Lovisi, Gary, A Mystery, Crime & Noir Notebook (non-fiction)| Buy this book A fascinating deep dive into one man’s obsessions. Lovisi created Paperback Parade back in 1986, and has been entertaining collectors and mystery geeks like myself with stories about his beloved paperbacks ever since. This must-read rounds up nearly articles from such publications as The Armchair Detective, Crime Time, Mystery Scene, Crime Factory, The Big Book of Noir and, of course, Paperback Parade. It’s a treasure trove of trivia, sidebars, gossip, opinions and digressions, marred only by the lack of a proper index.
September 2023 Reference, Non-Fiction & True Crime
Perrin, Lisa, The League of Lady Poisoners: Illustrated True Stories of Dangerous Women (non-fiction)| Buy this book| Kindle it! Forget the ladies who lunch. This macabre but sassy illustrated true crime volume traces poison through the ages and twenty-five women who used it… and why.
Ward, Nathan, Son of the Old West: The Odyssey of Charlie Siringo: Cowboy, Detective, Writer of the Wild Frontier (biography; Charlie Siringo) | Buy this book| Kindle it! A new biography of the original cowboy detective by Hammett biographer Ward.
May 2023 Reference, Non-Fiction & True Crime
Muller, Eddie, Eddie Muller’s Noir Bar: Cocktails Inspired by the World of Film Noir| Buy this book| Kindle it! The host of TCM’s Noir Alley gathers together a bevy of carefully curated bevvies from the world of noir: cocktails featured in or inspired by over fifty 50 classic films, plus dozens of stills, poster art, and original photography.
December 2022 Reference, Non-Fiction & True Crime
Collins, Max Allan, & James L. Traylor, Spillane: King of Pulp Fiction| Buy this book| Kindle it! Collins and Traylor return at last, with the long-awaited follow-up to their 1984 classic, One Lonely Knight, this time offering the first-ever biography of arguably the most popular and most influential pulp writer of all time.
September 2022 Reference, Non-Fiction & True Crime
Worsley, Lucy, Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman| Buy this book | Buy the audio| Kindle it! The first new biography in years, benefitting from a deep dive into Christie’s rarely seen personal letters and papers. An important and surprisingly entertaining look at an extraordinary writer who didn’t live (or write) by the rules—she made up her own.
August 2022 Reference, Non-Fiction & True Crime
Edwards, Martin, The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries & Their Creators| Buy this book | Buy the audio| Kindle it! CWA archivist and mystery maven Edwards is like a graverobber digging a little deeper than most–there are several “Wait! There’s another body under here!” moments, as he unearths the fascinating stories behind the stories of some of the genre’s major (and sometimes, undeservedly obscure) contributors, ranging from William Godwin (who?) to some of the more usual suspects (Doyle, Grafton, Doyle, Cornwell, etc.). Edwards covers it all, with wit, knowledge and often surprising passion, making this a major new history of crime fiction.
Wenner, Theo, Homicide (photos)| Buy this book A breath-taking and occasionally heart-breaking coffee table collection of moody, evocative and haunting photographs of Brooklyn’s murder police, by celebrity photographer Wenner (son of Jann), capturing the daily grind of some of New York’s Finest. But be warned—this ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around. It’s as bruising and in-your-face as a pair of brass knucks, a striking record of Wenner’s two-and-a-half years of riding along, snapping full-colour photos of it all—the mean streets, the bad coffee, the cop suits (and hats!), the back rooms, the interrogations, the after-hours bars and the crime scenes (”You never forget your first homicide, says Theo). You’ll want to wash your hands after—and possibly your eyeballs. The best book about murder police since David Simon’s 1991 groundbreaking non-fiction classic Homicide: A Year on the Killing Street ($25.00, Picador), which related his time embedded with the Baltimore murder cops.
Fabricant, M. Chris, Junk Science & the American Criminal Justice System| Buy this book | Buy the audio| Kindle it! A chilling must-read for those who toil in the crime fiction trenches (and anyone else who gives a hoot about justice), Fabricant of the Innocence Project puts the boot to some of the dubious forensic garbage presented to TV viewers (and jurors!) as scientific “fact.” The damage when some couch potato believes some easy-peasy plot point is negligible, just slack-jawed entertainment and hey, it’s time for a commercial. But when a juror buys it, and an innocent man is found guilty and executed? It’s murder.
Fischer, Paul, The Man Who Invented Motion Pictures| Buy this book | Buy the audio| Kindle it! A true tale of obsession, murder, and the movies? Did Thomas Edison really bump off Louis Le Prince, the alleged inventor of motion pictures? Or is the truth even stranger than that?
Ross, Martin, Short Suspects: Lost, Forgotten, and Neglected American Mystery Stories & Where to Find Them| Kindle it! A hodge podge collection of essays on crime fiction short stories, including over 150 reviews ranging all over the genre from Poe to Parker.
March 2022 reference, Non-Fiction & True Crime
Krouse, Erika, Tell Me Everything (memoir)| Buy this book | Buy the audio| Kindle it! The simple act of reaching for a Paul Auster novel in a Colorado bookstore starts the author on a career as a real-life private eye; one blessed/cursed with a “magic face” that just seems to get people to reveal their secrets. But her investigation into a rape case at a local university leads the rookie detective on a journey that reveals her own secrets as well.
February 2022 Reference, Non-Fiction & True Crime
Weinman, Sarah, Scoundrel: How a Convicted Murderer Persuaded the Women Who Loved Him, the Conservative Establishment, and the Courts to Set Him Free (true crime)| Buy this book | Buy the audio| Kindle it! How William F. Buckley and conservatives made excuses and set out to free a convicted psycho in the 1960s. Now is the time for your tears.
January 2022 Reference, Non-Fiction & True Crime
Van Dover, J.K., The Truman Gumshoes: The Postwar Detective Fiction of Mickey Spillane, Ross Macdonald, Wade Miller & Bart Spicer| Buy this book| Kindle it! Yep, it’s a weird concept, suggesting that the type of P.I. we get depends on who’s sitting in the Oval Office, but this deep dive into the hard-boiled detective fiction swamp of the late 1940s is pretty convincing. It was an era when a new breed of young writers who had survived the Depression, the New Deal, and WWII stripped the genre for parts and rebuilt it in their own image. The work of four major private eye series of the so-called “Truman” era are examined. offering the first real in-depth (and long overdue) analysis of the Max Thursday novels of Wade Miller (actually the pen name of Robert Wade and Bill Miller) and the Carney Wilde novels of Bart Spicer, and taking a fresh gander at Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer novels and, yes, Spillane’s Mike Hammer. Yeah, you could quibble over some of the arguments, and challenge the inclusion of Wade and Spicer over, say, Thomas B. Dewey, Robert Martin, William Ard or Richard S. Prather, but Van Dover certainly makes his case.