DETECTIONARY: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Character in Mystery Fiction by Otto & Others-Eds. Penzler

DETECTIONARY: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Character in Mystery Fiction

Email this review


Idiosyncrasy reigns in the Penzler-Steinbrunner team's latest invitation to the shelf-filling gluttony of mystery buffs. The reference-seeker (or browser) is offered four sections of alphabetical entries: ""Detectives,"" ""Rogues and Helpers,"" ""Cases,"" and ""Movies."" The thumbnailed sleuths are treated as if real, with a downpour of physical description and curriculum vitae but a dearth of critical judgment or book-title references. The editors have included dusty deerstalkers like Anderson Crow of Tinkletown, N.Y. and refugees from other genres like Le CarrÉ's George Smiley while omitting a contemporary giant like Robert B. Parker's Spenser. The ""Rogues and Helpers"" are even more arbitrarily chosen (only about 75 of them in all), and the selection of ""most memorable"" cases for summarization (solutions are generally withheld) seems hardly worth a section at all; the inclusion of only ten titles beginning with ""Murder. . ."" (the Barzun-Taylor Catalogue of Crime indexes almost 200) betrays a skimpiness beyond forgiveness. As for the movies, some are listed under titles and some under their starring detectives (about 40 entries), and small illustrations (mostly film stills) top every page--almost always relating to an entry some distance forward or back. But, surprise!, there's a semi-solid reference tool here after ail. It's the ""index,"" where the creators finally get their due, arranged alphabetically, with nearly all their works (not just the ones summarized within) listed and dated; most of the 200+ lucky writers who've been included (still no Parker) receive far fuller bibliographies here than they do in Catalogue of Crime (e.g. over 150 Creaseys, sans pseudonyms). So--an index for crime fans everywhere and a whole book for only. . . the criminally insane.

Pub Date: July 18th, 1977
Publisher: Overlook--dist. by. Viking