The work includes entries for authors across all major subgenres as well as a few authors well-known in other genres whose work includes elements of crime fiction (e.g., Stephen King). Entries are arranged alphabetically and begin with ready reference information such as pseudonyms, type of plot (e.g., police procedural, amateur sleuth), principal series, principal characters, and a photo.
All entries are signed. Contributors are a mix of academics (mostly American) and independent scholars. Entries do not include complete bibliographies but rather highlight a few key works. Most entries run four to six pages, with a few slightly longer. The set contains four appendices: 1. Past and Present Mystery and Detective Fiction: Six essays covering the history and major developments of the genre, from its nineteenth-century origins through the golden age, pulp magazines, subgenres, and more. Thoughtful and richly referenced, these essays will be of interest to both students and fans... 2. Crime Fiction Settings and Situations: All but one of the essays in this appendix focus on settings: Crime Fiction Set in Sweden, Crime Fiction Set on the West Coast, etc…In most cases, the essays in this section consist primarily of plot summaries with some additional details sourced from reviews. 3. Resources: This section includes: an excellent annotated bibliography of reference, criticism, and other books about the genre and glossaries of genre terms, techniques, and jargon. 4. Author Birth and Death Data — an alphabetical listing of author birthdates, birthplaces, and death dates.
The set includes several useful indexes: author place and year of birth; authors by category (e.g., cozy, gay and lesbian detectives); character; and subject (including author names, titles, and some character names).
Most of the author entries I reviewed are well-written and offer substantive insights into each author’s body of work and contributions to crime fiction while also being accessible to the general reader. Standouts include the entries for Tony Hillerman and Attica Locke…
Despite these mostly minor issues, this work is a treasure trove for crime fiction fans and an excellent reference for librarians supporting reader’s advisory or literature programs that include crime fiction.
ATG Reviewer Rating: I need this on my desk. (This book is so valuable, that I want my own copy at my desk that I will share with no one.)"
-Against the Grain, November 2022
"In this two-volume Notable Crime Fiction Writers Evans artfully achieves his purpose of condensing its five-volume predecessor (Critical Survey of Mystery & Detective Fiction, rev. ed., 2008) and simultaneously expanding coverage to include 29 completely new modern-day crime fiction writers from diverse perspectives, including BIPOC and LGBTQ authors. Each entry provides extensive information about the profiled author's works, series, plot settings, and main characters; detailed biographical information about the author; analyses of the author's oeuvre, listings of further reading, and, in most cases, a photograph of the profiled writer. The writers include, among others, Rudolfo Anaya, Rita Mae Brown, Faye Kellerman, and Louis Owens; they represent a variety of crime fiction writers to study and compare genres and styles. Four appendixes provide extensive essays and information about past and present mystery detective fiction, crime fiction settings and situations, genre resources and jargon/terms, and author birth and death dates. With profiles ranging from Wilkie Collins to Michael Connelly and Walter Mosely to Valerie Wilson Wesley, this two-volume set provides readers at all levels with an idea of the genre's past, present, and future."
“Crime fiction has gained critical and academic credence over the last 50 years and has greatly diversified its settings, themes, and authorship. The new edition of this reference set analyzes the lives and works of over 200 major English-language mystery- and detective-fiction writers. The first volume provides an introductory essay about the growing interest in crime fiction. Entries are then arranged alphabetically and vary in length from two to eight pages. Each entry begins with the author’s pseudonyms, types of plots, and main series and characters. Next, the author’s unique contribution to the genre is covered. A brief biography follows, noting events related to the author’s fiction. The main part of the entry analyzes the author’s writing style, themes, and motifs; notable titles or groups of works are usually noted, summarizing plots and sometimes providing analysis and quotations. Four appendixes and five indexes conclude volume 2. Depth of coverage among essays varies, and the usual suspects are covered (Doyle and Evanovich, for example) as well as some lesser-known writers. While not definitive, this set should whet the appetite of crime-fiction readers and the general public.”
"Editor Evans (English, emeritus, Auburn Univ. at Montgomery, AL) curates about 160 entries, compiled in two volumes, updating and distilling information from 2008’s Critical Survey of Mystery & Detective Fiction. This new book includes more than 100 new entries; a publisher note states that Salem sought to include more women and BIPOC authors, as well as those from the LGBTQIA+ community. Alphabetically arranged entries cover Agatha Christie (author of dozens of mysteries, including those starring Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple), Robert B. Parker (best remembered for his private eye Spenser), Michael Nava (whose books follow gay Mexican American lawyer/sleuth Harry Rios), and Barbara Ann Neely (creator of Blanche White, a Black domestic worker and amateur sleuth), among many others. Detailed articles usually include an author photograph, along with a biography and a list of the author’s major works and related reading. Each article details authors’ series, principal characters, and the styles of their plots (amateur sleuth, hardboiled, cozy), along with analysis. Appendixes covering mystery settings and situations, terms and jargon, and the history of mystery writing add to utility. VERDICT: Beneficial in academic and public settings; a vital resource for readers’ advisory and mystery and detective buffs."
- Library Journal