History Of Mystery Hardcover – Sep 1 2001
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Penzler Pick, December 2001: It may start to look as if I have stock in Collectors Press because I've praised one of its books for three months in a row (The Great American Paperback in October and Pulp Culture in November). Well, I wish I did, because this group of books includes some of the most beautiful and exciting mystery reference books ever produced.
The History Of Mystery's text, by the fine mystery writer Max Allan Collins, is a joy to read. It's not hard to tell when a writer, rather than a scholar, is doing the writing. Inevitably, because of the enormous range covered between these covers, it mostly skims the surface of the entire genre, but it's all nicely presented.
Collins begins with the famous 18th-century French detective Vidocq, founder of the Sûreté and author of memoirs that are more fiction than fact, and moves quickly to the true inventor of the detective story, Edgar Allan Poe. He then goes on to Allan Pinkerton, who had the best adventures of his famous detective agency ghostwritten (again with less devotion to reportage than one might have wished). There's a good deal about the early dime-novel heroes, such as Old Sleuth and Nick Carter, whose adventures were sold for a nickel and a dime and were the predecessors of the pulp magazines.
Everyone you'd expect to find is mentioned, as are some authors and books you might not expect in such a huge overview. Collins brings history up to today's bestseller lists with entries on Robert Crais, Harlan Coben, and Thomas Perry. Granted, they get less than a paragraph each, but what can you expect in a book of fewer than 200 pages (albeit giant ones) that covers absolutely everyone of significance, and some not so significant.
But, as with the other books from Collectors Press, the magnificent illustrative material is the most compelling. Page after page of splendid full-color illustrations of dust jackets, paperback covers, movie posters, and other breathtaking artwork are an endless joy.
And like their other books, the price is a bargain, thanks to the creative production that was done in Hong Kong. I realize I'm gushing, but you've got to see this handsome tome to fully appreciate what I'm getting at. If you have a mystery buff as a friend, relative, or loved one (or a boss who you'd really like to suck up to), get this book as a gift. But get two. Because once you see it, you won't want to part with it. --Otto Penzler
From Publishers Weekly
Edgar nominee and Shamus Award-winner Max Allan Collins a bestselling author whose graphic novel Road to Perdition is the foundation of a DreamWorks film due out in March turns his attention to the evolution of his favorite form in The History of Mystery, a gift book and reference tome for all whodunit fans. Nearly 400 illustrations (of dime novel covers, comic strips, movie posters and album graphics) reveal the genre in all its garish glory, while Collins's text considers all the usual suspects, from Poe to Pinkerton to Poirot and beyond.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Along the way numerous clues emerge regarding the works of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald, Erle Stanley Gardner, Rex Stout, Dorothy B. Sayers, Robert B. Parker, and other lesser known but nonetheless capable writers.
Where else would we learn that Erle Stanley Gardner passed the bar in 1911 without ever attending law school or that as a child Mickey Spillane loved to scare other kids by telling frightening stories?
Illustrations include comic strips, pulp fiction covers, and portraits of our favorites - Dick Tracy, Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe as well as their peers from across the pond - Sherlock Holmes, Mrs. Marple and Hercule Poirot.
Collins brings his record sheet up to the present with some fascinating female writers of modern mysteries - Sara Peretsky, Marcia Miller, Patricia Cornwell.
Loaded with little known facts, dramatic data, and startling information "The History Of Mystery" gives comprehensive coverage to the ever intriguing field of crime fiction.
- Gail Cooke
One of the magnificent Collectors Press editions, this handsome, heavy hardbound is a well stocked know-it-all's guide to anything shamus.
Collins did a couple of other books for them, too, and I have a couple of them so, by weird chance, when he was in town a few years ago doing other signings, I got to meet him. Seated at his right was Del Close, founder of Second City; standing nearby were EVENT COMICS publisher Laurie Braddach and writer Howard Johnson, and they all made me feel very welcome to hang around. Thus, I got to know collins' stuff.
Being a mystery writer, Max has a good handle on the genre,
but this is a real show-off book. If you can get a used price, grab it! In Chicago, they blew out of the local bookstore at Christmas.
Kudos to these guys!