Book Review: Encyclopedia Mysteriosa by William L. DeAndrea


This is a fun book that I came across at Half-Price Books two Decembers ago.  It went right on my Christmas list and, ever since then, it’s a book that I’ve found useful many times.

As you can probably tell, it’s an encyclopedia, one that is devoted to detectives.  You can’t have a good mystery without a good detective and this book proves that, with entries for fictional detectives, their creators, and the TV shows, movies, and books in which they appeared.  It’s all written in a concise and lively manner, which is another way of saying that it’s a fun read.  That’s especially true if you’re a fan of mysteries, as I am.

Now, I should mention that this book was originally published in 1994.  Another edition came out in 1997.  As far as I can tell, that was it.  As such, a lot of the information in the book is a bit of out-of-date.  Authors who have passed or who have retired are still listed as being very much alive and active.  More recent detectives are not mentioned.  (Sorry, Mr. Monk.)  The original Magnum P.I. and Hawaii 5-0 get entries but not the reboots.  There’s no mention of CSI and Thomas Harris’s entry is rather small, with no mention of the post-Silence of the Lamb Lecter films, largely because they hadn’t been made yet.  You get the idea.   But, even with that in mind, this book is still full of useful information, especially if you’re into the older, classic detectives or if you’re a history nerd like I am.  (Trust me, if you have to choose between Wikipedia and reading a book that was actually written during the period in which you’re interested, go with the book every time.)  What it doesn’t contain about recent detectives, it makes up for with information on Poirot, Holmes. Philip Marlowe, Mike Hammer, Sam Spade, and many others.

If nothing else, Encyclopedia Mysteriosa is a good starting point for those looking for a good mystery!  And, if you’re looking for a little inspiration to maybe write a mystery of your own, this book may provie you with exactly the inspiration you need.  There are several copies for sale on Amazon, all reasonably priced.

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