Books by Larry Segriff

Released: Jan. 1, 1999

Not content with its dominion over the present (Cat Crimes for the Holidays, 1997, etc.), the master race now extends its reach back through history from ancient Egypt to the mid-20th century. The 21 original contributions are alternately gloomy (Tom Piccirilli's Poe pastiche), sprightly (Bill Crider's Hollywood idyll), charming (Gary A. Braunbeck's tale of a widowed mail-order bride), giddy (Elizabeth Foxwell's fantasia on Oscar Wilde themes), and historically doughty (Doug Allyn's medieval balladeer turned detective, Barbara Collins's investigation into the murder of Carry Nation's cat, Jon L. Breen's reminiscence of the silent-film era). Since they lack any considerable mystery, suspense, or ingenuity on the part of the human characters, they're best read as a triumphal procession of felines through the ages rather than as a series of crime stories that happen to feature cats. The one exception is Carole Nelson Douglas's evocation of a late Pharaoh's mummified cat that won't stay dead—a story that packs two teasing mysteries and some heads-up detection into the space of a sarcophagus. Now that cats have turned up everywhere from the Scottish Highlands to yesterday's war-torn Beirut, expect next year's dispatch to come from the moons of Jupiter. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 3, 1997

Nineteen new stories commemorating not just the December holidays but a veritable calendar of cats, from New Year's (Barbara Paul) to Martin Luther King Day (Jon L. Breen), Valentine's Day (Jeremiah Healy), Presidents' Day (Peter Crowther and Stewart von Allmen), St. Patrick's Day (John Lutz, J.N. Williamson), Easter (Bill Crider), Mother's Day (Christine Matthews and Robert J. Randisi), Memorial Day (Marlys Millhiser), Father's Day (Richard T. Chizmar), Independence Day (Jan Grape), Halloween (Carole Nelson Douglas), Veterans' Day (Tracy Knight, Gary A. Braunbeck), Thanksgiving (Barbara Collins), Hanukkah (Morris Hershman), Christmas (Graham Masterton), and even Boxing Day (Nick Hassam); Nancy Pickard's cute old-time anecdote isn't tied to any special day. Sadly, linking cats to unexpected holidays taxes most contributors' ingenuity to the limit. Lutz's and Chizmar's and Crider's stories are mere sketches; Braunbeck's and Healy's and Millhiser's feature predictably avenging felines. Except for Masterton's neatly compressed whodunit, even stories that begin promisingly (e.g., Hassam's tale of a drug-courier cat tied up in quarantine) are woefully undeveloped. As in earlier entries in this long-running series (Cat Crimes Takes a Vacation, 1995, etc.), love of cats shines through a lot more clearly than love of mystery or suspense. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1994

The latest in a long line of chatty demi-reference books for crime mavens (cf. Steinbrunner and Penzler's Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection, Barzun and Taylor's Catalogue of Crime, Dilys Winn's Murder Ink) is as irresistible as its forebears. Its 128 essays and lists, mostly of a few pages or less, cover everything, or almost everything, from regional mysteries (despite no mention of S.K. Epperson's Kansas gothics) to such subgenres as cozies, dark suspense, gay detectives, TV mysteries, and true crime (though there's nothing about courtroom drama, perhaps for legal reasons). Most of the name- brand authors (H.R.F. Keating, Joan Hess, Lawrence Block, Stephen King, Douglas G. Greene, etc., etc.) write with affectionate, often casual mastery; and though no collection this big or broad can hope to maintain a uniform standard throughout—historical glimpses of Doubleday's Crime Club imprint and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine are disappointingly perfunctory—fans impatient with the authors' occasionally cheerleading tone (``If you can't find a Texas author's book to suit your taste, you just aren't trying hard enough'') can find fresh vistas by turning a page, especially if they land on one of editor Breen's useful thumbnail sketches of a subgenre or one of the editors' endlessly arguable lists (``The Ten Most Underrated Mystery Writers,'' ``25 Notable Noir Novels,'' ``50 Great Gold Medal Crime Classics''). Despite inevitable blemishes: a truly indispensable volume. Read full book review >