Cover image for The encyclopedia of murder and mystery
The encyclopedia of murder and mystery
Murphy, Bruce, 1962-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Minotaur, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiv, 543 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN3448.D4 M87 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Reference material
PN3448.D4 M87 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PN3448.D4 M87 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Mystery/Suspense
PN3448.D4 M87 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Reference material

On Order



A reference for lovers of the mystery genre looks at mystery writers, famous and lesser known, in an A-to-Z format, and offers a cross-referenced catalog of titles, characters, and movie adaptations.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

There have been few attempts since Otto Penzler and Chris Steinbrunner's landmark Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection (now almost 25 years old and out-of-print) to provide a comprehensive encyclopedia of the genre. In his introduction, Murphy states that this new book is an attempt "to show the genre's depth as well as breadth while singling out the superlative for attention." He presents entries for authors, titles, and characters; famous criminal cases (Boston Strangler, Jack the Ripper); slang and specialized terminology; plot devices (Alcoholism, Amnesia, Trains); subgenres (Had-I-but-known, Historical mystery); and poisons and other murder techniques (Arsenic, Blunt instrument, Ice pick). Entries are arranged alphabetically and vary in length. Cross-references are printed in capital letters. A selected bibliography is provided at the end of each character entry. There is a good mix of traditional and contemporary writers, although some may object that a favorite author has been omitted. Murphy is selective in his coverage of currently popular writers but includes a number, such as E. L. Doctorow and Ernest Hemingway, who are not generally known for their mysteries. One interesting entry is Finishers, which lists writers who have completed unfinished manuscripts of deceased, established authors; in some cases, they have even continued the series. With a few exceptions (e.g., entries on Alfred Hitchcock and Fritz Lang, mention of the BBC television adaptation of Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse series), media other than print are not included but are well covered in William DeAndrea's Encyclopedia Mysteriosa: A Comprehensive Guide to the Art of Detection in Print, Film, Radio, and Television [RBB F 15 95]. Fans of the genre will find this book both entertaining and informative. The author has brought together a plethora of classic and contemporary writers in hopes of introducing readers to new works. Librarians will find the book helpful not only as a ready-reference source but also as a readers' advisory aid. (Reviewed May 1, 2000)

Library Journal Review

Murphy, editor of the fourth edition of Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia, has now written an engaging and informative encyclopedia about mysteries. Arranged alphabetically, this volume contains entries on authors, characters, book titles, and subgenres of the mystery genre, as well as themes in mysteries, famous criminal cases, and murder techniques. Entries on characters in series, such as P.D. James's detective Adam Dalgliesh, conclude with short (and, unfortunately, incomplete) bibliographies of the novels in which they appear. Entries on specific novels (of which there are many) provide plot synopses. Entries on themes and subgenres provide names of authors writing in that style or known for using that theme. But the volume contains some analysis as well; often Murphy explains what he sees as each author's strengths and weaknesses and places writers within a literary context. There is no index, but there are useful cross references indicated by small caps in the text of the entry. Recommended for public libraries.--Cynthia A. Johnson, Barnard Coll. Lib., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Murphy has produced a readable, informative, and critical encyclopedia about the mystery genre. His preface notes that he has tried to demonstrate "the genre's depth as well as breadth while singling out the superlative for attention." Comparable works include Jacques Barzun and W.H. Taylor's A Catalogue of Crime (1971; rev. ed., CH, Jul'90), Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection, ed. By Chris Steinbrunner and Otto Penzler (1975), and William L. DeAndrea's Encyclopedia Mysteriosa (1994). Author entries combine basic biographical details with a critical summary of the entire body of the author's work. Significant individual titles have their own entries (e.g., "The Hammer of God," a Father Brown story, or Dorothy Salisbury Davis's novel The Habit of Fear). In addition to entries for authors and individual titles are those for characters (e.g., John Dortmunder, Tom Ripley, Dave Robichaux), subgenres (murder afloat, country house, locked room, hard-boiled), terminology (caliber, jive, patsy), murder methods (ice pick, arsenic, Walther PPK), and famous criminal cases (Jack the Ripper, Dr. Crippen). Although no single work on the mystery genre is all-inclusive either in criticism or bibliography, Murphy's offers a good place to start. As a reference source, it should be used with other reference works on the genre to assure coverage. E. B. Ryner; FBI Academy Library