There's Something About Willetta...
"Detecting Men" and "Detecting Wome
n 2"
by Willetta Heising

Review by Rick Robinson


Willetta Heising has done a marvelous thing. She has created one of the most helpful and user-friendly references to mystery series ever printed.

Both Detecting Women and Detecting Men come in two sizes: a full size 8 " x 11" soft cover edition and a smaller pocket guide. Detecting Women was the first of the two and is now in it's 3rd edition while Detecting Men is in first edition in both full size and pocket guide. Heising is continually in the process of updating and expanding these books and the current editions are as current as anything which has to go through the publishing process can be, something that can't be said for many weightier tomes of mystery reference such as Al Hubin's huge two-volume Crime Fiction or the St. James' Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers. Both of these later books are essential references for the mystery reader, reviewer and critic, but for the person primarily interested in what series was written by whom in what order, Detecting Women and Detecting Men are the reference works to have.

The subtitle of Detecting Women is "A Readers Guide and Checklist for Mystery Series" and that describes both book quite very well. Each edition holds more information, the latest pocket guide has information on over 800 series detectives, over 3,700 titles.

Each year about year 200 new series titles are released. How on earth to keep track of all those books? With these books, that's how. In addition these books aid and abet your search for new authors to enjoy.

For each entry, a brief profile of each author is provided, including pseudonyms. Below that is a listing of series by protagonist name with a one-line description of that character. There's also a few blank lines left to write newer books. And there's two small boxes beside each title, for you to mark books you want, books you have, books you've read. Award nominees and winners are noted with stars.

But wait, there's more! We,re just over half way through the book. The rest is devoted to lists of mystery types, series characters, settings, chronology an alphabetical list of titles and a list of pseudonyms. There's also a section on short stories, awards and organizations and additional
resources plus a glossary, bibliography and index.

Now let's talk about those Pocket Guides. They're separate books, 3" x 6" in size containing just the checklist portion of the big books. They have plastic covers and a pull out notepad. All you need to remember is to take along a pencil. About this point I hear someone saying "So if the
pocket guides have the lists, why bother with the full size books?" To you I reply go back and read that last paragraph.

The full-sized versions have a great deal of valuable materials in them in addition to the lists. I suggest having the full size book for reference and the pocket guide to take shopping, which is exactly what Heising intended. As I write this the full size version of Detecting Men isn't available (the Detecting Men Pocket Guide is), but should be available soon.

What's in store for the future? Updated editions of both Detecting Women and Detecting Men plus there are plans for another book, Detecting Classics which will include older series by authors of the past. These are top notch books every mystery reader should own.

.* * * * *

Detecting Men: A Reader's Guide and Checklist for Mystery Series Written by Men
By Willetta L. Heising
Published by Purple Moon Press, 1998.
Ann Arbor, Michigan:
Buy this book
....Buy the Matching Pocket Guide

Detecting Women 2: A Reader's Guide and Checklist for Mystery Series Written by Women
By Willetta L. Heising
Published by Purple Moon Press, 1996.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Buy this book
....Buy the Matching Pocket Guide.

EDITOR'S NOTE: "Detecting Women 3" has been subsequently published, with"most of the clunkiness and silliness removed," according to the author.

Review submitted by Rick Robinson, 2002. Portions of this review were originally published in the July-August 1997 issue of The Perp. Revised by the author for this site.

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