Honor roll: Criticism books

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

Book:Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers

Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels

John Connolly, Declan Burke

The world’s greatest mystery writers on the world’s greatest mystery novels:

  • Michael Connelly on The Little Sister
  • Kathy Reichs on The Silence of the Lambs…
  • Mark Billingham on The Maltese Falcon…
  • Ian Rankin on I Was Dora Suarez…

With so many mystery novels to choose among, and so many new titles appearing each year, where should a reader start? What are the classics of the genre? Which are the hidden gems?

In the most ambitious anthology of its kind yet attempted, the world’s leading mystery writers have come together to…[more]

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This follow-up to the Edgar-nominated Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks features Christie’s unpublished work, including an analysis of her last unfinished novel, and a foreword by the acclaimed actor David Suchet.

In this invaluable work, the Agatha Christie expert and archivist John Curran examines the unpublished notebooks of the world’s bestselling author to explore the techniques she used to surprise and entertain generations of readers.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:On Conan Doyle

On Conan Doyle: Or, The Whole Art of Storytelling

Michael Dirda

A passionate lifelong fan of the Sherlock Holmes adventures, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Michael Dirda is a member of The Baker Street Irregulars—the most famous and romantic of all Sherlockian groups. Combining memoir and appreciation, On Conan Doyle is a highly engaging personal introduction to Holmes’s creator, as well as a rare insider’s account of the curiously delightful activities and playful scholarship of The Baker Street Irregulars.

Because Arthur Conan Doyle wrote far more than the mysteries involving Holmes, this book also introduces readers to the author’s lesser-known but fascinating writings in an astounding range of other genres. A prolific professional writer, Conan Doyle was among the most important Victorian masters of the supernatural short story, an early practitioner of science fiction, a major exponent of historical fiction, a charming essayist and memoirist, and an outspoken public figure who attacked racial injustice…[more]

Book:Dame Agatha's Shorts

Dame Agatha's Shorts: An Agatha Christie Short Story Companion

Elena Santangelo

In Dame Agatha's Shorts, mystery author Elena Santangelo guides you through the short works of one of mystery’s most famous writers, Agatha Christie. Find out:

  • what was the most exciting event in Christie’s life outside of dining with the Queen.
  • who Miss Lemon, detective Hercule Poirot’s secretary, listed as a former employer on her resume.
  • which three short stories inspired the novel Evil Under The Sun.
  • what was Ariadne Oliver’s sideline before she became a famous novelist.
  • what inspired Christie’s first story, and possibly her whole writing career.
  • why you should read, or re-read, Agatha Christie’s short stories.

And much more.

Book:The Lineup

The Lineup: The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives

Otto Penzler

A great recurring character in a series you love becomes an old friend. You learn about their strange quirks and their haunted pasts and root for them every time they face danger. But where do some of the most fascinating sleuths in the mystery and thriller world really come from?

What was the real-life location that inspired Michael Connelly to make Harry Bosch a Vietnam vet tunnel rat? Why is Jack Reacher a drifter? How did a brief encounter in Botswana inspire Alexander McCall Smith to create Precious Ramotswe? In The Lineup, some of the top mystery writers in the world tell about the genesis of their most beloved characters—or, in some cases, let their creations do the talking.

Book:In Pursuit of Spenser

In Pursuit of Spenser: Mystery Writers on Robert B. Parker and the Creation of an American Hero

Otto Penzler

A Tribute to Robert B. Parker and His Greatest Creation: Spenser.

Join award-winning mystery editor Otto Penzler and a first-rate lineup of mystery writers as they go in pursuit of Spenser and the man who created him, Robert B. Parker. These are the writers who knew Parker best professionally and personally, sharing memories of the man, reflections on his impact on the genre, and insights into what makes Spenser so beloved.

Ace Atkins, the author chosen to take up Parker’s pen and continue the Spenser series, relates the formative impact Spenser had on him as a young man; gourmet cook Lyndsay Faye describes the pleasures of Spenser’s dinner table; Lawrence Block explains the irresistibility of Parker’s literary voice; and more. In Pursuit of Spenser pays tribute to Spenser, and Parker, with affection, humor, and a deep appreciation for what both have left behind. …[more]

Book:Portrait of a Novel: Henry James

Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece

Michael Gorra

A revelatory biography of the American master as told through the lens of his greatest novel.

Henry James (1843–1916) has had many biographers, but Michael Gorra has taken an original approach to this great American progenitor of the modern novel, combining elements of biography, criticism, and travelogue in re-creating the dramatic backstory of James’s masterpiece, Portrait of a Lady (1881). Gorra, an eminent literary critic, shows how this novel—the scandalous story of the expatriate American heiress Isabel Archer—came to be written in the first place. Traveling to Florence, Rome, Paris, and England, Gorra sheds new light on James’s family, the European literary circles—George Eliot, Flaubert, Turgenev—in which James made his name, and the psychological forces that enabled him to create this most memorable of female protagonists. Appealing to readers of Menand’s The Metaphysical Club and McCullough’s The Greater Journey, Portrait of a Novel provides a brilliant account of the greatest American novel of expatriate life ever written. It becomes a piercing detective story on its own. 10 illustrations

Book:Sherlock Holmes for Dummies

Sherlock Holmes for Dummies

Steven Doyle, David A. Crowder

Get a comprehensive guide to this important literary figure and his author.

A classic literary character, Sherlock Holmes has fascinated readers for decades—from his repartee with Dr. Watson and his unparalleled powers of deduction to the settings, themes, and villains of the stories. Now, this friendly guide offers a clear introduction to this beloved figure and his author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, presenting new insight into the detective stories and crime scene analysis that have has made Sherlock Holmes famous.

Inside you’ll find easy-to-understand yet thorough information on the characters, recurring themes, and locations, and social context of the Sherlock Holmes stories, the relationship of these stories to literature, and the forensics and detective work they feature. You’ll also learn about the life of the author. …[more]

Book:Thrillers: 100 Must Reads

Thrillers: 100 Must Reads

David Morrell, Hank Wagner

The most riveting reads in history meet today’s biggest thriller writers. Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads examines 100 seminal works of suspense through essays contributed by such esteemed modern thriller writers as: David Baldacci, Steve Berry, Sandra Brown, Lee Child, Jeffery Deaver, Tess Gerritsen, Heather Graham, John Lescroart, Gayle Lynds, Katherine Neville, Michael Palmer, James Rollins, R. L. Stine, and many more. Features 100 works—from Beowulf to The Bourne Identity, Dracula to Deliverance, Heart of Darkness to The Hunt for Red October—deemed must-reads by the International Thriller Writers organization.

Much more than an anthology, Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads goes deep inside the most notable thrillers published over the centuries. Through lively, spirited, and thoughtful essays that examine each work’s significance, impact, and influence, Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads provides both historical and personal perspective on those spellbinding works that have kept readers on the edge of their seats for centuries.

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