In You Can Write a Mystery, award-winning author Gillian Roberts gives aspiring crime writers practical advice on how to produce a marketable mystery...moreIn You Can Write a Mystery, award-winning author Gillian Roberts gives aspiring crime writers practical advice on how to produce a marketable mystery novel. Included is everything from "The 15 commandments for mystery writers" to instructions on how to pick your detective and how to decide which kind of story is for you--a cozy or police procedural; a spy thriller or romantic suspense? There are also the seven Cs that good books should never do without--characters, conflict, causality, complications, change, crisis, and closure. She gives tips on how to hide the clues (in plain sight) and how to make those red herrings tempting enough to distract. There are pointers on research techniques and helpful hints on how to develop a manageable writing work ethic, find your style and voice, and construct a killer plot line.
Roberts if very generous with her advice and extremely helpful to the writer wanna-be (that would be me!). Reading the book makes me anxious to get back to my (very) rough draft and see if I can't get myself from wanna-be to full-fledged author. Wish me luck!
This is a decent little mystery reference book with some interesting information. However, I am a little perplexed by a supposed mystery expert who ge...moreThis is a decent little mystery reference book with some interesting information. However, I am a little perplexed by a supposed mystery expert who gets several fairly common (to mystery readers) facts wrong. Hercule Poirot and Nero Wolfe are private investigators--they get paid for most of their investigations--therefore, they are not amateurs. Sherlock Holmes made his startling return from the dead in "The Empty House" not The Hound of the Baskervilles. Pam & Jerry North (of the Lockridge mystery series) had several cats over the long series of books--in addition to Martini (which according to Mr. Pearsall is the only cat), there are Gin, Sherry, Ruffy, Pete, Toughy, Stilts and Shadow. Lord Peter Wimsey was a Major in World War I, not a Captain. I could go on. It makes it a bit difficult to take the author's word for it on the information that is new to me, when he is mistaken on several counts throughout the book. There is plenty of correct information, though, so I'll take it in stride.
It is an interesting read and there is a good smattering of quotes from some of the big name books. (I love quotes!). Two and 3/4 stars--rounded to three on Goodreads.
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff is an absolutely delightful book. It is one of those rare things--a book that is not a vintage mystery that, ha...more84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff is an absolutely delightful book. It is one of those rare things--a book that is not a vintage mystery that, having now read it from the library, I simply MUST get my hands on and own as soon as possible. Yes, it's that good. It speaks directly to the soul of every book lover.
It begins in October of 1949 when Hanff, a poor proofreader and budding scriptwriter, first writes a letter to Marks & Company in London. She is in search of inexpensive antiquarian books of good quality--something she can't find in her native New York. What begins as a search to quench her literary thirst turns into a twenty-year correspondence with Frank Doel (and other staff members at the British bookshop). Although Helene writes often about her dream of visiting London one day, the two never meet and their correspondence becomes a lovely friendship based on their common love for the written word.
This is a charming book that immediately won over this long-time bibliophile. I can certainly understand Helene's raptures over receiving a perfect copy of a book long sought after. I share her horror at finding that Marks & Co. wraps its shipments in pages from dismantled books (although I am dismayed to discover she had no problem tossing some of her lesser valued books in the trash to make room for more beloved books). At just 100 pages, it seems hard to believe that two personalities could take such a firm hold on the imagination. It is wonderful to read these letters from an era when one could get three antiquarian volumes (yes, THREE) for about $5.00 (and it doesn't make me too envious....). Once I get my hands on my very own copy I will most definitely be rereading to discover any gems that were overlooked on this go-round. Five stars--absolutely.
H. R. F. Keating's Crime & Mystery: The One Hunderd Best Books (1987) gives mystery readers his highly authoritative list of the best in crime and...moreH. R. F. Keating's Crime & Mystery: The One Hunderd Best Books (1987) gives mystery readers his highly authoritative list of the best in crime and mystery fiction to that date. Is it a subjective list--of course. Any list of the best of anything is going to be subjective. But Keating is a well-respected mystery author in his own right as well as a critic for The Times and has a pretty fair knowledge of the genre. We may quibble over the lack of one of our favorites or the submission of a novel of which we just can't quite see the value, but over-all mystery fans should be pleased with Keating's offerings. The most useful part of this collection goes beyond the list itself. Keating gives each selection a two-page synopsis--making the case for its place on the list as well as whetting the appetites of those who have not yet read these books. I was pleased to see how many of these novels I have already read and how many I would probably include on my own "Best of" list. A reference book that every mystery lover should want on their shelves. Four stars.
The Mystery Lovers' Book of Quotations by Jane Horning (ed) is a lovely book of snippets from some of the world's great crime and mystery authors. The...moreThe Mystery Lovers' Book of Quotations by Jane Horning (ed) is a lovely book of snippets from some of the world's great crime and mystery authors. There are quotes from the creators of such characters as Sam Spade and Sherlock Holmes, from Miss Marple to Miss Silver. There are thoughts on the detection of crime and the mind of the murderer. There are musings on the psychology and emotions and the nitty-gritty bottom line. We hear echoes of The Godfather and the Nameless detective. Horning has done a terrific job capturing well-known authors as well as writers who may have been well-known at one time, but few modern readers may recognize. My only quibble--she quite often describes an author by citing their most famous work--and the proceeds to give us quotes from other novels. I would have liked to have seen at least one quote from the novel/s mentioned. But it's a minor quibble--four stars for a great reference book. I do love me some quotes.