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The Rap Sheet



f e a t u r e s

Dashiell Hammett A 75th-Anniversary Tribute
This author's third and now best-known novel, The Maltese Falcon, was published in book form on Valentine's Day, 1930, changing both Hammett's life and American detective fiction. We celebrate with a look back at his career and influences; a review of the new collection, Vintage Hammett; and praise from dozens of modern crime writers.

Dashiell Hammett A 75th-Anniversary Tribute

Strangers on Terrain by George J. Demko
Twenty-first-century Packards, fictitious big-city locations, blatantly distorted politics -- foreign mystery writers who set their stories in America are often as guilty of committing crimes against fact as their characters are of causing larceny and murder.

Strangers on Terrain by George J. Demko

Sleuths in Spurs by Bill Crider
Saddle up for gunplay and gumshoeing as January's "Five of a Kind" series corrals a herd of novels that deftly deliver the best virtues of mystery fiction (vigorous storytelling, clever plotting and a vivid sense of place) against Wild West backdrops.

Sleuths in Spurs by Bill Crider

A Stranger No More by Tom Nolan
Ross Macdonald's biographer recalls how he discovered three "new" stories by one of the genre's foremost detective novelists.

Stranger No More

Minor Offenses by J. Kingston Pierce
A compendium of compact criticism of books by Mary Reed and Eric Meyer, Gary Phillips, Steven Saylor, Susanna Gregory, Avram Davidson and other usual suspects.

Beyond Shaft by Kevin Burton Smith
Amidst all the hype about the new movie Shaft, it's time to reassess that "black private dick who's a sex machine to all the chicks" and to recognize how John Shaft kicked the door open for a diverse bunch of literary descendants.

Beyond Shaft

Home Is Where the Harm Is by Karen G. Anderson
Going home for the holidays? Revisiting your roots can be perilous if you're a sleuth trying to solve mysteries on your old stomping ground. In her latest "5 of a Kind" entry, Anderson selects some crime fiction that hits just a little too close to home.

Murder by Degree by Karen G. Anderson
January's "Five of a Kind" series goes back to school with an exploration of new and classic academic mysteries. This "cheat sheet" will prepare you for your next visit to the library or bookstore -- though we can't promise that you won't end up pulling an all-nighter when you get home with these novels.

Kitty Literature by Karen G. Anderson
In her latest "5 of a Kind" entry, The Reviewer Who Read Cat Mysteries reports on a subgenre in which writers -- from Lilian Jackson Braun to Rita Mae Brown -- mark their territory and claw their way to the top. Amidst the overpopulated world of felonious felines, she's found a few you'll want to take home.  

Kitty Literature

A Thyme to Kill by Karen G. Anderson
The contemporary crop of gardening mysteries has plenty that fit the bill for summer reading. Books that will entertain you on a sultry afternoon, but won't keep you up at night listening to every creak on the stairs.

Detectives of the Diamond by Karen G. Anderson
Baseball has inspired everything from Broadway musicals to a recent episode of The X-Files in which Agent Mulder discovers the alien secret of the baseball greats. Crime fiction boasts its own powerful line-up of works dealing with a baseball theme. In the midst of the season it seems a fine time to scout the most promising players.

Detectives of the Diamond

Capitol Punishments by J. Kingston Pierce
This being a mid-term election year in the United States, it's no surprise that a whole new crop of political fiction is sprouting at bookstores. January Magazine crime fiction editor J. Kingston Pierce looks at fiction with a political bent.

Eternally, My Dear Watson by J. Kingston Pierce
The earliest Sherlock Holmes spoof is said to have appeared in 1892, and even Mark Twain once tried his hand at a story drawing humor from the not-so-elementary deductions of a Holmesian figure.

Foodie Felonies by Karen G. Anderson
The past few years have produced a veritable groaning board of culinary crime fiction. Keep in mind that, just as many dishes look better than they taste, some of the clever titles in this subgenre may be more memorable than the books themselves.

The Essential Mystery Library by J. Kingston Pierce and Karen G. Anderson
Building a respectable collection of mystery and detective fiction is rather like assembling a galaxy. While there's no unimpeachable list of must-haves for a crime fiction library, the following books would certainly be among the top choices.