"Know thyself" --attributed to Socrates
The mission of this website is to help you build your own library of cornerstone detective, crime, and murder mystery classics from 1841 (Poe) to 1948 (Faulkner).
My name is Drew R. Thomas.
Since this site is more about you (and for you), and less about me, I'll keep this brief. As you can tell from the accompanying web pages, I have a passion for the great classic detective, crime, and murder mystery books, and I want to share this passion with you. In the vernacular of the sixties, "I want to turn you on" to the great reading experience these books, movies, and radio dramas hold for you.
For those of you who may really want to know, I am a male, and was born in 1950. My somewhat checkered background includes attaining degrees in Philosophy (B.A., 1972) and Religion (M.A., 1975), and a Fulbright scholarship which took me to India in 1977.
This was followed by a career in book publishing, where my activities included line editing, copyediting, proofreading, typesetting, marketing, and more. Book publishing was a stepping-stone into the world of Technical writing for corporations, where I remained for a number of years. Book publishing has always remained my first love.
Ever since I was introduced to The Hardy Boys (via my father's collection of original editions, which he purchased when he was a boy), and to Sherlock Holmes and Charlie Chan movies on television in the 1950s and early 1960s, the classic murder mysteries have often become a refuge and a solace for me.
Nothing has given me greater pleasure in my life than to share with my friends my love for the books recommended on these web pages. To see a friend sample a book or two and later to discover that he or she has amassed a collection just thrills me. Knowing that others have discovered how rich and rewarding these books can be generates an immense and satisfying pleasure.
The many benefits of reading and collecting classic detective, crime, and murder mystery books include:
Many, many people have consumed these books. Presidents, heads of state, poets, teachers, writers, professors, men and women of letters, and people from all walks of life have enjoyed these classics.
American President Abraham Lincoln wrote his own detective story ("The Trailor Murder Mystery," originally published in 1846), and Ellery Queen reprinted it years later in his Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote The President's Mystery Plot. (He was aided and abetted by others -- Rupert Hughes, Samuel Hopkins Adams, Anthony Abbot, Rita Weiman, S.S. Van Dine, John Erskine and Erle Stanley Gardner.) Roosevelt claimed that Sherlock Holmes was an American. (For a fun article on this aspect, see Brad Keefauver's excellent "The Race Is Afoot.")
President JFK put Ian Fleming's From Russia, With Love on his list of books that he enjoyed reading -- the list, when published, was responsible for putting the James Bond series in the reading public's awareness (and making it a best-seller).
In The Roman Hat Mystery, Ellery Queen quipped that "he prided himself on a complete ignorance of the classics." This claim was belied by his behavior which revealed just how educated he really was.
Certain things one may discover later in my life. Once exposed to them, some of us wonder how we lived so long without allowing them to become a cherished part of our lives. Then we can't seem to live without them.
You already know how much fun it is to try to solve a case before the detective does. In the back of your mind you're working through the puzzle the whole time, sometimes anticipating future events, often reviewing what has gone before. I know of very few readers who have actually stopped reading for any length of time to work out the puzzle. For the most part, after a few moments of pondering, we continue on. We are often delighted when the denouement appears and we think to ourselves, "I should have gotten that!"
It has been said that fiction, and this kind of fiction specifically, can take your thoughts away from your own day-to-day struggles. A temporary relief comes when you become immersed in someone else's problems for a while. Often (though not always) in fiction, the protagonist's problems are neatly tied up. The puzzle is solved. There is a tidy summing up and resolution, in contrast to our own lives where many of our own challenges are left unresolved.
But the fictional resolution creates in us a feeling of satisfaction. Unlike our own lives, in which we must continue to deal with unresolved problems, there is a sense of fulfillment and we return to our own lives recharged and rejuvenated.
This can occur on two levels.
In the fictional world you'll meet and get to pal around with characters like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Dr. Thorndyke, Nero Wolfe, Ellery Queen, Lord Peter Wimsey, Philo Vance, Dr. Gideon Fell, Sir Henry Merrivale, Father Brown, Monsieur Lecoq, the Chevalier C. Auguste Dupin, and many more.
In the real world, you're likely to meet other people who share your passion. People the world over love detective, crime, and murder mystery books, movies, and radio dramas. Conventions are events where like-minded people get together and share their interests.
Simply browse these pages and, if you see something that interests you, click the in-context link. That will take you to my vendor's page, where you can read the information and purchase your classic book, movie, or radio show. I am partnering with reputable firms like Amazon.com and firms of like character, so you know you can count on quality customer service and support, as well as reliable and swift delivery.
When you click on a link to a product you want to purchase, be sure to read the information because sometimes an item may be out of stock or a rare volume may have an excessive cost. I have tried to keep costs down by choosing and recommending editions that are affordable, as well as readable, whenever possible. But always feel free to browse further when you reach the vendor page -- usually a search capability will allow you to research other versions. So if you have a penchant for collecting, say, only hard-cover editions, or first editions, or whatever, the ability to search will help you fulfill your personal preference.
Sometimes only one version of a book was available when I established the link -- and this may even be an edition I am not personally familiar with. Please do let me know (via the Contact Me form) of any likes or dislikes you may have.
You might wonder where to begin. There are several ways to get started:
Once you have sampled a few detectives, you may well begin to develop your favorites. To get more information, articles, books, movies, and radio shows about these detectives, simply go to the individual detective's page, where I include much more information about that individual detective. (So if you find you like the two or three Lord Peter Wimsey books recommended on the Golden Age page, go to the Lord Peter page and choose from the 11 novels, collections of short stories, DVDs, and radio shows listed there.)
As this site grows, detectives will be more fully represented from this historic period of classic detective, crime, and murder mystery books.
Note: This is SBI, the tool that I use, and I highly recommend it.
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For those of you who want to see a more complete demonstration of precisely how SBI works step by step, and why SBI users get such great results, grab yourself your favorite beverage, sit back, and watch the SBI Video Tour. (The tour runs about 30 minutes.)
Click on the Slideshow below to Buy from Amazon: