Ty Burr
January 18, 2002 AT 05:00 AM EST

The History of Mystery

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Max Allan Collins
genre
Nonfiction

We gave it a C+

Collins is an award-winning whodunit novelist himself, so perhaps the real mystery surrounding this handsome coffee-table tome is why it reads so darn badly, right from the barely parsable first sentence (”The mystery story maintains its perennial hold on readers because, at its core, is crime — and death, those inevitable elements of society and life that so fascinate us”). Ignore the potted histoy of dime novels and sleuth films, then, and be content to wallow in the gloriously seamy cover art of pulp magazines and paperbacks like Lady, Don’t Die on My Doorstep.

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