After his college career, he turned his hand to detective fiction in 1937, with a standalone followed by one series with amateur criminologist Fergus O'Breen and the other Sister Ursula of the Order of Martha of Bethany (published under the pen name H.H. Holmes). Although a moderate success as a novelist, he found his true calling when he started reviewing mysteries and science fiction for the San Francisco Chronicle (another node of connection with this year's conference), followed by editing anthologies and translating other books. He landed a job as the regular mystery fiction critic for the New York Times in 1951, a job he held for close to 17 years.
His contributions to the genre didn't end there—he was a founding member of the Mystery Writers of America, a charter member of the Baker Street Irregulars in San Francisco and wrote scripts for "Sherlock Holmes" and "Ellery Queen" radio programs, co-edited the True Crime Detective magazine, wrote a monthly review column for Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, and created a regular mystery-review show for the public radio station KPFA.
His dozens of short stories reflect his multi-faced interests outside literature, with one of the editors to the Boucher collection Exeunt Murderers, Francis M. Nevins, Jr., adding that Boucher wrote mysteries delving into "religion, opera, football, politics, movies, true crime, record collecting and an abundance of good food and wine along with clues and puzzles and detection." (Nevin's co-editor for this collection was the prolific Martin H. Greenberg.)
Many Boucher stories pivot around talented and brilliant amateur sleuths, although the first third of Exeunt consists of nine stories featuring former police Lieutenant Nick Noble, once a rising star in the force until he took the rap for a bad cop. The second part is a series of Sister Ursula stories grouped under the title "Conundrums for the Cloister." Although technically an amateur, Sister Ursula is the daughter of a police chief who'd once planned on entering the field herself until poor health changed her plans. These stories mirror Boucher's own life in two ways—he was a devout Catholic who also struggled with poor health his entire life, ultimately dying of lung cancer at the age of 56. Part Three of Exunt is "Jeux de Meurtre," narrated by both cops and amateurs, and in one case, the murderer.
These are thoroughly enjoyable stories, and as a former Friday's Forgotten Books feature by Jeffrey Marks on Boucher's novel Nine Tmes Nine for the Rap Sheet attests, it's almost a shame that he spent so much of his time on other projects. But it is that very legacy of support to the crime fiction community which Bouchercon celebrates, and so we'll just have to be content with the body of work we have (see George Kelley's FFB feature about the Anthony Boucher Chronicles) from someone who managed to pack more into a half-century than most people do with decades more.