If you love mystery novels and would like to find out more about them, where do you look? Luckily there are a host of online resources for the mystery enthusiast. Mystery Readers Journal is a quarterly thematic journal that includes articles, book reviews, and a calendar of events. It also links to mystery associations and magazines. Equally informative is the online resource, Stop, You’re Killing Me! A Site for Die for . . . If You Love Mystery Books. This site also includes a comprehensive list of awards and award-winning books. Readers can search the site by author and find a list of books organized by series. What is particularly useful is the number of unique indexes searchable by character, job, and location. The site includes read-alikes and category read-alikes. The Bloodstained Bookshelf is a monthly list of recent and forthcoming mystery novels published in the U.S.
Private eye fans will love the site, The Thrilling Detective. It includes a list of private investigators organized by characters’ names; material on individual authors and their writing; a useful list of annotated mystery links; a comprehensive bibliography; and sections on film, radio, and television. DorothyL is an active listserv for discussions of popular genres. Subscribers can search its archives for information on mystery novels. Novelist and What Do I Read Next are useful online databases for plot summaries of the novels (check your local library for these). Novelist also includes reviews of the fiction.
Three information-rich sites created by academics are invaluable resources for the mystery reader. Crime Culture provides a wealth of articles on mystery fiction and films, annotated lists of secondary resources, lists of mystery fiction courses at different universities, and a number of annotated links to mystery-related sites. Detnovel.com is another comprehensive site with helpful sections on the hard-boiled novel, film noir, and detective-novel characteristics. If you are looking for a mystery novel set in a certain region or country, look no further than G. J. Demko’s Landscapes of Crime site. This one is a gem.
For mysteries organized by themes, see Looking for a Mystery, and for cozy mysteries, see the Cozy Mystery List. Anyone interested in classic mysteries should consult either Gumshoes, Sleuths & Snoopers for novels written from 1930 to 1960, or MysteryNet.com for the development of the genre and information about famous classic writers in the genre. Another site you won’t want to miss is Mystery Ink. David Montgomery, book columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, includes author interviews and almost 200 reviews of mystery novels and thrillers on this site.
Unfortunately not everything is online. For information about the characteristics and appeal of the genre, consult two informative books: Make Mine a Mystery: A Reader’s Guide to Mystery and Detective Fiction, and The Mystery Readers’ Advisory: The Librarian’s Clues to Murder and Mayhem. Make Mine a Mystery is an award-winning reference book that contains general information about the genre, plot summaries, lists of online resources, and an annotated list of mystery awards and magazines. The Mystery Readers Advisory includes a list of mystery books organized by theme, and an extensive, annotated list of genre resources.
Just as enlightening are the relevant sections of Diana Tixier Herald’s Genreflecting: A Guide to Popular Reading Interests and Joyce Sarick’s The Reader’s Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction. If you would like to know more about the writers of mystery novels, see the two-volume, Mystery & Suspense Novels, edited by Robin W. Winks. Readers who would like to know about the lives and works of female authors, should consult Martha Hailey DuBose’s Women of Mystery.
For those interested in the development of the genre, and especially the emergence of the hard-boiled mystery, John G. Cawelti’s Adventure, Mystery, and Romance: Formula Stories as Art and Popular Culture is informative and insightful. I would also highly recommend the following five books on the history of mystery novels: P. D. James’s Talking About Detective Fiction, Stephen Knight’s Crime Fiction 1800-2000, Charles Rzepka’s Detective Fiction, John Scaggs’s Crime Fiction, and Julian Symons’s Bloody Murder: From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel.
Cawelti, John G. Adventure, Mystery, and Romance: Formula Stories as Art and Popular Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976.
Charles, John, Joanna Morrison, and Candace Clark. The Mystery Readers’ Advisory: The Librarian’s Clues to Murder and Mayhem. Chicago: American Library Association, 2002.
DuBose, Martha Hailey. Women of Mystery: The Lives and Works of Notable Women Crime Novelists. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2000.
James, P.D. Talking About Detective Fiction. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.
Knight, Stephen. Crime Fiction 1800-2000: Detection, Death, Diversity. Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.
Niebuhr, G. W. Make Mine a Mystery: A Reader’s Guide to Mystery and Detective Fiction. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2003.
Rzepka, Charles J. Detective Fiction. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2005.
Saricks, Joyce G. The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction. Chicago: American Library Association, 2001.
Scaggs, John. Crime Fiction. London: London: Routledge, 2005.
Smith, Erin. A. “Essay.” In Genreflecting: A Guide to Popular Reading Interests, edited by Diana Tixier Herald, 137-45. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2006.
Symons, Julian. Bloody Murder: From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel. New York: Mysterious Press, 1992.
Winks, Robin W. Mystery & Suspense Writers: The Literature of Crime, Detection, and Espionage. 2 vols. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1998.