Book Review: THE LINEUP

It was cold this weekend in L.A. so I wore everything I own, causing my husband to say I looked homeless, but it was good because it made me stay in. I slept, read, drank lots of coffee, watched reruns of Fantasy Island without knowing why. And I finally wrote this review of The Lineup: The World’s Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives, edited by Otto Penzler.

This is a collection featuring some of crime fiction’s most successful writers—Robert B. Parker, Laura Lippman, Lee Child, Robert Crais, among others—discussing the creation of their popular characters. Michael Connelly’s revelation that a real tunnel near his childhood home inspired Harry Bosch’s tunnel-rat background is both chilling and enlightening. Crais has a funny yet poignant conversation with Elvis Cole about their mutual fears and sense of hope, and gives a glimpse of Joe Pike’s inner world (it’s green!). Carol O’Connell’s badass ‘tude reminds me I gotta pick up another Mallory book. And though I’d heard most of Jack Reacher’s origin story at Child’s signings, it retains its charm in print.

Some of the other essays aren’t as successful. A few are too earnest and one outright creeps me out (not in a good way), but this is a great intro to the crime fiction world for those of you who haven’t taken the plunge. If you’re already a junkie like me, you’ll enjoy learning more about your favorite detectives while meeting those you’re not familiar with. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read Ken Bruen, but after experiencing his blistering, profanity-laced piece (love his description of an Irish sport called hurling as “a cross between hockey and homicide”), I will rectify that situation.

I also want a hurly.

Nerd verdict: Insightful collection from great Lineup of writers

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13 Comments

  • Reply
    Jen Forbus
    December 7, 2009 at 5:32 am

    I’ve only read THE TOWER so far of Ken Bruen’s work, but I have three other books in my stack. I loved his essay. He’s so poignant and original!

    I haven’t finished reading the whole thing, so now I’m curious what creeped you out, PCN…gotta finish this! 🙂

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      December 7, 2009 at 12:59 pm

      I liked how Bruen held nothing back. He got all up in his own business and just put it out there.

      If you can’t figure out who scared me after you finish, I’ll tell you.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    December 7, 2009 at 7:14 am

    I am going to read that book, PCN. Also, I have asked Santa to bring me PD James’ Talking About Detective Fiction. And talking about detective fiction, I wish you lived closer so I could invite you over to watch Hart to Hart and Columbo with me!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      December 7, 2009 at 1:03 pm

      I think you’ll like it, Elizabeth! Or at least find it informative.

      Oh gosh, if I lived closer, I’d be over there in a flash, especially if you throw in pie and/or hot chocolate. I loved Columbo. “And just one more thing…”

  • Reply
    GMR
    December 7, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Ah…I use to read Crime Fiction all the time….still do once in a while. Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson, John Sanford…all heavy hitters in this particular genre. The first Patricia Cornwell book I read was “From Potter’s Field”….definitely recommend.

    LOL on the “wearing all your clothes” bit. It was really cold down here last night….had to pull out the polar fleece pj’s, extra blanket and invite the BIG puppy to sleep on the bed. You’d be surprised how warm they run even when it’s cold…..that heat trasmits right through the blankets and TADA..everyone wins. (No, I really love my pups…they are NOT just heating blankets with fur.) =0)

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      December 7, 2009 at 1:30 pm

      It gets that cold where you are? Isn’t it suppose to be all sunshine and oranges?

      I’ve never slept with dogs on my bed but I call hubby my human hot water bottle. (TMI?)

  • Reply
    le0pard13
    December 7, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    You certainly got me curious about this book with your review, PCN. I’m going to have to take a look at this. Thanks.

  • Reply
    MelodyGirl
    December 8, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Oh, I hadn’t heard of this, PCN. My fave authors all in one place? Sounds fab! Gonna put it on my wish list and give to BF. I think he’d also want to read it after I do.

  • Reply
    Corey Wilde
    December 8, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Yeah, this one I have to read. I love Bruen’s work. Prolific, profane, original, dark, and often hilarious (when he’s not tearing out your heart with both hands.)

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    December 9, 2009 at 6:34 am

    Robert Crais seems to be everywhere at the moment ~ not that I mind, of course. Sounds like an excellent read, PCN. And this may surprise you, but I’ve actually heard of hurling ~ there’s an Irish import on our AFL footy team who was a hurler before coming here. Legend has it that his first day at training, he turned to someone and said, “When’s the forking hittin’ start?” {I don’t think I need to explain “forking”?}

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    December 9, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    MelodyGirl & lp13—this would make an excellent gift to yourself.

    Corey—after I read Bruen’s essay, I felt like I’d been punched in the gut (but in a good way). His prose is so unapologetically in your face. Love it.

    Shell–hilarious. I think I can figure out what “forking” means but you might have to explain “footy.” Football? Or football that really means soccer?

  • Reply
    sophie littlefield
    December 12, 2009 at 11:37 pm

    fantasy island re-runs!! oooooh…..i could bring the popcorn and Tab, what do you think?

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      December 13, 2009 at 12:15 am

      Sophie, even if you come over empty-handed, you’d be welcome anytime, but I will happily accept the popcorn! (I don’t drink sodas.) And we’ll watch some Love Boat reruns, too.

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