Robert L. Fish Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

As Robert L. Fish said in numerous interviews and speeches, his work was written with the view to entertain. He wanted his characters to be realistic and their locales to be authentic, however, and believed that he wrote best when describing that with which he was familiar. His lifetime of travel and work throughout the world permitted him to achieve this authenticity naturally. With wit and charm, Fish informed his public of the relentless demands and scant rewards of the professional law enforcement agencies, the importance of one dedicated individual in a moment of crisis, and the universality of human foibles.

Fish’s craftsmanship is immediately apparent: His well-defined characters change and grow in sophistication and maturity in his series; his plots are constructed with care; and his prose is economical, cogent, and polished. His impressive body of work includes pastiche/parody, thrillers, and delightful short stories as well as his celebrated series.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Boucher, Anthony. Introduction to Kek Huuygens, Smuggler. New York: Mysterious Press, 1976. This introduction to Fish’s novel is written by an expert in genre fiction: a fellow mystery writer and editor of science fiction.

Horsley, Lee. Twentieth-Century Crime Fiction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Examines a broad range of crime fiction from a wide variety of critical perspectives—from formalist to postcolonial. Designed to introduce students to the academic analysis of popular detective and crime literature. Provides perspective on Fish’s work.

Pronzini, Bill, and Marcia Muller. 1001 Midnights: The Aficionado’s Guide to Mystery and Detective Fiction. New York: Arbor House, 1986. This reference work for fans places Fish’s novels in their proper context.

“Robert Fish: In Memoriam, 1912-1981.” The Armchair Detective 14, no. 2 (1981): 118-121. Obituary in a leading crime-fiction journal, detailing Fish’s contributions to the genre.

Rosenthal, Marilyn. Review of Shlock Homes: The Complete Bagel Street Saga, by Robert L. Fish. Library Journal 115, no. 10 (June 1, 1990): 191. Review of this reprint, which combines two volumes of stories originally printed in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, notes that Fish was a respected member of the Mystery Writers of America.

Sutton, Michael, and Anthony Fingleton. Over My Dead Body. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 1998. This play was inspired by and represents a reinterpretation of and commentary on Fish’s The Murder League.