(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Anthony Boucher entered the field of mystery and detective fiction in 1937, just as the Golden Age of that genre was drawing to a close. The five novels he published under the Boucher pseudonym and two others under the name H. H. Holmes were typical of one branch of the field at the time: intellectually frothy entertainments offering several hours of pleasant diversion. Boucher’s plots were clever murder puzzles that could be solved by a moderately intelligent reader from the abundant clues scattered generously throughout the narrative. The murders were antiseptic affairs usually solved in the end by an engaging deductionist. The characters (or suspects) were often intriguing but always only superficially developed. The settings were potentially interesting but somehow unconvincing. Boucher was, however, one of the first writers to bring a high degree of erudition and literary craftsmanship to the field of popular mystery and detective fiction.

Boucher was much more important to the field as a critic and as an editor than as a writer. As a mystery and detective critic with columns in the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times Book Review, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and the New York Herald Tribune Book Review, Boucher showed that he could recognize talented writers and important trends in the field. As an editor, he had a penchant for extracting the best from the contributors to the journals and...

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(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Nevins, Francis M., Jr. “Introduction: The World of Anthony Boucher.” In Exeunt Murderers: The Best Mystery Stories of Anthony Boucher, edited by Francis M. Nevins, Jr., and Martin H. Greenberg. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1983. Discusses the rules and conventions unique to Boucher’s fiction and the character types that inhabit it.

Roth, Marty. Foul and Fair Play: Reading Genre in Classic Detective Fiction. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995. A post-structural analysis of the conventions of mystery and detective fiction. Examines 138 short stories and works from the 1840’s to the 1960’s. Provides perspective to Boucher’s work.

Sallis, James. “The Compleat Boucher.” Fantasy and Science Fiction (April, 2000): 36-41. Review of a 1999 collection of Boucher’s complete science-fiction and fantasy works, appraising the author’s career and the importance of the collection.

Spencer, David G. “The Case of the Man Who Could Do Everything.” Rhodomagnetic Digest 2 (September, 1950): 7-10. An examination of the works of Boucher that focuses on his Fergus O’Breen series.

White, Phyllis, and Lawrence White. Boucher: A Family Portrait. Berkeley, Calif.: Berkeley Historical Society, 1985. Biographical study of Boucher and his family, revealing the influences of his upbringing on his work.