The flyleaf makes a grand claim about the 168 page book being “a comprehensive look at the evolution of one of the most enduring figures in American literary and film culture–the detective.” That may be a small stretch, but no one can deny that this is the most entertaining book on the American Detective in popular culture.
Siegel has the tone of a wise-cracking gumshoe and the smarts of the gumshoe’s gal Friday. He writes an entertaining and accessible history of the mystery, taking a quintessential American icon through film and penny-dreadfuls. The book is full of marvelous pulp fiction covers of mysteries and interesting profiles of the most popular types of detectives: lawyers, cops, private eyes, and international ops.
Take it to the next mystery book group meeting and have fun with the illustrations and trivia. And have fun debating Sielgel’s take on the introduction of women into the hard-boiled genre. He makes some interesting points.