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The Oxford Book of American Detective Stories

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Edgar Allan Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue" launched the detective story in 1841. The genre began as a highbrow form of entertainment, a puzzle to be solved by a rational sifting of clues. In Britain, the stories became decidedly upper crust: the crime often committed in a world of manor homes and formal gardens, the blood on the Persian carpet usually blue. But from the beginning, American writers worked important changes on Poe's basic formula, especially in use of language and locale. As early as 1917, ...
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New York, NY 1996 Hard Cover First Edition, First Pinting Collectible-New in New jacket First Edition, First Pinting BRAND NEW & Collectible. DJ under mylar. Anthology of 33 ... well chosen crime mysteries by editors Tony Hillerman (1925-2008) and Rosemary Herbert to represent the evolution of the American detective short story at large, and, the genre's distinctive and creative use of regionalism. Commencing with Poe, the collection features famous classics along with "good finds". Read more Show Less

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Overview


Edgar Allan Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue" launched the detective story in 1841. The genre began as a highbrow form of entertainment, a puzzle to be solved by a rational sifting of clues. In Britain, the stories became decidedly upper crust: the crime often committed in a world of manor homes and formal gardens, the blood on the Persian carpet usually blue. But from the beginning, American writers worked important changes on Poe's basic formula, especially in use of language and locale. As early as 1917, Susan Glaspell evinced a poignant understanding of motive in a murder in an isolated farmhouse. And with World War I, the Roaring '20s, the rise of organized crime and corrupt police with Prohibition, and the Great Depression, American detective fiction branched out in all directions, led by writers such as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, who brought crime out of the drawing room and into the "mean streets" where it actually occurred.
In The Oxford Book of American Detective Stories, Tony Hillerman and Rosemary Herbert bring together thirty-three tales that illuminate both the evolution of crime fiction in the United States and America's unique contribution to this highly popular genre. Tracing its progress from elegant "locked room" mysteries, to the hard-boiled realism of the '30s and '40s, to the great range of styles seen today, this superb collection includes the finest crime writers, including Erle Stanley Gardner, Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Rex Stout, Ellery Queen, Ed McBain, Sue Grafton, and Hillerman himself. There are also many delightful surprises: Bret Harte, for instance, offers a Sherlockian pastiche with a hero named Hemlock Jones, and William Faulkner blends local color, authentic dialogue, and dark, twisted pride in "An Error in Chemistry." We meet a wide range of sleuths, from armchair detective Nero Wolfe, to Richard Sale's journalist Daffy Dill, to Robert Leslie Bellem's wise-cracking Hollywood detective Dan Turner, to Linda Barnes's six-foot tall, red-haired, taxi-driving female P.I., Carlotta Carlyle. And we sample a wide variety of styles, from tales with a strongly regional flavor, to hard-edged pulp fiction, to stories with a feminist perspective. Perhaps most important, the book offers a brilliant summation of America's signal contribution to crime fiction, highlighting the myriad ways in which we have reshaped this genre. The editors show how Raymond Chandler used crime, not as a puzzle to be solved, but as a spotlight with which he could illuminate the human condition; how Ed McBain, in "A Small Homicide," reveals a keen knowledge of police work as well as of the human sorrow which so often motivates crime; and how Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer solved crime not through blood stains and footprints, but through psychological insight into the damaged lives of the victim's family. And throughout, the editors provide highly knowledgeable introductions to each piece, written from the perspective of fellow writers and reflecting a life-long interest--not to say love--of this quintessentially American genre.
American crime fiction is as varied and as democratic as America itself. Hillerman and Herbert bring us a gold mine of glorious stories that can be read for sheer pleasure, but that also illuminate how the crime story evolved from the drawing room to the back alley, and how it came to explore every corner of our nation and every facet of our lives.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Certain to be the standard anthology of American detective stories for years to come."--Edward D. Hoch, editor of The Year's Best Mystery and Suspense Stories

"The Oxford Book of American Detective Stories is indispensable to anyone interested in the form."--Robert B. Parker, creator of the Boston private-eye, Spenser

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hillerman, author of the Joe Leaphorn mysteries, and Herbert, editor of The Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing, trace this short-story genre from its beginnings in the hands of Edgar Allen Poe through its development by the likes of Erle Stanley Gardner, Mary Roberts Rinehart and Anthony Boucher to its current practice by such masters as Marcia Muller. Poe's "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," which established a great many of the whodunit conventions, is indispensable to such an overview. Raymond Chandler's "I'll be Waiting" emits a doom-laden atmosphere right from the first line; William Faulkner shows unexpected economy of language-and a transparent plot-in "An Error in Chemistry." Ed McBain scores high marks in "Small Homicide," in which the tiny details of a baby's untimely death resonate uncomfortably. As represented in this competent, unstartling collection, Linda Barnes ("Lucky Penny") easily outsasses Sue Grafton ("The Parker Shotgun"). Hillerman makes a solid appearance with "Chee's Witch," and in "Benny's Space" Muller captures the full subtle force of her novel-length vision. (Apr.)
Thomas Gaughan
The American detective story is as old as Edgar Allan Poe and as contemporary as Sue Grafton. For this collection, Hillerman and Herbert have selected 34 stories that demonstrate the vigor and diversity of the genre. The editors have rounded up some of the usual suspects--Raymond Chandler, Mignon Eberhart, Ellery Queen, and the aforementioned Grafton--but they've also included stories by writers best known for other kinds of work, for example, William Faulkner, Bret Harte, and satirist T. S. Stribling. In addition to an engaging introduction written primarily by Hillerman, each story is preceded by a brief biographical essay about the author. Detective story fans being notoriously fickle, few readers will likely savor every selection, but librarians should view this Oxford offering as they might tapas: a series of small portions that can end up being a full, surprising, and satisfying meal.
Kirkus Reviews
Though Hillerman's introduction notes his impatience with "the rules" of the detective story's Golden Age, this magisterial selection of 34 stories is remarkably evenhanded, proceeding from Poe to Ross Macdonald and Rex Stout with scarcely a notable omission (except for Dashiell Hammett, for copyright reasons). The emphasis here is on familiar items, though work by less well-known writers like Richard Sale and Robert Leslie Bellem provide welcome variety. The problem comes in the last hundred pages—all the room the editors leave for the past 30 years. The stories by Bill Pronzini, Edward D. Hoch, Linda Barnes, Sue Grafton, Marcia Muller, and editor Hillerman are mostly exemplary; but other recent masters of the short story—like Loren D. Estleman and Ed Gorman and Lawrence Block—must wonder why they weren't included when historical curios by Anna Katherine Green and Arthur B. Reeve were.

The anthology as museum, with Hillerman and Herbert as suave a pair of curators as you could wish.

From Barnes & Noble
The Oxford Book Of American Detective Stories Ed. by T. Hillerman & R. Herbert. 33 tales that illuminate the evolution of crime fiction in the U.S. and document America's contribution to the genre. Includes stories by Erle Stanley Gardner, Sue Grafton, Raymond Chandler, Ed McBain, others.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195085815
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/25/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 704
  • Product dimensions: 5.75 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 2.02 (d)

Meet the Author

Tony Hillerman

About the Editors:
Tony Hillerman, one of America's leading mystery novelists, was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. He is the creator of the Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee characters, and his books include Dance Hall of the Dead, A Thief of Time, and Talking God. Rosemary Herbert writes a mystery book review column for the Boston Herald. She is the author of The Fatal Art of Entertainment: Interviews With Mystery Writers and is editor-in-chief of the forthcoming Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing.

Biography

Tony Hillerman (1925-2008), an Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident since 1963, was the author of 29 books, including the popular 17-mystery series featuring Navajo police officers Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, two non-series novels, two children's books, and nonfiction works. He had received every major honor for mystery fiction; awards ranging from the Navajo Tribal Council's commendation to France's esteemed Grand prix de litterature policiere. Western Writers of America honored him with the Wister Award for Lifetime achievement in 2008. He served as president of the prestigious Mystery Writers of America, and was honored with that group's Edgar Award and as one of mystery fiction's Grand Masters. In 2001, his memoir, Seldom Disappointed, won both the Anthony and Agatha Awards for best nonfiction.

Author biography courtesy of HarperCollins.

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    1. Hometown:
      Albuquerque, New Mexico
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 27, 1925
    2. Place of Birth:
      Sacred Heart, Oklahoma
    1. Date of Death:
      October 26, 2008
    2. Place of Death:
      Albuquerque, New Mexico

Table of Contents

Introduction 3
The Murders in the Rue Morgue 10
The Stolen Cigar Case 40
The Problem of Cell 13 49
The Doomdorf Mystery 81
Missing: Page Thirteen 93
The Beauty Mask 124
A Jury of Her Peers 142
The False Burton Combs 162
The Keyboard of Silence 184
A Nose for News 217
Spider 239
Leg Man 261
I'll Be Waiting 295
The Footprint in the Sky 310
Rear Window 326
The Lipstick 356
Homicide Highball 375
An Error in Chemistry 414
From Another World 431
A Daylight Adventure 456
See No Evil 471
Crime Must Have a Stop 480
Small Homicide 499
Guilt-Edged Blonde 512
Christmas Party 526
A Matter of Public Notice 570
The Adventure of Abraham Lincoln's Clue 587
Words Do Not a Book Make 602
Christmas Is for Cops 608
Lucky Penny 621
The Parker Shotgun 639
Chee's Witch 655
Benny's Space 665
Credits 683
Index 685
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