Books In Brief // Crime

December 09, 2007

THE BLACK LIZARD BIG BOOK OF PULPS

Edited by Otto Penzler

Vintage / 1,200 pages / $25

For the pulp magazine enthusiast: For those who dearly miss Black Mask and Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine and yearn for Hard Case Crime to up their release schedule from one paperback a month, this will provide you with many, many hours of perusing. Otto Penzler has assembled a more than generous helping of pulp goodness ranging from a previously unpublished Dashiell Hammett story, two novels by early masters Carroll John Daly and Frederick Nabel and over 40 additional tales by the likes of James M. Cain, Erle Stanley Gardner, Cornel Woolrich and Raymond Chandler, to formerly forgotten scribes Eric Taylor, Paul Cain and Steve Fisher (to name a few). Whether you want a reference point for the current noir mini-boom or a time-travel exercise in the way pulp used to be, this is a must-read volume - even if it will take up a great deal of space on the nightstand.

FORENSICS AND FICTION: CLEVER, INTRIGUING AND DOWNRIGHT ODD QUESTIONS FROM CRIME WRITERS

By Doug Lyle

St. Martin's Minotaur / 320 pages / $24.95

For the aspiring mystery writer: How long could a man survive in the desert after major injuries from an automobile accident? What causes rage in an otherwise normal person? How was mental illness treated in 1870? These are some of the many questions answered by cardiologist Doug Lyle in the indispensable follow-up to the equally must-own reference volume Murder & Mayhem. Lyle's many years of expertise, combined with his experience as a story consultant for TV shows, including CSI: Miami, House and Law & Order, are on impressive display as he answers all manner of seemingly impossible and arcane questions with answers rooted in the scientific method - and a welcome dose of dry humor.

COVER-UP: MYSTERY AT THE SUPER BOWL

By John Feinstein

Knopf Young Readers / 304 pages / $16.95

For the teenage sports nut: John Feinstein's middle-grade sports mysteries can be enjoyed by adults, too, if the response by this reviewer is anything to go by. An Edgar winner for Last Shot (2005), which introduced intrepid kid journalists Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson to the sleuthing landscape, Feinstein really hits his stride with this football-themed thriller. After success unearthing secrets at the Final Four and the U.S. Open, Stevie and Susan Carol host a sports TV show together until he's unmercifully kicked off for having an appearance made for print. The ensuing controversy doesn't stop Stevie from covering the Super Bowl - or, with Susan Carol's help, unearthing a potential drug-testing scandal that threatens to make a mockery of the game and the NFL. Feinstein's plotting is first-rate, creating enough red herrings for the dynamic duo to sidestep on their way to journalistic glory and scooping while their banter and camaraderie give the reader much to smile about. It might be too much to expect Feinstein to throw in a dead body for his next installment, but the narrative verve and refreshing innocence on display make the entire series a must-read.

NEVER SUCK A DEAD MAN'S HAND

By Dana Kollmann

Citadel Press / 261 pages / $24.95

For the CSI-obsessed: Do you scratch your head over how those fabulous actors on CSI and its many spinoffs can work with equipment so state-of-the-art that it allows them to interrogate and arrest suspects, looking great in the process? Then this book is the necessary dose of reality check for you. With more than a decade's experience of crime scene investigation (including several in Baltimore County's police department), Dana Kollmann is well-equipped to give the real scoop on the life of a CSI - from a plastic bag mistaken for a dead body to the mind-numbing paperwork to, yes, sucking on a dead man's finger. If Kollmann occasionally wields her gallows humor with a bit too much blunt force, she deserves kudos for telling the truth about CSI-land: that TV glamour masks a far more complex profession.

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