SGAG Logo

SELENA MEAD

mead_selena_nv_chain mead_selena_nv_ladies mead_selena_nv_findtraitor mead_selena_nv_timetodie mead_selena_nv_legacy mead_selena_nv_carthage mead_selena_nv_hasrs mead_selena_nv_foxhunt mead_selena_nv_matchpoint mead_selena_nv_truth mead_selena_nv_easy mead_selena_nv_question mead_selena_nv_holiday mead_selena_nv_numbers mead_selena_nv_grandprize mead_selena_nv_murderinred mead_selena_nv_caribbean mead_selena_nv_fellowtraveler Mead_Selena2 mead_selena_nv_gift mead_selena_nv_view mead_selena_nv_goodloser mead_selena_nv_helsinki mead_selena_gm_puzzlepage2 mead_selena_nv_latin
 
Full Name: Selena Mead
Nationality: American
Organization: Section Q
Occupation Agent

Creator: Patricia McGerr
Time Span: 1963 - 1984

ABOUT THE SERIES

Selena Mead is an agent with Section Q.

She was born Selena Brennan, raised in the lap of luxury as the daughter of two parents who were each extremely wealthy. Her father, an ambassador, traveled extensively around the world and Selena saw most there was to see as she grew up and learned to feel comfortable in many unusual places. She attended the best schools and went to the best parties. She certainly didn't suffer from want as she grew up and she knew she would always have plenty of security. It was excitement that she had precious little of and no prospects of any.

As the series begins, Selena has just graduated from one of the Seven Sisters universities. Her marriage to Raymond, a scion of another rich and influential families, was set to take place six months after the Commencement ceremonies and her mother was making sure it was the event of the year. But for Selena the chance to do something interesting and unplanned was pulling on her.

She elected to take a cruise to Europe and then a series of visits to the places she knew growing up, a chance to meet old friends and reuse the many languages she had learned like French, Spanish, Italian, German, and even a dialect of Arabic spoken in North Africa. It was on the last leg of this trip, a stop in Berlin, that changed her life forever.

The events in the first book detail her foray into the world of espionage and how she came to become involved with the highly secret Intelligence bureau known only as Section Q, run by the personable Hugh Pierce. It also explains how she meets Simon Mead, an agent with Q, falls in loves with him, marries him, and settles down for a life together. It does so rather quickly, allowing eight years of marriage to pass in just a paragraph as the story moves to the death of her husband and her entry into the spy world herself to catch the killers.

Selena is highly intelligent and resourceful. She is also a wonderful example of the transition of the role of women in espionage. She does not shirk from danger or the threat of death and she is very capable of using her beauty, position, and charm to help out in her assignments. Mostly, though, she is best when she uses her very impressive intelligence. Mead is one extremely smart and gifted woman.

BOOKS

Number of Books:2
First Appearance:1964
Last Appearance:1970

Note: In 1964, one year after the first short story appeared, CBS announced that it had added Selena Mead to its drama schedule for the next year. The acclaimed actress Polly Bergen had agreed to play the espionage agent. The show was to have been a half hour long and would likely have been aired on Saturdays, later changed to Mondays. When, however, Ms. Bergen asked that filming be delayed so she might do a movie first, it was dropped.


2 Legacy Of Danger Legacy Of Danger
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1970

Selena Mead, while in Europe, falls in love with and marries an up-and-coming reporter. When she learns that her husband had been killed, she also learns that he had for many years been a top operative of Section Q. Now she decides to find and bring to justice her husband's killer, becoming an agent herself.
Note: This book is actually a "fixup" of several short stories originally published in This Week and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, edited to create a complete novel. While the stories contained are some from before the second book or just after it, this fixup itself came out several years later but the story precedes the second book. The original stories from which the book was likely constructed were:
Match Point in Berlin
Legacy of Danger
The King Will Die Tonight
Latin Lesson
"Question, Mr. President"
Holiday for a Lady Spy
Fellow Traveler
The Secret of Carthage
Murder in Red
Ballad for a Spy
Truth or Consequences
A Time to Die
Fox Hunt for Selena
Grand Prize for Selena
Ladies Without a Past
Selena's Black Sheep
Note: see the opening comments of the Novella section for more information.

2 Is There A Traitor In The House Is There A Traitor In The House
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1964

All evidence points to the young and upcoming Congressman as the source of secret leaks that are starting to greatly harm the security of the nation. Selena Mead is told to investigate him and his connection with the apparent suicide of a lovely young secretary who seemed to be the treasonous conduit.

NOVELLAS AND SHORT STORIES

Number of Stories:32
First Appearance:1963
Last Appearance:1984

The adventures of Selena Mead were first introduced to readers in the pages of This Week, a nationally syndicated magazine supplement enclosed in Sunday editions of dozens of newspapers. This publication got its start in 1935 and ran until 1969; Patricia 'Pat' McGerr's run spanned 1963-1966.

The periodical contained articles, short stories, political and other topical cartoons, and amusing anecdotes . The articles had some pretty famous writers including several high ranking politicians such as Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon. The fiction was provided by many different authors including Erle Stanley Gardner, P.G. Wodehouse, and Pearl Buck.

Patricia McGerr started Mead's tales in the last quarter of 1963 with 3 and really hit her stride in 1964 with 11, 1965 saw 8 tales gracing This Week pages and 1966 saw two. McGerr also had Mead appear one time in Edgar Wallace Mystery Magazine in 1965.

After a year absence, Mead reappeared in the pages of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and would show up an additional six more times sporadically over the next few years.

The stories presented in This Week were short stories, usually just two magazine-sized pages, as was normal for any fiction that publication released. When the transition was made to EQMM, the size got considerably larger, definitely novella size for the first one or two and then novelette for a couple of the others.

*Many of the short stories would be the source for the fix-up novel,Legacy of Danger. Mystery and Thriller fiction expert Mike Grost in his excellent website: MikeGrost.com. I have snitched a lot of info for use in the descriptions below, marked with an '*'.


1 Legacy of Danger Legacy of Danger
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1963

First published in This Week, October 6, 1963. *The source for Chapter 4 of Legacy of Danger.
Selena Mead has not yet had a chance to come to terms with the death of her Section Q operative husband when she is approached by his boss and asked to help figure out what had happened to the deceased the night the two had attended a party at an Embassy and he suddenly stated he had to take care of something and left; he would be shot elsewhere soon after.

2 The King Will Die Tonight The King Will Die Tonight
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1963

First published in This Week, October 27, 1963. *The source for Chapter 5 of Legacy of Danger.
The King of an unnamed Asian nation had been deposed, abdicating when an army coup sent him and his siblings into exile. There was said to be a large monarchist movement back home but he has been loathe to call it to action for fear of many innocent deaths. Section Q has learned of a plan to assassinate him and Selena Mead is asked to look into it, drawing on her friendship with the man back when her father had been ambassador to that country when she was young and a friend of the then prince.

3 "Question, Mr. President"
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1963

First published in This Week, December 8, 1963. *The source for the end of Chapter 6 and all of Chapter 7 of Legacy of Danger.
Selena Mead is again sent on a mission, this time to use the credentials of her late husband's cover identity as a reporter and to get close to a visiting Asian general to make sure his visit to America lasts a couple of weeks. When she learns the trip was being curtailed and her boss, Hugh Pierce, cannot be contacted, she has to be resourceful to get the message to Section Q.

4 Grand Prize For Selena Grand Prize For Selena
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1964

First published in This Week, February 23, 1964.  *The source for Chapter 14 of Legacy of Danger.
When Hugh Pierce agreed to co-chair a pricey gala to help build the JFK Center for the Performing Arts, Selena Mead knew there would be a mission involved. She learns what it is on the night of the costume ball. A Red Embassy attache had for many months been secretly supplying documents and information to American agents but now he is being recalled home. He is attending the ball on the eve of his return so Section Q has only tonight to break him away from his minders.

5 Holiday for a Lady Spy Holiday for a Lady Spy
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1964

First published in This Week, April 5, 1964. *The source for  half of Chapter 8 of Legacy of Danger.
Selena Mead is on vacation to London when she is surprised to get a coded greeting from a beggar using Section Q code and a slip of paper with an address. Knowing that despite her holiday trip, Section Q had found her. The mission will be to get a briefcase filled with stolen blueprints from an enemy diplomat.

6 View By Midnight View By Midnight
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1964

First published in This Week, April 19, 1964. Reprinted in the anthology Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories To Be Read With The Door Locked, Vol II, that anthology reissued as Alfred Hitchcock Presents: I Want My Mummy.
An Italian Prince is using the sale of some of his family's expensive art pieces as a way of smuggling to the Reds working in America messages. Selena Mead is asked to head to Naples to find a way to intercept the instructions.

7 Gift for the First Lady Gift for the First Lady
short story
aka Selena Robs The White House
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1964

First published in This Week, May 3, 1964. Reprinted as Selena Robs the White House in the anthology Murder Most Foul edited by Harold Q. Masur, 1971.
The President of a newly democratized African nation has arrived in DC for meetings and to extend a gift to the First Lady, a beautiful powder music box. Since it had gone missing briefly in transit, Section Q is certain something bad had been done to it and asks Selena Mead to investigate. Bad, indeed.
Note: this story had sadly been submitted on November 21, 1963, the day before the assassination of JFK. In respect to the slain President and a grieving nation, it was held for several months before being published.

8 Latin Lesson Latin Lesson
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1964

First published in This Week, June 21, 1964. *The source for most of Chapter 6 of Legacy of Danger.
Section Q needs Selena Mead's help to bring together a noted Cuban-in-exile named Don Carlos Perez y Ortega and a young female refugee from the nation named Pepita who had vital intel she will only divulge to him.

9 Easy Conquest Easy Conquest
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1964

First published in This Week, July 5, 1964.
Selena Mead agrees to head to the capitol of an Iron Curtain nation to attend a 4th of July party at the American embassy. The mission is to figure out who of three young attaches might be a traitor.

10 Selena in Atlantic City Selena in Atlantic City
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1964

First published in This Week, August 23, 1964. Reprinted as the 11th of 12 stories in the anthology Spies and More Spies from Random House in 1967.
Asked to head to Atlantic City and the Democratic National Convention to help keep a Red Chinese agent undercover as a reporter from sending a coded message back to China.

11 The Secret Of Carthage The Secret Of Carthage
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1964

First published in This Week, September 27, 1964. *The source for Chapter 9 of Legacy of Danger.
Section Q's man in North Africa was ill and could not make a vital rendezvous to receive intel on a pro-Western underground movement inside the Arab nations. As Selena Mead had lived in the region years before with her diplomat father, she is asked by Hugh Pierce to take his place. The op has gone wrong and now the only clue for Mead to get the intel is a scent of perfume.

12 Murder In Red Murder In Red
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1964

First published in This Week, October 4, 1964.  *The source for Chapter 10 of Legacy of Danger.
The Prime Minister of the small Asian nation had just been assassinated and his widow is about to tell the world that the only thing she saw was a red car pulling away. The only red car in the nation belonged to the victim's nephew, a pro-Western politician who was 100 miles away at the time. Selena Mead is asked to find a way to convince the bereaved that she was wrong about what she saw.

13 Campaign Fever Campaign Fever
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1964

First published in This Week, November 1, 1964.
A small Red-dominated country on the other side of the world has a band of freedom-fighters is on the cusp to launch a rebellion. Win or lose, it is vital that the US does not look like it is involved. Now a candidate in the States running for high office is about to attend a rally of expatriates from that country, not knowing of the upcoming coup attempt. The problem facing Section Q - and Selena Mead - is how to keep that speech from taking place until after the fighting is over.

14 Fox Hunt for Selena Fox Hunt for Selena
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1964

First published in This Week, December 13, 1964. *The source for Chapter 13 of Legacy of Danger.
In a county in Virginia there is a secret government installation that is vital to the defense of the US. An agent working for an enemy nation has been working hard to find the location. A Section Q operative believes he has identified the agent but is having trouble passing the name to HQ. Selena Mead is asked to join a high society fox hunt to rendezvous with the Q agent and get the name.

15 Ladies Without a Past Ladies Without a Past
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1965

First published in This Week, January 17, 1965.  Reprinted as the 5th of 12 stories in the anthology Spies and More Spies from Random House in 1967. *The source for Chapter 15 of Legacy of Danger.
From a country controlled by the Reds has come its Prime Minister, his wife and his grown daughter. It is the anti-Red daughter who wishes to provide the US with the locations of all the bases the Communists have created in her country. Selena Mead is asked to attend a reception at that country's Embassy to be passed the intel but when something goes awry, she must come up with a Plan B.

16 Fellow Traveler Fellow Traveler
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1965

First published in This Week, March 14, 1965. *The source for half of Chapter 8 of Legacy of Danger.
A highly gifted American scientist is heading to Vienna via ocean liner. Section Q believes he is going to defect to the other side there and would like to know the truth before it happens. They ask Selena Mead to take the same ship and see if she can figure out if he plans on returning or is this a one-way trip?

17 Ballad for a Spy Ballad for a Spy
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1965

First published in This Week, April 18, 1965. *The source for Chapter 11 of Legacy of Danger.
Section Q, working for a larger intelligence organization, knows that the identities of that groups agents traveling abroad are being passed to an intermediary who then conveys it to a foreign agent. That go-between is a folk singer at a popular club and Selena Mead is asked to go undercover as a fellow singer to learn how the transfers are taking place.

18 Truth Or Consequences Truth Or Consequences
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1965

First published in This Week, June 27, 1965. *The source for half of Chapter 12 of Legacy of Danger.
The foreign minister of an Asian nation under communist control has secretly defected to the US and is housed in the American embassy in a neighboring country. The question of whether he is legit or a ploy to embarrass American exists. Selena Mead is asked to fly there to try her hand at determining the truth. She has a plan. 

19 Find The Traitor Find The Traitor
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1965

First published in Edgar Wallace Mystery Magazine, July 1965.
In a country behind the Iron Curtain, it has been determined that one of 
three young attaches to the American Embassy staff is really a traitor but which one? That is what Section Q wants Selena Mead to learn as she travels to that country to take part in the Embassy's 4th of July gala.

20 Selena's Black Sheep Selena's Black Sheep
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1965

First published in This Week, August 15, 1965. *The source for Chapter 16 of Legacy of Danger.
An innocent letter Selena Mead's father had sent an old friend some time back could be misinterpreted if only a part were released. As he prepares to fly to Geneva to help solidify a new treaty, he is being blackmailed - skip the trip or have your reputation sullied. Selena Mead is determined to keep that from happening.

21 Good Loser Good Loser
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1965

First published in This Week, September 15, 1965.
The rumor was that the Reds were about to sign a trade-and-bases treaty with an Asian non-aligned nation. Some in the State Department wanted to give that country extra concessions to keep it from happening while others wanted to wait. Section Q asks Selena Mead to help determine if the rumor was true and she came up with an idea that involved her young nephew and an impromptu swim meet.

22 Prophet Without Honor Prophet Without Honor
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1965

First published in This Week, October 17, 1965.
The Messenger is the name given to the once British now Arab recluse who for the past 20 years has lived a life of a hermit in the deserts of North Africa. Now he has come out of seclusion and Section Q is certain the man has been murdered and replaced by a phony to turn that country's people against America's new base in the nation. Selena Mead is asked to fly there to learn what she can.

23 A Time To Die A Time To Die
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1965

First published in This Week, January 16, 1966. *The source for half of Chapter 6 of Legacy of Danger.
The leader of a Caribbean nation had died after a long illness. The matter of succession was in doubt. A new law was set to take effect that night. The exact time of the man's death would decide if the new leader was pro-West or pro-Red. Selena Mead was on hand to help the truth come out.

24 The Palace Spy The Palace Spy
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1966

First published in This Week, March 6, 1966.
American Intelligence had a spy deep undercover in the palace of an Asian dictator but his identity was discovered by the leader who was planning a special 'treat' for the man. Section Q asked Selena Mead to use her press credentials to find a way to warn the spy to get out immediately.

25 Silent Night, Frantic Night Silent Night, Frantic Night
short story
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1966

First published in This Week, December 25, 1966.
Several years had passed since her husband's murder. Selena Mead had decided it was time to move on and had accepted the proposal of Hugh Pierce. On the eve of their wedding, Hugh is kidnapped and Selena Mead must find a way to trick the kidnappers to get him free.

26 Match Point in Berlin Match Point in Berlin
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1968

First printed in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, June, 1968. Reprinted in the anthology Women of Mystery II, edited by Cynthia Manson, 2002. *Likely the source for most of Chapters 1-3 of Legacy of Danger.
A prequel story telling of the time that Selena Mead first met her husband, Simon, and how her helping him on his Section Q mission almost cost him his life - and how his trying to help her almost got her killed in return.

27 Hide and Seek - Russian Style Hide and Seek - Russian Style
novelette
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1976

First printed in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (US - Apr. 1976), then in Ellery Queen's Anthology #39 (Spring/Summer 1980). Reprinted first in Ellery Queen's Veils of Mystery edited by Ellery Queen, 1980, and then in the collection Cloak and Dagger: A Treasury of 35 Great Espionage Stories, edited by Bill Pronzini and Martin H. Greenberg.
Selena Mead is asked by an old acquaintance to find a way to sneak a poem out of the Soviet Union.


28 The Writing on the Wall The Writing on the Wall
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1978

First printed in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine August 1978. Reprinted in the anthology Ellery Queen's Circumstantial Evidence, edited by Ellery Queen, 1980.
Hugh Pierce was asked by another agency to help crack a coded message while he and his wife, Selena Mead, were vacationing in England. Since Mead was especially good with such things, he asks her to try her hand. Her results will end up saving the life of the American Vice President.

29 Chain Of Terror Chain Of Terror
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1979

First printed in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine October, 1979. Reprinted in the anthology Women of Mystery, edited Cynthia Manson, 2002.
Selena Mead was on a news assignment in Israel when she accepted an invitation by a visiting US Senator and his wife to visit Masada, none of them knowing there was a kidnap plan by Palestinians against the man.

30 A Date In Helsinki A Date In Helsinki
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1982

First printed in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine October, 1982. Reprinted as Date in Helsinki in the anthology Lady on the Case, edited by Marcia Muller, Bill Pronzini, and Martin H. Greenberg, 1988
Selena Mead is reporting on a trade conference in Sweden when she receives mysteriously a plane ticket to Helsinki which she is certain came from Section Q. The strange mission asked of her is to figure out a code from an unknown person played out on a roulette wheel detailing delivery dates of an arm shipment.

31 Caribbean Clues Caribbean Clues
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1984

First printed in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine January 1984, then in 1997 as one of the stories in the anthology The Orion Book of Murder, edited by Peter Haining followed by a story in the anthology Women of Mystery III, edited by Kathleen Halligan. 
Selena Mead knows the invitation for a Caribbean Cruise by her husband, Hugh, is just a way to get her help on a Section Q mission. At first he just wanted the cover of being a couple but then it falls to her to help determine if a contact is the real McCoy or a decoy.

32 Numbers Game Numbers Game
Written by Patricia McGerr
Copyright: 1984

First printed in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine mid-December 1984. 
A prominent East European rocket scientist had just been selected to receive a prestigious award to be handed out in DC. The Reds controlling his nation will only let he and his wife attend the ceremony under the strictest of scrutiny. He had been passing vital intel on his latest creation but was stymied at conveying the mileage of the rocket. It is expected he would use his wife to pass that data but how?

GAMES

Number of Games:2
First Appearance:1964
Last Appearance:1965

For over three decades, week after week, the Sunday supplement magazine This Week had as its cartoon editor and frequent column contributor the very gifted and multi-talented Charlie Rich. His occasional column Charlie Rich's Punchbowl was filled with puzzles and humor and anecdotes. Twice he worked in conjunction with Selena Mead to present a series of mystery puzzles along the lines of the One-Minute Mystery.


1 Selena Mead Puzzle Page 1 Selena Mead Puzzle Page 1
Game Type: Mystery Puzzles
Published by: This Week
Copyright: 1964

Published in This Week, December 13, 1964. 
Seven short mysteries solved by Selena Mead and presented as challenges for the reader.

2 Selena Mead Puzzle Page 2 Selena Mead Puzzle Page 2
Game Type: Mystery Puzzles
Published by: This Week
Copyright: 1965

Published in This Week, June 27, 1965. 
Five short mysteries solved by Selena Mead and presented as challenges for the reader.

MY COMMENTS

The two chronicled adventures of Selena Mead are easy to handle and were moderately fun to read. The character is interesting and certainly intrepid but the plots are a big weak and predictable.

That being said, I liked the fact that Mead is not a shrinking violet nor is she a femme fatale. She moves quickly from being a pampered rich girl with her life planned out for her to an independent, strong-minded woman who can take care of herself and does not need a man to protect her.

Having more books in the series like the second one would have been very welcome. I read, however, that Ms. McGerr had tired of the incredibly beautiful, wealthy, and popular agent and wanted to write about someone else. I could understand that but having read these stories some fifty years later, I was saddened when I had read the last one and knew there were no more coming.

GRADE

My Grade: B+

YOUR OPINIONS

Be the first to leave your own comments about this series.

Tell us what you think of the series. Give your grade and comments.

Your Grade:
Your Comments:

To give your opinion, you must be logged in.

Sign In

Register
Disclaimer
SpyGuysAndGals is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, and links with the Buy from Amazon button are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.