What? You thought I made this all up, or downloaded it all from Wikipedia? Nope. Here are the books that inspired me to create this site, and the books I’ve used to cobble it together over the years, as well as the ones I’ve discovered along the way. If you like this site, you may find some of these as fascinating as I do. The ones on this page are general reference books, covering the whole spectrum of the mystery genre. Other pages list more specialized books.
| General Reference | History, Theory, Criticism & Other Agendas | The Pulps & Short Fiction |
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The Pulps & Short Fiction
Listed by author…
- Becattini, Alberto.
Glamour International 25: Crimes ‘n’ Gals in the USA | Buy this book
A 108 page 12″ x 12″ softbound magazine/book, featuring a pictorial history of women in crime fiction. Sections devoted to newspaper comic strips, comic books, pulp magazines and paperbacks. The paperback section contains reproductions of around 170 American paperbacks covers, and features work by Robert McGinnis, Robert Maguire, Barye Phillips, Rudolph Belarski, Ronnie Lesser and Mitchell Hooks.
- Carr, Wooda N.,
The Other Detective Pulp Heroes | Buy this book
Chicago: Tattered Pages, 1992
Short descriptions of forty detectives are featured, including Robert Leslie Bellem’s Dan Turner, Carroll John Daly’s Satan Hall, Erle Stanley Gardner’s Ed Jenkins — The Phantom Crook, Frank Gruber’s Oliver Quade, Judson P. Philips’ The Park Avenue Hunt Club, Theodore Tinsley’s Major John Lacy, John L. Benton’s Jerry Wade, Joe Archibald’s Willie Klump, Lee Fredericks’ Mr. Wong, Herman Landon’s Martin Dale, George Warnke’s The Whispering Monk, and many others, along with plenty of illustrations from the pulps and lists of character appearances. An indispensible little reference guide for some of the more obscure pulp detectives.
- Cook, Michael L.,
Monthly Murders: A Checklist and Chronological Listing of Fiction in the Digest-Size Mystery Magazines in the United States and England | Buy this book
Greenwood Press, 1982.
Long since folded into The Crime, Mystery, & Gangster Fiction Magazine Index on the web, edited by Phil Stephensen-Payne, but this sturdy volume for years ranked as perhaps the quintessential work of reference for crime short fiction, listing alphabetically, each magazine title, accompanied by a brief publication history. It also included a section listing author and title list of every mystery and detective story contained in each issue, arranged chronologically with volume, issue number, original cover price, and magazine-title abbreviation provided. I used to nip into the Concordia University Library and furiously scribble notes during my lunch hour.
- Cook, Michael L. and Stephen T. Miller,
Mystery, Detective, and Espionage Fiction: A Checklist of Fiction in U.S. Pulp Magazines, 1915-1974 | Buy this book
Garland Publications, 1988. 2 vols.
Another impressive oldie but goodie, now also absorbed into Phil Stephensen-Payne’s The Crime, Mystery, & Gangster Fiction Magazine Index. The original two volume set covered over 4000 US, British, and Canadian magazines — professional and amateur, fiction and non-fiction, including indexing information, title(s), number of issues, publisher and editor, price, size, and current publication status.
- Cottrill, Tim, editor
Bookery’s Guide to Pulps & Related Magazines
Bookery Press, 2005. | Buy this book
Ivy Press, 2020. | Buy this book
Arguably the most complete pulp reference source and price guide in print, the latest edition (in 2020–the first in fifteen years), features an improved layout, 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 serious collector.
- Enfantino, Peter, & Jeff Vorzimmer,
The Manhunt Companion (reference) | Buy this book
Stark House, 2021.
Mystery geek heaven! At long last, the complete issue-to-issue guide to Manhunt, from January 1953 to April/May 1967, with story and author indexes, essays and more. And plot summaries! Save a place on your shelf, right beside E.R. Hagemann’s A Comprehensive Index to Black Mask, 1920-1951 and James Traylor’s Dime Detective Companion. I didn’t know how much I wanted this until it sailed in over the transom.
- Flanagan, Graeme, editor
The Australian Vintage Paperback Guide | Buy this book
New York: Gryphon Books, 1991.
Written by our pal Graeme, and packed with 50 pages of rare cover reproductions and some great info about the authors, etc, but basically a listing of paperbacks printed in Australia from about the 50’s to late 60’s. As always with a Gryphon book, don’t expect top of the line production values, but do expect enough trivia to make a collector geek’s head spin like 78. Gryphon boasted that it’s not just the best book on the topic, but “the ONLY book on the topic.”
- Goulart, Ron.
The Dime Detectives: A Comprehensive History of the Detective Fiction Pulps | Buy this book
New York: The Mysterious Press, 1988.
No false modesty here. This is the single best reference volume on the pulps available, infinitely readable, with more info on more dicks than you can shake a roscoe at….
- Gruber, Frank,
The Pulp Jungle | Buy this book
Sherbourne Press, 1967.
A fond collection of reminisces of Gruber’s years as a pulp writer. Gruber, one of the most prolific crime fiction authors, wrote more than 250 stories for over 40 pulp magazines, as well as tons of novels, screenplays and television scripts.
- Hagemann, E.R.,
A Comprehensive Index to Black Mask, 1920-1951 | Buy this book
Popular Press, January 1982.
An absolutely essential reference work for hard-boiled pulp geeks.
- Haining, Peter,
The Classic Era of American Pulp Magazines | Buy this book
Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2001.
A richly-illustrated, highly personalized account of the pulps. Not a scholarly essay, not by a long shot, but a passionate labour of love, from a fan, and for fans. Haining’s scattershot approach, though, hits the mark far more often than he misses, and the numerous cover shots, many from Haining’s own collection, are to die for. Recommended.
- Hulse, Ed,
The Blood’n’Thunder Guide to Pulp Fiction | Buy this book
Aimed squarely at fans and collectors of the old pulps, this is the new, improved, revised and expanded edition of the 2013 classic, illustrated with over 750 magazine covers and original paintings (sadly, in black & white). It’s a complete and lively history, covering genres individually and identifying key titles, authors, and stories, as well as advice for collectors, and four throughly updated appendices, focussing on mass-market pulp-fiction anthologies, reference books, small-press publishers specializing in reprints and a collector’s guide. Hulse, by the way, is the author of 2017’s The Art of the Pulps.
- Hulse, Ed, The Art of the Pulp” An Illustrated History | Buy this book
Ten experts chart out the major pulp genres, from action and sci-fi to romance and crime, for a complete history of the pulps, including the the writers, the artists, the publishers, the markets and the readers. Illustrated with over 400 covers and artwork (many from the editors’ own personal collections), plus special features and an introduction on “The Birth of the Pulps” by Doug Ellis. Winner of the 2018 LOCUS Award for Best Art Book
- Jones, Robert Kenneth,
The Shudder Pulps: A History of the Weird Menace Pulps of the Thirties | Buy this book
FAX Collector’s Editions, 1975
It’s all fascinating stuff, but of course I zeroed in on the chapter on “The Defective Detectives,” which might have been the first time anyone seriously focussed on that sleazy little bit of the shamus game.
- Lesser, Robert,
Pulp Art: Original Cover Paintings for the Great American Pulp Magazines | Buy this book | Kindle it!
Sterling, 2005.A scrumptious coffee table book of great pulp covers, collated by one of the world’s great pulp art collectors — and the man who gave Lessercon (the annual L.A. Pulp amnd Paperback show) its name.
- Lovisi, Gary,
The Dames, Dolls and Delinquents: A Collector’s Guide to Sexy Pulp Fiction | Buy this book | Kindle it!
Iola, Wisconsin, Krause Publications, 2009.
World-renowned paperback junkie and expert Gary Lovis takes us on atour of pulp fiction babitude with an astounding array of close to 700 full-color covers. But it’s also a valuable collectors’ guide, featuring plenty of info to help with pricing and identification, including title, author, cover artist, publisher, date. Helpfully divided into such categories as “Sultry Streetwalkers” and “Deadly Femme Fatales,” bad girls never looked so good.
- Nevins, Jess,
The Encyclopedia of Pulp Detectives | Buy this book
From the man who brought you The Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes (see below) comes this whittled-down edition, focussing specifically on the good stuff: detectives! No fool he, Jess limitsd himself to the years between 1902 and 1945, the Encyclopedia features virtually every fictional series detective who appeared from 1902 to 1945, with over 2800 character entries from over 50 countries, where and when the character appeared, and a thorough description of the character and his or her milieu, allies, and enemies.
- Nevins, Jess,
The Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes | Kindle it!
It’s not that pulp geek Jess Nevins is out to conquer the world… except that he might. This hefty four-volume print edition, published in 2017 and apparently no longer available, is an alphabetical tour-de-force, listing every significant hero (and more than a few insignificant ones) to rise out of the pulps–which in Jess’ case means magazines, novels, movies, radio shows, comic strips, and other media and formats, from a wide variety of genres. Boasting over 4000 character entries from over 50 countries, a thorough description of the character and appearances, plus a couple of essays , and a lengthy bibliography, it’s an impressive work; the culmination–so far–of one man’s obsession (I know–I recognize the symptons, The digital edition is still available, and Jess has begun to make it available online.
- Nolan, William F.
The Black Mask Boys | Buy this book
New York: The Mysterious Press, 1985.
Excellent anthology of stories by the Black Mask’s best writers (Hammett, Chandler, Cain, Nebel, Daly, etc.) plus short critical essays on each author and bibliography. Extra bonus points for comprehensive list of other detective pulps.
- O’Brien, Geoffrey,
Hard-Boiled America: The Lurid Years of Paperback | Buy this book
Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1981.
O’Brien tracks the evolution of hard-boiled fiction by choosing twenty-five paperbacks, from Hammett to John D. MacDonald, digging up the goods. Included is a The Hard-Boiled Era, a suggested reading list that makes for a dandy roadmap of the genre, and a slew of great full-colour reproductions of some truly classic covers. Good, but dated. Sez Ed Gorman: “O’Brien takes seriously the writing of such people as Day Keene, Harry Whittington and Brett Halliday and many other paperback men and women. He’s opinionated of course. His take on John D. MacDonald and Dorothy Hughes never fails to rankle me. But his observations on the work of Jim Thompson and W.R. Burnett and Ross Macdonald and Charles Williams are eloquent and so well reasoned I reread them several times a year. He also brings in literary writers whose work was sometimes in the spirit of hardboiled. Nelson Algren is a natural. But I’m glad he referenced Calder Willingham, too. A fine novelist whose short stories in particular are so dark they can disturb your sleep for a few nights.”
- O’Brien, Geoffrey,
Hardboiled America: Lurid Paperbacks and The Masters Of Noir | Buy this book
Da Capo Press, 1997.
Expanded and revised edition of O’Brien’s 1981 classic, not quite as dated, and the marvelous illustrations are now blurry black and white, although the expanded and revised reading guide may be worth the purchase alone.
- Robinson, Frank and Lawrence G. Davidson.
Pulp Culture: The Art of Fiction Magazines | Buy this book
New York: Collector’s Press/St. Martin’s Press, 1998.
Filled with tons of great reproductions of covers from the pulp era. Most are NOT hard-boiled or detective-related but who cares with a book that’s this much fun? This book is a blast and a half.
- Server, Lee
Danger Is My Business: An Illustrated History of the Fabulous Pulp Magazines: 1896-1953 | Buy this book
San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1993.
Its subtitle reads “” and that’s about the best way to describe this fascinating, wide-ranging look at he pulps. With illustrations to die for, this is one of the very, very best books on the subject. Recommended.
- Server, Lee
Encyclopedia of Pulp Fiction Writers | Buy this book
Checkmark Books, 2002.
More than 200 entries on pulp fiction writers over the last 100 years, from the weird (Jackie Collins?) to the expected suspects. Lots of crime guys: Chandler, Hammett, James M. Cain, Paul Cain, Bruno Fisher, Ross Macdonald, Chester Himes, Charles Willeford, Frank Kane, Henry Kane, Don Pendleton, Jim Thompson, Ernest Tidyman, and many more, including H.P. Lovecraft, Louis L’Amour, Ian Fleming, Mario Puzo, Jacqueline Susann, Baroness Emmuska Orczy, John Faulkner and Achmed Abdullah. Tons of photos, too.
- Sherman, Philip,
Leo Marguiles: Giant of the Pulps | Buy this book
Altus Press, 2017.
It’s about time someone wrote about arguably the most influential (and certainly the most highly paid) editor of the pulp era. Leo Margulies served as editor-in-chief of the Thrilling Group, and was at one point buying over two million words a month. Over his long career, he edited more than 70 pulps (Thrilling Detective!) and digests (Mike Shyne’s Mystery Magazine!), as well as countless anthologies. If you don’t recognize the name, you don’t know pulp.
- Silke, Jim, and R.A. Maguire,
Dames, Dolls, And Gun Molls | Buy this book
Dark Horse, 2009.
A long overdue tribute by art historian Jim Silke to legendary pulp artist Robert A. Maguire who created gorgeous cover images for more than a thousand books pulp mags, and worked for virtually every mainstream publisher in the U.S. He evidently never met a dame who didn’t want to strip down for him and pose with a gun.
- Strange, Carolyn, and Tina Loo,
True Crime True North: The Golden Age of Canadian Pulp Magazines | Buy this book
Vancouver, B.C.: Raincoast Books, 2004.
A wry, affectionate look at the glory days of Canadian pulp magazines — that brief but heady period when war-time restrictions opened the doors for enterprising Canadian publishers to strut their stuff, gleefully delivering cheap, fast thrills in the guise of “true facts from official files.” Sure, plenty of the facts were wrong — or reworked to make for a better story, but this was true Canadian pulp in all its cheeky glory, simultaneously claiming a sort of moral high ground and playing to the lowest common denominator. Generously embued with sample covers, advertisements and inside illustrations, and intelligently and compellingly written, it’s a fascinating look at an almost-forgotten period in Canadian and pulp history.
- Traylor, James, ed.
Dime Detective’ Index
Pulp Collectors Press, 1986.
A fairly comprehensive listing, by author, by character and even biographies for some authors, although it’s been superceded by…
- Traylor, James, ed.
Dime Detective Companion | Buy this book
Altus Press, 2011.
Revised, expanded index of all 274 issues,, as well as several articles on the series and its writers, and as a bonus, the fifth anniversary round-robin story from the November 1936 issue, “The Tongueless Men,” by William E. Barrett, Carroll John Daly, Frederick C. Davis, T.T. Flynn, and John Lawrence.
Respectfully compiled by Kevin Burton Smith.