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The Lineup: The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives

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3.72  ·  Rating details ·  478 ratings  ·  87 reviews
A great recurring character in a series you love becomes an old friend. You learn about their strange quirks and their haunted pasts and root for them every time they face danger. But where do some of the most fascinating sleuths in the mystery and thriller world really come from?

What was the real-life location that inspired Michael Connelly to make Harry Bosch a Vietnam v
...more
Hardcover, 407 pages
Published November 10th 2009 by Little, Brown and Company
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Average rating 3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  478 ratings  ·  87 reviews


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Start your review of The Lineup: The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives
James Thane
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
This is a collection of essays written by crime fiction writers like Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, John Lescroart, and a host of others, describing how they invented the series characters for which they have become so famous. Readers who follow a lot of these authors will find this a very entertaining look behind the scene at the creation of the characters they so enjoy reading about.
judy
Jan 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery-thriller
What an absolute delight! Twenty-two of our best English speaking mystery writers accepted Penzler's invitation to pen a short piece on his/her most celebrated detective. Do read Penzler's intro to find out why. Some of my favorites made the list but there are others I haven't read. Some of the latter made the cut with me based on their submissions, others didn't. The only entry I thought about skipping entirely turned out to be one of the most interesting--Rambo, no less. The joy of this collec ...more
Jack Webb
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining read

Leave it to Mr. Penzler to come up with an interesting way to find out about recurring characters in some of the popular series (and help out his independent book store, a sadly dying breed). Besides being fascinated at gaining insight into some favorites, I've also expanded my already ungainly TBR list.
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Nicola
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lots of fun! Each author chose very different ways to write about how their primary characters were born/evolved, grew, interacted with others and so on. The book also had the benefit, for me, of introducing me to some writers and characters whom I'd not encountered before. Great last-thing-at-night reading. ...more
Wrighty
Mar 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
A great recurring character in a series you love becomes an old friend. You learn about their strange quirks and their haunted pasts and root for them every time they face danger. But where do some of the most fascinating sleuths in the mystery and thriller world really come from?

What was the real-life location that inspired Michael Connelly to make Harry Bosch a Vietnam vet tunnel rat? Why is Jack Reacher a drifter? How did a brief encounter in Botswana inspire Alexander McCall Smith to create
...more
Stephen
Nov 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who loves mystery series books will like this. Otto Penzler is not only an author and editor, but also the owner of Mysterious Bookshop in NYC. In his introduction, Mr. Penzler talks candidly about the financial problems his bookstore (as most independent bookstores) was having and how, as a promotional tool to bring clients in, he contacted authors he knew to provide small "profiles" about their signature characters.

The Lineup is the collection of the character sketches, from some of my
...more
Cheryl
Jan 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
For mystery thriller fans alike whether it be Ken Bruen and his character, Jack Taylor or Jonathan Kellerman and his character Alex Delaware, then you will enjoy The Lineup. Edited by Otto Penzler. This book lets readers into the minds of crime writers. The authors share the back ground story about how they developed their characters, why they became authors, and even share some about their next book.

I enjoyed reading about Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor. It made him more interesting to me and now I w
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Jonelle
Feb 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
How was your favorite detective or police officer created? Learn the scoop on a variety of authors and their main series characters. I loved the chapters by Lee Child on Jack Reacher, Michael Connelly on Harry Bosch, and Colin Dexter on Inspector Morse. I learned all kinds of fascinating things. For example, did you know that as long as Dexter lives, he has a contract clause stipulating that no one but the late John Thaw may portray Inspector Morse? Everyone who enjoys mystery fiction should pic ...more
Chris
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: misc-non-fiction
The essays in this collection are written by well-known crime fiction and mystery authors. They tell us how they created the main character that made them famous through either informational essays or short stories that give back story on the characters' history. Some authors' contributions just fell flat for me. I believe this is just because I wasn't interested in the character and series those authors had created. Overall, however, I enjoyed reading this and found it very interesting. I mean, ...more
Kirsten
Jan 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very entertaining collection of biographies. The breadth of different detectives and the style of the bios was wonderful.

Also, it also gave me ideas for new books to read. I had never thought of reading the Judith Kellerman books, for example. It is a lot of fun and I recommend it to any mystery series fan.
Jenna
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
this was a cool insight into the creation of some of the characters of the mystery series i read.
i even read the ones from the writers i don't read b/c it was still interesting to see the inspiration behind ther writers method.

i recommend it to anyone who reads the writers in the book. it gives great insight into some of your fave characters.
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Eden Thompson
From my book blog www.JetBlackDragonfly.blogspot.com
The Lineup is a gem of a book for mystery fans. Edited by Otto Penzler, it features the World's greatest crime writers telling in their own words how they created their famous detectives. There is a wide range of detective styles represented, and I found it interesting to read about the ones I knew, as well as discover new authors. Even hearing from some authors I don't like was interesting. Didn't make me want to read them again (!) but I resp
...more
Andrew Templeton
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it

A great recurring character in a series you love becomes an old friend. You learn about their strange quirks and their haunted pasts and root for them every time they face danger. But where do some of the most fascinating sleuths in the mystery and thriller world really come from?


What was the real-life location that inspired Michael Connelly to make Harry Bosch a Vietnam vet tunnel rat? Why is Jack Reacher a drifter? How did a brief encounter in Botswana inspire Alexander McCall Smith to create

...more
Roger Woods
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was an excellent find and most enjoyable. Otto Penzler has persuaded some of the top mystery writers in the world to write about how their main characters were arrived at. Some write in an autobiographical style whilst others create a short story letting their characters tell the story in different ways. The authors include Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Jeffery Deaver, Colin Dexter, Robert B. Parker, Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith and others so a good selection. Lots of ideas for se ...more
Jeanne
Sep 06, 2020 rated it liked it
I guess a summary of the book is all in the title. Great mystery writers including Jonathan Kellerman, Michael Connolly, Jeffrey Deaver and Alexander McCall Smith tell the stories of how their characters came to life. Some authors tell a straight narrative, others create a short story and a couple conduct interviews with their characters. It makes for an interesting bit of insight into the writers' minds and you'll learn some info about these characters that you didn't know. Enjoyable. ...more
MELISSIA LENOX
Excellent compendium of genesis stories from the creators of the best known and most loved detectives and amateur sleuths in fictional crime series in the mid-1990s through 2008.

Recommended to fans of fictional crime/police procedurals and murder mysteries, participating authors and/or subject series gumshoes, as well as other writers seeking methods of character creation and development.
Fiberluver
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Otto Penzler was a great editor, helming many compilations over his illustrious career. At first this seemed like a great listen when I discovered it on my library’s digital platform but came to quickly realize there are not that many female authors and no authors of color. Disappointing.
Michael
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
An excellent collection of essays/interviews. Penzler did a terrific job.
Eddie
Dec 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mys-series
Excellent background on the books you read for years and learn about new series to experience.
Jennifer Baratta
Have a listen and learn about some of the characters.
Jack Goodstein
Aug 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anthologies
A clinker here and there, but especially worthwhile when it is a writer with whom you are acquainted.
David Burnham
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
A highly enjoyable collection of essays. Some interesting information and opinions from some of the finest mystery writers around.
Aimee
DNF. Got bored.
Joann
Apr 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was just a fun book to read, learning about the sleuths created by the authors who contributed an essay.
Janis
Mar 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting to learn how various authors came up with their signature characters. I haven't read enough of these authors to get as much out of this book as I could have. I really enjoyed learning about the characters I knew. Not so much the ones I wasn't familiar with. I listened to the book on CD. I would have liked to skip the characters I didn't know, but there is no index to tell which track to skip to. I decided that would be more trouble than it was worth & did my best to enjoy them all. M ...more
Tony
Aug 27, 2010 rated it liked it
This isn't the kind of book that usually grabs my attention, but it did win a big award last year and it does have a few authors in it I like, so I figured it was worth dipping into. It appears to have had its genesis in a series of essays put out by the Mysterious Bookstore, all of which have been collected into this volume. In skimming the table of contents, I immediately took issue with the book's subtitle of "The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectiv ...more
HBalikov
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
I am going to allow Mr. Penzler a little grace for the title of this book. If these are not "the world's greatest crime writers" (where are Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, Erle Stanley Gardner, etc.?) what does it matter, if you would like some insights into your favorite character, be that Spenser, Precious Ramotswe, Jack Taylor, Inspector Morse, or one of twenty others?

I enjoyed reading Alexander McCall Smith love of Sub-Sahara Africa. And, where would I find this from Colin Dexter: "I had long en
...more
Dimitris Passas (TapTheLine)
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a rather interesting collection of short segments where a number of distinguished and highly-esteemed crime writers explain the origins and backstories of their favorite protagonists. The reader has the opportunity to learn a bit more about Harry Bosch (M. Connelly), John Rebus (Ian Rankin), Alex Delaware (Jonathan Kellerman), Inspector Morse (Colin Dexter), Lincoln Rhyme (Jeffery Deaver) to name just a few of the fictional characters that are mentioned in this very entertaining book edi ...more
Ubiquitousbastard
Sep 22, 2012 rated it liked it
I'll just say it flat out: I only read this to get to the Preston & Child part. I don't really like any of the other authors. Well, Jonathan Kellerman isn't bad, so I didn't mind reading his part. Most of the authors bored the crap out of me, and I was just trying to get through them. I guess it was still informative; now I know that me and Lee Child really are polar opposite people and that he means for his books to suck. I mean, for me not to like them...no, sorry, his books suck.

To the part
...more
Sandy
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, audio-books
This was a terrific anthology of many of the best crime and thriller writers and their best and most well known characters. Have you ever wondered how Jack Reacher got his name? Have you ever wondered where Rambo came from in development? Have you ever thought about Peter Decker and his wife Rina and how that story line came into being? Have you wondered about the authors and what transpired in their backgrounds that inspired them to create a character we can't get enough stories about? Then thi ...more
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Otto Penzler is an editor of mystery fiction in the United States, and proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, where he lives.

Otto Penzler founded The Mysteriour Press in 1975 and was the publisher of The Armchair Detective, the Edgar-winning quarterly journal devoted to the study of mystery and suspense fiction, for seventeen years.

Penzler has won two Edgar Awards, for The Encycl
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