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The Lineup: The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives [Hardcover]

Otto Penzler
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 10, 2009 9780316031936 978-0316031936 1
A great recurring character in a series you love becomes an old friend. You learn about their strange quirks and their haunted pasts and root for them every time they face danger. But where do some of the most fascinating sleuths in the mystery and thriller world really come from?

What was the real-life location that inspired Michael Connelly to make Harry Bosch a Vietnam vet tunnel rat? Why is Jack Reacher a drifter? How did a brief encounter in Botswana inspire Alexander McCall Smith to create Precious Ramotswe? In THE LINEUP, some of the top mystery writers in the world tell about the genesis of their most beloved characters--or, in some cases, let their creations do the talking.

Editorial Reviews


"An all-star cast produces a mostly rewarding collection." ---Kirkus --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

About the Author

Otto Penzler is the proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, and the editor of many mystery anthologies, including The Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection, for which he won an Edgar Award. He lives in New York.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (November 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780316031936
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316031936
  • ASIN: 0316031933
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.6 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,450 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Otto Penzler (born July 8, 1942) is an editor of mystery fiction in the United States, and proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, where he lives.[1]

1 Biography
2 Works
2.1 Publisher
2.2 Series Editor
2.3 Editor (Recent Books)
2.4 Guest appearances
2.5 Awards
3 References
4 External links


Penzler, who graduated from the University of Michigan, is the co-author the "Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection: for which he won an Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1977. He also wrote 101 Greatest Movies of Mystery and Suspense (2000). For the New York Sun, he wrote The Crime Scene, a popular weekly mystery fiction column that ran for five years. He has worked with authors including Elmore Leonard, Nelson DeMille, Joyce Carol Oates, Sue Grafton, Mary Higgins Clark, Robert Crais, Michael Connelly, James Lee Burke and Thomas H. Cook.

He founded The Mysterious Press, a publishing house devoted entirely to mystery and crime fiction, in 1975. Among the authors it published (works published in America for the first time, not reprints) are Eric Ambler, Kingsley Amis, Isaac Asimov, Robert Bloch, James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, Jerome Charyn, Len Deighton, James Ellroy, Patricia Highsmith, P.D. James, H.R.F. Keating, Peter Lovesey, Ed McBain, Ross Macdonald, Marcia Muller, Ellis Peters, Ruth Rendell, Mickey Spillane, Ross Thomas, Donald E. Westlake and Cornell Woolrich. In the 1980s it was publishing more than 100 books a year and the imprint was affiliated with major publishers in England (Century-Hutchinson-Arrow), Japan (Hayakwa Publishing), Italy (Mondadori) and Sweden (Bra Bocker). The Mysterious Book Club became a division of the Book of the Month Club and Mysterious Audios an imprint with Dove Audio.

After selling The Mysterious Press to Warner Books in 1989, he created an Otto Penzler Books imprint for Macmillan (later Scribner). He moved the imprint to Carroll & Graf, then to Harcourt (later Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). He also established the Otto Penzler Books imprint in London, first with Quercus, now with Atlantic/Corvus. He reacquired The Mysterious Press name from Hachette in 2009; it is now an imprint at Grove Atlantic.

Penzler founded The Mysterious Bookshop in mid-town Manhattan and after twenty-seven years moved to Tribeca. It is now the oldest and largest mystery specialist bookstores in the world.

In 2002, he hosted a television series of great mystery films for the Turner Classic Movies channel.

He has edited more than fifty anthologies of crime fiction of both reprints and newly commissioned stories, including the prestigious Best American Mystery Stories since 1997.

Penzler served on the Board of Directors of the Mystery Writers of America for fourteen years and was awarded the organization's Ellery Queen Award and a Raven (its highest non-writing award. He won a second Edgar for editing "The Lineup," a collection of profiles of famous detectives, written by their creators.

On April 8, 2010 Swann Galleries auctioned The Otto Penzler Collection of British Espionage and Thriller Fiction. The sale represented a select portion of Penzler's private library with works by Eric Ambler, Ian Fleming, Graham Greene, John Le Carre, William Le Queux, H. C. McNeile, E. Phillips Oppenheim, and Dennis Wheatley. Penzler also befriended many noted authors including Ambler, Ken Follett, John Gardner and others, who inscribed copies of their works. "British spy novels are among the greatest of all works in the mystery genre," Penzler said in the introduction to the Swann auction catalogue. "This is the first auction ever devoted entirely to this important literary genre."

Penzler lives in New York City and in Connecticut with his wife, Lisa Atkinson.

Otto Penzler Books. An imprint at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2005-2010).
The Armchair Detective Library. Reprinted classic crime fiction for collectors and libraries.
The Mysterious Press. Established in 1975. Sold to Time/Warner in 1989; reacquired by Penzler in 2009 and now an imprint at Grove/Atlantic.
The Armchair Detective. A quarterly journal for studies of mystery and suspense fiction (17 years).

Series Editor

The Best American Mystery Stories. Annual series since 1997, with guest editors. Writer Robert B. Parker wrote "Otto Penzler knows more about crime fiction than most people know about anything, and proves it once more in this brilliant anthology."
The Best American Crime Writing. Annual series since 2002, with Thomas H. Cook and guest editors.

Editor (Recent Books)

"The Big Book of Ghost Stories" (2012)
The Big Book of Adventure Stories (2011)
"Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop" (2010)
"The Greatest Russian Stories of Crime and Suspense" (2010)
"The Best American Noir of the Century" (2010)
"The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories: (2010)
"Agents of Treachery" (2010)
The Lineup: The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives (2009)
The Vampire Archive (2009)
Black Noir: Mystery, Crime, and Suspense Stories by African-American Writers (2009)
The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps (2007)
Dead Man's Hand: Crime Fiction at the Poker Table (2007)
The Vicious Circle: Mystery and Crime Stories by Members of the Algonquin Round Table (2007)
Murder in the Rough (2006)
Murder at the Racetrack (2006)
Murder at the Foul Line (2006)
Murder is My Racquet (2005)
Dangerous Women (2005)
Murderer's Row (2001)
Murder On the Ropes (2001)
Best American Mystery Stories of the Century. Edited with Tony Hillerman. (2000)
Murder and Obsession (1999)
The 50 Greatest Mysteries of All Time (1998)
Murder For Revenge (1998)
Murder For Love (1996)
The Crown Crime Companion : The Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time. Edited with Mickey Friedman. (1995)

Guest appearances

Author Lawrence Block wrote a Christmas story, "The Burglar Who Smelled Smoke", set in The Mysterious Bookshop, where Otto Penzler appeared in character.[2]

Author Elmore Leonard's novel, Up In Honey's Room, features an escaped World War II German soldier, a Waffen SS major named Otto Penzler.[3][4]


2010. Edgar Award from Mystery Writers of America. For The Lineup. Best Biographical/Critical Work
2003. Raven Award from Mystery Writers of America. As owner of Mysterious Bookshop.
1994. Ellery Queen Award from Mystery Writers of America. Contributions to mystery publishing.
1977. Edgar Award from Mystery Writers of America. For The Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection. Best Critical/Biographical Work.

External links

Mysterious Bookshop
Otto Penzler

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
60 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Treat to Be Savored Again and Again December 11, 2009
"I applied my heart to know,
To search and seek out wisdom and the reason of things,
To know the wickedness of folly,
Even of foolishness and madness." -- Ecclesiastes 7:25

How many people would read about Sherlock Holmes if the stories were merely clever puzzles, rather than also being fascinating studies in character, of Holmes, Watson, the criminals, and often the victims?

Occasionally, you will bump into a terrific article where an author talks candidly about the origins of his or her detective, PI, or righter of wrongs. Those experiences leave you hungry for more.

Well, you've been blessed this year. Otto Penzler has assembled a world-class cast of authors and their characters for you to explore from the authors' perspectives. In many cases, the authors wrote new fictional material featuring their detectives (often in the form of interviews) that is some of the best writing those authors have ever done in my humble opinion.

Unless you are an omnivorous consumer of crime, detective, and police fiction, chances are that some of these characters are new to you. After you read a little about the characters and their story lines, I guarantee you'll find some great new books to read. What a delight!

The profits from the book also help keep The Mysterious Bookshop in business, where I've had all of my best signings with mystery authors.

The pieces address subjects such as how the author came to write mysteries, how the character was originally conceived, where the name came from, why the character developed in the way that she or he did, and many perspectives concerning how the author thinks about the character. It's fascinating.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth your time and money January 16, 2010
For mystery thriller fans alike whether it be Ken Bruen and his character, Jack Taylor or Jonathan Kellerman and his character Alex Delaware, then you will enjoy The Lineup. Edited by Otto Penzler. This book lets readers into the minds of crime writers. The authors share the back ground story about how they developed their characters, why they became authors, and even share some about their next book.

I enjoyed reading about Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor. It made him more interesting to me and now I will give his books another try. It was fun learning about Michael Connelly's childhood and where he grew up. Ever wonder how Mr. Connelly came up with the name Hieronymus Bosch...well you will just have to read about it in The Lineup. There are many authors that are new to me in this book. The Lineup became like a wish list for me of authors and their books I want to read. So if you want the inside scoop on your favorite crime authors...look no further than The Lineup.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating January 30, 2010
I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this book. I found it fascinating reading about different authors and their varied approaches to writing. Each author had a short story and some of them interviewed their characters, some told how the characters came to be and some expounded on the writing process. I really was interested inlearning some of the authors said their characters talked to them and directed the stories and others who said they planned their books in detail.
It was interesting to read the authors viewpoints of themselves. One of them, Jonathon Kellerman, told about what a great listener he was and how much he liked to interact with readers. I met Mr. Kellerman at a Tony Hillerman Mystery Writer Conference and he was the most closed off author I have ever met. Because I am such a book nerd, I have been to many author talks and literary conferences and I have never met anyone who seemed not to care about talking to his readers. He fixed his stare above people shoulders to avoid eye contact and told one person that he didn't care what they thought of Alex's love life. He was simply one of the rudest people I'ver ever met. I haven't picked up an Alex Delaware book since. He doesn't care about his readers, I don't care about his books.
It's just an example of how enthralling it is to read about the author's point of view.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
The Lineup is a crime fiction fan's dream, a compilation of twenty one essays by today's top crime writers, all dealing with the major characters they've created. Thus, readers are treated to, among others, well crafted pieces about Jack Reacher by Lee Child, Spencer by the late Robert B. Parker, Rambo by David Morrell, Tess Monaghan by Laura Lippman, Bob Lee Swagger by Stephen Hunter and Mallory by Carol O'Connell. As editor Penzler points out in his introduction, the writers take "many different and colorful approaches to telling readers previously unknown facts about their creations. There are short stories tucked into the biographies, interviews of the characters, revealing looks into the authors' lives and creative processes, and even frequent insights into the characters that came as revelations to their creators." All the essays are uniformly excellent, showing a level of engagement rarely seen in an anthology, as the essayists are writing about their brainchildren, the characters that have consumed so much of their lives, and have in turn made them commercially successful. Readers will be thrilled by the pieces about protagonists and writers they are familiar with, and conceive a desperate need to seek out works featuring the characters that they're being introduced to for the first time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I refer to this book for my work.
I refer to this book for my work.
These books are details who made the story hero by famous novelists.
A lot of reading that is is necessary for the story making. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Tetsuya Koja
5.0 out of 5 stars Learn about the author
Reading Line Up gives me an insight into how the main character was created. They create heros, series of main characters who come from within the author. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Roger Bergman
4.0 out of 5 stars The stories behind the stories
This is an entertaining and informative read for fans of modern mystery fiction. Its a collection of articles by some of the top crime writer's in the field today. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Jim Lester
3.0 out of 5 stars A buffet sampling of detective writers today
So you've read all of this writer, or that one. What now? Try this book for samples of various detective writers work. Read more
Published on December 26, 2011 by Candace Drimmer
4.0 out of 5 stars enlighten and entertain
Interesting to see different writers approach an assignment. If you are a mystery reader, you will find something to like here. Read more
Published on December 9, 2011 by John Bowes
4.0 out of 5 stars Mystery fans unite
Ever wonder where the birth of your favorite character's origins? This audio production is how your favorite mystery writers came up with their genesis of their legendary... Read more
Published on January 29, 2011 by Bennet Pomerantz
3.0 out of 5 stars Something to Dip Into Rather Than Devour
This isn't the kind of book that usually grabs my attention, but it did win a big award last year and it does have a few authors in it I like, so I figured it was worth dipping... Read more
Published on August 27, 2010 by A. Ross
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
We saw many of our favorite authors were in this book, along with many more we were not familar with. So we thought we would find some new authors. Read more
Published on February 3, 2010 by electronic_cat
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