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Howard Haycraft (1905–1991)

Author of A Treasury of Great Mysteries, Volumes 1-2

22+ Works 1,228 Members 13 Reviews

About the Author

Series

Works by Howard Haycraft

Associated Works

Murder Cavalcade (1946) — Contributor — 5 copies

Tagged

Common Knowledge

Birthdate
1905
Date of death
1991-11-12
Gender
male
Occupations
editor

Members

Reviews

Currently re-reading because the first mystery in the volume is The Maltese Falcon, this year's Big Read selection in Wichita. I wish this hadn't been chosen as a community read. It's drenched in unredeeming and unredeemed machismo and homophobia that are difficult to stomach. For all its merits as a classic in the genre, or even the representative classic of its genre, it's an unfortunate choice for a community event. I hope we'll see some discussion of the difficult aspects of the book, but I'm not holding my breath.

As I recall, the other mysteries in the volume are all pretty good, especially the Peter Wimsey story, which is one of the few genuinely light-hearted Wimseys.
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IVLeafClover | 1 other review | Jun 21, 2022 |
First, know that this book was published in 1941, and except for a 10-year anniversary update at the end that adds a few more books recommended by Haycraft and by Ellery Queen, that is where it ends. If, however, you're interested in being pointed to the most worthwhile early stories of detection, you'll find much rewarding here. The author is a bit annoying in trying to narrowly define the detective story, however. Nowadays, when genres and sub-genres tend to be blended together for good or ill, this sort of distinction seems unnecessary. It reminds me of the used book store I visited where mystery was in one section and crime in another. (And thrillers in yet another.) Haycraft tells the usual story of the origin of the detective story with Edgar Allan Poe's "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" and proceeds through early writers such as Anna Katherine Green to the successes of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes up to the "present day" of 1941 or so. This means that the first part of the careers of some well known writers such as Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, John Dickson Carr, and Michael Innes are included. Also, unfortunately, the entire career of Dashiell Hammett, who even at that early date had already stopped writing. The main part of the book mentions Raymond Chandler only very briefly, but the 10-years-after update does give him credit and add some of his works to the recommended list. Haycraft, to his credit, doesn't disparage the hard-boiled genre, and is lavish in his praise of Hammett.

More interesting, perhaps, are the writers that have been largely forgotten that Haycraft extolls, such as Mabel Sealey, who is pretty forgotten today. His concise descriptions of his subjects' works, without any plot spoilers to speak of, will whet your appetite to try out some of these books, many of which are now in the public domain. Given his chosen framework, Haycraft only really errs when he states decisively that women do not make good fictional detectives. It is a bit jarring to read such a blatantly sexist statement in a book that is otherwise a model of balance. Haycraft, for instance, points out not just the strengths of each writer, but also their weaknesses.

In any case, there's probably no good substitute for this book if it's the book your're looking for, so have at it.
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½
 
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datrappert | Feb 16, 2019 |
Three of these are among my favorite spy writers Oppenheim's Great Impersonation, in which the famous plot twist turns on who is impersonating who, Buchan's Greenmantle, which I have reviewed elsewhere, and one of Manning Coles' Tommy Hambledon stories, No Entry, set in East Germany. This is not my absolutely favorite Hambledon, but it is as always very good. Hambledon is looking for a young Englishman who vanished from a pleasant German inn about ten miles from what was then the Zonal Frontier i/e. the East German border. half of Manning Coles was a man who had himself been a spy in Germany during World War 1, and I have always felt his German backgrounds were the best. The other two stories, by Martha Albrand and Eric Ambler, are by respected writers, but I have not read them. The only Abler I have tried was too grim for my taste.… (more)
½
 
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antiquary | Sep 23, 2016 |

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Associated Authors

Agatha Christie Contributor
Dorothy L. Sayers Contributor
Ellery Queen Contributor
Rex Stout Contributor
John Dickson Carr Contributor
William Irish Contributor
Raymond Chandler Contributor
Margery Allingham Contributor
Daphne Du Maurier Contributor
Eric Ambler Contributor
Ngaio Marsh Contributor
Edgar Wallace Contributor
Patrick Quentin Contributor
Craig Rice Contributor
Stuart Palmer Contributor
Leslie Charteris Contributor

Statistics

Works
22
Also by
1
Members
1,228
Popularity
#20,902
Rating
4.0
Reviews
13
ISBNs
19

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