The Triumph of the Thriller: How Cops, Crooks, and Cannibals Captured Popular Fiction

Patrick Anderson, Author . Random $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-345-48123-8

The reader who isn't a thriller fan but is curious about this enormously popular genre couldn't ask for a better introduction than Anderson's lively and informative survey. Anderson, the Washington Post weekly thriller reviewer and self-described "middlebrow," explains why the genre has come to dominate bestseller lists in recent years: "Decades of war, recession, and political and corporate corruption have made Americans more cynical—or realistic—and thus more open to novels that examine the dark side of our society." Then he quickly covers the 19th-century pioneers (Poe, Collins, Conan Doyle) and the early 20th-century greats (Christie, Hammett, Chandler). The book hits its stride with a chapter on the modern thriller's birth in the 1980s. The author champions such contemporary writers as Thomas Harris, George P. Pelecanos, Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane, but isn't afraid to condemn the work of such bestsellers as James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell. While the generous plot descriptions might spoil a novel like The Silence of the Lamb for those who have never read Harris, this personal, opinionated guide will satisfy even those well versed in the genre. Anderson is also the author of The President's Mistress and eight other novels. (Feb. 6)

Reviewed on: 11/13/2006
Release date: 02/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 205 pages - 978-1-58836-614-6
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