Monday, June 20, 2011

More Than the Usual Suspects

My mention here last week that I’d just completed a year’s worth of work on a crime-fiction encyclopedia project caused a number of Rap Sheet readers to ask for more information regarding that venture.

As I’ve written previously, the book is called 100 American Crime Writers and is being edited by Steven Powell, who’s also the author of another forthcoming work, Conversations with James Ellroy. 100 American Crime Writers will be brought out by British publisher Palgrave Macmillan, along with a companion book, 100 British Crime Writers, edited by Esme Miskimmin. There’s no scheduled release date yet, but Powell tells me that the manuscript is due this coming December. Given the glacial pace of academic publishing, 100 American Crime Writers might find its way to bookstores in late 2012, or some time in 2013.

Entries in this encyclopedia range from 500 words in length to 2,500 words, and have been broken up among a variety of contributors. I wrote seven of the author biographies. Below is a complete, alphabetized list of the entries, with my seven in boldface type:

1. Megan Abbott
2. Paul Auster
3. W.T. Ballard
4. Ann Bannon
5. Robert Bloch
6. Lawrence Block
7. Leigh Brackett
8. Gil Brewer
9. Fredric Brown
10. Howard Browne
11. Edward Bunker
12. James Lee Burke
13. W.R. Burnett
14. James M. Cain
15. Paul Cain
16. Truman Capote
17. John Dickson Carr
18. Vera Caspary
19. Raymond Chandler
20. Harlan Coben
21. Max Allan Collins
22. Richard Condon
23. Michael Connelly
24. Patricia Cornwell
25. Robert Crais
26. James Crumley
27. Carroll John Daly
28. Norbert Davis
29. Mignon G. Eberhardt
30. James Ellroy
31. Janet Evanovich
32. William Faulkner
33. Kenneth Fearing
34. Rudolph Fisher
35. Kinky Friedman
36. Jacques Futrelle
37. Erle Stanley Gardner
38. William Campbell Gault
39. David Goodis
40. Sue Grafton
41. Davis Grubb
42. Frank Gruber
43. Dashiell Hammett
44. Thomas Harris
45. Carl Hiaasen
46. Patricia Highsmith
47. George V. Higgins
48. Tony Hillerman
49. Chester Himes
50. Dorothy B. Hughes
51. Roy Huggins
52. Day Keane
53. Jonathan Kellerman
54. C. Daly King
55. Jonathan Latimer
56. Dennis Lehane
57. Elmore Leonard
58. Ira Levin
59. Elizabeth Linnington
60. Eleazar Lipsky
61. John Lutz
62. Ed McBain
63. Horace McCoy
64. William P. McGivern
65. John D. MacDonald
66. Ross Macdonald
67. Dan J. Marlowe
68. Margaret Millar
69. Walter Mosley
70. Marcia Muller
71. Frederick Nebel
72. Barbara Neely
73. William F. Nolan
74. Sara Paretsky
75. Robert B. Parker
76. George Pelecanos
77. Edgar Allan Poe
78. Melville Davisson Post
79. Richard S. Prather
80. Bill Pronzini
81. Ellery Queen (aka Frederick Dannay and Manfred B. Lee)
82. Arthur B. Reeve
83. Mary Roberts Rinehart
84. James Sallis
85. George S. Schuyler
86. Viola Brothers Shore
87. Iceberg Slim
88. Mickey Spillane
89. Rex Stout
90. Jim Thompson
91. Ernest Tidyman
92. Lawrence Treat
93. Joseph Wambaugh
94. Carolyn Wells
95. Donald E. Westlake
96. Raoul Whitfield
97. Charles Willeford
98. Charles Williams
99. Cornell Woolrich
100. Willard Huntington Wright (aka S.S. Van Dine)

“As I’m sure you’re aware,” writes Powell, “the hardest part about doing an anthology like this is to keep the number of authors down to 100. I’ve tried to represent a wide range of subgenres and time periods, but it is always going to disappoint some people that some names have to be excluded.” Indeed, had I been in charge, I might have dropped a few novelists--such as Truman Capote and William Faulker--who are better known for their work outside the crime-fiction realm. I might also have left out Roy Huggins, who, despite having penned a rather winning 1946 novel called The Double Take, was considerably more prominent as a TV writer and producer. And I’d have fought to fit in wordsmiths such as Thomas B. Dewey, Brett Halliday (aka Davis Dresser), Stuart M. Kaminsky, Stanley Ellin, Arthur Lyons, Martin Cruz Smith, Joseph Hansen, Linda Barnes, John Shannon, David Dodge, Robert J. Randisi, and Earl Derr Biggers. Of course, by the time I was done trying to include everybody I thought belonged into this encyclopedia, I might have had to change its title to 150 American Crime Writers.

I shall keep Rap Sheet readers apprised of the progress of this book, as it approaches its pub date. But you can also look for updates in editor Powell’s own fine blog, The Venetian Vase.

Coming on the heels of last year’s Following the Detectives: Real Locations in Crime Fiction, to which I also contributed, working on 100 American Crime Writers was not only a welcome opportunity, but a most satisfying experience, as it invited me to read or re-read stories by all of the authors I was profiling. I hope to take advantage of other such opportunities in the near future.


John said...

An excellent overview of the genre from classic to contemporary. Looking forwad to its release. One name here raises my eyebrows: Iceberg Slim. A mystery to me. Off I go to Google and clue myself in.

Fred Zackel said...

Congratulations to you & the entire staff! Good luck & best wishes with the publication.

Martin Edwards said...

Look forward to reading it!