A comprehensive survey of mystery and detective fiction that covers more than 390 writers. It includes overviews on more than three dozen aspects of the genre. It provides analyses of the lives and writings of major contributors to the literary subgenre of mystery and detective fiction.
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For the first time since 1988, Salem Press has revised, updated, and added to its Critical Survey of Mystery and Detective Fiction. The first four volumes contain biographical essays that use the same arrangement as the original set. Each essay includes a listing for birth and death dates, pseudonyms, types of plots, and principal series. The articles continue with a discussion of the series characters, the author’s contribution to the genre, a biography, a lengthy analysis of the books, a bibliography that lists all of the author’s works by series and then all of the other works, and a bibliography of articles and books about the author. The articles vary from three to eight pages in length. The new set adds 118 authors to the original 275 entries, which have been totally rewritten or revised. Although contemporary authors such as James Lee Burke and Patricia Cornwell have been added, many more outstanding and award-winning authors, including Marcia Muller, James Patterson, and Anne Perry, are left out. The biggest change in the set is the addition of a fifth volume, which includes 37 essays on the genre, a bibliography, a list of awards, a list of online resources, chronologies, and four different indexes. Essays such as “Literary Aspects of Mystery Fiction” and “Graphic Novels” are outstanding and offer new insights and information on the genre. The indexes that categorize authors by type of sleuth and subgenre and that list series characters by name are handy reader’s-advisory tools. As with other Salem Press reference sets, the Critical Survey of Mystery and Detective Fiction is an excellently written and designed tool that brings together a vast quantity of information. All of the author and genre essays are enjoyable to read and make the information easy to understand. This set will be a good addition to academic libraries. Public libraries will also find it invaluable but will have to decide about adding it if they have other biographical reference sources that cover these authors. --Merle JacobFrom School Library Journal:
Grade 9 Up—This set features an international scope of authors of modern and historical thrillers, horror, espionage, cozies, police procedurals, and metaphysical parodies. An entire volume is devoted to topical essays, awards, genre terms, a crime and detective fiction time line, a character index, and more (the other volumes are alphabetical by author). Expanded from its original edition (Salem, 1988), the set's more than 300 authors include J. K. Rowling along with her amateur sleuths Harry, Ron, and Hermione; and Susan Conant, whose dog-training sleuth, Holly Winter, solves crimes and promotes responsible dog ownership. Classic authors such as Raymond Chandler, Charles Dickens, and Fyodor Dostoevsky join contemporaries such as Sue Grafton, Alexander McCall Smith, Patricia Cornwell, John Grisham, Carl Hiaasen, Stephen King, and screenwriter Stephen J. Cannell (Rockford Files). Each signed entry includes a bibliography and list of major works. The topical essay volume will be indispensable for students researching mystery fiction around the world; genre trends, such as pulp fiction; subgenres (forensic mysteries; juvenile and young adult mystery fiction, such as Nancy Drew), and alternative representations of mystery fiction (graphic novels, television shows). A check of Rollyson's Critical Survey of Long Fiction (Salem, 2000) shows no duplication of authors. Black-and-white photos and illustrations are numerous, and readable chapters with subtitles make this set easily accessible.—Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY
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