edited by Jim Huang & Austin Lugar
We asked 100 published writers:
Did a mystery set you on your path to being a writer?
Is there a classic mystery that remains important to you today?
This book, a follow-up to our two previous collections of essays, 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century (2000) and They Died in Vain: Overlooked, Underappreciated and Forgotten Mystery Novels (2002), is the result.
Anthony Award winner for Best Nonfiction of 2006!
Macavity Award winner for Best Nonfiction of 2006!
Paperback | ISBN: 978-0-9625804-9-9 | 2006 | $15.00
Praise for Mystery Muses:
Works by past and present masters are celebrated in “Mystery Muses: 100 Classics That Inspire Today's Mystery Writers,” edited by Jim Huang and Austin Lugar. In this book an even 100 of today's genre-practitioners pay homage to works that were most meaningful to each -- from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" (1843) to Dennis Lehane's "Gone, Baby, Gone" (1998). The best of these mini-essays -- such as Ed Gorman's on John Lutz's "Buyer Beware," Peter Lovesey's on Patricia Highsmith's "Strangers on a Train" and Jon L. Breen's on Helen McCloy's "Dance of Death" -- are as compelling as the works they describe.
It's a treat, for instance, to have Peter Lovesey savor the vertiginous appeal of Ms. Highsmith's 1950 first novel -- "surely the most accomplished debut by a crime writer in the twentieth century. The title is the plot. The menace is there in the first sentence: 'The train tore along with an angry, irregular rhythm.'" Mr. Lovesey says that "Strangers on a Train" prompted him to write a novel of his own in which a vicar committed several murders. "It was amoral," he admits, "and I'm glad to say I have a sheaf of letters from members of the clergy saying how much they enjoyed it."
-- Tom Nolan for The Wall Street Journal
This is another standout volume for mystery lovers who want to deepen their knowledge and appreciation of mystery as a genre. In it, 100 writers write about the books that inspired them to become writers themselves, and the essays are vivid and entertaining. Sure, there’s plenty of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Raymond Chandler titles covered, but there are lots of other gems, while Jeanne M. Dams’ essay on Gaudy Night may give you a fresh appreciation for it (and a desire to reread). Some other delights include Sandra Balzo’s moving essay on Ammie, Come Home by Barbara Michaels; Peter Lovesey’s essay on Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train - the influence is so clear! - and Michael Koryta’s loveletter to Dennis Lehane’s Gone, Baby Gone. Well worth it for the recommendations alone, and you’ll enjoy wending your way through it as it covers Poe to Lehane. A must for every serious mystery reader’s library.
-- Robin Agnew, Aunt Agatha's (top 10 of 2006 pick)
This small gem by the publisher that brought us 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century and They Died in Vain delighted me in so many ways. One hundred mystery writers were asked to write about the mystery books that inspired them. The resulting essays introduced me to a few authors I didn’t know and more than a few classics I haven’t read. The authors’ stories of literary inspiration fascinated me and allowed me to become better acquainted with some writers whom I knew only through their fiction. What I really loved though: time after time the essayists—many of them fresh from an education steeped in Great Literature—relate how they came to an epiphany about the literary possibilities of genre fiction after reading a mystery book.
-- Karen Spengler, I Love a Mystery