(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Gore Vidal is a historical and social novelist. His three detective novels, Death in the Fifth Position (1952), Death Before Bedtime (1953), and Death Likes It Hot (1954), published under the pseudonym Edgar Box, were written early in his career and are not considered to be among his best work. Nevertheless, all three detective novels demonstrate his skill at social criticism and solid command of the murder mystery genre. Although not exactly a classic example of the hard-boiled detective, Peter Cutler Sargeant II is an objective, shrewd observer of humanity. Like other rationalistic detectives, he pays close attention not only to material evidence but also to human motivations. He likes to proceed by a process of elimination, examining the most obvious suspects before realizing that the case is far more complex than he had initially imagined. As is so often true in murder mysteries, Sargeant has a mind that is much more supple than that of the police officers and other fatuous characters who try to outwit him in his cases.

Edgar Box Bibliography

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Altman, Dennis. Gore Vidal’s America. Malden, Mass.: Polity, 2005. Comprehensive look at every aspect of Vidal’s life that includes a chapter on his career as a writer, including the works written as Edgar Box. Bibliographic references and indexes.

Baker, Susan, and Curtis S. Gibson. Gore Vidal: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997. A helpful book of criticism and interpretation of Vidal’s work. Includes bibliographical references and index.

Dick, Bernard F. The Apostate Angel: A Critical Study of Gore Vidal. New York: Random House, 1974. An entertaining and perceptive study, based on interviews with Vidal and on use of his papers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Dick focuses on Vidal’s work rather than on his biography. The book contains footnotes and a bibliography.

Harris, Stephen. The Fiction of Gore Vidal and E. L. Doctorow: Writing the Historical Self. New York: P. Lang, 2002. Discusses Vidal’s strong identification with history as reflected in his writing.

Joshi, S. T. Gore Vidal: A Comprehensive Bibliography. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2007. A comprehensive volume containing annotations of nearly every piece of writing by and about Vidal. Includes analysis of his fiction and summaries of the articles and essays he has...

(The entire section is 428 words.)