writing, good plotting, good fun. A tad slow at times as was common then but still good mysteries turned spy novels.


My Grade: B


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