The first appreciation of the detective story ever published under the auspices of a major university."" Could be (U. Cal-San Diego's the school), but a more unscholarly, flotsam-and-jetsammy gathering of seventeen guest lectures is hard to imagine. Plodding listmakers hog most of the space. ""Great Crooks,"" ""Amateur Detectives,"" ""Ethnic Detectives"" (two full-blooded Navajos!), ""Gothic Mysteries,"" ""Locked Rooms,"" and ""Women in Detective Fiction."" In overviews, editor Ball and Aaron Marc Stein (George Bagby to the faithful) compete for the digression trophy and the statement-of-the-obvious medallion. And the most prestigious contributor, Michael Gilbert, is allowed to breeze through his territory--""The Spy in Fact and Fiction""--with references to Buchan, Ambler, Fleming, and nobody else. Missing throughout: the authority of the Haycraft collection, the profundity of the D. L. Sayers essays, or even the hyper-personal energy of the Barzun-Taylor Catalogue of Crime. Still, peeking up through the genial chaos are enough deliciously unnecessary charts, bibliographies, and trivia troves--who can resist the pseudonym game?--to endear this bulky, casebound misfit to Baker Street Irregulars and related species.