Bibliophilic Book Challenge: The Classic Era of Crime Fiction by Peter Haining

This is the 12th and final book I read as part of the Bibliophilic Books Challenge.

Year published: 2002
Genre: Literary history; non-fiction

Despite the unfortunate error I mentioned in an earlier post, this book gives a great overview of the roots and development of the crime genre. Haining clearly loved the subject and unfolds it in 8 chapters, each of which covers a particular sub-genre and era of crime literature and the authors who developed these genres into what they are today. He begins with the penny bloods, which gave readers in the 19th century cheap chills and thrills, goes on to discuss the stories of crime-fighters and early detective stories which gave rise to Sherlock Holmes and his rivals, which led to the development of the tough Private Eye stories that led to hard-boiled crime stories and the crime noir novels, and ends with spy novels.

The book is written in a matter-of-fact informative style without being dry, covers a large number of authors and books and contains a wealth of cover images and illustrations from crime novels and magazines that enliven and enrich the text. This is a lovely coffee-table book for any lover of crime literature and while it is not encyclopaedic, it will do as a thorough introduction to the genres discussed therein and enable all but the most widely-read crime fiction fan to discover new authors and books. 4 stars.


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