Encyclopedia Mysteriosa: A Comprehensive Guide to the Art of Detection in Print, Film, Radio, and Television

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9780028616780: Encyclopedia Mysteriosa: A Comprehensive Guide to the Art of Detection in Print, Film, Radio, and Television

Organized alphabetically with exhaustive cross-references for easy access, "Encyclopedia Mysteriosa" has information on everything and everyone from The Blue Dahlia to Blue Velvet. More than 1,400 entries provide biographies of writers and memorable characters, ranging from Ebenezer Gryce, introduced in 1878 as one of the first recurring genre detectives, to Sam Spade and Jessica Fletcher. There are essays by experts on various aspects of the genre, an appendix listing directories of organizations and major award winners, and a glossary of terms particular to the mystery story, such as whodunit and armchair detective. The late William L. DeAndrea won his third Edgar Award for "Encyclopedia Mysteriosa." He authored 17 mystery, spy, and suspense novels, and was a regular columnist for The Armchair Detective, the premier journal devoted to the mystery.

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Review:

While it would be impossible for one volume to reference every interesting piece of trivia in the world of mysteries (after all, that's what they make computers for), William DeAndrea has captured most of the key writers, character, movies, TV series, and books in this 1994 Edgar-winning volume. The alphabetical entries often include lengthy lists of books or movies and their publication/release dates--a bonus for completists looking for forgotten Nero Wolfe tales or classic noir films to rent. Some entries, like that for "The A-Team" are tongue-in-cheek: "characters used what critic Ric Meyers has called 'antineutron bullets'--they destroy property for miles around, but never harm a human being." As an added bonus, DeAndrea has included 11 extended essays on historically vital issues like dime novels, pulps, Sherlockiana, and even The Batman. The book closes with a listing of mystery bookstores, organizations and awards, magazines, and a glossary for those of us who forgot what an "Inverted Detective Story" or a "McGuffin" was. --Patrick O'Kelley

From Booklist:

This volume by Edgar Award winner DeAndrea covers mystery writers, actors, characters, novels, films, and TV and radio shows in a single A-to-Z arrangement. He says there hasn't been a comprehensive study of the entire genre for the general reader since the Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection (1975). Entries vary from a few lines to six pages. Eleven signed inserts of two to three pages each highlight such topics as Batman, Dime Novels, and Dick Tracy. These essays are easily found thanks to their listing in the table of contents. Completeing the work are lists of mystery bookstores in the U.S., Canada, and England; organizations and awards; mystery magazines; and a mystery-related glossary. Cross-references abound, keeping a mystery fan following the ties between writers and characters. Important characters merit separate entries with a list of the novels in which they appear. An author's nonseries books are listed under the author's entry. Illustrations consist of black-and-white movie stills and portraits of authors.

DeAndrea claims that "it is simply not possible to include every mystery author and mystery movie ever made," yet the subtitle claims this a comprehensive work. Tom Clancy and critic Jacques Barzun rate entries but not John Grisham, Margaret Truman, Elliott Roosevelt, Sharyn McCrumb, Rochelle Majer Krich, Gillian Roberts, or Sarah Shankman to name a few (and so many of them female!). The A-Team, L.A. Law, and Batman appear but not NYPD Blue, Cops, or The Green Hornet. Anne Perry's entry omits her William Monk series. Anthony Award winners are not listed.

On the other hand, since mystery readers usually like to read all the novels featuring their favorite character, the lists after these entries will prove useful in answering reader's advisor queries. Let your mystery readers know it's available for browsing. If you have legions of mystery buffs and your budget allows, consider a circulating copy as well.

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