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The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Modern Crime Fiction Paperback – May 10, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Mammoth series regular Mike Ashley (The Mammoth Book of Historical Whodunits, etc.) returns with his latest crime reference doorstopper, The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Crime Fiction. "From cozies to noir," from Harold Adams to Mark Richard Zubro and from Alfred Hitchcock Presents to Year of the Dragon, Ashley compiles clear, educational entries for the felony buff, including a guide to Internet sites and an index of key sleuths and bad guys across the decades.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Compiled for crime buffs by a veteran of numerous Mammoth titles, this hefty A-to-Z guide profiles 500 modern crime-fiction authors and 300 television series and major films in two sections. In his introduction, Ashley defines crime fiction as the breaking and enforcing of law, limits the scope to the post-World War II era, and outlines the development of the genre. The parameters are broadly designated to encompass, among others, legal thrillers, historical mysteries, suspense and noir, fun and games or puzzle mysteries, traditional cozies or mysteries, and the fiction of private investigators, police detectives, and gangsters and villains. Espionage, spy, supernatural, and horror fiction are excluded. Although the work is comprehensive, it is not all-inclusive, as selection is based on popularity and influence as well as originality and creativity. The entries, organized to provide quick, easy access, vary in length from one-half to one or two pages. Each author entry provides a brief, analytic biography, followed by the standard data: name (with cross references to pennames); birth and death dates; nationality; novels; awards, web sites, and bibliographies, if any; similar writers; and final facts or summary statements. For TV series and film entries, concise synopses follow the year of release, country of origin, length in minutes, and producers, directors, writers, and leading actors. This source does not offer the in-depth criticism provided by Frank N. Magill's Critical Survey of Mystery and Detective Fiction or Hans Bertens's and Theo D'haen's Contemporary American Crime Fiction. Nevertheless, it is an inexpensive resource that offers concise, up-to-date ready-reference data and analysis designed for the purpose of readers' advisory. Recommended for literary collections. Marilyn Rosenthal, Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, NY
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Although readers well-versed in this field might question Ashley's failure to include such signal talents as Stephen Booth, Paul Johnston, John Farrow and Henning Mankell, it's good to see some exceptional writers who haven't produced anything in a long while -- like California novelist Arthur Lyons and Cincinnati's Jonathan Valin -- represented in these pages. And such an encyclopedia can't help but surprise even longtime readers of the genre. I admit, for instance, that I didn't know pseudonymous British wordsmith Susanna Gregory, most familiar for her series about 14th-century doctor/detective Matthew Bartholomew (A PLAGUE ON BOTH YOUR HOUSES), has a second set of books to her credit, written under the name "Simon Beaufort" and led by 12th-century Crusader Sir Geoffrey Mapplestone. Nor was I aware that Robert Irvine, who in the 1980s and early 90s penned a distinctive series of tales about Salt Lake City P.I. Moroni Traveler, has more recently been writing (with his wife, and under the pen name "Val Davis") old-aircraft-related mysteries, featuring archaeologist Nicolette "Nicky" Scott. Flipping through this paperback is likely to double the list of authors and titles you know you haven't enough time to read.
On top of all this, Ashley packs his 780 pages with lists of crime movies and TV shows. While the films (from "All the President's Men" to "Year of the Dragon") might at least be rentable, the write-ups on small-screen dramas make one either wistful (who can forget Michael Mann's period cop serial, "Crime Story"?) or wince (what the hell was Stephen J. Cannell thinking when he created "Hardcastle and McCormack"?). Appendices catalogue crime fiction award winners, related magazines and Web sites, and key characters and series. Well-researched, eminently readable and easy to use, THE MAMMOTH ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MODERN CRIME FICTION is a killer find. -- January Magazine, July 2002
After a short introduction to the mystery novel which examines the various categories of the genre --police procedurals ,private eye novels and the highways and bye ways of the cosy crime novel-and gives the names of authors to explore under these headings ,Ashley gets to the real meat of the book.This is an A-Z of crime writers whose works were published for the first time after 1945.Each is given a potted biography ,with some ,not too profound critical analysis ,a list of titles with particular emphasis on mystery series they have written.Authorial pseudonyms are listed ,together with awards won ,web site details and the entry also suggests which novel to approach if you are looking into that author's work for the first time.
There then follows a section on movies and TV series ,a quick look at the mystery magazine scene ,some useful web sites for the devotee and to round things off a list of mystery and crime novel awards from a variety of countries together with the annual winners in each up to 2001.
The book will beyond question help newcomers to the genre and even the well read mystery maven will find authors and titles new to them .As ever with books of this type there are omissions that will baffle and irritate (no Stephen Booth ,or John Baker for instance )but the list of writers is pretty comprehensive and certainly steered me in the direction of previously unknowmn writers eg Michael Allegretto
My one serious caveat with the section -and indeed the book in general -is that it defines modern in chronological terms (post World War 2 )and several of the writers examined are not modern in feel or approach but rather hark back to earlier traditions such as the alleged Golden Age of English mystery of the inter war years.Conversely writers of an earlier year whose work resonates quite well with modern readers are exempt --eg Hammett , Chandler ,and other pulp masters such as Frederic Brown.
Minor quibbles aside this is a good buy and I especially welcome its touching on authors from outside the US/UK axis ,including European and Australian writers.
Well worth investing in.