Listed, by author...
- Baker, Robert A., and Michael T. Nietzel.
Private Eyes: One Hundred and One Knights-A Survey of American Detective Fiction 1922-1984...Buy this book
Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Press, 1985.
At the time, a landmark work, and still an amazing resource. Bill Pronzini, in his intro, calls it "the definitive work by far on the sub-genre," and he's not wrong. There are bibliographical and biographical entries on well over 300 private eyes and their creators. An absolutely indispensible work for any serious fan of the private eye, it continues to be an inspiration for this site. Recommended heartily.
- Ball, John, editor,
The Mystery Story
New York, Penguin Books, 1976.
13 critics and writers, including our own Allen J. Hubin, plus James Sandoe, Michele Slung, Otto Penzler and Francis M. Nevins, Jr., chip in various essays, articles and lists which "present conclusive evidence of the variety and value of the mystery story -- its origins, history, categories, authors, characters, and most noteworthy titles." My personal favourites are James Sandoe's now very outdated, but nonetheless thought provoking list of his personal favourite private eyes, and Al Hubin's brave attempt to list all series characters from 1878 through 1974, sorting them by year of fist appearance, author, type of detective, etc.
- Barzun, Jacques, and Wendell Hertig Taylor
A Catalogue of Crime
Revised and expanded 1989
A large but uneven work, recognised by a special Edgar. While any ambitious bibliographical/critical work of this scope is bound to contain errors, A Catalogue of Crime has some true honkers, and some of the opinions (even if they are only opinions) are completely out to lunch. Some of the omissions are truly jaw-dropping, and some of the critques are almost cute in their old-fashioned, damn-the-facts way. Its age is showing, more than most. Barzun and Taylor were academics who certainly brought their own predjudices to this once highly-regarded work. It's hard to even look at this book today without finding a bone or two to pick. And anyone of the hard-boiled persuasion will find even more. Nonetheless, it's an important source, albeit more entertaining at this point than informative. And anyway, who am I to talk about opinionated, bloated reference sources?
- Benvenuti, Stefano and Gianni Rizzoni
The Whodunit: An Informal History of Detective Fiction
Translated by Anthony Eyre
With "A Report on the Current Scene" by Edward D. Hoch
New York, New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1979.
Interesting look at detective fiction from an Eurpean viewpoint.
- Binyon, T.J.
Murder Will Out: The Detective in Fiction
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.
A highly-readable, intelligent, personal take on the history of detective fiction by an Oxford professor, with the emphasis on the evolution of the detective, rather than the fiction. Binyon's take is refreshing, and literate without being pretentious, academic without being stodgy. Controversial, opinionated, recommended. He even attempts to chart the main differences between the private detective and the private eye. The guy has balls. It's a relatively short book, and you probably won't agree with all his opinions, but by the time you reach the last page, you'll know you've read something.
- Bourgeau, Art
The Mystery Lovers Companion
New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1986.
An affectionate and personal survey of 2500 of writer/critic/mystery bookstore-owner Bourgeau's favourite mysteries. Concise and intelligent reviews makes this a great book to browse through...
- Carper, Steve, editor
The Defective Detective: Mystery Parodies by the Great Humorists....Buy this book
Citadel Press, 1992
Includes some great parodies, including the Spillane send-up "Me, the Jury" by Ira Wallach, the great Garfield the Cat noir spoof, "Babes and Bullets," by Ron Tuthill,and Garfield creator Jim Davis himself, "In Hot Pursuit " by Fran Leibowitz, S.J. Perelman's loving homage to Robert Leslie Bellem "Farewell, My Lovely Appetizer.," Woody Allen's"Match Wits with Inspector Ford" and John Harris' "Monastic Mayhem: An Echo of Eco," a long-overdue deflation of "The Name of the Rose." Also along for the ride: Garrison Keillor, Robert Benchley, Bret Harte, Bob & Ray and James Thurber, among others.
- Collins, Max Allan,
The History of Mystery....Buy this book
Portland, OR: Collectors Press, 2001.
A highly personal, lavishly illustrated (with tons of scans from Max's own collection) investigation of the entire mystery genre, "Collins' magnifying glass focuses on every aspect of the ouevre and gives us what is arguably the most delightfully comprehensive survey ever published." The author also personally promised me loads "girls-and-gats paperback covers," and he sure as hell dcelivered. This is the sort of coffee table books that's worth taking up drinking coffee for. Collins is, of course, the creator of P.I.s Ms. Tree, Nate Heller et al.
- Conquest, John,
Trouble Is their Business
Garland Publishing, 1990
I've never seen this one, and probably couldn't afford one if I ever did (it's supposed to be very expensive), but it's supposed to be an indepth analysis of every major and minor P.I. ever created, upping the count of Baker and Nietzel's Private Eyes: One Hundred and One Knights about ten fold. I want it!
- DeAndrea, William L.
Encyclopedia Mysteriosa....Buy this book
New York: Prentice Hall General Reference, 1994.
A sometimes-tough, but always fair, and impressively- comprehensive guide to the art of detection in print, film, radio and television, by the Big Man himself. Recommended. Ah, Bill, we hardly knew ye...
- Derie, Kate, editor.
The Deadly Directory....Buy this book
Deadly Serious Press, annual editions.
Latest edition: 2004
Invaluable! Extensive annual listings of mystery bookstores, organizations, publications, events, archives, small presses, reviewers, entertainment, gifts, and online sites. Names, addresses, phone/fax, email, and websites. It bills itself as "Your Guide to the World of Mystery Fiction ," and that sure ain't no foolin' around! Editor Derie is also the creator of the fantastic ClueLass web site. For more info, check out http://www.deadlyserious.com/.
- Geherin, David.
The American Private Eye: The Image in Fiction
New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing, 1985.
- Gorman, Ed, Martin H. Greenberg, Larry Segriff and Jon L. Breen, ed.
The Fine Art of Murder: The Mystery Reader's Indispensable Companion....Buy this book
New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1993.
A fine collection of essays and lists, both original and from various sources, especially Mystery Scene Magazine,which won the Anthony award for Best Critical Work at Bouchercon.
- Gorman, Ed, Lee Server and Martin H. Greenberg, editors.
The Big Book of Noir....Buy this book
New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1998.
Amazing collection of informative, revealing, intriguing essays, interviews, excerpts, opinions and other neat stuff, both original and from various sources, covering noir in all its shadowy glory, from films and literature to radio, television and comics. Contributors include Ron Goulart, Max Allan Collins, Bill Pronzini, James Sallis, Robert Skinner, Stephen King, Gary Lovisi, Dick Lochte, William Nolan, Maxim Jakubowski, Bill Crider, Leigh Brackett and Etienne Borgers, among others. I can't praise this book enough. Passionate, diverse, opinionated, cranky, illuminating and enlightening, it's like a Greatest Hits of Noir Criticism..
- Grape, Jan, Dean James and Ellen Nehr, eds.
Deadly Women: The Woman Mystery Reader's Indispensable Companion....Buy this book
New York: Carroll & Graf, 1998
Literally the sister companion book to The Fine Art of Murder (1993), much in the same way that Murder Ink begat Murderess Ink. This one includes interviews with Mary Higgins Clark, Dorothy Cannell, Val McDermid, Patricia Cornwell, Janet Evanovich, Nancy Pickard, Mary Wings, J. A. Jance, Sara Paretsky and Marcia Muller and essays by Teri White, Wendi Lee, LIza Cody, Gayle Lynds and Barbara Peters among others. Male contributors include Edward D. Hoch, Gar Anthony Haywood, John Lutz, Don Sandstrom, Robert J. Randisi, Bill Pronzini, Bill Crider, Ed Gorman and others.
- Herbert, Rosemary, editor
Whodunit?: A Who's Who in Crime & Mystery Writing....Buy this book
Oxford University Press (USA), 2003
An updated but more succinct version of The Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing (1999) which she also edited, this volume adds over 100 new entries, but also drops a few.
- Huang, Jim, editor,
They Died in Vain....Buy this book
Crum Creek Press/Drood Review Books
Fans in the know pick their favourite "overlooked, underappreciated and forgotten mystery novels." A great little read, edited by the Drood Review's own Jim Huang, it nabbed the Agatha, Anthony and Macavity awards for best mystery reference novel of 2002.
- Hubin, Allen J., ed.
A Bibliography Of Crime Fiction, 1749-1975
A Bibliography Of Crime Fiction, 1749-1980
Crime Fiction III: A Comprehensive Bibliography, 1749-1995
Crime Fiction IV: A Comprehensive Bibliography 1749-2000, Vol. 4. Buy this CD-ROM
An indispensable bibliography listing almost every English-language mystery ever written, A Bibliography Of Crime Fiction, 1749-1975 has become a touchstone of the mystery genre. Mr. Hubin had (and may still have-who knows) the largest collection of mystery literature (25,000+ volumes) still in private hands. Commonly referred to as just "Hubin's", there have been periodic updates with the latest, Crime Fiction IV: A Comprehensive Bibliography 1749-2000, Vol. 4, just released, in print and on CD-ROM, by Locus Press. There are links by author, book, story, pseudonym, by co-author, contents, chronology, and even by movies based on the author's books, and works about the author. The CD-ROM lists for $49.95, while t print edition clocks in at about $400. Do the math. For additional information and to order, head to Locus Online. Oh, and as of December 1999, this site has been in the slow-but-steady process of being Hubin-ized. For your protection, of course.
- Jakubowski, Maxim, ed.
100 Great Detectives: Famous Mystery Writers Examine Their Favorite Fictional Investigators....Buy this book
New York: Carroll & Graf, Inc., 1991.
Mystery writers turn on each other, each paying tribute to their favourite fictional detectives, including many private eyes. and thus we het Bill Pronzini on Ssharon McCone, Julian Symons on Sam Spade, Paula Gosling on Rex Stout, Frederick Nolan on Spenser, John Williams on Toussaint Marcus Moore, Loren D. Estleman on Philip Marlowe and so forth. A real hoot, occasionally enlightening and often heartfelt, although it's marred by a few omissions -- Nick and Nora Charles? No Mike Hammer? -- that knock it down a notch from essential. But still, a fun read.
- Keating, H.R.F.
Crime and Mystery: The 100 Best Books....Buy this book
New York: Carroll & Graf, Inc.,1987.
Well-respected mystery critic Keating chooses his favorites, in an enlightening, sometime controversial, but always entertaining book. complete with a forward byPatricia Highsmith.
- Lovisi, Gary,
Science Fiction Detective Tales: An Overview of Futuristic Detective Fiction in Paperback
Brooklyn: Gryphon Books, 1986.
An ugly and amateurish but invaluable guide to sci-fi eyes. This must have been one of Gryphon's first books, one step above home-made, with blotchy typewritten pages, but worth every smear and typo. Great stuff. Highly recommended.
- Muller, Marcia, and Bill Pronzini, ed.
1001 Midnights: The Aficiando's Guide to Mystery and Detective Fiction....Buy this book
New York: Arbor House, 1986.
An ambitious undertaking, the first couple of crime Muller and Pronzini summarize the plots of 1001 or so of what they feel are the most important books in the genre. Opinionated, challenging, and at times infuriating (Manville Moon, for example, is missing a leg, not an arm) but impressive as all hell, and a real blast to read. Aiding and abetting are several of their crimewriting pals, who generally (surprise, surpise), like each other's work. Conspiracy buffs take note.
- Murphy, Bruce F.,
The Encyclopedia of Murder and Mystery....Buy this book
Minotaur Books, 1999
This big chunk of book (656 pages) is an impressive new reference source for fans of mystery and crime fiction. There are entries on all facets of the crime and mystery genres, with some intriguing detours along the way. There are entries on and discussions of not only classic practitioners, but also newer talents such as Patricia Cornwell, James Ellroy, and Jonathan Valin and authors ordinarily considered outside the mystery genre. Murphy catalogues the mechanics of murder (poisons, terminology, weapons, etc.), subgenres, famous plot devices (like the locked room or the snowbound house), movie adaptations, and great series characters. Like the blurb says, "More than a reference book, The Encyclopedia of Murder and Mystery provides a colorful and comprehensive map of the mystery genre constructed under the gaze of Bruce F. Murphy's own critical eye, making it an indispensable and lively guide for every mystery lover." And the author promises that it's not just a valentine to cozy lovers, either. "Although it's not restricted to hard-boiled fiction, it does include entries on the classic hard-boiled authors, books, and P.I.'s, as well as some of my personal favorites like Raoul Whitfield, Paul Cain, and books like They Don't Dance Much...For example, I got interested in the "Case of the Poisoned Umbrella," a real murder that occured on the streets of London in 1978, and which inspired John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee novel entitled The Green Ripper...." Too bad it's so heavy on the snark.
- The Mystery Writers of America,
The Crown Crime Companion: The Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time.. Buy this book
New York: Broadway, 1995.
This is one of those reference works that's as intriguing as it is irritating. It offers a listing of the top ten novels in each of ten different mystery sub-genres, as selected by members of the MWA, along with a brief description of each. And therein lies the problem. Too many of the descriptions are phoned in, and add little for anyone with even justa slight knowledge of crime fiction. Far better are the short essays by authors like Sue Grafton (hard-boiled/private eye) and Gregory Mcdonald (humour) on their respective genres.And mystery fans should get a kick out of a string of lists such as "Favorite Hiding Place for a Body" as voted by the membership. There;'s an appendix which lists all the Edgar nominated books up to 1994. Fun at times, but hardly essential.
- Niebuhr, Gary Warren
A Reader's Guide To Private Eye Novels.. Buy this book
G.K. Hall, 1993
A whopper of a book by one of the true experts in the genre, a guy at least as obsessive as I am about all things P.I.. This essential reference to the genre offers over entries on over a thousand titles by more than 90 authors and more lists than I can list, including series characters, authors, settings, locations and possibly best of all, a list of 100 Classic/ Recommended Titles. Done as part of G.K. Hall's Reader's Guides to Mystery Novels series, that now includes classic British, American novels of detection, police procedural, suspense and spy-thrillers, this one is well worth hunting down. How about an update, Gary?
- Ousby, Ian
The Crime and Mystery Book...Buy this book
London: Thames and Hudson, 1997
Nicely-illustrated British overview of the mystery field in general, with short looks at the foreign scene, some intriguing criticisms. Marred by some peculiar, scattershot approaches to organization. A good browsing book, though, because you'll never know when you'll stumble over something good.
- Pearsall, Jay,
Mystery & Crime: The New York Public Library Book of Answers...Buy this book
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
A delightful and often irreverent slab of trivia, purportedly answering questions commonly asked of librarians in New York's public library, answered by Jay Pearsall, the proprietor of the Murder Ink bookstore. A few mostly minor errors mar dim its shine, but even so, fans of this site will get a kick out of the chapter entitled "Private Eyes, Grifters and Dames." And keep browsing -- you'll never know what you'll find in the stacks.
- Penzler, Otto, Chris Steinbrunner and Marvin Lachman, editors.
New York: Ballantine Books, 1980.
"A biographical dictionary of leading characters in detective and mystery fiction, including famous and little-known sleuths, their helpers, rogues both heroic and sinister, and some of their most memorable adventures, as recounted in novels, short stories, and films."
- Penzler, Otto, ed.
The Great Detectives
Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1978.
Like the blurb of the cover of my battered copy says, "The world's most celebrated sleuths unmasked by their creators." Private eye fans will lap up profiles of Lew Archer, Flash Casey, Duncan Maclain, and Michael Shayne by their creators.
- Penzler, Otto, editor,
The Line-Up...Buy this book
New York, New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2009.
The head honcho of New York's Mysterious Bookstore dumps on his enemies (mostly big chain bookstores) in the intro, but the rest of the book is a fascinatiing collection of short pieces on how some of the best writers in the genre see their own characters. And so you have Robert Parker on Spenser, Lee Child on Jack Reacher, Robert Crais on Elvis Cole and Joe Pike and so on. Also weighing in on their heroes are folks like Michael Connely, John Connolly, Laura Lippman, Anne Perry and Alexandar McCall Smith. The approaches range from interviews to short fiction, and the revelations engaging and often surprising. This one comes highly recommended.
- Pronzini, Bill
Gun In Cheek: An affectionate guide to the "worst" in mystery fiction....Buy this book
New York: The Mysterious Press, 1982.
An hilarious and, like the blurb says, "affectionate" tribute to writing that's so bad it's good. With plenty of sidesplitting examples of mystery writing gone awry, the sheese will never have to stand alone again. The chapter on Robert Leslie Bellem alone is worth the price of admission.
- Pronzini, Bill
Son of Gun In Cheek: An Affectionate Guide to More of the "Worst" in Mystery Fiction....Buy this book
New York: The Mysterious Press, 1987.
- Siegel, Jeff
The American Detective: 150 years of Gumshoes, Snoops and Private Eyes....Buy this book
Dallas, Texas: Taylor Publishing Company, 1993.
Lavishly illustrared, opinionated overview of "one of the most enduring figures in american literary and film culture--the detective." You could drive a truck through some of the omissions, and sniff at some of Siegel's opinions, but this is one impressive work.
- Steinbrunner, Chris, and Otto Penzler.
Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection
- Stephenson-Payne, Phil, Stephen T. Miller and William G. Contento,....Buy this book
The Crime, Mystery & Gangster Fiction Magazine Index
Locus Press, 2011.
This long-awaited bibliographical must-have is available both in CD-ROM format and as a series of luxury hardback volumes is a must-have for crime fiction-lovin' geeks everywhere who really want to know what appeared where under what title and when. It includes indexes by Author, Title, Issue, Series, Publisher, Artist, and Chronological by Author, and includes over 13,000 covers. So... Was it Black Mask or Charlie Chan? Argosy or Ellery Queen?
- Swanson, Jean, and Dean James, ed.
By a Woman's Hand (2nd edition)
New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 1996.
A who's who of contemporary women writers of crime and mystery fiction, but also listing characters, bios and recommendations for similiar authors.
- Traylor, James L., editor,
Dime Detective Index
New Carrolton, Maryland: The Pulp Collector Press, 1986.
Tiny but handy guide to the most important pulp in the genre, second only to Black Mask in importance, featuring an listing of the contents of all 274 issues, as well as by author, plus a few short essays. It's all set in teeny tiny get-out-the-reading-glasses Courier, giving it a clandestine feel, as though it was perhaps run off one afternoon when the boss was out of town.
- Traylor, James L., editor,
Dime Detective Companion...Buy this book
Altus Press, 2011.
What a difference a little technology makes. This heavily revised and expanded edition of the almost impossible-to-find Dime Detective Index comprises all of that pivotal volume's contents, plus several new articles on the pulp and its writers and a real treat: the fifth anniversary round-robin story from the November 1936 issue, "The Tongueless Men," co-written by Dime Detective stalwarts William E. Barrett, Carroll John Daly, Frederick C. Davis, T.T. Flynn and John Lawrence. I might still bitch about some of the clunky layout choices or amateurish typographic but then, nobody's getting this for its design.
- Winn, Dilys, perpetrator,
Murder Ink: The Mystery Reader's Companion....Buy this book
New York: Workman Publishing, 1977.
Considered by many to be the Rosetta Stone of mystery geekdom, Murder Ink (named after the mystery bookstore founded under that same name by the author) was a vastly enjoyable romp through the genre, a large and unapologetically quirky collection of essays, sidebars, thinkpieces, quoations, toasts, potshots and lists celebrating -- often with tongue firmly in cheek -- mysterydom in all its many guises, as well as its writers and readers. Contributors included William L. DeAndrea, Brian Garfield, Donald Westlake, H.R.F. Keating, James McClure, Robert B. Parker and a pre-New York Times Marilyn Stasio. My favourite is a handy-dandy chart on how to tell Spade, Marlowe and Archer apart -- in fact, in a roundabout way, it inspired this site. The book was enough of a success to spawn a 1979 sequel, Murderess Ink and a 1984 revised edition, as well as numerous imitators, but as Stephen Miller in The Rap Sheet reports, "for my money, the first remains the best. Thank you, Dilys".
- Winn, Dilys, perpetrator,
Murder Ink: Revived, Revised, Still Unrepentant....Buy this book
New York: Workman Publishing, 1984.
Slimmed down and updated, just in time to capitalize on the mystery boom it arguably helped kick-start, this 1984 revised edition reprints some of the old poeces and tosses in a few new ones. not as indispensable, but still well worth a visit.
- Winn, Dilys, perpetrator,
Murderess Ink: The Better Half of the Mystery....Buy this book
New York: Workman Publishing, 1979.
More focussed (its emphasis is on women characters and women writers) if slightly less entertaining (some of the occasionally awkward feminist flag waving wears a little thin) than its prececessor, this 1979 sequel nonetheless remains a fascinating and invaluable reference work .
- Woods, Paula A., editor.
Spooks, Spies and Private Eyes:
Black Mystery Crime and Suspense Fiction of the 20th Century....Buy this book
A landmark, as editor Paula Woods, in her intro and aided by a primo selection of short stories, traces the development of black mystery and crime writers. authors include Walter Mosley, Richard Wright, Gar Haywood, John A. Williams, Gary phillips, and Hugh Horton. Recommended.
- Twentieth Century Crime And Mystery Writers
A Who's Who of crime and mystery writers, with some pretty revealing mini-essays, and contact information. There have been several editions of this reference book, often referred to as "St. James,"after the original publisher. The fourth, and latest edition, however, was in fact not published by St. James.