this is the 213th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books
Murder Ink – The Mystery Reader’s Companion by Dilys Winn © September 1977. Mystery fiction reference. – oversized trade paper
In memory and recognition of the recent passing of Dilys Winn, I’m doing this as my Friday Forgotten Book.
There is more than one kind of reference book. There is the kind that is comprised of page after page of small print giving vast amounts of information in detail about the subject under consideration, and then there is the other kind. Murder Ink is one of those other kind. Herein you’ll find collections of articles and essays covering a range of topically related subjects, often including illustrations, humor, insights, history, lists and surprises. I like this kind of reference book – a lot. This is the kind of thing you can sit and browse by the hour.
I’d been a mystery fan for many years before it occurred to me to invest my book money in a reference book, and when I did it was Hubin’s two volume set. But this book wasn’t far behind, and this one is both informative and enjoyable.
The original Murder Ink opened in 1972 on West 87th Street in Manhattan as perhaps the first bookstore devoted to crime and detective fiction. Its founder, Dilys Winn, sold the store after three years to Carol Brener, who owned it for 14 years. The store stayed at that address for 34 years, a beacon to mystery readers worldwide, and many other mystery specialty bookstores opened in it’s wake. Meanwhile Winn was busy writing essays and articles about mystery fiction and decided to put together a book devoted to the subject which became this book, Murder Ink.
As you can see from the back cover and also the first page of the table of contents, there is a lot of fascinating information between the covers. It had been a while since I had this off the shelf, and I’m afraid it will be a while before I put it back, as a quick skim through seems impossible. My nose will be glued to Murder Ink for several days, or more.
The Mystery Writers of America conferred a Special Edgar Allan Poe Award on Murder Ink in 1978. A sequel, Murderess Ink: The Better Half of the Mystery, followed in 1979. There was a second edition published in 1984 with the same contents plus some additions including a short story spread out over the many chapter headings.
Winn was a wonderful person (I met her briefly at a Bouchercon in, I believe, either Seattle or Milwaukee and she was very nice) and a staunch supporter of the genre. This book should be on every mystery reader’s book shelf! Very Highly Recommended.