The Reference Shelf:
A bibliography of print sources
for mystery and detective fiction
GENERAL REFERENCE & DIRECTORIES:
- Pederson, Jay P., ed., St. James guide to crime & mystery writers, 4th ed., St. James Press, 1996.
- Formerly titled Twentieth-century crime and mystery writers (when it was edited by John M. Reilly), this is the bible of mystery reference; covers over 500 American and British mystery writers, with short biographical entries, bibliographies (including those all important alternate titles), critical essays, and author comments. Since the latest edition has dropped some entries, earlier editions should be retained.
- Derie, Kate, ed., The Deadly Directory 2004, Deadly Serious Press, 2004.
- From the owner of the Cluelass website. "Complete contact details and descriptions for over 750 booksellers, events, groups, publications, and more. Essential reference for authors, booksellers, collectors, librarians, and publicists. Includes comprehensive index and appendixes." Although the Directory is available online, the search engine is rather clunky. The print edition is handier for reference use, travellers and mystery-holics. Published annually ($25).
- Ashley, Mike., ed., The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Modern Crime Fiction, Carroll & Graf, May, 2002.
- A very good (and, at $13, very affordable) reference title for public libraries. Over 500 entries on individual crime writers include dates, a short introductory paragraph, lists of works, pseudonyms, websites, awards, and similar writers for the reader's advisor. Includes a guide to modern crime fiction, a section of movies and TV series, appendices covering award winners and current magazines and websites, and an index to key characters and series.
- Herbert, Rosemary, ed., The Oxford Companion to Crime & Mystery Writing, Oxford University Press, 1999.
- Hundreds of articles on the mystery genre by authorities in the field. Not a quick reference source, but rather an investigation of the state of the crime novel today. Includes articles on many of the major writers, themes, subgenres, series characters, co nventions, history of the form, world-wide developments, and much more. Indexed and extensively cross-referenced. At $65, not a bad choice for many libraries.
- Murphy, Bruce F., The Encyclopedia of Murder and Mystery, St. Martin's, 1999.
- Another entry in the mystery reference sweepstakes. Covers major authors, characters, individual works, terminology, famous criminal cases, subgenres and plot devices, murder techniques and poisons. Enjoyable reading, but at its price ($75) probably only for completists or larger library collections. No index, but cross-referenced.
- Stillwell, Steven A., What Mystery Do I Read Next?: A Reader's Guide to Recent Mystery Fiction, 2nd ed., Gale Group, 1999.
- Another in the Gale reference stable. Although Stillwell is a well-known bookseller and bibliographer in the field, smaller libraries may find this a bit pricy at $110 and it only covers titles from 1989 - 1999. Includes several indexes on geographic locations, series characters, time periods, story type, character description, titles and authors. The Springfield Library has the first edition. Give us a call.
- DeAndrea, William L., Encyclopedia mysterioso: a comprehensive guide to the art of detection in print, film, radio and television, Prentice Hall, 1994.
- A breezy overview of the mystery genre, in A-Z format, with individual entries on writers and series characters, appendices, a glossary, and reading lists; extensively cross-referenced. Includes references to film, TV and radio adaptations of classic mystery series.
- Lachman, Marv, et al., eds., Encyclopedia of mystery & detection, McGraw-Hill, 1976.
- The first mystery and detective fiction encyclopedia. Long out-of-date, but still fun to browse. Includes background information on writers and series characters, movie and radio adaptions, bibliographies. Extensively illustrated.
- Hubin, Allen J., Crime fiction II: a comprehensive bibliography, 1749-1990, rev. ed., 2 vols., Garland, 1994.
- A massive work of scholarship, including complete bibliographies of mystery and detective story writers, with author, title, series character, setting and other indexes. Crime Fiction III and all further updates are available only on CD-ROM through The Locus Press.
- Klein, Kathleen Gregory, Great women mystery writers: classic to contemporary, Greenwood Press; 1994.
- Short biographical essays and bibliographies; especially good for classic writers.
- Heising, Willetta L., Detecting women 2: a reader's guide and checklist for mystery stories written by women, Purple Moon Press, 1996.
- A great resource for readers looking for the next book in a series. Complete bibliographies and availability of mystery novels by women.
- Heising, Willetta L., Detecting men: a reader's guide and checklist for mystery series written by men, Purple Moon Press, 1998.
- After the success of Detecting women, Heising has followed up with a similar resource for male mystery writers. Both books are relatively inexpensive and a good addition to even a small library's reference collection.
- Contento, William G., and Martin H. Greenberg, Index to crime and mystery anthologies, G.K. Hall, 1991.
- Great resource for hard-to-find mystery short stories. A later edition is available on CD-ROM from The Locus Press. Updates are available on the Internet .
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READER'S ADVISORY & BOOKS OF LISTS:
- Gannon, Michael B., Blood, Bedlam, Bullets, and Badguys: A Reader's Guide to Adventure/Suspense Fiction, Libraries Unlimited, 2004.
- Prepared to fit a need for a reader's guide to adventure & suspense fiction (often on the bestseller lists but a poor stepchild, none the less), this guide is arranged according to major subgenres, themes, and locations (espionage, legal, medical or techno-thrillers, Nazis, Russia, China, sea adventures, etc.) Includes a short definition, appeal, and history with a selected list of titles. Appendices include: film and TV movie versions and authors for core collections, with a glossary and author/title and subject indexes. From the Genreflecting Advisory Series.
- Niebuhr, Gary Warren, Make Mine a Mystery: A Reader's Guide to Mystery and Detective Fiction, Libraries Unlimited, 2003.
- Another entry in the Genreflecting Advisory Series by a well-known fan, bibliographer of the mystery genre (and librarian). Includes information on reader's advisory, a history of the mystery story, discussion of subgenres, and annotations of more than 2500 titles by over 200 writers. Books can be searched by author, title, character, subject, and location.
- Barzun, Jacques and Wendell H. Taylor, A catalogue of crime: revised and enlarged edition, Harper & Row, 1989.
- A browser's delight, this is a compilation of short mystery reviews by Barzun and Taylor, reflecting their extensive reading in the mystery genre. Includes separate sections on novels, short stories, history and criticism, true crime, and Holmesiana, as well as a comprehensive index. Since both authors prefer classic, Golden Age detective stories, the book is a goldmine for finding reviews and bibliographic information for long out-of-print novels.
- Huang, Jim, ed., 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century: selected by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association, Crum Creek Press, 2000.
- As the title says, this is an annotated list of mysteries that specialty booksellers most enjoy selling, with annotations. Since this is in part a selling tool, you'll find many of the titles still in print. Includes a directory of the mystery booksellers who contributed to the book.
- Huang, Jim, ed, They Died in Vain: Overlooked, Underappreciated and Forgotten Mystery Novels, Crum Creek Press, 2002.
- As a follow-up to the preceding title, Jim Huang's hardy group of booksellers have picked several more obscure mystery titles which deserve their place back in the sun. Rather more titles are OP, but hey, isn't that what libraries are for?
- King, Nina, with Robin Winks, Crimes of the scene: a mystery novel guide for the international traveler, St. Martin's Press, 1997.
- A great source: essays on mysteries set in foreign countries (excluding the US and UK), with reading lists. Admirably fills a need for the traveler, whether actual or armchair. Recommended for highlighting native authors, usually in translation.
- Nichols, Victoria and Thompson, Susan, Silk Stalkings: When Women Write of Murder, Black Lizard Books, 1988.
- A survey of series characters created by female authors. Subdivided by type (cops, aristocrats, religious, lawyers, doctors, etc., etc., etc.), with a master list of authors, a chronology, a pseudonyms list, and a character index.
- Nichols, Victoria and Thompson, Susan, Silk Stalkings: More Women Write of Murder, Scarecrow Press, 2000.
- Updates their original 1988 work, using the same format. Since this covers works after 1988, the original edition should be retained.
- Swanson, Jean and Dean James, Killer books: a reader's guide to exploring the popular world of mystery and suspense, Berkeley Prime Crime, 1998.
- A browsing companion. Short essays on authors with background on their series and representative titles; subdivided into suspense, cops, historical, private eyes and more. Includes character, location, and author indexes.
- Swanson, Jean and Dean James, By a woman's hand: a guide to mystery fiction by women, 2d ed., Berkeley Prime Crime, 1996.
- The long-awaited sequel to an essential tool. Contains short essays on more than 200 women mystery writers, with lists of 'read-alikes' for the reader's advisor; indexed by series character, setting, and profession.
- Stine, Kate, The Armchair Detective book of lists, rev. 2d ed., Simon & Schuster, 1995.
- Lists, lists, lists: award winners, critics' bests, reference, locked-room puzzles and other sub-genres, bookstores, organizations, and more. Compiled by the former editor of The Armchair Detective (aka TAD), one of the top journals in the mystery field (now unfortunately defunct).
- Friedman, Mickey, ed., The Crown Crime Companion: The Top 100 Mystery Novels of all Time, Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1995.
- Selected by the members of the Mystery Writers of America, and annotated by Otto Penzler, founder of the Mysterious Press.
- Keating, H.R.F., Crime & mystery: the 100 best books, Carroll & Graf, 1988.
- Individual essays on Keating's favorites: great fun! Keating is a well-known mystery critic and writer (of the Inspector Ghote series). A list of the 100 titles is available on the web.
- Menendez, Albert, The subject is murder: a selective subject guide to mystery fiction, 2 vols., Garland, 1986, Supplement, 1990.
- Short essays and lists of mystery novels on various topics: murder on the high seas, musical murders, groves of academe, etc., etc.
- Gorman, Ed, et al., The fine art of murder: the mystery reader's indispensable companion, Carroll & Graf, 1993.
- Essays by various hands on all aspects of the mystery genre, with generous lists of selected titles. Sections include: American mysteries, British mysteries, traditional, police procedurals, suspense, PIs, true crime, and more.
- Bourgeau, Art, The mystery lover's companion, 1986.
- A labor of love by a mystery bookseller. Includes selected titles in various genres: British, procedural, American, etc., with brief bios, plot synopses, and recommendations.
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HISTORY & CRITICISM
- Haycraft, Howard, ed., The Art of the Mystery Story, 1946, Carroll & Graf, 2nd ed., 1992.
- Constantly reprinted, this volume brings together in one place many of the seminal essays on the mystery genre during its classic period (1918 - 1945). Includes pieces by Sayers, Chesterton, Wrong (and Wright), Starrett, Krutch, Knox, Van Dine, Gardner, Carr, Boucher, Queen, and many, many more, including Chandler's manifesto "The Simple Art of Murder" and Edmund Wilson's infamous "Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?" Indispensable for any mystery collector's bookshelf.
- Haycraft, Howard, Murder for Pleasure: The Life and Times of the Detective Story, 1941, Carroll & Graf, 1984.
- A loving homage to the detective story by a man who was one of the first to treat detective fiction seriously. A history of the genre from Poe through the beginning of WWII (when London "tube libraries" featured more mystery fiction than any other genre), the book includes Haycraft's famous "Detective Story Cornerstones," a definitive list of the most important titles in mystery fiction, later updated and expanded by Ellery Queen. Another indispensable title for the mystery collector.
- Symons, Julian, Bloody Murder: From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel, Mysterious Press, 3rd rev. ed., 1992.
- Originally published in England as Mortal Consequences in 1972, and updated and revised several times, this is a highly idiosyncratic look at the development of crime fiction in the UK and the US. Sure to raise the hackles of almost any reader, it covers the field from its obscure beginnings to its (then current) incarnation in the early '90s with an extensive section on the Golden Age in the '20s and '30s. Symons was a well-known mystery critic, reviewer, and author.
- Watson, Colin, Snobbery with Violence: Crime Stories and their Audience, St. Martin's, 1971.
- A sometimes amusing and always thought-provoking look at detective and mystery fiction as published in England in that Golden Age 'between the wars.' Viewing many British thriller writers as essentially conservative, not to say reactionary, Watson looks at "class, country, servants and race" through the prism of contemporary fiction in the 1920s and 1930s. The book is perhaps best remembered for bequeathing the term "Mayhem Parva," that quintessential English village with more than its share of murders, to the common language. Watson is also remembered as the author of the Flaxborough Chronicle series of mystery novels.
- Winks, Robin W., ed., Detective Fiction: A Collection of Critical Essays, Foul Play Press, rev. and expanded ed., 1988.
- Intended as an inexpensive text for college courses on detective fiction, this volume incorporates many important essays on the mystery genre, including several more recent studies not included in Haycraft's Art of the Mystery Story (above). Winks, who was a professor of history at Yale, lifetime mystery reader, and critic for The Boston Globe, includes appendices on teaching American detective fiction, a selection of important reference books, and his own list of favorite titles.
WMRLS Reader's Advisory Training Workshop
Deadly Pleasures: Reading Mysteries
June 13, 2002
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