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

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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 ...

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

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Overview

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 Precious Ramotswe? In THE LINEUP, some of the top mystery writers in the world tell about the genesis of their most beloved characters--or, in some cases, let their creations do the talking. \

Winner of the 2010 Edgar Award for Best Critical/Biographical Work

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Editorial Reviews

Janet Maslin
[Penzler] lined up some of the most famous mystery novelists around and asked them for 10-page riffs about their best-known characters. Those essays have been collected in The Lineup, an exciting omnibus volume that has widespread appeal and adds up to much, much more than the sum of its parts. The mystery writers were free to attack this assignment in whatever way they chose. Some were more assiduous than others. Some just rambled; some indulged their egos; some cooked up conversations with their fictitious creations…But each wound up delivering memorable revelations about the mystery genre and its different incarnations.
—The New York Times
Library Journal
Continuing characters in books are as tantalizing to readers as a favorite meal, particularly so to the legions of mystery readers. Agatha Christie's Miss Marple comes to mind; ditto for Hercule Poirot. Recognizing the power of long-standing favorites in mystery writing, editor and bookshop owner Penzler (The Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection) solicited the genre's well-known authors—e.g., Faye Kellerman, John Connelly, Colin Dexter, and Laura Lipman—and some not so well known to write profiles of their reoccurring gumshoes that offered additional insights into their very diverse characters. Funny, irreverent, stylish, stimulating, and almost always provocative, the results are certain to please, not only for the crime-busters that a reader may relish, admire, even esteem but also for the ones that a reader may not know. VERDICT An easy read, effortless at times; fans of mysteries will find the essays irresistible. If by chance a nonmystery reader would discover this collection, he or she might without protest succumb to the temptation of a real thriller.—Robert Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., IN
Kirkus Reviews
Profiles of fiction's leading sleuths originally published individually for patrons of editor Penzler's (Black Noir, 2009, etc.) Mysterious Bookshop. The most notable feature of the collection is the variety of approaches taken by the contributors. Michael Connelly is thematic and evocative in tracing Harry Bosch's sources, Lee Child pragmatic and market-driven in explaining Jack Reacher's. Ian Rankin roots John Rebus in his study of English literature; John Harvey roots Charlie Resnick in genre conventions; John Connolly reflects on the ways Charlie Parker combines the two. Stephen Hunter confesses his temptation to swipe the plot for Bob Lee Swagger's debut; John Lescroart recalls his early struggles to make it as a writer; Colin Dexter answers FAQ about Inspector Morse on the page and television. David Morrell takes a sober Canadian view of Rambo's origins in the Vietnam War-era counterculture; Alexander McCall Smith pens a love letter to Precious Ramotswe's Botswana. Faye Kellerman considers the biographical links between herself and Rina Lazarus and Peter Decker, while Jonathan Kellerman embroiders on the observation, "People talk to me; I listen." Ken Bruen and Carol O'Connell produce stylistic pastiches of their novels, and Robert Crais maintains that Elvis Cole and Joe Pike are always with him. Robert B. Parker, Anne Perry, Jeffery Deaver, Laura Lippman and Ridley Pearson all fictionalize their profiles in distinctive, utterly characteristic ways. Most entertaining is Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's dialogue on Aloysius X.L. Pendergast, whose relaxed back-and-forth brings not only the hero but the collaborative process of writing to life. An all-star cast produces a mostlyrewarding collection.
Janet Maslin
The ultimate How-dunit.
The New York Times
Michele Ross
This book will delight any mystery lover....[and] make readers return to favorite books with a fresh eye.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Sarah Weinman
The natural bridge between authorial intention and reader demand. After all, who are more equipped to discourse on the origins, the motivations, the foibles, and the triumphs of their life's work than some of the best-known and most successful mystery and thriller writers on the planet?
Los Angeles Times
Raleigh News & Observer
Tremendous fun—clever, wide-ranging, revealing, even surprising. Bet you can't read just one.
Maureen Corrigan
Fiery....The authors take different approaches, but all offer an opportunity to see a familiar character in a new way....It's also a great way to get a taste of some of the series you haven't read yet.
NPR.org
From the Publisher
"The best book of its kind.... An exciting omnibus volume that has widespread appeal and adds up to much, much more than the sum of its parts....delivering memorable revelations about the mystery genre and its different incarnations....Candor is no small part of this collection's great value. Time and again these crime writers return to the same questions: Is your character like you? Where did the character's name come from? How did you get published? The answers are always interesting."—Janet Maslin, New York Times

"This book will delight any mystery lover....[and] make readers return to favorite books with a fresh eye."—Michele Ross, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"The natural bridge between authorial intention and reader demand. After all, who are more equipped to discourse on the origins, the motivations, the foibles, and the triumphs of their life's work than some of the best-known and most successful mystery and thriller writers on the planet?"—Sarah Weinman, Los Angeles Times

"The ultimate How-dunit."—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"Tremendous fun—clever, wide-ranging, revealing, even surprising. Bet you can't read just one."—Raleigh News and Observer

"Fiery....The authors take different approaches, but all offer an opportunity to see a familiar character in a new way....It's also a great way to get a taste of some of the series you haven't read yet."—Maureen Corrigan, NPR.org

Janet Maslin - New York Times
"The best book of its kind.... An exciting omnibus volume that has widespread appeal and adds up to much, much more than the sum of its parts....delivering memorable revelations about the mystery genre and its different incarnations....Candor is no small part of this collection's great value. Time and again these crime writers return to the same questions: Is your character like you? Where did the character's name come from? How did you get published? The answers are always interesting."
Michele Ross - Cleveland Plain Dealer
"This book will delight any mystery lover....[and] make readers return to favorite books with a fresh eye."
Sarah Weinman - Los Angeles Times
"The natural bridge between authorial intention and reader demand. After all, who are more equipped to discourse on the origins, the motivations, the foibles, and the triumphs of their life's work than some of the best-known and most successful mystery and thriller writers on the planet?"
Janet Maslin - The New York Times
"The ultimate How-dunit."
Raleigh News and Observer
"Tremendous fun--clever, wide-ranging, revealing, even surprising. Bet you can't read just one."
Maureen Corrigan - NPR.org
"Fiery....The authors take different approaches, but all offer an opportunity to see a familiar character in a new way....It's also a great way to get a taste of some of the series you haven't read yet."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316031936
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 11/10/2009
  • Pages: 406
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Otto Penzler

Otto Penzler is the proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, the editor of many mystery anthologies, and co-author of The Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection, for which he won an Edgar Award. He lives in New York.

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 8 of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 30, 2010

    Fascinating View of Mystery Authors

    The Lineup is a fascinating insight into the minds of many of the finest mystery and crime writers at work today. I hope that Otto Penzler receives the publicity and promotion that he deserves for collecting these essays. Each is imaginative and reveals the quest for suspense, plot, and discovery presented by each of these major authors. Please promote it! I may have purchased all the copies for sale in Dallas to give to fellow detective story fans. Please promote this book on your entry tables! Most people don't brouse for hidden treasures and need prodding!

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