Friday, October 13, 2017

Book Review: 'The Lineup' by Otto Penzler

"I applied my heart to know,
To search and seek out wisdom and the reason of things,
To know the wickedness of folly,
Even of foolishness and madness." -- Ecclesiastes 7:25

How many people would read about Sherlock Holmes if the stories were merely clever puzzles, rather than also being fascinating studies in character, of Holmes, Watson, the criminals, and often the victims?

Occasionally, you will bump into a terrific article where an author talks candidly about the origins of his or her detective, PI, or righter of wrongs. Those experiences leave you hungry for more.

Well, you've been blessed this year. Otto Penzler has assembled a world-class cast of authors and their characters for you to explore from the authors' perspectives. In many cases, the authors wrote new fictional material featuring their detectives (often in the form of interviews) that is some of the best writing those authors have ever done in my humble opinion.

Unless you are an omnivorous consumer of crime, detective, and police fiction, chances are that some of these characters are new to you. After you read a little about the characters and their story lines, I guarantee you'll find some great new books to read. What a delight!

The profits from the book also help keep The Mysterious Bookshop in business, where I've had all of my best signings with mystery authors.

The pieces address subjects such as how the author came to write mysteries, how the character was originally conceived, where the name came from, why the character developed in the way that she or he did, and many perspectives concerning how the author thinks about the character. It's fascinating.

I have heard many of these authors speak about their books, and these essays and stories are way better than the in-person talks. Don't miss them.

If you are interested in learning more about how to write mysteries, this book is also a must!

Here are the authors and characters covered in the book:

Jack Taylor by Ken Brown
Jack Reacher by Lee Child
Harry Bosch by Michael Connelly
Charlie Parker by John Connolly
Elvis Cole and Joe Pike by Robert Crais

Lincoln Rhyme by Jeffrey Deaver
Inspector Morse by Colin Dexter
Charlie Resnick by John Harvey
Bob Lee Swagger by Stephen Hunter
Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus by Faye Kellerman

Alex Delaware by Jonathan Kellerman
Dismas Hardy by John Lescroart
Tess Monaghan by Laura Lippman
Rambo by David Morrell
Mallory by Carol O'Connell

Spenser by Robert B. Parker
Lou Boldt by Ridley Pearson
Charlotte and Thomas Pitt by Anne Perry
Aloysius X. L. Pendergast by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
John Rebus by Ian Rankin

Precious Ramotswe by Alexander McCall Smith

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Donald Mitchell. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.