Sue Grafton's 'A Is for Alibi', the 1982 novel that introduced the world to private detective Kinsey Millhone, wasn't seen as the pioneering achievement we now know it to be.
By the end of 1982, the game changed. Muller published her second Sharon McCone novel, Sue Grafton introduced Kinsey Millhone in 'A Is for Alibi', and the floor was now open - whether some liked it or not - for more women to claim the tropes of private eye fiction for their own.
'Basic Black with Pearls', upon its publication in 1980, was greeted with a mix of praise and misunderstanding. Critics sensed its daring and applauded its formal inventiveness, but those qualities also kept people at bay.
First, a confession: I liked 'The Da Vinci Code.' This news is even more of a surprise to me than it might be to those who, years ago, heard me quip that I quit reading it because 'the moment the albino assassin came through the door, I left.'
I studied voice and piano fairly seriously during my elementary and high school days, and as such, I became very attuned to rhythm and cadence and voice.
What I learned in school made me a better journalist and a better writer because forensic science is, as scientific disciplines must be, about critical thinking and objective analysis.
In 1953, the idea of a single female police recruit to the New York City Police Department, let alone a handful, was big news.
Imagine a world, if you will, where crime does not exist. A startling proposition that seems outlandish, but our imaginations, of course, need not be bounded by the rules and restrictions imposed by realism. It would be a world, one might suppose, where equality reigned, where the thought of violence was so alien that it need not be practiced.
The Cold War was over, presidential sex scandals superseded foreign concerns, and the American public was more interested in reading about fiendish serial killers, dependable mystery series protagonists, and any book thought to be in the vein of Bridget Jones and her abbreviation-happy diary.
Authors don't tend to stay with the same agents and editors over their entire lifetimes, but Grafton worked with Marian Wood, her editor at Putnam, from Kinsey's first outing, and signed with Molly Friedrich, still her literary agent, with the publication of 'B Is for Burglar.'
'A Burglar's Guide to the City' makes disparate connections seem obvious in hindsight, and my worldview is altered a little bit more, and far for the better, as a result. We'll never know, but I suspect Donald Westlake would have enjoyed it - and perhaps been a little unsettled by it, too.
It takes about seventy-five pages for a Parker reference - from 'The Score,' specifically - to show up in Geoff Manaugh's 'A Burglar's Guide to the City.'
Nabokov began writing 'Lolita' before he ever knew of Florence 'Sally' Horner, an 11-year-old who was kidnapped from Camden, New Jersey, in the summer of 1948.
Although we might think of Holmes as the Ur-sleuth, the seminal inspiration for many writers comes not from the chronicles of Baker Street but from the intricately plotted novels of Charles Dickens and his colleague Wilkie Collins, who in works like 'Bleak House' and 'The Moonstone' established the modern, character-driven mystery novel.
'Basic Black with Pearls' contains overt references to Virginia Woolf and covert ones to feminist classics like Kate Chopin's 'The Awakening' and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 'The Yellow Wallpaper.' The scholar Ruth Panofsky, who writes extensively about Weinzweig, sees echoes of George Eliot.
'A Spy in the House', the first of Y. S. Lee's 'The Agency' novels, is pure confection, an historical romp through England at the height of The Great Stink that imagines a secret spy ring for women tucked away where few notice but powerful factions clamor for their services.
Most people will pay tribute to Anthony Bourdain as a chef, as the author of 'Kitchen Confidential,' and as the host of several food and travel shows - most recently, 'Parts Unknown' on CNN.
Five years before 'Kitchen Confidential' - and before then, the 'New Yorker' essay that led to the book - Bourdain published 'A Bone in the Throat,' a crime novel set in the restaurant world he lived and breathed.
Judging by the volume of titles published each year, mystery readers are restless in their pursuit of literary escape. They might travel to far-flung places or stick close to home with their favorite hobbies. They can solve the world's greatest conspiracies or root for a lone wolf grappling with personal problems mundane and bleak.
We tend to think of crime fiction as reading designed for entertainment - not education. It delivers an almost pure kind of readerly pleasure: the mystery solved, justice delivered, roughly or otherwise.