From mysterious origins through the Victorian sleuths and the "Golden Age" of the genre (the 1920s through the 1940s) and to the present day, detective fiction, mysteries, and spy thrillers have consistently topped best-seller lists around the world.
Professor M. Lee Alexander provides listeners with a lively discussion of groundbreaking authors from Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle to Agatha Christie, Ian Fleming, and modern writers such as Nevada Barr and Jonathan Kellerman.
©2010 M. Lee Alexander (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC
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"It's A Schlolarly Lecture On Detective Fiction"
Professor Alexander's course is very thorough, and she seems to be passionate about the subject. But she is an academic giving a lecture. She pauses quite frequently, Her rhythm is not that of a professional actress reading a book but that of a lecturer speaking from an outline. I assume that her students (who are furiously scrbbling notes) appreciate the frequent pauses. This audio "book" is therefore not as polished as an Agatha Christie audiobook, but it is extremely worthwhile. Her rhythm was initially a little jarring, but the information is very good. I've listened to it several times now, there's so much in it. I recommend it.
"Badly directed overview of dective fiction"
The Modern Scholar series normally provides a wonderful listen because of the academic analysis in easy to understand English. Generally, the professor herself does the reading. Though professors are clearly not professional narrators, the content usually more than compensates for this deficiency. Not this time, however. It takes M. Lee Alexander until chapter 11 before her narration comes up to speed, without far too long pauses on the wrong moments, slips of the tongue that were not edited out, starting every other sentence with 'And', combined with 'so' in the other half of the sentences. In short: the direction and editing is not up to standard and really distract from the content. Although you don't need to buy this audio book if you are looking for an in depth scholarly analysis of detective fiction. 90% of the audio book is taken up by spelling out the content of detective novels and short stories. Categories such as cosy, hard-boiled and international will not make you see detective fiction in exiting new ways. Buy it if you are looking for a very good overview of English language detectives to put on your reading list. Do not buy it if you are interested in exiting new academic insights with respect to detective fiction. And certainly don't buy it if you are easily distracted by bad narration.
"Depends on What You Want"
There's a lot of information in this set of lectures. It offers an exhaustive list of writers and their works throughout the history of the mystery genre. However, there's not much of critical analysis or insight about authors or books. If you want and expect, as I did, a defense of the mystery as more than a second-rate step-child in the field of Literature, you won't find it.
If, however, you appreciate a long listing of suggestions for reading mystery and detective fiction, this is a valuable tool. But you'll have to put up with a lot of very long . . . . . pauses! As other reviewers have noted, M. Lee Alexander presents this as though her audience were very slowly writing down every word and every sentence. It can be annoying (and you'll occasionally check your device to see if it's still working!).
Unarguably, Alexander knows her stuff, and it's wonderful to be reminded of some of the great old names in mystery fiction, like Mary Roberts Rhinehart, Patricia Wentworth, Josephine Tey (and lots of male authors, too). This course will send me back to some old favorites and has introduced me to some new and old series to try.
Fact checking. The professor made a number of errors regarding authors whose work I know well -- leading me to lose interest in her lectures on those authors whose work I don't know a lot about.
Not a strong academic lecture at all.
Again, it was not appropriately researched, the number of errors led the whole book to be a disappointment for me.
Bummer. I've 2 other Modern Scholar titles -- one on WWI, the other on the Paris peace talks. I trust Margaret MacMillan, but now am leery about the other titles. I won't be buying more.
"Listen in double time!"
Great review and history of this literary genre, but the professor was very obviously reading the entire lecture and kept taking long pauses between sentences, pages? It was kind of like listening to someone who had never studied the subject, but was just filling in. But I now have many book recommendations, so all's well.
"A Decent Course But Not Outstanding"
The great number of new authors and sub-genres I need to check out. This was the best part of the course.
The part I liked least was Professor Alexander's presentation. She was rather monotone in delivery and repetitive at some points.
I probably wouldn't recommend it unless someone was really into detective fiction.
It would depend on the topic.
I'm inspired to spend more time on Amazon searching out some of the authors and sub-genres Prof. Alexander mentioned.
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