I bought this book on the recommendation a lady who managed to get her first crime novel published and has gone on to become a sucessful writer. The thought-provoking articles and insights helped her enormously. They've helped me too.
I liked the multi-view approach. (There are 35 articles). I find the single perspective of most How-To guides an obstruction. What worked for the author doesn't necesarily work for me. With this book, I could read differing viewpoints. I got detailed explanations of how the authors approached, say, an outline - there was even an article on 'building without a blueprint'.
It worked for me and sparked some ideas for finding my own style.
This book contains chapters by some of the finest contemporary authors of crime fiction: Sue Grafton (the editor), Linda Fairstein, Sara Paretzky, Lawrence Block, Faye Kellerman, Jonathan Kellerman, John Lutz, Tony Hillerman, Barry Zeman, Nancy Pickard, Jan Burke, Margeret Maron, Loren D. Estleman, Laurie R. King. Each tackles a different topic.
This should produce an outstanding book. Alas, it's only ok. The advice these great authors give is often vague and generic. I had hoped to learn 'trade secrets' from great thriller/mystery authors. Instead, I got the same basic how-to-write advice found in every other writing book and free on many sites online. And little about these contributions is specific to the mystery genre, and very little is in depth.
The book would be suitable for someone currently taking first steps in fiction writing, perhaps trying to write a novel for the first time, and who has an interest in Mystery as a possible genre to explore. For someone who is serious about writing in the Mystery genre, or who already knows how to craft a novel, this book has little to offer.
Surely, this book is great if you always TALKED about writing that mystery novel... But it does not provide any actual help in writing your novel. There are bits and pieces of advice scattered around the book, but you have to read through 270 pages to find them. I am sure the most important clues in this book could be reduced to a 25 pages book. The rest are just useless anecdotes from the lives of writers - in my opinion anyway.