Friday, March 12, 2021



This was published in 1989 and it looks like a second volume came out in the nineties edited by Kate Stine. Usually I get rid of books like this after a while because the lists, of course, end with books from 1989 or whatever year they were published. But they are still fun to look through and remember the books that won awards or were prominent in that era. It is also fun to see which ones you read and wonder why so many others you never heard of. 

For instance, have you read the Edgar Award winner from 1972, THE LINGALA CODE by Warren Kiefer. Often if you haven't heard of the winner, you don't recognize the other titles either. But some years every book is a winner. Like in 1964 when THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD beat out THE NIGHT OF THE GENERALS, THE FIEND and THIS ROUGH MAGIC. 

Also writers you have underestimated that show up are interesting. I have never read a novel by Dorothy Miles Disney who showed up quite regularly. And in some years only two books were nominated for an Edgar. Did all the others stink that year? 

There are also lists of favorites from critics I no longer remember: Robin Winks, for instance. Readers' surveys are fun to read too. I think there was probably more consensus on the best books then, then now. Then and now Otto Penzler could only name books written by men, except for Christie. 

Even an hour of fun it sometimes worth keeping a book for and I would like to see a 2020 version of this book.

Do you have a favorite book along these lines?


Todd Mason said...

As a kid, I dug the original 3(!) BOOK OF LISTS volumes from the Wallace/Wallechinsky family (Irving, Amy and David), clearly idiosyncratic and sometimes unreliable but running down some interesting alleys, and Amy Wallace started issuing them again from the late '90s into the 2000s, on her own and with other compilers, and I picked up the HORROR and PUNK ROCK books of lists from those efforts...back in the early '80s, the confluence of the Wallace-book afterglow and publishers willing to do anything commercial-seeming involved with sf and fantasy led to the release, in the UK and US, of THE SF BOOK OF LISTS from Malcolm Edwards and Maxim Jakubowski, and THE ILLUSTRATED BOOK OF SCIENCE FICTION LISTS put together by Mike Ashley...I had missed the crime-fiction equivalents back when.

The related 100 BEST BOOKS volumes of various sorts, usually involving short essays on each book considered, either by one writer or an anthology array of different essayists, might tend to be my even greater favorites...I've FFB'd several of both types over the years. How's that for long-winded non-answer!

Margot Kinberg said...

Oh, that sounds so interesting to dip in and out of and use as a resource. Nice choice.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Doris Miles Disney
Dorothy Cameron Disney

Two different people. You mixed up the names, or the book did.

Jeff Meyerson said...

Robin Winks died in 2003. But he had several successful books of criticism in the '80s.

No, haven't read THE LINGALA CODE, but I remember the name. Many years, I've found the Edgar Committees pick odd winners that do not stand the test of time, and skip over other, better books that do.

I was a big fan of A CATALOGUE OF CRIME by Barzun & Taylor when it came out. I've read a lot of these things over the years. These days I rarely look at them, only consult something like Hubin's CRIME FICTION or 1001 MIDNIGHTS or the TWENTIETH CENTURY CRIME & MYSTERY WRITERS or my friend Bob Adey's Locked Room books when I need to look up something. I didn't need to look up the two Disneys, but a quick check of Hubin confirms what I said above.

Cullen Gallagher said...

I'd love to take a look at this book. When NYPL opens back up I'll see if they have it.

Todd Mason said...

The Edgar folks do seem to be more cliquish than making measured judgement a fair amount of the time, even by comparison to standards among other similar awards. Seems rather true throughout the history of the awards.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think the Internet has replaced these books in a way. You have lists everywhere you look: websites, blogs, facebook.
Actually the Edgar committee seems less driven by author popularity than some of the other annual award committees. I can almost predict who the nominees will be on certain awards. Rarely does that happen with the Edgars. Maybe because the Edgar readers come from different places and some of the others use their staff and reviewers to choose.

Todd Mason said...

Though some Edgar choices--particularly among A/V items over the years--have landed repeatedly on the same series or similar choices on a regular basis, despite often more impressive work in contention--this more true than with the literary awards, I'll grant you, but a certain repetition there, too. A recent unpopular attempt at a life-achievement coronation also notwithstanding.

Everyone gets to do there own lists publicly now, indeed. FFB being a kind of example.

George said...

This might sound conceited (because I was a contributor) but one of my favorite books is 1001 MIDNIGHTS. It has provided hours of reading enjoyment. And, I end up discovering a new author or title that I must immediately read each time I open the covers. Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini did a wonderful job!

Todd Mason said...

I'm usually impressed by the excerpts from 1001 MIDNIGHTS Steve runs on Mystery*File...meanwhile, here's a sapient analysis of the bloviation (nonfiction in this case) from George Saunders, in the current issue of THE BAFFLER:

TracyK said...

I agree that books of lists get outdated and then are not so much fun, but I would tend to like older lists for mysteries because I read or have read so many of them.

I think 1001 MIDNIGHTS is a wonderful book. I also like ENCYCLOPEDIA MYSTERIOSA by William L. Deandrea. I have two copies of that one. Obviously out of date by now, but with interesting information and opinions.