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The Death of the Detective: A Novel Paperback – January 11, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mark Smith was born in Michigan in 1935 and lived in Chicago, Illinois for many years. He is the author of seven novels, a poet, and a professor emeritus of English at the University of New Hampshire.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; 1 edition (January 11, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810123878
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810123878
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #850,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By GerryO on February 21, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This great book is the best of any type ever written about Chicago. How one man knew so much about what went on there is amazing. Many great characters that stay with you long after you've finished the book. Great writing of a tale of revenge, albiet by a madman. Many unforgettable scenes. By the end you are as exhausted as Johnny Helenowski. I read it every 2 years and it still amazes me. I would be great to see this masterpeice back in print. 2009, it is back in print!!! No reason not to read this tremendous book.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By christir@primary.net on June 9, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This brilliant book was apparently missed by the majority of english speaking readers. It is a masterpiece of the genre and provides many firsts including the concept of "profiling". The quality of the character development and the descriptive prose are amazing and I find it hard to believe that this book did not receive several awards. I read it for the first time 15 years ago and think of passages from it to this day. Few books have had this impact on me. For those who are able to find what is now apparently a rare book, I recommend it highly.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By fluffy, the human being. on May 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
this is the most ambitious detective novel that i know of. the war and peace of detective novels, perhaps. a sprawling, huge epic of prose that is wonderfully strange and glorious. there are overtones of kafka and thomas pynchon here, but mark smith's novel is so much more enjoyable than anything those authors have in the bookstores. i read over a hundred books a year, and it has been several years since a book has blown me away with its genius the way that this one did. i spent eight enthralling days lost in this giant work of the imagination, and loved every minute i spent wandering through the words. can't wait to read more of this author's work. i found 4 more of his novels available on amazon at a very cheap price. read this thing, people. you really should.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Steven R. Valliere on February 19, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this work about twenty years ago (maybe more). It has never left my mind. I remember after reading this dark quest novel actually going to the University of New Hampshire to meet Mark Smith, finding my way to the room with his name on the door. Unfortunately, He was not there at the time so I never met him.
But - I did talk to him on the phone to say that there are those out there that appreciate this overlooked masterpiece.
"The Neglected Books Page" [...] mentions that this work was one of the reasons the website was created.
What can I say - an amazing, unforgetable read!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By cb on December 18, 2008
Format: Paperback
I knew nothing about Mark Smith twenty years ago when I moved to New Hampshire to go to graduate school, but I had him as my professor first semester. When I picked up "Death of the Detective" i was swept away into his absurd and macabre universe. I agree with the other reviewers that it's a neglected masterpiece that breaks the bonds of its genre. It details Chicago from the ghetto to the golden mile in vivid and hallucinatory descriptions. The inner confusion of the main character mirrors the confusion of America. America, where in the world are you going?
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mcguire on June 23, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An incredible book never to be forgotten. Keep it, the reader will want to read it again. For those familiar with Chicago this book is especially interesting. The author has an incredible ability to describe events, ordinary or extraordinary, in such a way as to cause the reader to feel, see and hear the event with astonishing clarity. The characters come alive, the reader soon knows and clearly pictures them. And, the story is great and the plot is about perfect. I have read thousands of books I suppose but never one better.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Crown on July 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
I happened upon this gem at a bus station several years ago. I still remember passages of the book as if I read them yesterday. Gothic, noirish, romantic -- the book is a multi-genre pleasure. I can't imagine such an ambitious undertaking would interest a publisher today. Smith's characters are archetypal and complex. His attention to detail and intuitive hand extended to the creation of minor characters that -- on their own -- could serve as central figures in spin-off books. Seems unlikely that the book will be reissued. Luckily, I've hung onto my copy.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 14, 1997
Format: Paperback
I am simply shocked that this novel, which is perhaps the best piece of American fiction I have ever read, is out of stock. It draws a far more realistic and detailed portrait of the "hard boiled detective" that so many other writers have simply slapped together, then lets us watch, with first fascination, then horror, as he slowly unravels. Even the minor characters are better drawn then they would be in a trilogy all their own, and the entire work shimmers with energy and power. This is a book that demands republishing.
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