Cleve F. Adams
- Source:Critical Survey of Mystery & Detective Fiction, Revised Edition; January 2008, p1-3
Booklist Reviews 2008 July #1
For the first time since 1988, Salem Press has revised, updated, and added to its Critical Survey of Mystery and Detective Fiction. The first four volumes contain biographical essays that use the same arrangement as the original set. Each essay includes a listing for birth and death dates, pseudonyms, types of plots, and principal series. The articles continue with a discussion of the series characters, the author's contribution to the genre, a biography, a lengthy analysis of the books, a bibliography that lists all of the author's works by series and then all of the other works, and a bibliography of articles and books about the author. The articles vary from three to eight pages in length. The new set adds 118 authors to the original 275 entries, which have been totally rewritten or revised. Although contemporary authors such as James Lee Burke and Patricia Cornwell have been added, many more outstanding and award-winning authors, including Marcia Muller, James Patterson, and Anne Perry, are left out. The biggest change in the set is the addition of a fifth volume, which includes 37 essays on the genre, a bibliography, a list of awards, a list of online resources, chronologies, and four different indexes. Essays such as "Literary Aspects of Mystery Fiction" and "Graphic Novels" are outstanding and offer new insights and information on the genre. The indexes that categorize authors by type of sleuth and subgenre and that list series characters by name are handy reader's-advisory tools. As with other Salem Press reference sets, the Critical Survey of Mystery and Detective Fiction is an excellently written and designed tool that brings together a vast quantity of information. All of the author and genre essays are enjoyable to read and make the information easy to understand. This set will be a good addition to academic libraries. Public libraries will also find it invaluable but will have to decide about adding it if they have other biographical reference sources that cover these authors. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.