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.
April 2022 Reference, Non-Fiction & True Crime
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!
October 2021Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Pearl, Matthew, The Taking of Jemima Boone: Colonial Settlers, Tribal Nations & the Kidnap That Shaped America (non-fiction; Daniel Boone) | Buy this book | Buy the audio| Kindle it!
Sondereker, Kierra, Mixology and Murder (non-fiction) | Buy this book| Kindle it! Sub-titled” Cocktails Inspired by Infamous Serial Killers, Cold Cases, Cults, and Other Disturbing True Crime Stories,” this is the perfect book to run to during the commerical breaks of a long weekend Dateline binge. This couch potato essential pairs 75 deliciously wicked cocktails with the notorious true crime stories, from like JonBenét Ramsey and Ted Bundy to the Ant Hill Kids cult and Charles Manson, that inspired them. Hey, I could go for some Helter Skelter Sangria right about now.
September 2021 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Roach, Mary, Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law | Buy this book | Buy the audio| Kindle it! When bad animals meet good humans (or is it the other way around?), it’s not always “cute”–in fact, it could be criminal. And Roach is there to cover it all, from jaywalking moose to barbarian seagulls and delinquent squirrels, looking at the messy spot where humans and wildlife collide, from scientific, biological and legal standpoint. Polly doesn’t want a goddamn cracker, okay?
August 2021 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Aldridge, Mark, Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World | Buy this book | Buy the audio| Kindle it! A lively and highly readable valentine to Hercule Poirot, the legendary little Belgian and his gray cells, featuring new info and helpful pieces of context. The hardcover boasts over 400 illustrations.
Schecter, Harold, & Eric Powell, Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? (true crime; graphic novel) | Buy this book A deep dive into one of the most notoriously deranged killers in American history; fact-based and heartbreaking.
June 2021 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Block, Lawrence, A Writer Prepares (memoir) | Buy this book | Buy the audio| Kindle it! Some chips off the young Block. Essential reading for writers, readers and maybe even those somewhere in between.
Child, Lee, A Little Gold Book of Unconsidered Trifles (collection) | Buy the book A limited edition of odds and sods, fiction, non-fiction and snippets from the (now retired) creator of Jack Reacher.
Jenning, Patrick, The Long Winding Road of Harry Raymond (biography) | Buy this book| Kindle it! A real-life detective’s journey down the mean streets of pre-war Los Angeles, and possibly Chandler’s inspiration for Marlowe.
April 2021 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Cantrell, Tom, The Mysteries of Roy Huggins & the Deportation of Harry Carlisle (biography) | Buy this book “… a harrowing and exquisitely researched examination of a television writer’s life.”
Child, Lee, & Laurie King, editors, How to Write a Mystery (reference) | Buy this book | Buy the audio| Kindle it! A handbook from the Mystery Writers of America, collecting helpful essays on everything from before, during and after the writing process, from the likes of Jeffery Deaver, Tess Gerritsen, Charlaine Harris and a whole bunch of the other usual suspects. And just in time, too–the last time the MWA cranked out one of these was 1992, and Sue Grafton was the editor. Publishing has, er, changed a little since then.
White, Edward, The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock (biography/criticism) | Buy this book | Buy the audio| Kindle it! Sub-titled ” An Anatomy of the Master of Suspense,” this brave and brassy critical biography divvies the famous director’s life into twelve distinct slices, examining his life and work from various angles as he serves up his case of Hitchcock as “the definitive modern artist.”
March 2021 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Enfantino, Peter, & Jeff Vorzimmer, The Manhunt Companion (reference) | Buy this book Mystery geek heaven! The complete issue-to-issue guide to Manhunt, from January 1953 to April/May 1967, with story and author indexes.
Owen, Erika, Lawbreaking Ladies: 50 Tales of Daring, Defiant, and Dangerous Women from History (reference) | Buy this book| Kindle it! Have a bad girl on your list who’s more naughty than nice? This fun little tome will introduce her to some of the more infamous members of the Sisterhood who have defied the Man: pirates, scam artists, ramblers, gamblers, bootleggers, gunslingers, serial killers, molls, madams, and more. A breezy and punchy read, with illustrations by Alexander Wright.
February 2021 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Block, Lawrence, Hunting Buffalo with Bent Nails (non-fiction essays) | Buy this book Collectors edition, covering everything from travel and collecting subway cars to Donald Westlake.
Tefler, Tori, Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters & Shapeshifters of the Feminine Persuasion (non-fiction) | Buy this book | Buy the audio| Kindle it! Are women really better scamsters than men? Tefler makes her case, providing plenty of examples over the last 300 or so years. But I still wasn’t sure, soI asked my friend Jodie, and she said I should give her my passwords, and she’d tell me tomorrow.
January 2021 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Block, Lawrence, Afterthoughts: Version 2.0|Kindle it! New, and much expanded edition of the much loved 2011 collection of forewords, afterwords, essays, articles and digressions about Block’s huge body of work, and his storied career based on telling lies for fun and profit.
Bradford, Richard, Devils, Lusts & Strange Desires: The Life of Patricia Highsmith (biography) | Buy this book | Kindle it! In this Winter of Discontent, this bio of Little Miss Sunshine might be just what we need.
Truhler, Kimberly, Film Noir Style: The Killer 1940s (non-fiction) | Buy this book| Kindle it! Say what you want about film noir, but those folks knew how to dress. Film and fashion historian Truhler divvies the classic noir period (1940-50) into four distinct eras (Before the War, The War Years, The Transition Year: 1946 and The Post-War Years) and explores how each era’s films influenced fashion, then and now, with special attention paid to the babes of noir, including Betty Grable, Veronica Lake, Gene Tierney, Lauren Bacall, Barbara Stanwyck, Ava Gardner, and many others who knew how to dress to kill. Loaded with oodles of photos in black and white (what else?) to die for.
November 2020 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Winspear, Jacqueline, This Time Next Year We’ll Be Laughing (memoirs) | Buy this book|Buy the audio|Kindle it! The creator of the much-loved Maisie Dobbs spills the beans of her hardscrabble childhood in post-war Kent, in a moving, heart-rending memoir that makes clear where many of the themes and concerns of Maisie came from.
October 2020 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Mannion, Elizabeth, & Brian Cliff, editors, Guilt Rules All (non-fiction; essays) | Buy this book|Kindle it! An Edgar-nominated collection of essays on Irish crime fiction: where it came from, where it’s going, and whose round it is. Includes the scoop on everyone from Freeman Wills Croft and Bartholomew Gill to Declan Burke, Colin Bateman, Adrian McKinty and Liz Nugent.
Martin, Heather, The Reacher Guy (Lee Child biography) | Buy this book|Kindle it! The first full-on bio of Lee Child, Jack Reacher‘s creator, digging deep beyond the quickie book flap bios and convention-ready anecdotes. Recommended for all the Reacher Creatures.
July 2020Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Weinman, Sarah, editor, Unspeakable Acts (true crime) | Buy this book|Buy the audio|Kindle it! Our pal Sarah rounds up some deliciously dark and thoroughly modern true tales of crime, murder, deceit, and obsession’
June 2020Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Lee, Susanna, Detectives in the Shadows: A Hard-Boiled History (non-fiction) | Buy this book|Kindle it! Literary and cultural critic Susanna Lee tracks the evolution of the American private eye, from Race Williams to Jessica Jones, what makes himtick, and why we’re obsessed with the “good guy with a gun.”
MacDonald, Erin E., Ian Rankin: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction (reference) | Buy this book|Kindle it! An enthralling A-Z guide to the crime fiction of the Scottish crimewriters, including plenty of gobsmacking info on his P.I. stuff. I mean, who knew? And yes, there’ll be plenty of new entries on this site.
April 2020 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Allan, Gulddal, King andPepper, eds, The Routledge Companion to Crime Fiction (reference) | Buy this book|Kindle it! A slab of a book– a comprehensive introduction to current crime fiction scholarship, featuring forty-five original essays by specialists in the field, offering innovative approaches to the classics, as well as ground-breaking (and sometimes head-scratching) “mappings of emerging themes and trends.” Contributors include Stewart King, Susanna Lee, David Gegerin, Martin Edwards and a whole lot of academics I’ve never heard of, but are probably way smarter than me.
Zackheim, Victoria, editor, Private Investigations: Mystery Writers on the Secrets, Riddles, and Wonders in Their Lives | Buy this book|Kindle it! Now here’s something new–an anthology of non-fiction essays by some of today’s most popular mystery writers, revealing some of the mysteries in their lives, and how those mysteries–some happy, some sad, some embarassing and some just flat out bizarre–have shaped their lives, often in unpredictable and fascinating ways. Among those spilling the literary beans are Anne Perry, Jeffrey Deaver, Cara Black, Jacqueline Winspear, Rhys Bowen, Steph Cha, Carole Nelson Douglas, Robert Dugoni, Hallie Ephron, Rachel Howzell Hall, Ausma Khan, William Kent Kreuger, Kristen Lepionka, Martin Limón, Charles Todd and others. A wondrous book that probes the nature of creativity.
February 2020Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Dawson, Kate Winkler, American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI (biography) | Buy this book|Buy the audio|Kindle it! Known as the “American Sherlock Holmes,” Edward Oscar Heinrich was one of America’s top forensic scientists, slaving away in a lab in Berkeley, California, 1933, but he would go on to would go on to crack at least two thousand cases in his forty-year career.
Jordan, J.R., Robert Wise: The Motion Pictures (non-fiction) | Buy this book
A fascinating look at the films of producer-director Robert Wise, featuring over twenty interviews, with an intro by Gavin MacLeod. Although probably best known for West Side Story and The Sound of Music, he also directed such crime classics as Born to Kill, Mystery in Mexico and Odds Against Tomorrow.
January 2020 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Cottrill, Tim,Bookery’s Guide to Pulps & Related Magazines (reference) | Buy this book The newest edition of the most complete pulp data and price guide reference in print, featuring updated values, an all-new colour selection of classic pulp covers in full colour, a comprehensive grading guide, and a special foreword from Jim Steranko–a must-have for collectors. 332 pages, black & white and color, 8.5″ x 11″.