Honor roll: Criticism books

Each of these Criticism books has received at least one award nomination. They are ranked by honors received.

Book:Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith

Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith

Andrew Wilson

The first and highly anticipated biography of the author of such classics of suspense as Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley.

The life of Patricia Highsmith was as secretive and unusual as that of many of the best-known characters who people her “peerlessly disturbing” writing. Yet even as her work—her thrillers, short stories, and the pseudonymous lesbian novel The Price of Salt—have found new popularity in the last few years, the life of this famously elusive writer has remained a mystery.

For Beautiful Shadow, the first biography of Highsmith, journalist Andrew Wilson mined the vast archive of diaries, notebooks, and letters that Patricia Highsmith left behind, astonishing in their candor and detail. He interviewed her closest…[more]

Book:The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Modern Crime Fiction

The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Modern Crime Fiction

Mike Ashley

Never before has there been a comprehensive, inexpensive reference guide and overview to the genre of crime fiction like The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Crime Fiction. Veteran editor Mike Ashley’s historical introduction gives an overview of the crime genre, showing the background and development of crime fiction from the earliest days with Agatha Christie and Raymond Chandler through to the modern exponents of the craft such as Elmore Leonard and Ian Rankin. His A to Z covers five hundred entries on the major writers in the crime fiction field, from Edward S. Aarons to Mark Zubro, from the cult favorites to the best known, including Marjorie Allingham, Patricia Cornwell, Colin Dexter, Jim Thompson, and Minette Walters. The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Crime Fiction packs more information into its author entries than more expensive hardcover reference works. Each entry gives a brief biographical background with highlights for the cross-referenced key works, provides a full bibliography, and notes significant…[more]

Book:Mystery Muses

Mystery Muses: 100 Classics That Inspire Today's Mystery Writers

Jim Huang, Austin Lugar

We asked 100 published writers: “Did a mystery set you on your path to being a writer? Is there a classic mystery that remains important to you today?” This book is the result.

The writers we contacted represent the entire spectrum of the mystery genre, from cozy to hardboiled, from acclaimed veterans to some of the field’s most intriguing newcomers. Young or old, each of these writers reminds us of a basic truism: great writers are great readers first. Their essays reveal the extent to which the discovery of these seminal texts was not just literary inspiration but a life-altering event.

We found it especially endearing to see how often contributors referred not just to a book’s text but to its literal form as well: a particular copy of a particular edition. We are reminded that the power of the printed word derives in part from…[more]

Book:Seldom Disappointed

Seldom Disappointed: A Memoir

Tony Hillerman

When Tony Hillerman looks back at seventy-six years spent getting from hardtimes farm boy to bestselling author, he sees lots of evidence that Providence was poking him along. For example, when an absentminded Army clerk left him off the hospital ship taking the wounded home from France, the mishap put him on a collision course with a curing ceremony held for two Navajo Marines, thereby providing the grist for a writing career that now sees his books published in sixteen languages around the world and often on bestseller lists. Or, for example, when his agent told him his first novel was so bad that it would hurt both of their reputations, he nonetheless sent it to an editor, and that editor happened to like the Navajo stuff.

In this wry and whimsical memoir, Hillerman offers frequent backward glances at where he found ideas for plots of his books and the characters that inhabit them. He takes us with him to death row, where he interviews a man about to die in the gas chamber…[more]

Book:100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century

100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century

Jim Huang

The Independent Mystery Booksellers Association list of 100 favorite mysteries of the 20th century represents the accumulated wisdom of the most knowledgeable people in the business. These are the books we most enjoy, the books we present to our customers over and over again, and the books that we ourselves return to when we want to visit with cherished friends.

In this book, we journey through our list of 100, with essays contributed by bookselles across the United States and Canada. The book also features individual booksellers’ lists of titles that did not make the list of 100 but should have, insights about mysteries and what our favorites mean to us, a directory of independent booksellers specializing in mysteries and, finally, a shopping list with current publication information about our 100 favorites.

A late addition to this season’s publishing schedule, 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century is IMBA’s holiday gift to our friends in the mystery community.

Book:Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making

Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making–More Stories and Secrets from Her Notebooks

John Curran

This follow-up to the Edgar-nominated Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks features Christie’s unpublished work, including an analysis of her last unfinished novel, and a foreword by the acclaimed actor David Suchet.

In this invaluable work, the Agatha Christie expert and archivist John Curran examines the unpublished notebooks of the world’s bestselling author to explore the techniques she used to surprise and entertain generations of readers. Also drawing on Christie’s personal papers and letters, he reveals how more than twenty of her novels, as well as stage scripts, short stories, and some more personal items, evolved. As he addresses the last notebook, Curran uses his deep knowledge of Christie to offer an insightful, well-reasoned analysis of her final unfinished work, based on her notes.

Agatha Christie: Murder in the Making features several wonderful gems, including Christie’s own essay on her…[more]

Book:Behind the Mystery

Behind the Mystery: Top Mystery Writers Interviewed

Stuart M. Kaminsky, Laurie Roberts

Edgar award winner and past President of the Mystery Writers of America Stuart Kaminsky brings mystery fans into the living rooms, offices, and gardens of his talented friends and fellow writers in this tribute to the mystery genre. Professional photographer Laurie Roberts captures the writers, their families, homes, and pets while Kaminsky probes into their personal lives and writing to go “behind the mystery” to meet the writer. Many of the best are included: Sue Grafton, Elmore Leonard, Donald Westlake, Jonathan and Faye Kellerman, Martin Cruz Smith, Robert B. Parker, Lisa Scottoline, James Lee Burke, Tony Hillerman, Ann Rule, Mickey Spillane, Michael Connelly, Evan Hunter, Sara Paretsky, Joseph Wambaugh, Lawrence Block, and John Jakes.

Book:The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: Vol 3. The Novels

The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: Vol 3. The Novels

Leslie S. Klinger, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The publication of Leslie S. Klinger’s brilliant new annotations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 56 short stories in 2004 created a Holmes sensation. Here, in this eagerly awaited third volume, Klinger reassembles Doyle’s four seminal novels in their original order, with over 1,000 new notes, 350 illustrations and period photographs, and tantalizing new Sherlockian theories. Inside, readers will find:

  • A Study in Scarlet (1887)—a tale of murder and revenge that tells of Holmes and Dr. Watson’s first meeting;
  • The Sign of Four (1889)—a cinematic tale of lost treasure;
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (1901)—hailed as the greatest mystery novel of all time; and
  • The Valley of Fear (1914)—a fresh murder scene that leads Holmes to solve a long-forgotten mystery.

Whether as a stand-alone volume or as a companion to the boxed short stories, this classic work illuminates the timeless genius of Conan Doyle for an entirely new generation. Slipcased hardcover; two-color text; 300 illustrations.

Book:Will in the World

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare

Stephen Greenblatt

A young man from the provinces—a man without wealth, connections, or university education—moves to London. In a remarkably short time he becomes the greatest playwright not just of his age but of all time. His works appeal to urban sophisticates and first-time theatergoers; he turns politics into poetry; he recklessly mingles vulgar clowning and philosophical subtlety. How is such an achievement to be explained?

Will in the World interweaves a searching account of Elizabethan England with a vivid narrative of the playwright’s life. We see Shakespeare learning his craft, starting a family, and forging a career for himself in the wildly competitive London theater world, while at the same time grappling with dangerous religious and political forces that took less-agile figures to the scaffold. Above all, we never lose sight of the great works—A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth,…[more]

Book:Mystery Women: An Encyclopedia of Leading Women Characters in Mystery Fiction Volume III (1990-1999)

Mystery Women: An Encyclopedia of Leading Women Characters in Mystery Fiction Volume III (1990-1999)

Colleen Barnett

“Mystery Women, Volume 3” is an encyclopedia of leading women characters in mystery fiction introduced during the years 1990-1999. It was preceded by “Mystery Women 1 (1860-1979)” and “Mystery Women 2 (1980-1989)”. In each of the three books, the protagonists are described as to appearance, education and career, family status, religious and political interests. There are short reviews of the books in which each appeared. The series was intended not only as a resource for mystery fans,librarians and booksellers, but as a reflection of the way in which women were portrayed in the mystery novel over a period of 150 years. Initially women were victims or villianesses. Success by early sleuths was often based on “intuition” rather than intelligence. Parallels are drawn between the fictional status of women and that which existed in the real world at that time. The impact of world and national events; i.e. World War I and II, the Depression, the Equal Employment! …[more]

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