Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, totally worn out and screaming,
"WOO HOO, what a ride!"

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Review: The Lineup by Otto Penzler

The most venerated and bestselling authors in the mystery world reveal how they created their most beloved characters.

A great recurring character in a series you love becomes an old friend. You learn about their strange quirks and their haunted pasts and root for them every time they face danger. But where do some of the most fascinating sleuths in the mystery and thriller world really come from?

What was the real-life location that inspired Michael Connelly to make Harry Bosch a Vietnam vet tunnel rat? Why is Jack Reacher a drifter? How did a brief encounter in Botswana inspire Alexander McCall Smith to create Precious Ramotswe? In THE LINEUP, some of the top mystery writers in the world tell about the genesis of their most beloved characters--or, in some cases, let their creations do the talking.

I'm always fascinated by how an author comes up with a story so this was just the book for me. Perhaps the most interesting information was in the Introduction where Otto Penzler explains how this book came about. In searching for a way to bring income to his sinking bookstore he hired authors to write essays and stories that he sold in limited editions. Since they were extremely successful he decided to combine them into one book and make them available to everyone. I'm so glad he did!

I'm not familiar with all of these twenty-two authors' work but I have read many of them. These stories are filled with creative and interesting tidbits about themselves and their characters. I'm always curious to hear more about Lee Childs, Jeffrey Deaver, Jonathan Kellerman and Laura Lippman among others.

My hubby was thrilled to hear that David Morrell, the author of First Blood, was inspired to write his story about John Rambo the Vietnam war vet, after teaching at Penn State University in the 70s. Although the story isn't set in Pennsylvania, a small town near the university is the model for the town in the book. Since my hubby is from that small town he was thrilled to hear the news! He had to watch the movie, and it's two sequels, all over again and he was convinced that in the opening scene he saw the bridge that he rode his bike across as a kid. Well, he didn't really believe it since I pointed it out to him time and time again that the movie setting was only inspired by the town but hey, a guy can dream. And what a cool story!

If you're a fan of mysteries you might be interested in this collection too. And if you're lucky, you may just find your own brush with fame within the pages.

Thank you to Hatchette Books for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Release date: 11/10/09
Pages: 320
Price/format: $25.99/hardcover
Type: Mystery


  1. So cool! I am a PSU alum and I'm planning on reading Mr. Morrell's book THE SHIMMER for my Back-to-School Feature! By the way, what town was the inspiration for First Blood?

  2. I really want to get that book! You need to listen to Otto Penzler's interview on Blog Talk Radio.

  3. Thisi s going on my wish list immediately! I've read many of the authors and series mentioned. Going to see if my library has it.


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