Book: Encyclopedia Mysteriosa

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Encyclopedia Mysteriosa: A Comprehensive Guide to the Art of Detection in Print, Film, Radio, and Television

Author: William L. Deandrea
Publisher: MacMillan Publishing Company.

A good mystery is the essential element in every compelling plot. Encyclopedia Mysteriosa clues you in to the entire murky realm of detection. This comprehensive reference is an in-depth compendium that draws on 150 years of crime stories from the genesis of the mystery genre with the publication of Edgar Allan Poe’s “Murders in the Rue Morgue” to the films of Alfred Hitchcock and television series like “The Fugitive.”

Written and edited by two-time Edgar Award winner William L. DeAndrea, Encyclopedia Mysteriosa contains biographies of old and new writers and their memorable characters, as well as detailed entries on contributions to the genre on radio, television, and film. The evolution of the literature of detection progresses from the nineteenth-century master sleuths—Sherlock Holmes and Nick Carter—to the Golden Age when Ellery Queen and Agatha Christie produced their perennially popular stories. Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot can be found cheek-to-cheek with the hard-boiled detectives created by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, and with the characters and writers who played out the espionage explosion of the sixties and seventies. You’ll also find entries devoted to the current wave of women private eyes, a subgenre that was pioneered by Marcia Muller—the founding mother of the American female hard-boiled private eye—and continues with the popular alphabet mysteries of Sue Grafton. No story is too convoluted and no character is too small—you’ll even find television and film detectives Maxwell Smart and Basil, the Great Mouse Detective.

An appendix provides directories of organizations for the mystery devotee, mystery booksellers, and lists of major award-winning writers honored with Edgars and Diamond Daggers. All entries are copiously cross-referenced to assure easy access. For every would-be sleuth and armchair detective, Encyclopedia Mysteriosa is the complete reference to the entire genre of murder and mayhem.


While it would be impossible for one volume to reference every interesting piece of trivia in the world of mysteries (after all, that’s what they make computers for), William DeAndrea has captured most of the key writers, character, movies, TV series, and books in this 1994 Edgar-winning volume. The alphabetical entries often include lengthy lists of books or movies and their publication/release dates—a bonus for completists looking for forgotten Nero Wolfe tales or classic noir films to rent. Some entries, like that for “The A-Team” are tongue-in-cheek: “characters used what critic Ric Meyers has called ‘antineutron bullets’—they destroy property for miles around, but never harm a human being.” As an added bonus, DeAndrea has included 11 extended essays on historically vital issues like dime novels, pulps, Sherlockiana, and even The Batman. The book closes with a listing of mystery bookstores, organizations and awards, magazines, and a glossary for those of us who forgot what an “Inverted Detective Story” or a “McGuffin” was. —Patrick O’Kelley

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