1. A Dab of Theory
Overviews are for the birds.
It can be irritating to note the omission of obvious-seeming names from a discussion and not know whether the omissions were due to ignorance.
In Thrillers; Genesis and Structure of a Popular Genre (1978), Jerry Palmer defines what he sees as that genre without mentioning John D. MacDonald, Ross Thomas, Eric Ambler, Peter O’Donnell, Richard Stark, Michael Gilbert, Ted Lewis, Stanley Ellin, Graham Greene, Charles Williams, Richard Stark, or Donald Hamilton.
It’s still an intelligent and interesting book, socio-historical-political, and he collapses the conventional distinction between thrillers and mysteries. But his definition of a thriller excludes too many of my own favourites.
The trouble is, the term “thriller” floats.
A detective story is about detection, a spy story is about spying. But a thriller isn’t about thrills, any more than a hardboiled novel is about eggs. It is a work that thrills, or at least tries to. That grips you.
A detective novel, a spy novel, a crime novel, can all be thrillers—sometimes hardboiled thrillers. For me, at any rate. And obviously for others.
So you can say, perfectly reasonably, “I’m going to talk about a group of works with such-and-such features, to which I’ve given the name thrillers.” And what you say about them may indeed be interesting.
But you can’t, or at least you shouldn’t, add, “And this is what thrillers really are. This is what the genre is.”
And you also shouldn’t go on from there to talk about what people who enjoy such works must be feeling as they read them.
As Ralph Harper does in The World of the Thriller (1969).
It seems quite a bright book when I flip its pages. But, “The Reader; His Inner World” ? “The Reader; His Secret World”?—who is Ralph Harper, intelligent though he may be, that he presumes to know anything about my own inner world. Or, God forbid, my secret ones?
Would you talk about the inner world of Jane Austen’s readers?
And the world of the thriller?
The World of the Regional Short Story? The World of the Urban Poem? The World of the Psychological Novel?
Would you really be in a hurry to read such books? Or publish them?
Isn’t there some condescension here towards “thrillers”? And what, anyway, is a “world”? Let alone the world.
Of course we do use the term “world” figuratively, particularly about a single author, or even a single substantial work—figuratively and usually evaluatively. Maybe we’d like to be there ourselves as one of those fortunate characters, doing those things in those pleasant places. Or we feel a bit oppressed, we’re not at home, too much of what we ourselves know seems left out.
If this or that book were all that remained of our civilization, what inferences would a future researcher make from it about what our lives were like? And/or about how the author viewed—what? The world?
Something like that?
But once we, or you, get beyond a single work or author and start talking about several authors and their books, what’s going on? What kind of conflation, what averaging is taking place?
No, Harper does not know how I myself feel. Sorry! Unless, I suppose, he’s dipped into this site.
Nor do I myself know what it would mean to talk about the world of the non-thriller.
The “real” world? The way things really are? In contrast to a fanciful one?
What world am I in when I watch the daily news on CNN? Or, post-9/11, contemplate buying a transatlantic plane ticket?
The term “world,” like the term “organic unity,” is a slippery metaphor.
And mostly unnecessary.
“In Sapper’s world, foreigners are either knaves or fools”? Hmm, maybe, maybe not.
But how about, “In Sapper’s view of the world”? At least that gets us into the perceiver.
Well, then, why not simply “For Sapper”? Or better still, “In the Bulldog Drummond novels,” which gets us to a point where we can really start testing the truth of the claim.? And which makes it easier to shift to a comparison like, “For Buchan, on the other hand,” or, “In the Hannay novels.”
If every writer has his or her “world,” they become like an infinitude of Leibnizian monads rolling around on an infinite pool-table.
When you say “thriller,” you’re not talking about something like a sonnet, with subsets of rules to observe if what you submit to a poetry competition is to be considered a sonnet.
(Loose though the rules are, nineteen lines of blank verse are not going to make it into the competition.)
You’re pointing to a configuration, a configuration of your own perceiving. As I have done here.
Which is not to say that it’s wholly private. Configurings and lists overlap. The Thirty-Nine Steps is usually there in discussions of thrillers, and Jane Eyre, The Red Badge of Courage, and The War of the Worlds aren’t. (But how about The Island of Doctor Moreau?)
Wittgenstein’s analogy of a family is particularly appropriate here.
There’s a large family reunion—grandparents, second-cousins, the whole schmeer—and an outsider can see that some of them, perhaps a lot, are obviously members of the same family. But this isn’t because of features that they all share.
No, Mary and Bill have the same eyes and nose, and Bill and Nelly have the same nose and mouth, and Nelly and Lester…well, you know how it goes. And there are fadings, so that it’s hard to tell from their looks whether some of those present are family members or not. Second-cousins-once-removed, perhaps?
Actually most genres are like this, but we’ve forgotten it. What is a novel? A poem? For that matter, what is prose?
Shades of the examination chamber. “Define.”
To judge from the books on my shelves, the titles that I’ve remembered unprompted, and the ones that I’ve recognized in secondary works, I have read or skimmed at least one crime/suspense/espionage/etcetera work, and in some instances as many as twenty or thirty, by all the writers on the list that follows after these reflections. The symbol (ss) indicates short stories.
How many of these authors would be on most lists of thrillers, I wonder? Not all of them would be on mine, I’m sure.
How many others (to judge from the works that I’ve praised) would I enjoy if they were to come to my attention?
I would love to hear of more. I guess it’s time for me to take out a subscription to Crime Time.
A word or two about enjoyment, though.
In his brilliant and sometimes very funny An Aesthetics of Junk Fiction (1989), Thomas J. Roberts discusses what he calls “junk fiction” as if thrillers, Harlequin romances, science fiction, and so on, constitute some kind of aesthetic category, rather than a social one.
He is fascinating when he settles down to explaining the pleasures to be derived from particular works that are indeed junky or trashy, badly written, simplistic, foolishly sentimental, and so forth, and yet the aficionado loves them, and it is a pure love, and not simply coarse or dumb—in fact, an art experience.
Richard Usborne’s at times hilarious and probably very influential Clubland Heroes is admirable in that regard. The novels of “Sapper” (the term for a British army engineer) are preposterous, and politically reprehensible, and Usborne brings this out, and yet he writes affectionately about Hugh (“Bulldog”) Drummond and his under-employed, ex-service, men-about-town cronies.
On the other hand, he is justifiably irritated by Buchan’s paragons. Buchan, like Kipling, obviously sees himself as a definer of decent values.
By his own account, Donald Hamilton used to enjoy Leslie Charteris’ Saint novels at a time when he himself was trying to become a writer.
I myself loved the Saint books when I was twelve or thirteen, along with Sapper’s and Dornford Yates’. They were totally unputdownable—then. And I was getting art experiences from them that I wasn’t getting from most of my school texts.
I have done my own share of junk reading.
But when I myself was, and sometimes still am, reading, the works in my lists in “The Best Thriller” and “Quickies,” I’m not saying to myself, “This is junk but/and I love it.” I’m not in there among John Waters’ trailer-park trash, or on 42nd Street in its great days in the Seventies and early Eighties when Bill Landis was on the prowl for his remarkable zine Sleazoid Express.
I’m simply reading, the way I’d be reading works by Jean Rhys, or B.Traven, or Stephen Crane, or Penelope Fitzgerald that I have enjoyed. Which is to say, advancing pleasurably from one sentence to the next, one paragraph to the next, one chapter to the next, and caring about the evoked experiences.
In other words, I am reading good writing, good works of literature. Not great ones. But there aren’t all that many of those anyway, are there? once you get away from the delusion that there is a correlation between distinction and size.
And you’ll miss out on a lot if you feel that the term “minor” implies some kind of deficiency, a lack, a failure to be what works ought to be, namely—ta-DAH!— “major.”
Limericks last, novels vanish. Unfair—but lots of limericks (our haiku) are perfect.
Someone recently said, “When will people realize that it’s just as hard work being a minor writer as a major one?” Or words to that effect.
To adapt Jeremy Bentham’s famous remark about animals and pain, we should be enquiring of a work, not, is it major, or is it minor, but is it good?
A lot of bad writing comes from authors, mostly American, who aren’t content simply to be good.
A word, too, about “genres.”
Of course we need the term. We need a set of pigeonholes for comic strips, sitcoms, movie documentaries, limericks, ghost stories, elegies, nature poems, detective stories, and so on and so forth.
But Scylla and Charybdis lurk, as always.
On the one hand, ignorance.
It can be too lightly assumed that anything in some genre will be beyond the pale. You’ve glanced at one or two works, and they’re dreadful, or so you think, and you’re not going to waste time finding out about the others.
Some of the casual dissings of Seinfeld and The Simpsons by self-appointed guardians of culture have been like that. “But how many episodes have you seen?” one wants to shout at them.
And sometimes it may be true, I mean about being beyond some pale.
But the Surrealists, especially André Breton, with their collapsing of mechanical distinctions between “high” and “low,” showed how valuable art experience can be had in unlikely places.
Such as in so-called “exploitation” movies—another floating term.
The history of “culture” is partly the history of things being eventually allowed inside the pale—King Kong, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, the drawings of Robert Crumb. Often because of their dark humour (but please, not camp).
Hammett made it. Ted Lewis will. Heaven knows, he deserves it.
On the other hand, too much knowledge, of a sort, can be a problem.
You’ve read or looked at enough examples to believe that you’ve cracked the code and understand what the real dynamics of works like that are.
Which is to say, why every work in the group has to be the way it is because that’s, well, that’s simply the nature of the genre.
Bruce Merry, in Anatomy of Spy Fiction (1977), knows that spy novels are mostly pretty romantic and silly, as well as being politically noxious. Always excepting, of course, that famous realism of writers like Somerset Maugham and John Le Carré.
(Though why academics should feel that they can take Maugham and Le Carré on trust, I don’t know. But then, some non-academics probably thought Lucky Jim was giving them the lowdown on academic life.)
But things can also go the other way.
Whatever the features that are there in the work, they are there because they had to be there, they are part of the conventions of the genre. Or so we are assured.
They were meant to be there. They were what the writer intended.
So you have to switch off your critical faculties and not complain about gross inconsistencies, moral confusion, technical incompetence, heavy-handed symbolism, and so forth.
If that’s what you perceive there.
Years ago, C.S.Lewis defended Paradise Lost like that against reality-check criticisms of its moral and narrative rhetorics.
You had to realize that the poem belonged to its own special genre, the literary epic. Meaning that it was sort of like The Aeneid, in which Virgil had been trying to get one up on Homer by combining features from The Iliad and The Odyssey in a twofer that would put him in solid with the Boss.
I forget what the genre-creating precedent for the Aeneid had been. If there was one.
He also (Lewis) wrote as if this was how sin really had come into the world. He was mad at Eve and Satan. Talk about a willing suspension of disbelief!
But then, Paradise Lost is itself a sort of thriller, I guess. How will Satan do his prison-break ? How will he get into the guarded estate? How will the tenants react?
But everything doesn’t have to be the way it is (in fact nothing does), and quality doesn’t travel by osmosis.
The promising opening of a work no more guarantees that the rest of it will be good than the promising start of a snooker break mandates what will follow.
Nor, contrariwise, does fumbling at one stage in a game mean that the fumbling will continue.
Literary works have more in common with snooker and pool than they do with trees and plants (though the term “organic unity” can be a useful metaphor for a certain kind of start-to-finish rightness and flow).
Thrillers are literary works.
So how do we interface with this “genre”?
I have just dipped again into John G. Cawelti’s Adventure, Mystery, and Romance and realized something more clearly.
Cawelti writes intelligently and sensitively as he constructs his typologies, and he’s read widely enough to pick up some of the lesser names, such as Richard S. Prather and Brett Halliday. But I knew why I didn’t want to set to and really read the book.
Surely by now there must be a literary concept like the Heisenberg Principle, whereby you change something in the act of observing it? The something here being your enjoyment of a work, rather than your enjoyment of observing yourself enjoying the work?
The more subtle the typologies, and the more you’ve studied them, the more you’re going to be asking yourself what what you’re reading is an example of. Which slot does it belong in? What formulae are being used in it?
One of the most important movie books for me was Ado Kyrou’s Le Surréalisme au cinéma (1953). But all he did was talk about lots and lots of movies in a roughly chronological sequence and make me want to see them.
If he had talked about them in terms of “types” of Surrealism, and kept refining on the types, he’d have killed the subject dead for me, and probably everyone else, apart from a few academics.
Isn’t that the definition of being “academic,” namely converting experiences into objects of study, so that the studying overrides and falsifies the experiencies, making them shallower and blurring differences?
Regretting that he couldn’t attend the first academic conference on Sade, Jean Paulhan cautioned the organizers, “Respectez le scandale” respect Sade’s scandalousness.
I hope I haven’t been academic in these pages.
A work should work if it’s the only one of its kind that you’ve read. Otherwise you’re trapped in a Borgesian regress wherein to understand work A you must first read work B and to understand work B you must first read…
But genre pleasures are real, of course.
Development, variations, adaptation, differentiae, individuation—the true genre pleasures, for both readers and writers.
The thrill of the good key-setting first paragraph. Like stills outside a movie theatre in the (truly) good old days of movie-going.
Promises. Expectations. Including the covers.
The paperbacks on my shelves are old friends, some of them going back forty years.
I am grateful to Geoffrey O’Brien’s Hardboiled America; Lurid Paperbacks and the Masters of Noir (1981, rev. ed. 1997) and Max Allan Collins’The History of Mystery (2001) for their recoveries of cover art.
A caution, though, about “formulae” (Cawelti again).
It can be tempting to feel that you've cracked a code, that you understand a formula, you being a possible writer as well as reader.
How do I break into the pulps? (Donald Hamilton never managed it when he was starting out.) How do I do a Harlequin Romance? How do I write an airport bestseller and be able to quit this horrible job of mine?
Please tell me the formula. PLEASE! ("Take one tough private eye, one enigmatic brunette, one friendly/hostile police captain...")
“Formula”? Another slippery metaphor, with its implication of success.
If you know the recipe for Miracle Whip, what you make will be Miracle Whip. But good works of fiction aren’t simply combinations of “elements” or “patterns,” not even when dignified with talk about structures or deep structures.
You can’t, or at least you shouldn’t, take the simple as paradigmatic of the complex, and treat the complex as though it were a variant on the simple (or simpler), as if Beethoven’s symphonies and Bach’s fugues were variants on folk music.
Or as if Pride and Prejudice were one of the Harlequins that are its lineal descendants.
For that matter, the “simple” itself may not be all that simple either. “The Story of Hansel and Gretel,” as told by Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm, is its own fascinating point-by-point narrative about those two particular brave and resourceful children, not just a bundle of type situations as classified by Viktor Propp, or a culinary blend.
So that to try experiencing the complex by approximating it to the simple may be to falsify the simple as well.
F.R. Leavis, bless him, was deconstructing structuralist-type reductiveness and dichotomizing long before Derrida and De Man, the latter of whom obviously knew his work.
The gratifications of repetition and variation are real, of course.
The child being told a bedtime story for the umpteenth time wants it to be told without additions and omissions.
The story as it stands (or has come to be) is satisfying. There are others that he/she never wants to hear again.
A list of all the things we enjoy in Travis McGee or Modesty Blaise or Quiller novels would be a long one. Again, it’s “families” time. Not all those things have to be in every novel, but some of them do. I forget whether Quiller tangles with his home-base superiors in every novel, but those tangling are so enjoyably there for me now in memory that I suspect he does.
Some procedures, some forms, go on generating satisfaction.
We enjoy, we demand that shift into courtroom work half way through each week’s rerun of Law and Order. We know that Columbo is going to have just one more question, sir, to ask before he actually exits through that door—a relevant question.
Forms like the Petrarchan sonnet, the limerick, the Chandleresque private-eye novel make it possible for some things to be done well, and to go on being done well, not requiring ground- (or rule-) breaking talent.
Good imagist poems (another “family”) are still being written almost a century after the Imagist manifestoes of Ezra Pound and others.
But the operative word is “possible.” There’s no guarantee that things will be done well.
How irritating it is to watch the merely formulaic Western or drive-in thriller on TV, and feel the presence of the camera crew just out of sight, and catch yourself thinking about genres because there’s nothing else to think about.
And oh, the dreariness of some of those once oh-so-beloved black-and-white TV shows that get excerpted from time to time.
And the melancholy of the new (doomed) formulaic sitcom pilot, like a stand-up comic who’s dying on his feet.
Television is a graveyard of failed formulae.
But when something's working, you're experiencing the work, not noticing (ah ha! got it!) the formula.
The “same” elements may recur, but as potentials. The same chessmen are there at the start of a game, the same balls on the pool table.
But when you’re watching an episode of The Simpsons which you haven’t seen before, you will not be able to predict how it goes.
And once you’ve seen it, yes, of course, it’s a real Simpson episode.
Writers have often said that their characters take over.
Donald Hamilton has told us that he’d be bored if he knew in advance what would happen in a new Helm book.
But yes, given such-and-such a situation, that is how such-and-such characters will behave.
And when the situation is right…
I bet that’s how Hamilton’s lovely Line of Fire simply came, by his own account, in six pain-free weeks.
At bottom, it’s a matter of creating satisfying characters, isn’t it?—Helm, Quiller, Hannay, McGee, Modesty and Willy, McCorckle and Padillo—and then putting them in the right situations.
It’s uncomfortable watching the failed characters that early silent comics devised--Larry Semon, Billy Bevan, Stan Laurel while he was still imitating Chaplin to the point of plagiarism.
Like bad old TV programmes, they are merely fictive, a bundle of conventions.
Whereas with Laurel and Hardy and in the marvellous delicate mimicry of the best Carol Burnett shows we have real-world dynamics.
A "character" is itself a form, a conjunction of potentials—things that someone like that does, might do, would never dream of doing.
How satisfying it is, too, when you get the right actor and right characterization for a fictional character—David Souchet's Poirot, Peter Cushing's Frankenstein.
And narrators too are characters, willy-nilly, whether first-person, single p.o.v., or omniscient.
When things are right, it’s a living voice that’s there at the outset of the work.
"Let me not to the marriage of true minds/Admit impediment"; “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”; “I was forty and I felt it.”
And certain forms permit a satisfying defining, exploring, resolving.
Part of the pleasure of embarking on a new thriller if the opening’s been promising, is that you really don’t know in any detail what’s coming next, even when you’ve read other works in the series, if it’s a series.
You’re on a journey of expectations, at times disappointments, at times pleasurable surprises, all the more interesting because of how what you’re reading departs from and improves upon what you’ve read already, whether by that author or others.
How will the bank be robbed this time?
You’re reading another spy novel, another detective novel, another robbing-the-bank novel, another innocent-man-on-the-run novel, another Modesty Blaise book.
You are in suspense, something has to be done more or less urgently, there’s danger along the way, there’s some kind of illegality, the train is running, you can’t jump off.
You’re reading a thriller.
It may not be all fun and games, of course. What you’re reading can disturb you, some event be truly shocking. With challenges to moral thought.
George Orwell famously contrasted the value systems of E.W. Hornung’s late-Victorian stories about gentleman-thief A.J. Raffles and James Hadley Chase’s kidnap-and-rape gangster novel No Orchids for Miss Blandish, which he nevertheless considered “a brilliant piece of writing, with hardly a wasted word or a jarring note anywhere.”
(He was too generous there, but at least the prose of the original version never sank to the level of most of Faulkner’s Sanctuary, from which it derived.)
I myself had a go at the question of values in Violence in the Arts (1973), including violences in thrillers.
Thrillers as a group are charged with values—with multiple and conflicting value-systems.
Erik Routley is far too kind to Dorothy Sayers in his The Puritan Pleasures of the Detective Story (1979). And to various other authors of so-called classic puzzlers. And there are some big absences in his account, such as Arthur Upfield’s Bony books.
But this out-front personal book by an eminent, at least that’s the word on the dust-jacket, eminent musicologist and theologian is exemplary in its uncondescending and, in the proper sense of the word, discriminating exploration of a genre that he loves.
Thriller aficionados have been too much on the defensive.
Continuities are comforting, and thrillers can provide them.
There are probably more series about recurring characters in thrillers than in any other, can’t avoid the term, genre, a lot of them first-person or single-point-of-view narratives.
Thrillers, like other works, involve problem-solving, and part of what makes them readable for relaxation—well, most of them— is that the problems are solvable.
A romance ends with marriage. In thriller series, there’s always a new problem to be confronted by the protagonists next time—robbing another bank, preventing another terrorist attack, finding out who really killed Cock Robin.
But the problems, if they’re going to matter, have to be, in part, real-world ones. Blows hurt, cars skid out of control, there are penalties, sometimes terminal, for error.
There is no “world” of thrillers. There is the world, ours, made temporarily more interesting and more manageable in a variety of ways.
2. List of authors
When I look at the novels on my shelves, and remember others that I have read, and have had my memory jogged by references in secondary works, I can say that, over the years, I have read at least one work by each of the following writers that might, at least initially, be considered a thriller, and in some instances thirty or forty.
I don’t remember what’s in a lot of the books on the shelves. But obviously I bought them in the expectation of pleasure, and I didn’t throw them away. The symbol “ss” indicates short stories. I have included pseudonyms.
•Aarons, Edward S. •Adams, Cleve F. •Allingham, Margery •Ambler, Eric •Armstrong, Anthony •Armstrong, Charlotte •Avallone, Michael •Azimov, Isaac •Bagley, Desmond •Baker, W. Howard •Ballard, W.T. •Ballinger, Bill S. •Bardin, John •Barlow, James •Barry, Joe •Baynes, Jack •Beeding, Francis •Berckman, Evelyn •Blackburn, John •Bleeck, Oliver •Blodgett, Matthew •Blood, Matthew •Boothby, Guy •Borges, Jorge Luis (ss) •Braine, John •Brandon, William (ss) •Brewer, Gil •Brown, Carter •Brown, Frederic •Bruen, Mark •Brunner, John •Buchan, John •Buckley, William F. •Burke, James Lee •Burnett, W.R. •Byrd, Max.
•Caillou, Alan •Cain, James M. •Cain, Paul •Cannon, Jack •Carr, John Dickson •Carter, Nick •Cassiday, Bruce •Chaber, M.E. •Chandler, Raymond •Charlton, John •Charteris, Leslie •Chase, James Hadley •Chesterton, G.K. •Cheyney, Peter •Child, Lee •Crichton, Michael •Christie, Agatha •Clancy, Tom •Cleeve, Brian •Clements, Calvin •Collins, Michael •Condon, Richard •Constiner, Merle (ss) •Cory, Desmond •Coxe, George Harmon •Craig, David •Craig, Jonathan •Crais, Robert •Crawford, Robert •Creasey, John •Crisp, N.F. •Cross, James •Crumley, James •Cumington, O.J. •Cunningham, E.V.
•Dale, John •Daly, John Carroll •Davidson, Lionel •Davis, Norbert (ss) •Dean, Spencer •De Felitta, Frank •Deighton, Len •Dent, Lester •Diehl, William •Dickson, Carter •Diment, Adam •Dodge, David •Donaldson, D.J. •Doyle, Arthur Conan •Driscoll, Peter •Dürrenmatt, Friedrich •Ehrlich, Jack •Ellin, Stanley •Elroy, James •Estleman, Loren D. •Eustis, Helen •Evans, John •Fairman, Paul W. •Fearing, Kenneth •Finney, Jack •Fischer, Bruno •Fish, Robert L. •Fleming, Ian •Follett, Ken •Forbes, Bryan •Forester, C.S. •Forsyth, Frederick •Fox, James M. •Francis, Dick •Freeling, Nicolas •Furst, Alan •Gardner, Earle Stanley •Gardner, John •Garner, William •Garve, Andrew •Gault, William Campbell •Gifford, Thomas, •Gilbert, Michael •Goldman, William •Glinto, Darcy •Goodis, David •Gores, Joe •Graeme, Bruce •Gray, A.W. •Greene, Graham •Gruber, Frank
•Haggard, William •Hall, Adam •Hall, Andrew •Halliday, Brett •Hamilton, Donald •Hamlin, Curt (ss) •Hammett, Dashiell •Hardy, Lindsay •Harling, Robert •Harvester, Simon •Heard, H.F. •Heath, W.L. •Heatter, Basil •Hiaason, Carl •Hichens, Dolores •Higgins, Jack •Highsmith, Patricia •Himes, Chester •Himmel, Richard •Hone, Joseph •Horler, Sydney •Hornung, E.W. •Household, Geoffrey •Huggins, Roy •Hughes, Dorothy B. •Hunt, Howard •Hunter, Stephen •Innes, Michael •Irish, William •Janson, Hank •Japrisot, Sébastien •Jenkins, Geoffrey •Kakonis, Tom •Kane, Henry •Keene, Day •Knight, Adam •Kyle, Robert •Lacy, Ed •Latimer, Jonathan •Lauden, Desmond. •Laumer, Keith •Le Carré, John •Leason, James •Lehane, Dennis •Leonard, Elmore •Leonard, Frank •Lewis, Colin •Lewis, Ted •Ludlum, Robert •Lyall, Gavin •Lybeck, Ed (ss) •Lyons, Arthur
•MacDonald, John D. •Macdonald, Philip •Macdonald, Ross •Mackenzie, Donald •Maclean, Alastair •MacRoss, Ross •Mair, George B. •Manchester, William •Manor, Jason •Mara, Bernard •Markham, Robert •Marlowe, Dan J. •Marlowe, Stephen •Marsden, Richard •Marshall, William •Martin, Aylwin Lee •Mayo, James •McBain, Ed •McCarry, Charles •McClure, James •McDowell, Emmett •McGivern, William P. •McKimmey, James •McPartland, John •Millar, Kenneth •Millar, Margaret •Miller, Rex •Miller, Wade •Mills, John •Mitchell, James •Morrell, David •Morse, L.W. •Mosley, Walter •Myles, Symon
•Nebel, Frederick (ss) •Neely, Richard •Noel, Sterling •Nolan, William F. •O’Donnell, Peter •Ozaki, Milton K. •Parker, Robert B. •Pendleton, Don •Porter, Henry •Powell, Richard •Prather, Richard S. •Presnell, Frank G. •Puzo, Mario •Quarry, Nick •Queen, Ellery •Quinn, Simon •Rabe, Peter •Rae, Hugh C. •Raymond, Derek •Rice, Craig •Rigsby, Howard •Rohde, William •Rohmer, Sax •Rome, Anthony •Runyon, Charles •Rutherford, Douglas •Sanders, Lawrence •Sandford, John •Sangster, Jimmy •“Sapper” •Sarto, Ben •Schoenfeld, Howard •Scott, Chris •Sela, Owen •Shay, Reuben Jennings (ss) •Sheers, James C. •Sheppard, Stephen •Simenon, Georges •Simon, Roger L. •Singer, Bart •Sjöwall, Maj and Per Wahloo •Skinner, Robert F. •Smith, Don •Smith, Martin Cruz •Smith, Neville •Souvestre, Pierre and Marcel Alain •Spillane, Mickey •Stark, Richard •Starnes, Richard •Sterling, Stewart
•Teran, Boston •Thomas, Ross •Thompson, Jim •Timlin, Mark •Tinsley, Theodore (ss) •Torrey, Roger (ss) •Trinian, John •Upfield, Arthur W. •Vachss, Andrew V. •Valin, Jonathan •Vance, Louis Joseph •Vian, Boris •Wallace, Edgar •Walsh, Thomas •Warwick, Lester •Watkins, Leslie •Waugh, Hillary •Westlake, Donald E. •White, Lionel •Whitfield, Raoul (ss) •Willeford, Charles •Williams, Alan •Williams, Charles •Williamson, Tony •Wise, Arthur •Woodhouse, Martin •Woolrich, Cornell •Worley, William •Yardley, James •Yates, Dornford •Yuill, P.B.
3. Bibliography; Thrillers
I am a lazy researcher these days, but I have at least dipped into the following.
Aird, Catherine and John M. Reilly
The Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing
N.Y., OUP, 1999
Benstock, Bernard and Thomas F. Stanley, eds.
British Mystery and Thriller Writers Since 1940; First Series
Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 87
Detroit and New York, Gale Research, 1989
Best Detective Fiction; A Guide from Godwin to the Present
London, Clive Bingley and Linnet Books, 1975
Breen, Jon. L and Martin Harry Greenberg
Murder off the Rack; Critical Studies of Ten Paperback Masters
Metuchen, N.J. and London, 1989
Cawelti, John G.
Adventure, Mystery, and Romance
Chicago, University of Chicago, 1976
Collins, Max Allan
The History of Mystery
Portland, Oregon, Collectors Press, 2001
De Andrea, William L.
Encyclopedia Mysteriosa: A Comprehensive Guide to the Art of Detection in Print, Film, Radio, and Television
N.Y., Prentice Hall, 1994
Gorman, Ed, Lee Server, and Martin H. Greenberg
The Big Book of Noir
N.Y., Carroll and Graf, 1998
Goodstone, Tony, ed.
The Pulps: Fifty Years of American Pop Culture
N.Y., Chelsea House, 1970
Hagen, Ordean A.
Who Done It? A Guide to Detective, Mystery and Suspense Fiction
N.Y. and London, Bowker, 1969
The World of the Thriller
Cleveland, Press of Case Western Reserve University, 1969
Heising, Willetta L.
Detecting Men; a Reader’s Guide and Checklist for Mystery Series Written by Men
Dearborn, Purple Moon Press, 1998
Henderson, Lesley, ed.,
Twentieth-Century Crime and Mystery Writers, prefaces John M. Reilly and Kathleen Gregory Klein, 3rd ed.
Chicago and London, St. James Press, 1991
The Mushroom Jungle; a History of Postwar Paperback Publishing
Dilton Marsh, Wiltshire, 1993
King, Nina, with Robin Winks, eds.
Crimes of the Scene; a Mystery Novel Guide for the International Traveler
N.Y., St. Martin’s Press, 1997
Who’s Who in Spy Fiction
N.Y., Taplinger, 1977
McCormick, Donald and Katy Fletcher
Spy Fiction; a Connoisseur’s Guide
N.Y., Facts on File, 1990
McLeish, Kenneth and Valerie
Bloomsbury Good Reading Guide to Murder, Crime Fiction, and Thrillers
London, Bloomsbury Publishing, 1990
Melvin, David Skene and Ann Skene Melvin
Crime, Detective, Espionage, Mystery, and Thriller Fiction and Film; a Comprehensive Bibliography of Critical Writings through 1979
Westport, Conn., Greenwood Press, 1980
Anatomy of the Spy Thriller
Montreal, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1977
Murphy, Bruce F.
The Encyclopedia of Murder and Mystery
N.Y., Palgrave, 1999
Hardboiled America; Lurid Paperbacks and the Masters of Noir (expanded edition)
[N.Y.?], Da Capo, 1997 (1981)
Orwell, George, “Raffles and Miss Blandish” (1944)
A Collection of Essays by George Orwell
N.Y., Harcourt Brave Jovanovich,1953
Thrillers; Genesis and Structure of a Popular Genre
London, Edward Arnold, 1978
The Pursuit of Crime: Art and Ideology in Detective Fiction
New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1981
Reilly, John M., ed.
Twentieth-Century Crime and Mystery Writers
N.Y., St. Martin’s Press, [1982?]
Roberts, Thomas J.
An Aesthetics of Junk Fiction
Athens, Ga., University of Georgia Press,1990
The Puritan Pleasures of the Detective Story; From Sherlock Holmes to Van der Valk
London, Gollancz, 1972
Silver, Alain, Elizabeth Ward, and others, eds.
Film Noir, revised and expanded edition
Woodstock, N.Y., Overlook Press, 1992
Smith, Myron J. Jr., and Terry White
Cloak and Dagger Fiction; An Annotated Guide to Spy Thrillers, 3rd ed.
Westport, Conn., Greenwood Press, 1995
Stilwell, Stephen A.
What Mystery Do I Read Next?
Detroit, Gale, 1997
Bloody Murder: From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel: A History
London, Faber, 1972
Steinbrunner, Chris and Otto Penzler, eds.
Encyclopedia of Mystery and Detection
N.Y., McGraw-Hill, 1976
Swanson, Jean and Dean James
Killer Books: A Reader’s Guide to Exploring the Popular World of Mystery and Suspense
N.Y., Berkley Prime Crime, 1998
Clubland Heroes; a nostalgic study of some recurrent characters in the romantic fiction of Dornford Yates, John Buchan and Sapper.
London, Constable, 1953
Robin W. Winks, ed.
Colloquium on Crime; Eleven Renowned Mystery Writers Discuss Their Work
N.Y., Scribner’s, 1986
Winks, Robin W.
Modus Operandi; an Excursion into Detective Fiction Boston,
David R. Godine, 1982
Winks, Robin W. and Maureen Corrigan, eds.
Mystery and Suspense Writers: The Literature of Crime, Detection, and Espionage
N.Y., Scribners, 1998