Saturday, November 2, 2013

By a Woman's Hand: Mini-Review

By a Woman's Hand is a mystery reference book by Jean Swanson and Dean James. Published in 1994, it contains over 200 short, succinct profiles of women authors of mystery and suspense fiction--including Mary Higgins Clark, Sue Grafton, and many others. The book focuses on writers whose work appeared from the 1970s to the early 1990s.  It is a handy little volume which contains entries listing some of the author's best-known books, pen names (if any), style (hard-boiled, romantic suspense, cozy, etc), and offers the reader suggestions for similar authors. 

I have owned this book since 1996 and had skimmed through it in the past--primarily to look up an author I loved and find out what other authors might appeal to me.  I had never sat down and read the book cover-to-cover.  Now I have.  It is an interesting reference book--a little out of date, certainly.  After all, some of these authors have published much more since this book came out and there are better examples of their work.  And, of course, there are many extraordinary women in the field who began their writing careers after 1994.  Now that we have the internet, it is much easier to go to sites such as Whichbook or What Should I Read Next to find books that might appeal.  And reader sites such as Goodreads and LibraryThing have built-in suggestion functions that will offer up choices based on the types of books you've read.

I did pick up a couple of useful suggestions for authors I haven't tried yet.  And if you're the type to prefer a hard copy reference book to the electronic medium then this book or an updated version would be just the ticket.  Three stars.

1 comment:

TracyK said...

I read this book a couple of years ago and found it a very useful reference for women mystery writers. Since it is out of date, it also goes back to some writers that are not as prominent nowadays.