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

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  432 ratings  ·  78 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
Hardcover, 407 pages
Published November 10th 2009 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2009)
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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.
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
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
Steve Hikida
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Apr 29, 2018 rated it 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.
Jennifer Baratta
Have a listen and learn about some of the characters.
Dave 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.
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.
Dec 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, mys-series
Excellent background on the books you read for years and learn about new series to experience.
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
An excellent collection of essays/interviews. Penzler did a terrific job.
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 al ...more
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
Dimitris Passas
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
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
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books, mystery
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
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, sorry, his books suck.

To the p
Catherine Thompson
Jul 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime, non-fiction
The title really says it all in this case. Panzler recruited many well-known crime-fiction writers to write about their most well-known characters. Some are essays on the characters; some are "interviews" between author and creation; and in a couple of cases, the pieces are short stories.

The book was nominated for (and won? I can't remember) an Edgar award a few years ago, which is when it made it to my "want to read" list. Mostly entertaining, the essays provide an entree into some characters/a
Nov 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book is comprised of contributions from approximately 20 different crime writers answering the question, "What is the Inside Story on how your character was Created?" It has been answered in some very imaginative ways.

As with any anthology there are good and bad contributions but on balance The Lineup satisfies more more often than it disappoints. Particularly good contributions by Lee Child, Anne Perry, Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin, David Morrell and fair ones from Michael Connelly,
James Adams
May 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a very interesting collection of essays and/or stories regarding many popular mystery/suspense characters. For me, the essays generally work better than the stories, as I find the creative genesis of a character to be more interesting than their fictional background, the exception, of course, being Spenser. Duh.
I enjoy this book greatly. Every piece is fascinating, and several introduced me to characters I now enjoy (this is my second time reading the entirety, though I have read many of
Feb 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, mystery
I didn't read all of these entries, since I'm not familiar with some of the authors, but I did glance at them all and I very much enjoyed the essays I did read. Alexander McCall Smith, as one might expect, is wry and charming about mysteries in general and his Botswanan mysteries in particular. John Lescroart is wittily self-deprecating as he explains how he eventually realized that he was not going to write the Great American Novel, but he was writing very good mystery novels. Laura Lippman doe ...more
Jul 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm a sucker for genre and series guides, and editor Otto Penzler previously edited one my favorite books of that type, Detectionary. The Lineup chapters are each written by the author of a well known crime fiction series character (I personally think David Morrell is there only because of name recognition and that is not a comment on the quality of his writing). It is interesting to read about the creative process, and how the characters were created. Some of the writers chose to introduce read ...more
May 01, 2011 rated it liked it
I enjoy reading about my favorite leading characters from the mystery series that I read. I read the chapters first for the series I read and later went back to read about other characters I am not familiar with. I now have a list of new authors to try. There were a couple of chapters that I didn't finish because I didn't like the writer's style and now I know I wouldn't want to read one of their books. Very interesting because each author wrote their chapter however they wanted. Some were stori ...more
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great idea, some authors write about themselves and a bit about their protagonists, some interview their protagonists in an empty chair format, some talk about the characters in relation to others that appear in the books. They generally talk about what they wanted in the personage. It is interesting but most authors are white men who write about heavy violence. There a few women and at least one person of color. One significant author was Alexander McCall Smith who generally does not write abou ...more
Jan 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent way to get insight into some characters with, for example, michael connelly describing how he created Harry Bosch, Lee Child doing the same for Jack Reacher, Ian Rankin for John Rebus, etc and it also introduced me to new good authors

This looks to be quite interesting, adding new information about some of my favorite detective series by authors like Michael Connelly, Lee Child, etc.
Heather Truckenmiller
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
I really wanted to love this book. I was looking forward to finding lots of new mystery writes to read, and there are one or two I do look forward to checking out... but mainly I found this to be a rather tedious read. Many of the authors used a question and answer format for their chapter, and the bios of all the authors started to run together by chapter 5. It reminded me a lot of reading a really long magazine, more than a book, and I have never been much of a magazine reader.
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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