RARA-AVIS: Good reference book

From: William Denton ( buff@pobox.com)
Date: 11 Nov 2002

I picked up THE MAMMOTH ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MODERN CRIME FICTION, edited by Mike Ashley, yesterday. (It's from Robinson in the UK and Carrol & Graf in the US.) It looks like an excellent inexpensive reference. It covers crime and mystery writing, movies and TV since WWII. That includes all the hardboiled and noir writers we talk about here (including some dead ones) plus all the others. An author's entry will include some biographical information, brief reviews of a couple of books or a series, and more detail for the more popular or prolific writers. There is also a list of awards won, home page URL if any, the best book to start with, advice on similar writers, and a good bibliography.

At least four people on the list are in the book. I looked up Scott Phillips (THE WALKAWAY, THE ICE HARVEST), and he's not there, but he only has two books to his name so far. Dennis Lynds's biblio, for example, takes up an entire page. Pretty much all the currently working writers who get mentioned on the list are in the book. (And then there are the legions of cozy writers and all the rest.) Ashley leaves out spy stories and thrillers, so Donald Hamilton isn't there, but co-Gold Medalists Dan J. Marlowe and Richard S. Prather are. 500 writers are included, plus 400 movies and TV shows, and at the back are lists of all the major mystery awards and a list of character names so you can find the author's name.

It sells for $21 CDN, which is a great price for a book like this. There are bigger (and more expensive) references available, but this is up to date, comprehensive, detailed, and, when new mass-market paperbacks cost
$12 CDN, cheap.


William Denton : Toronto, Canada : http://www.miskatonic.org/ : Caveat lector.

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