Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Background Check

My Kirkus Reviews column this week is focused around crime-fiction reference works--some of them out of print, others more easily available--that I’ve found to be useful in educating myself about this genre’s breadth and depth. Among my picks: Otto Penzler’s The Private Lives of Private Eyes, Spies, Crime Fighters and Other Good Guys, Mike Ashley’s Mammoth Encyclopedia of Modern Crime Fiction, and Richard Meyers’ TV Detectives. Check out the full piece here.


Ray Garraty said...

Trouble is Their Business by John Conquest is always on my table (and half a dozen other reference books).

Anonymous said...

May I point out THE MYSTERY LOVER'S COMPANION? By raconteur, renown judo instructor and all around cool guy, Art Bourgeau. Nominated for an Edgar in 1986. Art also opened WHODUNIT? In Philadelphia in 1977. One of the first bookshops solely devoted to mystery/crime fiction, happily still going strong. As, also most happily, is Art. Married to the terrific romantic suspense writer, Patricia MacDonald and dad to Sara, a future force on Broadway and in theaters round the world.

michael said...

Normally, I'd comment at Kirkus but it requires me to use Facebook which I have been able to avoid for years. I like it here better anyway. I liked your list. I own many of them.

Words are words. Happily, there are countless e-book version from quality publishers, including Otto Penzler, who fact checks. I can name two publishers who specialize in print reference books who offer no editor or fact checking help (McFarland and Bear Manor).

One of the other advantages to e-books is to update quicker. Too many reference books are out of date by the time they get published such as the best TV reference book "Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (1946 - Present)" by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh. I have an old print version and a newer e-book version, each have good and bad points (I like the e-book search function but it is difficult to casually search the book).

But the print reference book is in no danger of vanishing as long as libraries survive (which sadly is no longer a given) and Amazon sells books in all formats. I wonder how many books on your list are available to buy on the internet?

Relax Jeff, print still outsells e-books (except at Amazon). Print will outlast both of us. However, shopping has changed as this former Tower Records employee (Sherman Oaks, CA - Book Product Supervisor) has learned.

TracyK said...

Same here, I would comment at Kirkus but not going to join facebook to do that. So here is my comment:

A wonderful article. I love mystery reference books and have many of the ones you mention here. I wish there were more up-to-date ones. (I do have Death in a Cold Climate on my Kindle and plan to get a paper copy too.) The internet is great but no substitute for well-researched and organized reference books.

And I also have the one mentioned in a comment above by Bourgeau, and am actually reading through it right now. My copy has a lovely skeleton on the cover.