Honor roll: Criticism books

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

Book:Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters

Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters

Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower, Charles Foley

This remarkable annotated collection of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s previously unpublished private correspondence offers unique insight into one of the world’s most popular authors. For the first time, Conan Doyle emerges from the shadow of Sherlock Holmes, revealing a man whose character and exploits rival that of his famous creation. In particular, Conan Doyle’s correspondence with his mother exposes his endless search for fulfillment and success outside the Holmes stories.

At age sixteen Conan Doyle began studying medicine at Edinburgh University. Just months shy of graduating, he made the adventurous decision to accept a position as a surgeon on a whaling ship heading to the Arctic. He returned to Edinburgh, graduated, and struggled to establish his own medical practice while simultaneously writing and promoting his stories. He suffered years of disappointment as both doctor and author; yet, to his amazement, just two months after the first Sherlock Holmes short stories,…[more]

Book:Girl Sleuth

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her

Melanie Rehak

A plucky “titian-haired” sleuth solved her first mystery in 1930. Eighty million books later, Nancy Drew has survived the Depression, World War II, and the sixties (when she was taken up with a vengeance by women’s libbers) to enter the pantheon of American girlhood. As beloved by girls today as she was by their grandmothers, Nancy Drew has both inspired and reflected the changes in her readers’ lives. Now, in a narrative with all the vivid energy and page-turning pace of Nancy’s adventures, Melanie Rehak solves an enduring literary mystery:

Who created Nancy Drew? And how did she go from pulp heroine to icon?

The brainchild of children’s book mogul Edward Stratemeyer, Nancy was brought to life by two women: Mildred Wirt Benson, a pioneering journalist from Iowa, and Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, a well-bred wife and mother who took over as CEO after her father died. In a century-spanning story Rehak traces their roles—and Nancy’s—in forging the modern American woman. With ebullience, wit, and a wealth of little-known source material, Rehak celebrates our unstoppable girl detective.

Book:Talking About Detective Fiction

Talking About Detective Fiction

P.D. James

In a perfect marriage of author and subject, P. D. James—one of the most widely admired writers of detective fiction at work today—gives us a personal, lively, illuminating exploration of the human appetite for mystery and mayhem, and of those writers who have satisfied it.

P. D. James examines the genre from top to bottom, beginning with the mysteries at the hearts of such novels as Charles Dickens’s Bleak House and Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, and bringing us into the present with such writers as Colin Dexter and Henning Mankell. Along the way she writes about Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie (“arch-breaker of rules”), Josephine Tey, Dashiell Hammett, and Peter Lovesey, among many others. She traces their lives into and out of their fiction, clarifies their individual styles, and gives us indelible portraits of the characters they’ve created,…[more]

Book:Teller of Tales

Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle

Daniel Stashower

This fresh, compelling biography examines the extraordinary life and strange contrasts of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the struggling provincial doctor who became the most popular storyteller of his age. From his youthful exploits aboard a whaling ship to his often stormy friendships with such figures as Harry Houdini and George Bernard Shaw, Conan Doyle lived a life as gripping as one of his adventures. Exhaustively researched and elegantly written, Teller of Tales sets aside many myths and misconceptions to present a vivid portrait of the man behind the leg of Baker Street, with a particular emphasis on the Psychic Crusade that dominated his final years-the work that Conan Doyle himself felt to be “the most important thing in the world.

Book:They Died in Vain

They Died in Vain: Overlooked, Underappreciated and Forgotten Mystery Novels

Jim Huang

If characters die in a mystery novel, and no one reads their story, have they died in vain? Mystery experts—booksellers, reviewers, genre devotees—introduce you to personal favorites: obscure classics, up-and-coming new writers, great books that unaccountably disappeared and lesser-known titles by bestselling authors. A companion volume to our Agatha and Anthony Award-winning 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century, this book takes you before the bestsellers, beyond the familiar, with essays recommending over 100 mystery novels—buried treasures that will become new favorites.

Book:African American Mystery Writers

African American Mystery Writers: A Historical and Thematic Study

Frankie Y. Bailey

This ambitious study examines the works of modern African American mystery writers within the social and historical contexts of African American literature on crime and justice. It begins with a historical overview that describes the movement by African American authors from slave narratives and antebellum newspapers into fiction writing, the work of early genre writers, such as Pauline Hopkins and Rudolph Fisher, the protest writers of the 1940s and 1950s, and the authors who followed in the 1960s. The historical section concludes with a discussion of works by late twentieth-century writers such as Toni Morrison and Ernest Gaines and the expansion of the audience for works by African American writers.

The heart of the book is an analysis of works by modern African American mystery writers, focusing on sleuths, the social locations of crime, victims and offenders, the notion of “doing justice,” and the role of African American cultural vernacular…[more]

Book:The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: Vol 1 and 2. The Complete Short Stories

The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: Vol 1 and 2. The Complete Short Stories

Leslie S. Klinger, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A cause for international celebration—the most important Sherlock Holmes publication in four decades.

This monumental edition promises to be the most important new contribution to Sherlock Holmes literature since William Baring-Gould’s 1967 classic work. In this boxed set, Leslie Klinger, a leading world authority, reassembles Arthur Conan Doyle’s 56 classic short stories in the order in which they appeared in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century book editions. Inside, readers will find a cornucopia of insights: beginners will benefit from Klinger’s insightful biographies of Holmes, Watson, and Conan Doyle; history lovers will revel in the wealth of Victorian literary and cultural details; Sherlockian fanatics will puzzle over tantalizing new theories; art lovers will thrill to the 700-plus illustrations, which make this the most lavishly illustrated edition of the Holmes tales ever produced. The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes illuminates the timeless genius of Arthur Conan Doyle for an entirely new generation of readers.

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]

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