Can't find a good mystery that's not an overhyped bestseller? Then this is the guide for you: They Died in Vain: Overlooked, Underappreciated and Forgotten Mystery Novels, edited by Jim Huang, editor and publisher of The Drood Review. Mystery insiders from Barbara Peters to Dean James offer their picks in more than 100 essay reviews, covering neglected titles from 1878 (Anna Katharine Green's The Leavenworth Case: A Lawyer's Story) to 2000 (Lee Child's Running Blind). (Crum Creek [www.droodreview.com], $13 paper 192p ISBN 0-9625804-7-3)
Sherlock Holmes buffs curious about the writings of Dr. Watson's "literary agent" could do worse than to start with The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Reader: From Sherlock Holmes to Spiritualism, edited by biographer Jeffrey Meyers (Orwell: Wintry Conscience of a Generation, etc.) and Valerie Meyers. One may question the need to reprint major Holmes material (part one of A Study of Scarlet, "The Adventure of the Empty House," etc.), though in context with lesser known work (excerpts from The Stark Munro Letters, The Crime of the Congo and The Wanderings of a Spiritualist; "The Brown Hand," "Danger!" and other stories), they help illuminate the full range of a prolific author whose nondetective output has been largely forgotten. (Cooper Square, $28.95 540p ISBN 0-8154-1202-9)
Sherlock Holmes aficionados will welcome the first two volumes in the Baker Street Irregulars manuscript series: Arthur Conan Doyle's Angels of Darkness: A Drama in Three Acts(Baker Street Irregulars [www.bakerstreetjournal.com], $35 204p ISBN 0-9648788-2-8), edited by Peter Blau, and The Hound of the Baskervilles: Chapter XI($35 120p ISBN-3-6). The former contains a facsimile of an unpublished play based on the second part of A Study in Scarlet, while the latter includes not only a holograph reproduction and linear transcription of the chapter manuscript but also several scholarly essays on what many consider the best detective novel ever.