The 100 Most Popular Contemporary Mystery Authors: Biographical Sketches and Bibliographies

The 100 Most Popular Contemporary Mystery Authors: Biographical Sketches and Bibliographies

The 100 Most Popular Contemporary Mystery Authors: Biographical Sketches and Bibliographies

The 100 Most Popular Contemporary Mystery Authors: Biographical Sketches and Bibliographies


This book examines 100 of today's top mystery novels and mystery authors hailing from countries such as the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, South Africa, and Australia. Equally valuable to students writing research papers, readers craving new authors or more information about their favorite authors, and teachers seeking specific types of fiction to support curricula, "100 Most Popular Contemporary Mystery Authors: Biographical Sketches and Bibliographies" provides revealing information about today's best mysteries and authors--without any "spoilers."

Each of the accomplished writers included in this guide has established a broad audience and is recognized for work that is imaginative and innovative. The rising stars of 21st century mystery will also be included, as will authors who have won the Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Award.


Detective and crime fiction novels are in a mature phase—veteran writers showing how it’s done, new writers elbowing at the edges of convention. the traditional model of the Sam Spade private investigator has lost some ground to the hardened but sympathetic police professional (particularly British) and the talented amateur with an unusual background.

The last decade has seen mystery writers emphasize character, emotion, and setting over puzzle, plot, or graphic violence, though hardly shortchanging those last. Whodunit is important, but the struggles of the protagonist to find the perpetrator—and perhaps overcome some personal entanglement—engages the readers.

There are myriad subgenres that thrive in the amateur detective category. There are culinary and legal and medical mysteries and archaeology and journalism and academic and religious mysteries. Stretching the field in both directions are historical mysteries and urban fantasies—and an occasional chick lit. There are crime solvers with the latest scientific equipment at their fingertips—the forensics specialists—and there are the ill-equipped, sometimes bumbling civilians. All get their man. Or woman. and they do so in all parts of the North American continent, Europe, Australia, and occasionally Asia and Africa.

Besides the private eye in the Philip Marlowe mold, in today’s mysteries there are unlicensed but just as qualified individuals such as Lawrence Block’s former cop Matt Scudder or Janet Evanovich’s bail bondswoman Stephanie Plum.

The category of antihero largely covers those on the other side of the law, from killers for hire (Block’s Keller, for example) or killers for whim (Jeff Dorsey’s Dexter).

This guide zeroes in on 100 writers, selected from probably 10 times that number who are active today. Writers well known in the mystery field with a bent for relentless pace and action are to be found in a companion volume, 100 Most Popular Thriller and Suspense Authors (Libraries Unlimited, 2009). This series of books is meant to help librarians and secondary level students learn more about popular authors and their work.

This work focuses on contemporary (alive and writing) writers with continuing series. If a favorite writer is missing, check The 100 Most Popular Genre Fiction Authors (Libraries Unlimited, 2005) for profiles of Mary Higgins Clark, Dick Francis, Elmore Leonard, P. D. James, Sara Paretsky, Robert B. Parker, Ruth Rendell, Stuart Woods, and other established keystones. Walter Moseley is featured in that volume and in The 100 Most Popular African American Authors (Libraries Unlimited, 2006), along with another 15 black writers of crime and mystery tales.

That clears the decks to offer a broad sampling of some of the genre’s busiest writers today and to offer a feel of where the field is at as we enter the second decade of the 2000s.

Entries list the author’s birth date and location, genres, and benchmark series or series character. Entries are mostly based on sound secondary sources and provide biographies of the authors, a look at their popular works or series, and a list of their works. Bibliographical entries show where the information came from, in case the reader is interested in pursuing a specific subject.

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