This holiday season has brought an especially bright group of gift ideas for the mystery lover on your list. Here are a few of my personal favorites:
WRITING THE NOVEL FROM PLOT TO PRINT TO PIXEL by Lawrence Block
This is a new, updated version of Block’s classic how-to book, with added information about that very modern form of publishing, the eBook. If your holiday list includes a writer, this is a perfect gift. Whether aspiring or established, every writer can learn from Lawrence Block, one of our finest mystery authors. Also consider my personal favorite textbook by Block: TELLING LIES FOR FUN AND PROFIT. Both of these books are inspired and inspiring looks at the art and the craft of writing for a living, and WRITING THE NOVEL covers the nuts and bolts as well. (WRITING THE NOVEL will be available Jan. 4, but you can preorder it now.)
THE GOLDEN AGE OF MURDER by Martin Edwards
Heaven! Edwards is one of our foremost experts on the history of mystery, particularly the British mystery. This gorgeous tome is an overview of mystery’s “golden age,” the 1920s-1940s. Lots of fun facts, arcane information, and sensible suggestions for the curious reader, including Edwards’s impeccable recommendations of authors and titles that should and must be read by all. Even the most jaded know-it-all (that would be me) will learn a lot here–and have a lot of fun learning it. A good gift even for casual mystery readers; for diehards, it’s absolutely essential.
WOMEN CRIME WRITERS: Eight Suspense Novels from the 1940s and ’50s, selected and edited by Sarah Weinman
This deluxe collection from the wonderful Library of America is just what we all needed. As time marches on, a great many great mystery writers have been lost in the shadows of history, and an inordinate number of those lost artists are women. Here, mystery expert, critic, historian, and blogger Sarah Weinman has assembled eight fine examples from two past decades, four titles from each. These eight novels prove that women have always been as good as men–often better–at depicting the dark side of the human experience. From Vera Caspary’s elegant whodunit, LAURA, to Dorothy B. Hughes’s creepy portrait of a killer, IN A LONELY PLACE, they are dead-on mixtures of tough action and grim psychology. Weinman and a host of current mystery women introduce the stories, placing them in historical and artistic context. Other masters included here are Patricia Highsmith, Charlotte Armstrong, Dolores Hitchens–and a book that’s on my personal list of the 25 Classic Mysteries Everyone Should Read, Margaret Millar’s magnificent Edgar-winner, BEAST IN VIEW. Everyone should read these eight gems, so it’s really a perfect gift.
Finally, a quartet of eBook originals, including one by me (Hey, it’s my blog!):
CURRENT BARNES & NOBLE E-BOOK MYSTERY TOP 20 BESTSELLERS FROM PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE/ALIBI
I’ve been very fortunate with my new publisher, Alibi, the electronic mystery imprint of Penguin Random House. My first two titles for them have been doing well, and A PENNY FOR THE HANGMAN has been in the Top 20 on the B&N eBook mystery bestseller list for two months now, along with three other Alibi titles. Between us, our eBooks make up 20% of Barnes and Noble’s current Top 20! Here they are:
THE UNFORGIVABLE FIX by T. E. Woods is the latest entry in a smashing new series involving a mysterious woman “fixer”–you go to her when there aren’t any other options–for the hardboiled action lovers on your list. If they like historical mysteries, Paula Paul’s MEDIUM DEAD introduces a woman doctor/crimesolver in Victorian London. In her first outing, the detective has a dead clairvoyant and a most august prime suspect–Victoria Regina herself! For all your cozy fans, get them THE RHYME OF THE MAGPIE by Marty Wingate. This is the first in a new series from Wingate, with an accent on birding–she also has a popular mystery series that centers on gardening. As for my title, you can learn all about it here. Considering the length of our tenure on the B&N bestseller list, I can say without blushing that these are four recent mysteries that everyone’s talking about. They’re downloaded (no shipping or wrapping necessary) and low-priced (economical), and that makes ’em perfect holiday gifts.
So, there you have it–a lot of bookish ideas for mystery fans. Whatever you read, may you have a happy holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year. Enjoy!