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 |
| Television | Film | Radio | Comics | The Writing Life | Diversions | True Detectives | True Crime |
| The Paper Chase |
Listed, by author..
- Anderson, Christopher.
Hollywood TV: The Studio System in the Fifties
Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1994.
All kinds of inside dirt on 77 Sunset Strip and its clones, and a lot of other interesting stuff, that would eventually shape television as we know it. Plus the scoop on James Garner and Roy Huggins, and their battles with Warner Brothers. There’s some fascinating stuff in here.
- Brooks, Tim, and Earl Marsh.
The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows (4th Edition)
New York: Ballantine Books, 1988.
The standard by which all other reference books on American television should be judged. Short, concise overviews of what seems like every show ever aired, listed by show, as well as some fascinating lists in the Appendix. If it ain’t here, chances are it never aired.
- Collins, Max Allan and John Javna.
The Critic’s Choice: The Best of Crime & Detective TV | Buy this book
New York: Harmony Books, 1988.
A rollicking read, full of outrageous opinions, defiant defenses and embarrassing admissions, by a Who’s Who of crime writers, TV critics and others who have been polled on the best detective shows in various sub-genres (police procedural, private eye, etc.), rounded up by Max Collins and John Javna, who provide ample commentary. A hoot, and it’s loaded with lots of photos and graphics. Even the throwawy lines are keepers. A prime inspiration for this site, and highly recommended.
- Glover, Allen,
TV Noir: Dark Drama on the Small Screen (reference) | Buy this book | Buy the audio | Kindle it!
The first in-depth exploration into television’s long and sometimes dubious relationship with noir, TV historian and Paley Center curator Glover plunges way back to the the late forties and fifties (when the Golden Age of Noir was still packing ’em in in theatres) and flollows the clues right up to… now? Is it still noir if there’s a cute dog and a wacky neighbour?
- Goldberg, Lee,
Unsold Television Pilots, 1955-1989 (aka “Unsold TV Pilots: The Greatest Shows Youy Never Saw”) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
McFarland & Co., 1991
How geeky do you want to get? A true fan’s guide to those shows that coulda been contenders, and those that never stood a chance in hell. Lee, of course, has written a ton of TV shows in our genre, and his insider’s take on the good, the bad and the WTF? is a blast from start to finish. Most recently revised in 2015.
- Goldberg, Lee,
The Best TV Shows That Never Were | Buy this book | Kindle it!.
McFarland & Co., 2015.
Mommy! Make him stop! Lee has more fun with flops, focusing on 300 of the little suckers. (Actually, it’s a revised, updated sequel of sorts to Unsold Pilots (above).
- Larka, Robert.
Television’s Private Eye: An Examination of Twenty Years Programming of a Particular Genre, 1949-1969 | Buy this book
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.: University Microfilms International, 1973.
New York, NY: Arno Press, 1979. (formal edition)
Seminal work of the TV private eye,a 1973 dissertation listing almost every private eye show on American television from 1949 through 1969. Although extremely dated, it captures the popularity of a genre that is now almost, sadly, non-existent.. Ambitious and rich with detail, it includes breakdowns of the genre from numerous angles, including theme, plot, motif, production, time slots, and even sponsors, as well as from scholarly and critical perspectives. Fans of the sometimes geeky history of self-publishing, meanwhile, will love the typewritten format, complete with hand-drawn diacriticals.
- Lewis, Jon E., amd Penny Stempel,
Cult TV: The Detectives | Buy this book
London, U.K.: Pavilion Books Limited, 1999.
A spiffy-looking, often irreverent look at British and American crime show cult favorites, arranged in alphabetical order. A good bathroom book.
- Marill, Alvin H.
Movies Made For Televisiom: The Telefeature and Mini-Series 1964-1979
Westport, Conneticutt, U.S.A.: Arlington House, 1980.
A fascinating listing of what many consider to be the Golden Age of American made-for-television movies, it’s all here: the fondly remembered one-shots and the many many pilots, both sold and unsold, ranging from the sublime (the Harry O pilot) to the ridiculous (the Hager twins from HeeHaw as twin P.I.s).
- Martindale, David.
The Rockford Phile: The Unofficial Casebook of The Rockford Files | Buy this book
Las Vegas, Nevada: Pioneer, 1991.
A real fan’s book, done by a real fan. It’s thoroughness was one of the inspirations for this site — it was a revelation to realize others shared my passion.
- Martindale, David.
Television Detective Shows of the 1970s: Credits, Storylines, and Episode Guides for 109 Series
Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Press, 1991.
Excellent resource, with photos, index, 563 pages.
- Meyers, Ric.
Murder On the Air: Television’s Great Mystery Series | Buy this book
New York: The Mysterious Press, 1989.
A logical follow-up to his own, Edgar-nominated TV Detectives (1981) — a more in-depth look at some of the great American TV detectives, offering portraits of several of the more important writers, producers, etc., who specialized in crime shows, focusing on one or two of their most important series. Hence, there are chapters on Jack Webb and Dragnet, Quinn Martin (Barnaby Jones and Cannon), Aaron Spelling (Charlies’ Angels), Stephen J. Cannell and Roy Huggins (The Rockford Files), and a chapter that convincingly links up Kojak, Barney Miller, Hill Street Blues, and Miami Vice.
- Meyers, Richard.
TV Detectives | Buy this book
La Jolla, California: A.S. Barnes & Company, Inc. 1981.
Outdated now, but still the best single book about American TV detectives I’ve ever seen, covering the entire genre from the beginning, right up to the early eighties. Any attempt to be so completely comprehensive is going to lead to some errors, and Meyers makes his share, but it’s a valuable reference resource, nonetheless, and a well-deservedA Edgar nominee in the Critical/Biographical category. Meyers was, for many years, the TV critic for The Armchair Detective.
- Nelson, Craig
Bad TV: The Very Best of the Very Worst | Buy this book
Delta Publishing, 1995.
Nelson has seen some amazing wrecks in his life, and here he tells all, in loving detail. P.I. shows mentioned include Charlie’s Angels, Valerie Bertinelli’s Sydney, Honey West and Two of Diamonds. Hmmmm… maybe Craig doesn’t like girls.
- Robertson, Ed,
This is Jim Rockford… | Buy this book
Los Angeles: Pomegranate Press, Ltd., 1995.
Features a collection of answering machine messages left on Rockford’s machine, and much much more about what many consider the genre’s best show.
- Robertson, Ed,
Thirty Years of The Rockford Files | Buy this book
Los Angeles: ASJA Press, 2005.
A new edition of Robertson’s already-definitive Rockford book, This is Jim Rockford…, with a lot more information. The book, subtitled “An inside look at America’s greatest detective series,” now runs close to 500 pages, more than twice as long as the previous edition.
- Starman, Ray,
TV Noir: The Twentieth Century | Buy this book
Albany, NY: The Troy Boomakers, 2006.
It’s about time someone took a serious look at television noir through the years. Unfortunately, this amateurish book — while breaking important new ground — doesn’t cut it. It’s at best a cursory look at the topic, and it’s marred by grammatical and factual errors, curious omissions, even more peculiar inclusions (Combat?) and risible, poorly argued positions that one can only hope were a result of looming deadlines or sloppy editing — and not serious, considered thought. A bigger problem is that there’s no workable definition of noir to hang the book on, so one is frequently left wondering what the author’s point is — or if he has one. Sadly, not ready for prime time.
- Terrace, Vincent
Encyclopedia of Television Pilots: 1937-2012 | Buy this book
McFarland Press, 2013.
They’re all here, the aired and unaired. Over 5100 brief entries on television pilots, dishing out the facts, ma’am. And just the facts.. Maybe not as funny as Lee’s books, but more, you know, encyclopediacal.
- Tibballs, Geoff, editor.
The Boxtree Encyclopedia of TV Detectives
London, England: Boxtree Limited, 1992.
Excellent encyclopedia listing almost every American and British detective program from the late forties up to the time of publication. Detailed credits and short reviews give an enlightening look at mysterious procedding on both sides of the big pond.