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on 30 June 2007
This is a useful book for both crime afficionados wanting tips on some more obscure new directions and for newcomers who just want to know where to start.

Each chapter recommends and reviews a selection of crime novels (over 200 in total) and there are the usual Rough Guide boxes and sidebars on related areas such as films, author profiles and crime genres. The chapters are organised thematically and range from the origins of crime fiction (Edgar Allan Poe, Conan Doyle) and the 'golden age' (Christie, Allingham, Sayers) through hard-boiled (Chandler, Hammett, Thompson) to more contemporary genres such as police procedural, espionage, serial killers, organized crime etc. The reviews maintain a fine balance between criticism and enthusiasm and cleverly avoid the 'spoiler' pitfalls of revealing too much plot.

The book is much stronger on contemporary writers and most of the selections are books published in the last 30 years so if you want lots of recommendations for 'classic' golden age novels then you would be better served looking elsewhere. Despite the focus on the contemporary, the book has several flaws - it is fairly weak on foreign fiction despite there being one chapter devoted to this and contains nothing on important writers such as Jean-Patrick Manchette, Peter Hoeg, Jo Nesbo, Ake Edwardson, Janwillem van de Wetering, Manuel Vazquez Montalban, Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza, Massimo Carlotto, Jose Carlos Somoza etc. There are also a number of important contemporary writers who are also absent (the outstanding John Franklin Bardin, Don Winslow, Jonathan Lethem, Christopher Fowler, Andrew Vachss, Jeff Lindsay, Reginald Hill, Ken Bruen, Shane Stevens etc). While there will always be constraints on who to include because of space considerations, I find it strange that writers of this calibre were omitted and yet space was found for hacks such as Andy McNab, Chris Ryan and Michael Crichton. There are also a number of errors (The Godfather was published in 1969 not 1978, it's Iain not Ian Sinclair, Rankin's 2006 book was The Naming of the Dead etc.) but these are minor quibbles.

In summary a good first attempt and I hope that it is successful enough for a 2nd edition to include some of the great writers above. Oh, and where is Face on the Cutting Room Floor...?
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on 23 August 2010
I thought I had read a lot of crime novels, but this review of the genre opened up many new areas.I intend to work my way through the books recommended,as many authors were unknown to me. Some reviews I agree with, others I don't- makes life interesting!
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on 25 December 2009
Any heavy reader enjoys finding a new source for authors and titles. There are the usual literary and professional library serials, but for targeted recommendations you really need a book, and I'm always on the look-out for new ones. This small volume is recent enough to include newer authors, which is always useful. Its nearly 300 pages are divided thematically, so selected titles by a given author may appear scattered throughout the book. Forshaw, who edits Crime Time magazine, is first and foremost a fan himself, and he seems to know his field. His descriptions (judging by his treatment of the books I'm already familiar with) are generally accurate, including his comments on public reception of them, and he notes also the films (good and bad) that often have resulted. By the time I finished the volume, I had a "to read" list of nearly two dozen authors and works, which is exactly why I picked it up. There are some problems, though. First, the editors (I assume he had an editor) have allowed Forshaw to retain rather too much excessively Brit slang -- "taking gardening leave," information being "freighted in," etc. A semi-reference book like this should convey what it wants to say without causing the reader to pause and think about what's meant. More puzzling, though, the author includes any number of quite minor writers (especially British ones) with only one or two books under their belts. But where is Jacqueline Winspear's popular and ever-lengthening historical series featuring psychological detective Maisie Dobbs ? Or Jeff Lindsay's novels about Florida serial killer Dexter Morgan, which have spun off a television series? Or Robert Eversz's noirish stories about the dangerously attractive Nina Zero? Or Susanna Gregory's popular medieval mysteries? Finally, and most egregiously, why does he omit Martha Grimes's long-running, bestselling Superintendent Richard Jury novels? And yet he includes Robin Cook's medical thrillers (when he's not being Derek Raymond), which are in no way crime novels. They're not even spy stories. The same is true of Frederick Forsyth's Avenger -- a pretty good book but still a pure military/political thriller. Still, there are enough authors discussed here that any dedicated reader of mysteries is sure to find some new ones.
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on 2 February 2010
I purchased 'The Rough Guide To Crime Fiction' after seeing it in a local library. I found the broadening of my knowledge of crime writers very useful and, having read the review of Martin O'Brien's Jacquot series very interesting and got all four books out from the local library. Two read, on the third, and absolutely brilliant. So anyone remotely interested in crime fiction shouln't be without 'The Rough guide To Fiction'.
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VINE VOICEon 2 April 2011
The author displays his knowledge of the genre in a pocket-sized reference work. Don't get too excited about the Ian Rankin Foreword , it is only four paragraphs long. The layout is a series of chapters on sub-genres such as, inter alia, 'serial killers', 'organized crime' and 'espionage'.

The attraction of thse reference works is the pitching of ones own opinions against the author. This extends to the classification of some 'crime' writers as well as the Amazon-review-size comments on individual books.

If you are thinking of buying this please note Mr Forshaw's own Introductory comments, 'It covers everything.....although a larger emphasis is placed on contemporary writers'. This is an understatement. The real appeal of this book is for those interested in the last decade. As such, this 2007 edition could already do with a reprint if it is to continue to play to its strengths.
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on 1 February 2012
This book came up as part of a selection at my local library's crime readers group. I found it very interesting reading and am tempted to buy a secondhand copy for reference. It will need updating soon as there are new writers coming on the block all the time. I didn't agree with some of the author's choice of "best book" for some writers . We can't all have the same opinions however. Sometimes the readers' review on Amazon are the best guide to popularity. However if you are not familiar with a writer's work the recommendations are a good starting point as they are at least not the weakest examples of a writer's work. As another reviewer has said the guide does introduce you to writers you are unfamiliar with.

I think the author is often too kind in not pointing out the dross some writers have produced after their first flush of success. For example both Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwell wrote some excellent forensic titles for the first few titles then went on to produce some that were a waste of the paper they were printed on. This inconsistency applies to other writers but is rarely mentioned in the critiques.

The sections on earlier writers I found fascinating and gave a good overview of the historical development of the genre. It has prompted me to read some works by earlier writers I had previously never considered. The connection between book and film is also well done and again has prompted me to get some of these films from Love Film.

Overall Ithis is a great little guide and I hope will be regularly updated. Would be nice to have an e-book copy with free or low cost updates from time to time.
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on 15 January 2013
This takes the detective/crime genre and selects authors and books considered best in category. Makes you want to read the titles listed. Fairly thorough.
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