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Julian Symons
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Mortal consequences;: A history from the detective story to the crime novel

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  101 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
When it appeared in 1972 'Bloody Murder' was greeted as the classic study of crime fiction, a book "heartily recommended to anyone who has ever enjoyed a detective story or a crime novel" as Kingsley Amis wrote. Subsequent edition ensured that this study was kept up to date to include later authors, and a third and final revised edition was issued in 1993 in celebration of ...more
Unknown Binding, 269 pages
Published January 28th 1972 by Harper & Row (first published 1972)
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Apr 07, 2008 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Finding anyone who has taken the time to write about the literary quality of crime fiction is so difficult that Symons gets four stars just for being willing to share his thoughts.

He performs great service first by sorting out the great stylists from the Humdrums and second by admiring crime fiction without getting it confused with Tolstoy.

Criticism has the opportunity to do much more than just provide a TBR list. It can help clarify the way we understand a book and guide us toward where the ri
Mar 13, 2016 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An idiosyncratic, opinionated, and gloriously readable survey of crime fiction from its beginnings up to the present day ( which apparently is 1993). Seriously, though somewhat out of date, Symons' book is erudite, critical, and consistent in its application of literary standards to a genre that often lacked them. Mr Symons is particularly insightful in his commentary on both Arthur Conan Doyle and Dashiell Hammett, and gives as good an analysis of Simeon as I have ever read. The chapter on the ...more
Olavo Soares
Feb 21, 2016 Olavo Soares rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a remarkable book. By far the best and most comprehensive story of the genre of mystery novels that I have ever seen. This book is also a unique source of further readings on the subject, as Mr Symons provides us with great reviews about the most significant books and authors. It is not a cold treatise, because the author's opinions are given in a rather personal and informal way. "Bloody Murder" will provide material for my reading projects on mystery for many years.
Jul 04, 2012 Francis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A literary guide and critique of Detective fiction writing

If you are seeking a well written and comprehensive guide to mystery writing this may be the best in a limited field.

The books strengths lie in it's comprehensive treatment of the mystery genre. In particular it is a gold mine of mystery writers for you to consider from Poe to Rendell. Be warned however if your interest is strictly with current mystery writers, this book was last published in the 90's.

Personally, I found the book a great
Aug 04, 2012 Kestrell rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As the author of this book might phrase it, he and I are not in sympathy with one another. A number of times he singles out Dorothy Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey books for scathing criticism regarding Sayers's class snobbery and her anti-Jewish attitude, but then he goes on to extol the qualities of a number of books which feature Oxford dons, as if, before World War II, an Oxford education wasn't a privilege of class. The anti-Jewish attitudes are also a manifestation of that period, and show up i ...more
Nathanael Booth
This is one of the big histories of the genre, right? Big, not in the sense of size but in that Symons was a long-active critic who hands down judgments on the various books and authors covered. It’s also relentlessly idiosyncratic, with Symons delivering a teleological/evolutionary reading [implicit in the subtitle itself]. He is not unsympathetic to much of the early stuff in the genre, but it’s clear he thinks of it as lesser.

Which brings us to the real problem with this book—its reflexive de
Oct 06, 2015 Jaye rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Truthfully, I read snippets. I love Mr. Symons' writing and enjoyed what I read. The print was so small I couldn't spend much time at one sitting reading it. I will look for an edition that these ol' eyes can handle.
G Hodges
Dec 11, 2013 G Hodges rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a critical analysis of the mystery and crime genre from its beginning in the late 1800's with the detective short story through the 1980's and the psychological thriller. It predicts the complex emotional novels of the 21st century. Mr. Symons is both sarcastic and unrelenting in his analysis and has made me want to read authors I have not yet read, and has unfortunately made me rethink my devotion to certain authors from the golden age. It was not necessarily entertaining, but it was in ...more
I had hunted this old gem down for years before managing to get a copy. Symons is widely read in the mystery genre, and has excellent insight and a good bit of humor as well. I dno't always agree with his assessments, but his arguments are clear and precise. Recommended to anyone interested in the history of fictional detection.
Aug 19, 2014 Katrina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a useful book to dip into if you're a reader of crime fiction. I enjoyed it even although I didn't always agree with the author.
Sep 23, 2015 David rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone wanting to know more about the genre
Recommended to David by: Not sure; may have been The New Yorker
Very valuable -- was the impetus for me reading a vast variety of mystery and detective and hard-boiled books. I'm sure I read the first edition -- might be worth taking a look at later updated editions. Later title was "Bloody Murder" with same subtitle
Robert Stewart
Sep 12, 2012 Robert Stewart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm surprised this book isn't more highly rated. I might not agree with all his assessments, but it's very comprehensive and Symons gives you a good idea of what to expect from authors you haven't read before.

Is there anyone who's done it better?
Sep 22, 2008 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Comprehensive and always engaging study of the history of the development of crime fiction, with a knowledgeable and friendly guide who makes the journey as much fun as the education. Also makes good recommendations.
Jan 06, 2014 AC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
A book full of good ideas for those looking for 'classic' mystery novels of all genres..., and for an analysis of the history of the genre from its beginnings.
Steve Gross
Fourth revision of a study of mystery books. Somewhat dated (which is why they keep revising it). Some interesting points.
Pietro De Palma
May 04, 2013 Pietro De Palma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the critical police essays written ever.
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Julian Gustave Symons is primarily remembered as a master of the art of crime writing. However, in his eighty-two years he produced an enormously varied body of work. Social and military history, biography and criticism were all subjects he touched upon with remarkable success, and he held a distinguished reputation in each field.

His novels were consistently highly individual and expertly crafted,
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