Born in New York City, Helen McCloy was educated in Brooklyn, at the Quaker Friends' school, and later studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. From 1927-1932 she worked for Hearst's Universal News Service after which she freelanced as an art critic and contributor to various publications, including the London Morning Post. Shortly after her return to the US she published her first novel, Dance of Death, in 1933, featuring her popular series detective-psychologist Basil Willing. The novel Through a Glass Darkly, a puzzle in the supernatural tradition of John Dickson Carr, is the eighth in the Basil Willing series and is generally acknowledged to be her masterpiece. In 1946 McCloy married fellow author Davis Dresser, famed for his Mike Shayne novels. Together they founded Halliday & McCloy literary agency as well as the Torquil Publishing Company. The couple had one daughter, Chloe, and their marriage ended in 1961. In 1950 Helen McCloy became the first woman president of the Mystery Writers of America and in 1953 she was awarded an Edgar by the same organisation for her criticism. In 1987, critic and mystery writer H. R. F. Keating included her Basil Willing title Mr Splitfoot in a list of the 100 best crime and mystery books ever published.