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Mystery and Crime Fiction: Overview

A guide to printed and Internet sources of information on mystery and crime fiction, writers, organizations, and more.

What's in the ASU Library?

Unlike some public libraries, all the mystery and crime fiction is not shelved in one place in the ASU Library's collection, so browsing the shelves can be difficult. To electronically browse the collection:

Find Books by a Specific Author

Do an author search in the Library's online catalog. For example, to find books by Robert B. Parker (who wrote the Spenser, Jesse Stone, and Sunny Randall series), select the Books and Media option on the Library catalog page and then select Author from the drop down options box. Type Parker, Robert B. in the search box. You will retrieve a list of all the books by that author in the ASU's library collection.

Find a Specific Book When You Know the Title

Do a title search in the Library's online catalog. For example, to find The Maltese Falcon, select the Books and Media option on the Library catalog page and then select Title from the drop down options box. Type the first few words of the title in the title search box.  If you are unsure of the exact title, you can do a keyword search using the words you know.

Find a List of All the Mystery and Detective Fiction in the Library Collection

This is nearly impossible to do, as a subject heading indicating that a book is a mystery novel has been assigned to adult novels beginning only recently. You can find many books by selecting the Books and Media option on the Library catalog page and then selecting Subject in the drop down options box. Type Mystery and Detective Stories in the subject search box. If you wish to eliminate children's books, limit the results to ASU Main Stacks.

A good way to supplement these titles is to go to some of the reference works and web sites listed in this guide. They will suggest many additional novels and story collections.

For Fun

Credo Reference. Searches across many specialized reference works. Covers all sorts of subjects. Try it for quick, concise information.

The Readers' Advisory Guide to Mystery. 2d ed. Z711.5 C48 2012. Includes background on mystery and detective fiction, plus suggestions for programs and more.

App State Online

Distance education students have access to a wide array of Library services and resources. See the App State Online library guide for details.

I Love a Mystery!

If you like to read mystery and crime fiction, this guide is for you. It contains lists of best books and award winners, guides to books similar to those you liked,  information on authors and organizations, film adaptations, fan conventions, and more. Comics and pulp magazines are generally not covered.

This guide focuses on resources directly available to the faculty, staff, and students of Appalachian State University. Information provided is intended primarily for the casual reader rather than the scholar. If you are interested in history and literary criticism of mystery and crime fiction, look for books on these topics by doing a keyword search in APPsearch for mystery and detective stories and criticism, or mystery and detective stories and history; this will retrieve books as well as articles from a variety of magazines and journals indexed in six popular full text databases. Additional relevant publications in the periodical literature are indexed in a number of databases available to Appalachian users, such as MLA International BibliographyJSTORArts & Humanities Citation Index,  and Project Muse. For more ideas, have a look at the Library's guide to databases on the Literature subject list  for some suggestions.

If you would like to recommend additional useful sources of information, email the author of the guide with your suggestions.

Where Do I Start?

These resources contain information on many different aspects of mystery and detective fiction. If you are just surfing, without a clear idea of exactly what you want to know, they are great places to start.

One Stop Shopping

Stop, You're Killing Me! The first stop for mystery, suspense, and crime fiction fans. Among the many offerings of this site are: lists of winners and nominees of many awards; lists and reviews of new books; indexes to books by geographic setting, historical period, profession of main character, genre, ethinic or other background of main character; and author and category read-alikes.

Looking for a Mystery?. Links to everything mystery.

Murder on the Internet. Guides to all types of Web information. Last upated in 2009. Wide ranging information about classic mystery authors and characters, film and televison adaptations, awards, conventions, bookstores, and organizations. Includes essays by contemporarary mystery writers.

Thrilling Detective Web Site. Broad coverage, including new publications, author information, award winners, conventions, films and television, web sites, and more.

DorothyL. Oldest mystery listserv. Contributors include readers, critics, and writers. Addictive!

General Resources with Lots of Information

Bleiler, Richard J. Reference and Research Guide to Mystery and Detective Fiction. 2d ed. Ref PN3448 D4 B59 2004. Guides to reference works, lists of books by sub-genre, geographical guides, award winners, publishers, magazine and anthology indexes, author biographical information, character information, book dealers, and more.

Crafton, Robert E. The African American Experience in Crime Fiction: A Critical Study. PS374 N4 C73 2015. Builds on Stephen Soitos' work (see below).

DellaCava, Frances A., and Madeline H. Engel. Female Detectives in American Novels: A Bibliography and Analysis of Serialized Female Sleuths. Z1231 D47 D45 1993.

Hagen, Ordean A. Who Done It? A Guide to Detective, Mystery, and Suspense Fiction. Z5917 D5 H3. Contains a bibliography of mystery fiction by author, a guide to mysteries by topic, a guide to mystery novels adapted to the screen, a list of stage plays, a geographical guide to settings, a guide to characters, a list of anthologies and collections, and more.

Herbert, Rosemary. Whodunit? A Who's Who in Crime & Mystery Writing. PN3448 D4 H37 2003. Most of the brief entries are on authors and characters, with a few other terms thrown in.

Hubin, Allen J. Crime Fiction II: A Comprehensive Bibliography 1749-1990. 2 vols. Z2014 F4 H83 1994. Comprehensive guide to published novels. Includes author, title, settings, series, series character, film, screenwriters, and directors indexes.

Kabatchnik, Amnon. Blood on the Stage: Milestone Plays of Murder, Mystery, and Mayehm: An Annotated Repertoire. This important reference series covers more than the twentieth century. Volumes include:1900-1925, PN1952 K33 2008; 1925-1950 (also available in print, PN1952 K34 2010); 1950-1975,(also available in print, PN1952 K35 2011); 1975-2000.

Lachman, Marvin. A Reader's Guide to the American Novel of Detection. PS374 D4 L28 1993. Focus on characters who are primarily amateur detectives. The arrangement is by author, with important novels briefly annotated for each. Indices for occupations of series characters, time period in which the story is set,  geograpnical location, setting, subject, and holiday mysteries. The volume concludes with a listof one hundred notable novels of detection.

Mackler, Tasha. Murder by Category: A Subject Guide to Mystery Fiction. Z2014 F4 M34 1991. Find mysteries by topic, from birdwatching to fashion to vampires. Also includes lists of British women mystery writers, female detectives, award winners, and reference books. Author index.

Mystery Writers of America. Information on authors (and their books) who are members of the MWA, regional associations, and Edgar Awards winners and nominees. A good place to look for speakers.

Crimeculture. Includes information on crime fiction, crime, films,and true crime.

Niebuhr, Garry Warren. Make Mine a Mystery: A Reader's Guide to Mystery and Detective Fiction. PN3448 D4 N537 2003. An excellent annotated guide to mystery and dective fiction which focuses on a fictional character who tries to solve a puzzle involving a crime. The book does not cover crime, intrigue, thrillers, suspense, adventure, or true crime. Arranged by type of sleuth: amateur detectives, police detectives, public detectives, private detectives, with each category subdivided. For instance private detectives are broken down into private detectives, crime specialists, ex-cops, and rogue detectives. Each category is further divided into historical founding memmbers, golden agers and beyond, and modern practitioners. Author, title, character, subject, and locations indices. Bibliography of reference sources.

Niebuhr, Gary Warren. Make Mine a Mystery II: A Reader's Guide to Mystery and Detective Fiction. Z5917 D5 N54 2011. A supplement to volume 1 (above), this volume focuses on publications from the 21st century.

Niebuhr, Gary Warren. A Reader's Guide to the Private Eye Novel. PN3448 D4 N54 1993. A great handbook that includes 100 recommended classics. Put them in your bucket list.

Rollyson, Carl. Critical Survey of Mystery and Detective Fiction. rev. ed. 5 vols. Ref PN3448 D4 C75 2008. Contains profiles of authors and their work; surveys of mystery fiction around the world; discussions of subgenres of mystery fiction and categories of sleuths; mysteries across the media; award winners; and indexes by characters and type of main character.

Rzepka, Charles J., and Lee Horsley, eds. A Companion to Crime Fiction. PN3448 D4 C557 2010. Descriptive and critical essays on genres, authors, and filmmakers.

Sisters in Crime. An association of women writers and female characters in mysteries. In addition to providing information on its members, the site has a list of mystery bookstores.

Soitos, Stephen F. The Blues Detective: A Study of African American Detective Fiction. Also available in another e-version and in print, PS648 D4 S577 1996.

Sussex, Lucy. Women Writers and Detectives in Nineteenth-Century Crime Fiction: The Mothers of the Mystery Genre. PR868 D4 S87 2010. Includes an extensive bibliography.

Steinbrunner, Chris, and Otto Penzler. Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection. 1976. PN3448 D4 E5 c. 2




Do You Know?

Just for fun, investigate the marvellous collection of discussions and lists and other information in the title below.

Murder Ink: The Mystery Reader's Companion. ed. by Dilys Winn. PR830 D4 M8. This wonderful collection includes suggestions for a personal library, information on editing and critiquing mystery fiction, psudonyms, series writers, sub-genres, poisons for the mystery writer, counterfeit and laundered money, and much more.

How to Impress the Cocktail Party Crowd

Impress friends, acquaintances, and strangers with information gleaned from Key Concepts in Crime Fiction (PN 3448 D4 W67 2011). This compact little guide provides an inside view of the forms and major themes and issues in the crime fiction genre.

The Readers' Advisory Guide to Mystery (Z711.5 C48 2012) is a great guide to history, genres, major authors, and more. It is an excellent crash course in  the world of mystery and detective fiction.


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Suzanne Wise
Belk Library and Information Commons
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608-2026
tel: 828-262-2798

Curator of the Stock Car Racing Collection