The Thrilling Detective Gift Guide

Games, Toys, Collectibles and Other Odds & Sods


  Clue Luxury Edition  

I used to do a Holiday Gift Guide every year for Mystery Scene, and it was pretty popular.  So I started thinking (always a dangerous proposition) that it might be fun to do it again, but do it all year round. After all, there are plenty of other holidays and special occasions to treat that mystery-loving special someone in your life–Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. And every day is somebody’s birthday.
(And it’s a good way to list things that might not easily suit any of my other Word on the Street pages.) 


  • The Big Lebowski Talking Bowling Pin | Get it!
    (2023, Running Press)
    In this crazy old mixed-up world, where today’s wisdom becomes  tomorrow’s retraction, it’s good to know that depsite it all, The Dude abides. Which is why this tiny ( 3-inch!), spring-loaded bowling pin packs such a wallop! It just may be all you need to really tie your life together. It comes pre-loaded with seven audio pearls of wisdom straight from the Dude himself, available with a mere tap of your finger. But that’s not all—it also includes a 2 x 3 inch illustrated magnet.


  • Maroney, Tyler, The Modern Detective: Inside The Secret World Of Private Investigators | Buy this book | Buy the audio | Kindle it!
    A real-life private eye Tyler Maroney reveals the tricks of the trade and dishes up the dirt on how corporate intelligence is reshaping the world, for better and worse.


  • Block, Lawrence, Collectibles | Buy this book
    Mystery geeks and collectors should keep an eye peeled for this collection of crime tales about… collecting, by some of our best crime writers. With obsession-drenched stories by Joyce Carol Oates, Dennis Lehane,  S.J. Rozan, Thomas Pluck, S.A. Crosby, Lee Goldberg, Joe R. Lansdale, Alex Segura and more.
  • Standiford, Les, editor, Miami Noir: The Classics | Buy this book Kindle it!
    This entry in the long-running Akashic Noir series is one of the best in years, featuring classic crime from the likes of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Elmore Leonard, Lester Dent, Zora Neale Hurston, Brett Halliday, Damon Runyon, Edna Buchanan, James Carlos Blake, Douglas Fairbairn, Charles Willeford, T.J. MacGregor, Lynne Barrett, Les Standiford, Preston L. Allen, John Dufresne, Vicki Hendricks, Christine Kling, Carolina Garcia-Aguilera, and David Beaty.
  • Box, C.J., editor, The Best American Mystery Stories 2020 | Buy this book Buy the audio Kindle it!
    It’s the end of the world as we know it, as series editor Otto Penzler (What? Him again?), with perennial sidekick Michele Slung riding editorial shotgun one last time. Next year, a new series editor steps in, and the series itself gets a (slightly) new title. But the song remains the same: to present the very best crime stories, no matter where they come from. And this year’s edition is no exception—it includes “twenty perfect pearls” from the likes of Sheila Kohler, David Dean, Jeffery Deaver, Robin Yocum, James Lee Burke, Pamela Blackwood, John Sandford and Rick Helms.
  • Vorzimmer, Jeff, editor, The Best of Manhunt 2 Buy this book
    A sterling collection of fifties and sixties pulp fiction, might be right up your (dark) alley. Yeah, Black Mask gets all the huzzahs, but Manhunt may have been the better (or at least more consistent) crime pulp of them all, laser-focused on what they wanted: hard, tough stories of people pushed to the very edge. No, the stories didn’t always have happy endings, but fans will bust a grin after plowing though this rollicking collection. Included are stories (many never reprinted before) from such shadowy suspects as Howard Browne, Helen Nielsen, Erle Stanley Gardner, William Campbell Gault, Eleazar Lipsky, Fletcher Flora, Richard Demming, Ira Levin, Donald Westlake, Jack Ritchie, Wade Miller and Frank Kane. Plus an essay on Manhunt’s history by Robert Turner, and and a fine tribute by Jon L. Breen.  Suggested accompaniment: Cheap Scotch. Neat. Possibly in a dirty glass. Essential.
  • The Steeger Books Pulp Library
    Got pulp? 2020 has been a kick in the guts to publishing schedules (as well as everything else), which may explain this virtual late-November dump from pulp pimps Steeger Books. They’ve unleashed a tidal wave of collections over the Black Friday weekend, including Jan Dana’s The Complete Cases of the Acme Indemnity Op, Vol. 1, about a nameless op for a huge insurance company, Frederick C. Davis’  The Complete Cases of Bill Brent, Vol. 2 , featuring the most hard-boiled dispenser of advice for the lovelorn ever, and Ray Cummings’  The Complete Cases of Uncle Tubby, about a chubby, middle-aged P.I. And for those who think anyone called “Tubby” might not quite cut it, or that even Mike Hammer’s a bit of a wimp, they’re offering two slabs of full-tilt blood and thunder from John Carroll Daly: Gang Man’s Gallows, the sixth volume in their ongoing series of Race Williams collections, and Satan’s Vengeance, featuring Satan Hall, the kinda cop Trump has wet dreams about.


  • Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition–Last Call | Buy this book 
    The long-awaited, equally lavish second volume is finally out, slipcased and hardbound for trouble, collecting Darwyn Cooke’s last two adaptations, The Score and
    Slayground, featuring Richard Stark’s (aka “Donald Westlake’s) hard-as-nails professional thief Parker, plus more than 100 pieces of never-before-seen art by Cooke; a round table squawk with comic book greats Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Bruce Timm, and Scott Dunbier on Parker and Cooke; and a brand-new 17-page Parker story by Brubaker and Phillips.(December 2020)
  • Noir:  A Crime Comics Collection Buy this book | ComiXology/Kindle it!
    A slight upgrade (hardbound, and now comic book size) of one of the few collections devoted to crime comics exclusively, this black & white volume offers 
    a staggering selection of some of the very best in crime comics, mostly indies, from the last few decades, featuring thirteen stories of betrayal and deceit, bad choices and bad luck, written and illustrated by such masters of crime comics  as Brian Azzarello, Gary Phillips, Jeff Lemire, the dynamic duo of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, Dean Motter, David Lapham and more. 


  • Perry Mason: The Complete Series Buy the DVD
    Can’t get HBO’s gloomy, doomy, misguided noir “re-imagining” of Perry Mason out of your head? Now might be the time to invest in this massive, 72 disk collection, which collects all 271 episodes of the classic, Emmy-winning TV legal drama starring Raymond Burr as Erle Stanley Gardner’s cocky, tricky criminal defense layer; the man who not only never lost a case, and never had a client who was guilty, but also shaved and bathed regularly? John Grisham? Scott Turow? Nice guys, but they tremble when the Big Man (and let’s face it—Burr was a Big Man) approaches the bench.
  • P.J.| Buy the DVD Buy the Blu-Ray
    Finally, this hard-to-find P.I. flick from 1968, starring a surprisingly boyish, pre-Bancek George Peppard as NYC P.I. P.J. Deweiler., and directed by John Guillermin (The Blue Max, The Bridge at Remagen, Skyjacked, The Towering Inferno, Death on the Nile, etc.) is available. Peppard plays down-on-his-luck New York private eye P.J. Detweiler who’s roped into bodyguarding the mistress of a not-quite-right millionaire (Raymond Burr).


  • Blacksad: Under The Skin | Buy this game
    (2019, Pedulo Studios/Maximum Games)
    Look what the cat dragged in! An all-new case, set in the comic book series’ seedy, retro-noir world of 1950s New York City. Blacksad’s called in when the owner of a boxing club is murdered, and his star boxer disappears just before a big fight. the games a beauty to behold, perfectly recreating the comics with jaw-dropping graphics (the splash at the top is a screen grab from the game). Gameplay features investigations, puzzles, quick time events and multiple-choice dialog, while jazz warbles in the background, and danger beckons at every turn. And for collectors, the Limited Edition includes four art prints, 3D Lenticular artwork, and a limited edition sleeve. Available for Playstation Four, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
  • Clue: The Scooby-Doo! 50th Anniversary Board Game | Buy this game
    (2019, USAopoly)
    Sure, you can always go out and buy one of the four zillion currently available licensed versions of Clue, which turns 70 this year (Game of Thrones? Downton Abbey? Harry Frickin’ Potter? Really? What’s next? The FOX and Friends edition?), but if you’d rather not, may I suggest one of the few licensed versions of the beloved classic to be released this year that is actually mystery-related — and just happens to mark another monumental anniversary in mysterydom: the fiftieth anniversary of the debut of the one of the most beloved cartoon canines ( I call it a dog) on television, the one and only Scooby-Doo! You can play as your favorite character (Who wants to be Velma?), searching Mrs. White’s haunted mansion to figure out who was snatched and solve the mystery (with occasionally Scooby Snack breaks). Suitable for adults and meddling kids.
  • Clue: The Luxury Edition | Get it now!
    (2014, Winning Solutions/Hasbro)
    For the mystery fan who has everything… here’s something else! This super-duper deluxe version of the classic mystery game is simply the most gorgeous version I’ve ever seen, a full-fledged 3D delight, not so much a board game as a chunk of fine furniture– a handsome, burl-finished wooden cabinet, with the actual rooms of Tudor Mansion in three dimensions, topped with a glass playing surface and attention to detail, from the weighted die cast base and weapons to the gold foil stamped cards– and everything can be tucked away neatly in an almost-leather storage box.
  • Von Reiswitz, Stephanie,
    Murder Most Puzzling: Twenty Mysterious Cases to Solve | Get it now! | Get it on Kindle!
    A handsomely illustrated collection of puzzles in book form–a variation of sorts on those five-minute mystery books many of us had as kids, this one is definitely for adults. The premise is that you’ve applied for a job as the assistant to Medea Thorne, an eccentric and absent-minded private eye, and the book itself is a chronicle of twenty of your first cases that you solved together. Except she forgot to include the solutions, and it’s once again up to you to do the leg work, using logic, math and all your deductive skills to solve the puzzles, analyze the evidence and crack the case. Ideal for couples.

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