Stephanie McCarthy

Mystery Geeks

In Book Reviews, Uncategorized on February 13, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Reference Books to Make You Even Geek-ier

Bloody Murder: From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel: A History by Julian Symons. Good for a Golden Age synopsis and full of author opinions.

A Reader’s Guide to the Classic British Mystery by Susan Oleksiw. Excerpt from Amazon- From 19th century classics to as recent as 1985, this complete source book of British Mystery covers more than 1440 titles by 121 authors. Each is fully annotated without giving the ending away.

Snobbery With Violence: Crime Stories and Their Audience by Colin Watson. Analysis of British crime fiction, including the Golden Age, and its sociological underpinnings by a master of detective stories.

Twentieth Century Crime and Mystery Writers. Critical overviews and complete bibliographies for mystery writers from the beginnings of the genre to 1980.

The Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing by Rosemary Herbert, Catherine Aird, John M. Reilly and Susan Oleksiw Excerpt from Amazon: From the penny dreadful, which challenges seekers of sensation to discover the truth in a pattern of gory details; to the twentieth-century detective novel, which offers an intricate puzzle solved through the application of the intellect; to the crime novel, which probes the psyches of the characters, the crime and mystery genre offers readers an intellectual excitement unsurpassed by other forms of fiction. Provides scholars and fans of this genre with an authoritative yet playful compendium of knowledge about a literature known for its highly entertaining treatment of deadly serious puzzles.

Talking about Detective Fiction by P.D. James From Publishers Weekly: One of the most widely read and respected writers of detective fiction, James (The Private Patient) explores the genre’s origins (focusing primarily on Britain) and its lasting appeal. James cites Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone, published in 1868, as the first detective novel and its hero, Sergeant Cuff, as one of the first literary examples of the professional detective (modeled after a real-life Scotland Yard inspector). As for Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, James argues that their staying power has as much to do with the gloomy London atmosphere, the enveloping miasma of mystery and terror, as with the iconic sleuth. Devoting much of her time to writers in the Golden Age of British detective fiction (essentially between the two world wars), James dissects the work of four heavyweights: Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham and Ngaio Marsh. Though she’s more appreciative of Marsh and Allingham (declaring them novelists, not merely fabricators of ingenious puzzles), James acknowledges not only the undeniable boost these women gave to the genre but their continuing appeal. For crime fiction fans, this master class from one of the leading practitioners of the art will be a real treat.


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