"The Oxford Companion to Crime & Mystery Writing" edited...

Editor's Choice

January 23, 2000|By Michael Pakenham

"The Oxford Companion to Crime & Mystery Writing" edited by Rosemary Herbert (Oxford University Press, 535 pages, $49.95)

From the excellent utilitarian introduction by Rosemary Herbert to the last entry, a succinct biography of Israel Zangwill (1864-1926), this is a splendid reader's crutch for the mystery-afflicted. Its largest staple is concise biographical entries on mystery writers and classic figures in the genre's canon. But there are often charming, sometimes challenging entries on abstractions ("heroism," "suspicion") and technique ("caper," "poisons, unusual"). A trivia cornucopia and a boon to the armchair sleuth.

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