November 2020 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Edwards, Martin, editor, Howdunit: A Masterclass in Crime Writing by Members of the Detection Club (reference) | Buy this book|Buy the audio|Kindle it! Ninety crime writers from the world’s oldest and most famous crime, living and dead, writing network give tips and insights into successful crime and thriller fiction. Suspects include Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Peter James, Peter Robinson, Ann Cleeves, Andrew Taylor, Elly Griffiths, Sophie Hannah, Stella Duffy, Alexander McCall Smith, John Le Carré, G.K. Chesterton, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, John Dickson Carr and H.R.F. Keating.
October 2020 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Ward, Nathan, The Lost Detective (biography) (r) | Buy this book| Buy the audio |Kindle it! Of course we’re still reading Dashiell Hammett‘s work 90 years later because he was a great writer — not because he worked for a few much ballyhooed years as a REAL! LIVE! DETECTIVE! The author deserves huge kudos for going beyond the usual “print the legend” stuff, and actually calling Hammett (or his ghost) on some of the tall tales from his Pinkerton days as a Pinkerton op. A refreshing wake up call, fascinating and essential for anyone who gives a damn about detective fiction and good writing. Now in paperback!
August 2020 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Collins, Max Allan, Eliot Ness & the Mad Butcher (true crime) | Buy this book| Buy the audio |Kindle it! The heartbreaking true story of Eliot Ness and his last hurrah, as the former “Untouchable” tangles with a viscious serial killer in Cleveland, and finds out he’s touchable, after all.
Lippman, Laura, My Life as a Villainess (essays) | Buy this book| Buy the audio |Kindle it! For Lippman, it’s ALL personal. And personable, as she digs deep into her life and times, offering fresh, sharp, always candid and often amusing essays on everything from high school trauma and her adventures as a young journalist to being a bestselling novelist and motherhood.
July 2020 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Casey, Megan, The Lesbian Private Eye: A History (reference) | Buy this book |Kindle it!
The definitive study of the lesbian private eye novel, including a list of every known mystery novel featuring a lesbian P.I. the relentless author could track down, with a brief discussion about each sapphic sleuth, as well as over a hundred full-length book reviews by the author.
June 2020Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Lee, Susanna, Detectives in the Shadows: A Hard-Boiled History (non-fiction) | Buy this book|Kindle it! Literary and cultural critic Susanna Lee tracks the evolution of the American private eye, from Race Williams to Jessica Jones, what makes himtick, and why we’re obsessed with the “good guy with a gun.”
MacDonald, Erin E., Ian Rankin: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction (reference) | Buy this book|Kindle it! An enthralling A-Z guide to the crime fiction of the Scottish crimewriters, including plenty of gobsmacking info on his P.I. stuff. I mean, who knew? And yes, there’ll be plenty of new entries on this site.
April 2020 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Allan, Gulddal, King andPepper, eds, The Routledge Companion to Crime Fiction (reference) | Buy this book|Kindle it! A slab of a book– a comprehensive introduction to current crime fiction scholarship, featuring forty-five original essays by specialists in the field, offering innovative approaches to the classics, as well as ground-breaking (and sometimes head-scratching) “mappings of emerging themes and trends.” Contributors include Stewart King, Susanna Lee, David Gegerin, Martin Edwards and a whole lot of academics I’ve never heard of, but are probably way smarter than me.
February 2020Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Dawson, Kate Winkler, American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI (biography) | Buy this book|Buy the audio|Kindle it! Known as the “American Sherlock Holmes,” Edward Oscar Heinrich was one of America’s top forensic scientists, slaving away in a lab in Berkeley, California, 1933, but he would go on to would go on to crack at least two thousand cases in his forty-year career.
Jordan, J.R., Robert Wise: The Motion Pictures (non-fiction) | Buy this book
A fascinating look at the films of producer-director Robert Wise, featuring over twenty interviews, with an intro by Gavin MacLeod. Although probably best known for West Side Story and The Sound of Music, he also directed such crime classics as Born to Kill, Mystery in Mexico and Odds Against Tomorrow.
January 2020 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Cottrill, Tim,Bookery’s Guide to Pulps & Related Magazines (reference) | Buy this book The newest edition of the most complete pulp data and price guide reference in print, featuring updated values, an all-new colour selection of classic pulp covers in full colour, a comprehensive grading guide, and a special foreword from Jim Steranko–a must-have for collectors. 332 pages, black & white and color, 8.5″ x 11″.
December 2019 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Curran, John, The Hooded Gunman: An Illustrated History of the Collins’ Crime Club (reference) | Buy this book A lavish full-colour celebration of the 2000 books by more than 250 authors published by the iconic Crime Club between 1930 and 1994. The Hooded Gunman was the iconic symbol of the legendary (and imminently collectable) Collins’ Crime Club, which published over 2,000 books between 1930 and 1994, printing everything from Agatha Christie and Rex Stout to Reginald Hill. This scrumptious volume, released in time to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publisher founded by William Collins in Glasgow in 1819, looks back at the history of the Crime Club and its authors, showing the jackets of every book (and the blurbs) published by the imprint over seven decades, topped off with facts, figures and lists, and drawing on rare archival photos, correspondence and promo materials. But OH THOSE COVERS! I love old book covers, and I could spend hours just pouring through this!
Nette, Andrew, & Iain McIntyre, editors, Sticking It to the Man: Revolution and Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950 to 1980 | Buy this book|Kindle it! Tune in and drop out? Fat fucking chance! The sixties and seventies were a mind-blowing, sabre-rattling call-to-arms; with crime fiction, thrillers, erotica, and other pop and pulp genres previously dominated by conservative, straight, white males suddenly answering the global call of Civil Rights, Black Power, the New Left, gay liberation, feminism, anti-colonial struggles, labour unrest, and antiwar protests. contributors include Gary Phillips, Woody Haut, Scott Adlerberg, Maitland McDonagh, Andrew Nette, Iain McIntyre, Brian Greene, Eric Beaumont, Bill Mohr, and J. Kingston Pierce.
November 2019 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Diarmid, Jessica, Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference, & the Pursuit of Justice (true crime) | Buy this book|Buy the audio|Kindle it! A heartwrenching bit of reporting, as journalist Diarmid tells the disturbing story of the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls of northwestern British Columbia’s infamous Highway 16, and a searing indictment of Canada’s epic failure to save them. Now is the fucking time for your tears.
Forshaw, Barry, Crime Fiction: A Reader’s Guide (non-fiction) | Buy this book|Kindle it! Legendary British mystery critic delivers his magnum opus, promising his “last word on crime fiction (newspaper reviews apart), covering the genre from Poe to the present, every genre & every crime writer (almost!) discussed, plus films & TV.” With a foreword by Ian Rankin.
October 2019 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Barker, Deborah E., & Theresa Starkey, editors, Detecting the South in Fiction, Film, and Television (non-fiction) | Buy this book Series of thoughtful essays on the growing presence of the American South in crime fiction and film noir, and what it means, as it explores the work and influence of James Lee Burke, John D. MacDonald, Donna Tartt, television’s True Detective and more, providing “an overdue examination of the historical, political, and aesthetic contexts out of which the southern detective narrative emerged and continues to evolve.” Includes contributions by Megan Abbott and Ace Atkins.
Christie, Agatha, Murder She Said: The Quotable Miss Marple (non-fiction) | Buy this book|Kindle it! Forget the pink cheeks and the dazzling blue eyes, or the sweet little old lady demeanor. Here are pearls of wisdom and other bon mots from one of the sharpest minds in crime fiction, just the thing to spice up the next tea social or knotting circle. Plus, a reprint of the rare essay by Dame Agatha herself, “Does a Woman’s Instinct Make Her a Good Detective?,” originally written to promote the Miss Marple series.
Jensen, Billy, Chase Darkness With Me (true crime) | Buy this book|Buy the audio|Kindle it! Journalist, podcaster, social media sleuth and “Facebook detective” Jensen reveals how he learned to solve cold cases using social media, and tells you how you can do it too.
Shaw, Milton, Joseph T. Shaw: The Man Behind Black Mask (biography) | Buy this book Not the first, and arguably the most influential (any George Sutton fans out there?), but certainly the best known, Joe “Cap” Shaw was the editor of the legendary Black Mask from 1926 to 1936, and an early champion of Carroll John Daly, Erle Stanley Gardner and particularly Dashiell Hammett. Shaw saw something in their hard-boiled crime and detective stories that suggested the potential for a whole new literary school. Using Hammett as a model, he nurtured and worked closely with a coterie of hand-picked writers (including Raymond Chandler), saved the struggling pulp, and transformed the once formal and staid detective story into a living, breathing genre that vigorously depicted life as far too many American recognized it, full of graft, corruption and violence. But Shaw was more than an editor — he was also ex-military and a world-class fencer, and this biography, written by his son, gives us the whole scoop.
September 2019 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Child, Lee, The Hero (non-fiction) | Buy this book|Buy the audio|Kindle it! In his first nonfiction book, Jack Reacher’s daddy digs deep into our need for heroes, and what makes them — and us –tick. Fascinating and, of course, highly readable.
Glover, Allen, TV Noir: Dark Drama on the Small Screen (reference) | Buy this book|Buy the audio|Kindle it! The first in-depth exploration into television’s long and sometimes dubious relationship with noir, TV historian and Paley Center curator Glover plunges way back to the the late forties and fifties (when the Golden Age of Noir was still packing ’em in in theatres) and follows the clues right up to… now? Is it still noir if there’s a cute dog and a wacky neighbour?
Nette, Andrew, & Iain McIntyre, editors, Sticking It to the Man: Revolution and Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950 to 1980 | Buy this book
Stocklassa, Jan, The Man Who Played with Fire: Stieg Larsson’s Lost Files & the Hunt for an Assassin | Buy this book|Buy the audio|Kindle it! Swedish journalist Stocklassa digs into the famous author Stieg Larsson‘s long-running obsession with — and investigation of — the 1986 assassination of prime minister Olof Palme, and runs with it.
August 2019 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Martin, Andy, With Child: Lee Child and the Readers of Jack Reacher (non-fiction) | Buy this book|Kindle it! A year in the life of Lee Child, the creator of Jack Reacher, as he writes one book (Night School) and goes on the road to promote another (Make Me). An oddly fascinating, up-close look at the day-to-day of the bestselling author, as well as his legions of fans around the world.
June 2019 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Collins, Max Allan, & A. Brad Scwartz, Scarface and the Untouchable (non-fiction) (r) | Buy this book|Buy the audio|Kindle it! This time it’s for real. Collins finally tears into Al Capone, Eliot Ness and the Battle for Chicago” with a huge slab of a book, now in paperback.
Men of Violence: All Reviews Special | Buy this book Remember The Executioner? The Exterminator? The Enforcer? Over a hundred two-fisted, testosterone-dripping reviews of men’s adventure paperbacks from the 60s and 70s are crammed into this 93-page sock to the jaw, fully illustrated (in black and white).
May 2019Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Gear, Matthew Asprey, Moseby Confidential: Arthur Penn’s Night Moves and the Rise of Neo-Noir | Buy this book|Kindle it! More than you ever knew you wanted to know about Arthur Penn’s classic 1970s noir Night Moves, starring Gene Hackman, Melanie Griffith and Jennifer Warren. Considered by some to be one of the all-time great P.I. films, this in-depth look at the film is full of insider dirt, interviews, critical analysis, and more, including the struggle over diverging visions of the film between Scottish scriptwriter Alan Sharp and American director Penn, neither of whom was happy with the final product. They were both wrong.
Kilgariff, Karen, & Georgia Hardstark, Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide (true crime & more) | Buy this book | Buy the audio | Kindle it! The stars of the hit podcast My Favorite Murder dish up the dirt of psycho killers, violent nutjobs,, toxic masculinity, meaningful cultural and societal issues and… themselves.
McGough, Matthew, The Lazurus Files (true crime) | Buy this book|Buy the audio|Kindle it! A notorious cold case that took took the LAPD decades to crack, only to find out the murderer was one of their own
Struzan, Dylan, A Bloody Business (true crime) | Buy this book | Kindle it! Hard Case goes true crime! The late, notorious OG Jimmy Blue Eyes spills the beans on the Mob’s rise to power during Prohibition. His one condition was that none of it be published until after he was dead. Guess what? The SOB is dead.
Brew, Simon, editor, The Den of Geek Guide for the Netflix Generation (reference) | Buy this book | Kindle it! A treasure trove of TV trivia for the millennial couch potato, offering behind-the-scenes dirt on cult-classic series from Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead to The X-Files and Friends, the awe-inspiring power of fandom and why the Veronica Mars movie was both a triumph and a disaster. A book worth bingeing.
November 2018 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Server, Lee, Handsome Johnny (true crime) | Buy this book Server, perhaps best known to followers of this site as the author of such works as The Encyclopedia of Pulp Writers and Danger is My Business, a history of the pulps, serves up the deliciously tawdry life (and death) of Johnny Rosselli, a gentleman gangster, Hollywood producer, extortionist and CIA hitman, who seemed to be everywhere. Assorted babes and movie stars, Las Vegas bigshots, Al Capone and Fidel Castro all figure into the mix.
Thompson, Laura, A Tale of Two Murders: Guilt, Innocence, and the Execution of Edith Thompson (true crime) | Buy this book |Kindle it! Murder or divorce? Decisions, decisions…
October 2018 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Cicchini, Michael D., Anatomy of a False Confession (true crime) | Buy this book One of the Making a Murderer defense lawyers digs deep into the police interrogation, false confession and subsequent conviction of teenager Brendan Dassey. For anyone who watched the Netflix documentary, or anyone who cares about actual justice, this is a disturbing wake-up call.
Gertzman, Jay A., Pulp According to David Goodis (biography/literary study) | Buy this book | Kindle it! Gertzman tears into the guts of the bleak, tortured fiction of Goodis, the damned and doomed King of Noir, and what made it tick.
Klinger, Leslie S., editor, Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920s (anthology) | Buy this book | Kindle it! The Edgar-winning Master of the Annotation serves up five pivotal, iconic novels ( House Without a Key by Earl Derr Biggers, The Benson Murder Case by S.S, Van Dine, The Roman Hat Mystery by Ellery Queen and of special interest for fans of this site, Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett and Little Caesar by W.R. Burnett),presented in its original form, with extensive historical and cultural annotations and illustrations to infinity and beyond, plus a detailed foreword t put things in perspective and an introduction by Otto Penzler.
Mottram, James, & David S. Cohen, Die Hard: The Ultimate Visual History| Buy this book
Lavish illustrated testament to licensing and marketing. Covers the whole phenom, from the original hit flick and its endless sequels to the countless spin-offs (Comics! Video games! Toys!)
September 2018 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Hulse, Ed, The Blood’n’Thunder Guide to Pulp Fiction (reference) | Buy this book Aimed squarely at fans and collectors of the old pulps, this is the new, improved, revised and expanded edition of the 2013 classic, illustrated with over 750 magazine covers and original paintings. It’s a complete and lively history, covering genres individually and identifying key titles, authors, and stories, as well as advice for collectors, and four throughly updated appendices, focussing on mass-market pulp-fiction anthologies, reference books, small-press publishers specializing in reprints and a collector’s guide. Hulse, by the way, is the author of 2017’s The Art of the Pulps.
Appelman, J. Reuben, The Kill Jar: Obsession, Descent, and a Hunt for Detroit’s Most Notorious Serial Killer (true crime) | Buy this book | Kindle it! The author looks into the so-far unsolved Oakland County Child Killings from the winter of 1975-76. It’s personal.
Collins, Max Allan, & A. Brad Scwartz, Scarface and the Untouchable (non-fiction) | Buy this book|Buy the audio|Kindle it! This time it’s for real. Collins finally tears into Al Capone, Eliot Ness and the Battle for Chicago” with a huge slab of a book.
Rice, Craig, 45 Murderers (true crime) (r) |Kindle it! Reprint of a 1952 collection of 45 classic “true” crime stories Craig Rice wrote wrote for Saturday Home Magazine.
Vronsky, Peter, Sons of Cain: A History of Serial Killers From the Stone Age to the Present (true crime) | Buy this book | Kindle it! An in-depth examination of sexual serial killers throughout human history, how they evolved, and why we are drawn to their horrifying crimes.
July 2018 Reference, Non-Fiction and True Crime
Andersen, Mark, & Ralph Heibutzki, We Are the Clash (non-crime) | Buy this book | Kindle it! Heartbreaking play-by-play account of the dissolution of the band, marred by an awkward, schizophrenic, drawn-out attempt to pin every dragging beat to the politics of Thatcher, Reagan, etc. that fails to convince; never mind hide the fact that Joe and Kosmo were, well, assholes. The band mattered; this book not so much.
Chandler, Raymond, et al, The Annotated Big Sleep (Philip Marlowe) | Buy this book | Kindle it! | TD Review Bit by bit they sift through the clues, serving up 100s of notes and photos alongside the full novel, capped with a sterling intro by Jonathan Lethem. Who knows? We may even find out who killed the chauffer.
Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide Volume 48 | Buy the book The annual bible for comic collectors, full of current prices, market reports, tips and fantastic illustrations, plus articles marking the 80th anniversary of Action Comics #1, the 50th anniversary of Marvel’s 1968 expansion and the 50th anniversary of film Planet of the Apes and the comics that followed in its wake.
Beattie, Bryce,editor, Pulp Era Writing TipsPaperback (reference) | Buy this book | Kindle it! Seventeen articles on writing, culled from Writer’s Digest and other writing magazines, written by successful (if not particularly well-known) pulp era authors, on plotting, making characters memorable, writing a fight scene, writing a love scene and more. There’s some darn good advice here, practical, pragmatic and perhaps most importantly, professional. The glaring omission is Lester Dent’s “Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot” (possibly for copyright reasons) but you can find that anywhere, even here.
Connolly, John, He (non-crime; biography) | Buy this book |Kindle it! The author of the acclaimed Charlie Parker series takes a giant step sideways, serving up a piercing and at times heartbreaking bio of film comedian Stan Laurel and his lifelong friendship with his partner, Oliver Hardy. Just a stunning achievement.
Pronzini, Bill, Son of Gun in Cheek| Buy this book |Buy the audio |Kindle it! Reprint of Pronzini’s follow-up to Gun in Cheek. A hilarious salute to some of the very best of the very worst in crime fiction, or as Pronzini calls them, “alternative classics.” Read ’em and weep… and then laugh your ass off.