Literature of Crime and Detection: An Illustrated History

Literature of Crime and Detection: An Illustrated History

by Waltraud Woeller, Bruce Cassiday

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Cassiday, an American author, has adapted and added material to Woeller's German original, thus forming an impressive social history. Woeller's erudite information demonstrates the public's fascination with crime, dating from Aeschylus's Oresteia. Other early Greek and Roman authors are vividly covered in the text that proceeds through the centuries with accounts of true cases of malefactors in various countries. There are numerous illustrations in black-and-white and color, some perhaps depicting too graphically inhumane punishments, mayhem and murder. Later authors, from Poe, Doyle, Collins, are discussed in chapters that lead to Cassiday's coverage of modern specialists in crime literature, with notes on stories as the source for stage, film and TV presentations. The absorbing book ends with brief biographies of authors (some not usually associated with crime literature) who contributed to the genre: Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and William Faulkner, as well as Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. (May)
Library Journal - Library Journal
In her useful reference work, Oleksiw lists annotations of over 1440 novels by 121 authors, arranging them first alphabetically by writer. They are also listed chronologically by the story's time frame, with novels featuring series characters entered first. The 50- to 75-word annotations sketch the plot; numerous specialized indexes are helpful in finding one's way around the unconventional arrangement. Slight annoyances include a failure to define satisfactorily the ``classic'' British mystery and the inclusion of a superfluous list of 100 best mysteries. Woeller and Cassiday trace the development of the detective story from its roots in Greek drama to the present in this interestingly illustrated volume. They draw connections between the mystery and various social phenomena, including changes in reading habits and legal concepts of guilt and innocence. American, English, and European literature are covered about equally, although there is a strong emphasis on German contributions. The influential subgenre of pulp fiction is ignored. Given the coupling of the ambitious premise with brevity, this book unsurprisingly treats its subject with more breadth than depth; it is best suited for general readers and students seeking a starting point for further study. Despite major idiosyncracies, both books are largely successful and hence worthy additions to any size collection. Lonnie Beene, West Texas State Univ. Lib., Canyon
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
YA Readers of detective stories seldom think that the genre had its roots in Greek drama or Roman histories, but that is the thesis of this fascinating survey of crime literature throughout history. The chapter on the Middle Ages discusses literate monks' familiarity with Greek and Roman manuscripts; as they illustrated the copies, they also further developed the genre as they described crimes and their solutions in pictorial detail. In the 17th Century, vampire stories and tales of highwaymen added to the list which developed in the 18th Century into case histories for popular consumption of famous criminal trials. From Poe to the present, the detective story has gradually assumed its familiar form. Faulkner, Dickens, Christie, Hammett, and Hitchcock, as examples of authors of crime fiction, are placed in chronological perspective, and their literary relationships to one another and to general world events are discussed. For students who like murder mysteries or for the more serious who want to study Poe's antecedents, this title will be a welcome source. Dorcas Hand, Episcopal High School, Bellaire

Product Details

Continuum International Publishing Group
Publication date:
Ungar Writers' Recognitions Series
Product dimensions:
8.32(w) x 10.87(h) x 0.88(d)

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