Books : reviews

David Schmid.
The Secrets of Great Mystery and Suspense Fiction.
Great Courses. 2016

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 25 June 2021

Follow a renowned literature professor through the fascinating evolution of a captivating genre.

This is the course guidebook that accompanies the 36 lecture “Great Course” of the same name. It is essentially an abbreviated transcript of each lecture, some suggested reading, and some “questions to consider”. (I watched the lectures, which is what I am reviewing here, and am using the book simply as an aide-memoire.)

Schmidt starts with Edgar Allen Poe’s Auguste Dupin stories, and works forward, covering the evolution of the genre. He covers many variants, including the amateur detective, the locked room, the private eye, the police procedural, courtroom dramas, even true crime. He also covers many aspects, from clues, sidekicks, violence, tales from around the world, TV adaptations, experimental approaches, and more.

I read the occasional mystery, and I learned a lot of interesting things from this course, but, interestingly, I’m not tempted to read any of the books Schmid describes.