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The Encyclopedia of Murder and Mystery Paperback – 28 Feb 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; Reprint edition (28 Feb. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031229414X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312294144
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.9 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,267,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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AARONS, EDWARD S[IDNEY] (1916-1975) Edward S. Aarons was one of the most prolific writers in the genre, turning out more than 40 novels about CIA agent Sam DURELL as well as another two hundred stories and novelettes. Read the first page
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Format: Hardcover
Most of us might anticipate an effort at objectivity in an encyclopedia. If those are your expectations, they would not be met by this work. In fact, the author appears to go out of his way to provide opinions where they might not normally be expected. For example, in the entry for Patricia Moyes, he comments, as if it is fact, that her main character Henry Tibbet "... falls into the tradition of Roderick Alleyn and Alan Grant, though he is less interesting... ". Whether Tibbett is more interesting or not clearly depends on each reader's outlook and, here, Mr. Murphy lets us know his.

The author's opinions here are quite interesting, although I would anticipate that most serious mystery readers will disagree with quite a few of them. Unfortunately, his bias seems to extend to excluding a number of popular and award winning authors, e.g., Steve Martini, Kate Wilhelm, whose work is even published by the same publisher, Earlene Fowler, etc.

In conclusion, this is a thick and extensive, albeit biased and exclusionary, work. Particularly, if supplemented by more inclusive mystery references this could make a useful addition to your library.
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By bernie VINE VOICE on 25 Aug. 2011
Format: Hardcover
I read and watch mysteries and series of mysteries. You would think they would run out of characters and ideas. Yet they keep turning up. Even from before I was born but just now found out about them.

This book may serve many purposes as sitting up taller at the table. But my two favorite are finding out what is out there in the either before discovering it on Turner Classics. More significant is that this book fills in the back ground for stories characters and puts them in perspective by cross-referencing to other mysteries and characters.

I just recently discovered "Seven Keys to Baldpate" to find it was written by Earl Derr Biggers of Charlie Chan fame. While discussing Charlie we are introduced to favorite writer Sax Rohmer of Fu Manchu fame. And so it goes until coming around full circle.

Look for hours of fun as you will not be able put it down
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 15 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Alas, Serious Mystery Criticism 19 Mar. 2000
By Patrick B. Ambrose - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
If the mystery genre has lacked anything over the past century it's serious criticism. Aside from Jon L. Breen's reviews in Ellery Queens Mystery Magazine and Marilyn Stasio's pieces for the Times Book Review, mysteries have been virtually ignored by critics despite their permanent presence on bestseller lists. Bruce Murphy's The Encyclopedia of Murder and Mystery satisfies this need for insightful, intelligent commentary. Mr. Murphy provides a thorough analysis of mystery fiction from Edgar Allan Poe's Dupin to Bill Pronzini's nameless detective and even includes literary greats who have given the mystery a try-Jorge Louis Borges, William Faulkner, and Chester Himes to name a few. The mystery is also dealt with internationally through explorations of Manuel Vazquez Montalban, Paco Taibo, and Mario Vargas Llosa. Moreover, Mr. Murphy provides etymological histories of terms often encountered in the mystery novel and dispels common misconceptions readers have about the true purposes of agencies like INTERPOL. No subgenre is ignored: cozies, malice-domestics, psychological suspense, police procedurals, and the hard-boiled novel are all given equal attention. Brilliant, but forgotten crime writers like Charles Willeford, often ignored in other encyclopedias and bibliograpies, are finally given the respect they deserve. And cozy novelists Leo Bruce and Patricia Wentworth are rarely examined in the depth that they are here. Bruce Murphy's The Encyclopedia of Murder and Mystery is for every reader. Besides being comprehensive and informative, the book is just plain fun to read-a must for home libraries and coffee tables.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Opinionated, informative and entertaining 28 Mar. 2000
By Sheila L. Beaumont - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Yes, this book is biased, and in many cases my opinion differs from that of the author. (I love cozies and cat mysteries, for example.) Still, Mr. Murphy's writing style is most engaging, and I find that it's fun to mentally argue with him as I read. "The Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing" is more comprehensive and objective than "The Encyclopedia of Murder and Mystery," but there is much to learn and enjoy here that is not in the Oxford book. I see the two books as complementary rather than as competing. If you are a mystery fan, and if you can possibly afford it, get both.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Good Gift for a Mystery Buff - Fun to Browse 28 May 2005
By Michael Wischmeyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This 543-page compilation, The Encyclopedia of Murder and Mystery by Bruce Murphy, will likely appeal to mystery buffs, especially those interested in authors from past years.

Some entries are quite short, while others like Ellery Queen spanned two pages. Most entries are authors, but we also find classic titles like The Postman Always Rings Twice, Coffin for Dimitrios, Fer-De-Lance, The Big Clock, Murder on the Orient Express, and The Roman Hat Mystery.

My favorites were always present: Colin Dexter, P. D. James, G. K. Chesterton, Robert Van Gulik, Ellery Queen, John MacDonald, Ross MacDonald, Nicholas Blake, Cornell Woolrich, Dorothy Sayers, Conan Doyle, Wilkie Collins, Arturo Perez-Reverte, and Dashiell Hammett.

Lesser known authors include Fergus Hume (The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, 1886), Maurice Leblanc (Arsene Lupin stories, early 1900s), R. Austin Freeman (Dr. Thorndyke stories, 1907- 1930s), Cyril Hare (Suicide Excepted, 1939), and Elliot Paul (The Mysterious Mickey Finn, 1939). I recall only two searches in which I was unsuccessful: R. T. Campbell (Bodies in a Bookshop, 1946) and H. F. Wood (The Passenger from Scotland Yard, 1888).

Many writers known in other literary genre at one time or another penned mystery stories. Examples include Mario Vargas Llosa, Charles Dickens, Honore De Balzac, Isaac Asimov, Henry James, Edgar Allen Poe, Ray Bradbury, Alexandre Dumas, Friedrich Durrenmatt, Jorge Luis Borges, Mark Twain, and J. Sheridan Le Fanu.

For those readers that not only enjoy reading books, but also reading about books and authors, The Encyclopedia of Murder and Mystery by Bruce Murphy would make a good gift.

Caution: The list price for The Encyclopedia of Murder and Mystery by Bruce Murphy is rather high, and the prudent buyer should look for substantial discounts. I paid a small fraction of the list price for a new hardbound copy (ISBN 0312215441). It is also available in soft cover (ISBN 031229414X).
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Worth having in your mystery library 9 Sept. 2000
By Brenda - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Being a mystery fan, I like to know more than just the author's name or mystery's title before I dig in. This over-sized, informative book is more than I hoped for. I recommend it to all mystery fans, new and old. Each time you glance through it, you can't help but come away with something you didn't know before about the authors, their work, the mystery genre itself and what keeps it growing. Bruce F. Murphy has left no stone unturned; he has included everyone in the mystery field, not just the old classics or most popular.
I really enjoy the non-fiction books that give us inside revelation to the whodunit genre. The Encyclopedia of Murder and Mystery is just that kind. It's more than a listing of authors and titles. Once you read the Preface explaining the triumph of the mystery story, you will enter into a book that lists mystery information in a dictionary/encyclopedia type style. You will find listings of authors, pseudonyms, titles, characters, poisons, mystery expressions, conventions, mystery awards, and more. It's great.
It's an informative guide of well over 500 pages and worth every penny. If the cost is too much for your pocket book, I recommend the book clubs that are offering it a little cheaper.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Interesting, quite biased, occasionally derogatory, and exclusionary, 12 Jan. 2007
By One-Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most of us might anticipate an effort at objectivity in an encyclopedia. If those are your expectations, they would not be met by this work. In fact, the author appears to go out of his way to provide opinions where they might not normally be expected. For example, in the entry for Patricia Moyes, he comments, as if it is fact, that her main character Henry Tibbet "... falls into the tradition of Roderick Alleyn and Alan Grant, though he is less interesting... ". Whether Tibbett is more interesting or not clearly depends on each reader's outlook and, here, Mr. Murphy lets us know his.

The author's opinions here are quite interesting, although I would anticipate that most serious mystery readers will disagree with quite a few of them. Unfortunately, his bias seems to extend to excluding a number of popular and award winning authors, e.g., Steve Martini, Kate Wilhelm, whose work is even published by the same publisher, Earlene Fowler, etc.

In conclusion, this is a thick and extensive, albeit biased and exclusionary, work. Particularly, if supplemented by more inclusive mystery references this could make a useful addition to your library.
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