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Great mystery and suspense writers have created some of the most unforgettable stories in all of literature. Even those who don't consider themselves fans of this intriguing genre are familiar with names such as Hercule Poirot, Sam Spade, Hannibal Lecter, and Robert Langdon, and understand the deep and lasting impact this writing has had on literature as a whole. An utterl Great mystery and suspense writers have created some of the most unforgettable stories in all of literature. Even those who don't consider themselves fans of this intriguing genre are familiar with names such as Hercule Poirot, Sam Spade, Hannibal Lecter, and Robert Langdon, and understand the deep and lasting impact this writing has had on literature as a whole. An utterly captivating and compelling genre, mystery and suspense has leapt off the pages of the old dime store paperbacks, magazines, and comic books onto big screens, small screens, radio serials, podcasts, websites, and more. You'll find elements, characters, and references permeating popular culture and news reports worldwide, and bleeding into other literary genres such as romance, political thrillers, sports stories, and even biographies. Nearly 200 years old, the genre of mystery and suspense literature is only growing more popular. How did it become so prevalent? Why is mystery and suspense a go-to genre for so many around the world? What makes the dark and sometimes grisly themes appealing? In 24 lectures of The Secrets of Great Mystery and Suspense Fiction, Professor David Schmid of the University at Buffalo examines these questions, as he guides you through an examination of the many different varieties of the genre, including classic whodunits, hard-boiled crime fiction, historical mysteries, courtroom dramas, true crime narratives, espionage fiction, and many more. Fans of the genre will be delighted by the breadth and depth of information presented, guaranteed to uncover gems they had not yet discovered. But anyone, whether they are admirers of mystery on radio and film, or simply fans of literature, history, or pop culture, will find something to enlighten and entertain in this study of a genre with such tremendous impact.


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Great mystery and suspense writers have created some of the most unforgettable stories in all of literature. Even those who don't consider themselves fans of this intriguing genre are familiar with names such as Hercule Poirot, Sam Spade, Hannibal Lecter, and Robert Langdon, and understand the deep and lasting impact this writing has had on literature as a whole. An utterl Great mystery and suspense writers have created some of the most unforgettable stories in all of literature. Even those who don't consider themselves fans of this intriguing genre are familiar with names such as Hercule Poirot, Sam Spade, Hannibal Lecter, and Robert Langdon, and understand the deep and lasting impact this writing has had on literature as a whole. An utterly captivating and compelling genre, mystery and suspense has leapt off the pages of the old dime store paperbacks, magazines, and comic books onto big screens, small screens, radio serials, podcasts, websites, and more. You'll find elements, characters, and references permeating popular culture and news reports worldwide, and bleeding into other literary genres such as romance, political thrillers, sports stories, and even biographies. Nearly 200 years old, the genre of mystery and suspense literature is only growing more popular. How did it become so prevalent? Why is mystery and suspense a go-to genre for so many around the world? What makes the dark and sometimes grisly themes appealing? In 24 lectures of The Secrets of Great Mystery and Suspense Fiction, Professor David Schmid of the University at Buffalo examines these questions, as he guides you through an examination of the many different varieties of the genre, including classic whodunits, hard-boiled crime fiction, historical mysteries, courtroom dramas, true crime narratives, espionage fiction, and many more. Fans of the genre will be delighted by the breadth and depth of information presented, guaranteed to uncover gems they had not yet discovered. But anyone, whether they are admirers of mystery on radio and film, or simply fans of literature, history, or pop culture, will find something to enlighten and entertain in this study of a genre with such tremendous impact.

12 review for The Secrets of Great Mystery and Suspense Fiction

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    The Great Courses – The Secrets of Great Mystery and Suspense Fiction- taught by Professor David Schmid, Ph.D. , is a 2016 The Great Courses publication. I discovered ‘The Great Courses’, believe it or not, via my parents, who always challenge themselves by learning new languages or just taking courses on anything they find interesting. I stumbled across a few of the courses on Hoopla a while back, but, it seems they have now been removed from their catalog, or had been the last time I checked, The Great Courses – The Secrets of Great Mystery and Suspense Fiction- taught by Professor David Schmid, Ph.D. , is a 2016 The Great Courses publication. I discovered ‘The Great Courses’, believe it or not, via my parents, who always challenge themselves by learning new languages or just taking courses on anything they find interesting. I stumbled across a few of the courses on Hoopla a while back, but, it seems they have now been removed from their catalog, or had been the last time I checked, anyway. One reason may be that ‘Courses’ is offering a new streaming service subscription, which gives you unlimited access to many of their courses for a monthly fee. I’ve been thinking about learning a new language and boning up on my sentence structure and vocabulary skills, so I decided to give the service a try. Lo and behold, while browsing through the various offerings, I found this gem. The thirty-six- installment course, is taught by David Schmid, an author in his own right. The course takes the viewer through the beginnings of the mystery genre, starting with Edgar Allan Poe, naturally, and then touching upon every type of detective/ mystery/ thriller sub-genre you could imagine. This is a very interesting and entertaining course that is informative and thought-provoking. Any lover of crime fiction will enjoy these lectures, as well as those who may be considering authoring a crime novel. The usual suspects, if you will, are examined and studied, such as Poe, Christie, and Holmes, but more obscure authors are looked at as well, as are niche genres or themes, such as Noir, Cozy mysteries, Legal Thrillers, and many others. Keep in mind, these are lessons, just like those you would take in school, and employees little visual aid. Each lecture is about thirty minutes long, so they are easy to fit into a busy schedule. I enjoyed the professor’s analysis, and had a lot of fun learning about vintage crime stories, the progression of women in mystery and crime fiction, the various popular themes through the years, and the discoveries new authors and even a few sub-genres I have yet to tap into. The courses are available via audible, on CD or from the streaming service I mentioned previously. I enjoyed the course immensely and do recommend it!!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    I thought this would help me write mysteries. It has not. Instead of being a how-to,it is more a history of the genre. It's important if you want to write in the genre to understand what has come before and where we are today, but it doesn't help you wrestle with the blank page.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Irena

    An informative and thought-provoking overview of the history of mystery and suspense fiction and of the current state of the genre. 36 half hour lectures are still not enough time to explore the topic in full depth, but David Schmidt manages to put the available time to good usage. Highly recommended to those who enjoy reading mystery and suspense and/or are interested in the history of literature in general and this genre in particular and/or or consider writing a mystery of their own.;)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Anastasia

    An interesting presentation by a passionate teacher

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cloak88

    An amazingly interesting read for any Mystery and Suspense fans! This course series goes in-depth into Nuts-and Bolts of Mystery and Suspense fiction. Along the way it provides courses on the History, development, subgenres, regional and topical differences and entertain you at the same time. David Schmid is a pleasant narrator and a joy to listen to. Overall I must say that The Great Courses is one of the best providers of audio-lectures out there. And this course certainly does not disappoint. An amazingly interesting read for any Mystery and Suspense fans! This course series goes in-depth into Nuts-and Bolts of Mystery and Suspense fiction. Along the way it provides courses on the History, development, subgenres, regional and topical differences and entertain you at the same time. David Schmid is a pleasant narrator and a joy to listen to. Overall I must say that The Great Courses is one of the best providers of audio-lectures out there. And this course certainly does not disappoint. As such, if you are interested in these specific genres or in writing/ reading in general this series is for you.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    I didn't enjoy this as much as I did How Great Science Fiction Works. Part of my issue with this one was the professor's accent. He kept dropping his gs (i.e. settin' instead of setting). I also wasn't fond that most of his lectures revolved around the same books/authors.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Damaskcat

    This is an interesting series of thirty six half hour lectures on mystery and suspense fiction. Inevitably it is selective in what it covers and as it is American on origin the focus is on American authors. Listening to it made me realise the huge variety of mystery fiction there has been over the years. The greats of the British Golden Age of crime and mystery fiction are mentioned quite frequently but the lectures major on the hard boiled or noir genres - which I'm not keen on myself. They also This is an interesting series of thirty six half hour lectures on mystery and suspense fiction. Inevitably it is selective in what it covers and as it is American on origin the focus is on American authors. Listening to it made me realise the huge variety of mystery fiction there has been over the years. The greats of the British Golden Age of crime and mystery fiction are mentioned quite frequently but the lectures major on the hard boiled or noir genres - which I'm not keen on myself. They also look at the latest popular sub genre - so-called Nordic noir - and looks at why they might have suddenly become so popular. I thought the lectures were interesting on the American authors writing in the 1920s and 1930s many of whose works are now available as e-books. I also found myself becoming more interested in authors such as Raymond Chandler and Ed McBain - both of whom I may try in the near future. If you are interested in the more had boiled end of the genre then these lectures will be of interest to you. Even though I generally don't read that type of mystery and suspense fiction I did find the lectures interesting. I thought however that cozy mysteries - such as the many themed stories available - deserved at least a mention especially as they are predominantly an American phenomenon. I have one bone to pick with these lectures - Dorothy L Sayers' book Have His Carcase - is not a locked room mystery even though it is included in that category by the lecturer.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mark Hiser

    In a series of 36 lectures, Dr. Schmid introduces readers to the history and development of the mystery and suspense genre. Because he only had about 20 hours, the course works better as an introduction that might lead readers to try some forms of the genre they might not otherwise. Schmid begins with Edgar Allen Poe then shows how the genre is flexible enough to allow for many sub-genres. Therefore, he discusses everything from cozy mysteries to hard-boiled, and African American and LGBTQ selec In a series of 36 lectures, Dr. Schmid introduces readers to the history and development of the mystery and suspense genre. Because he only had about 20 hours, the course works better as an introduction that might lead readers to try some forms of the genre they might not otherwise. Schmid begins with Edgar Allen Poe then shows how the genre is flexible enough to allow for many sub-genres. Therefore, he discusses everything from cozy mysteries to hard-boiled, and African American and LGBTQ selections. The professor is knowledgeable and enthusiastic in his lectures and led me to add several books to my to-read list. A recommended title from The Great Courses.

  9. 4 out of 5

    JZ

    It wasn't worth spending all that time listening for the good parts, which were few and far between. This series is testosterone-dominated. This set is no different. It kills him to talk about all female authors other than V.I. Warshawsky for some reason, which seems to be that she writes the most like a man than any other women. When he does, he provides you for spoilers for many, and I do mean many, of the books that he's talking about. Perhaps reading every book he speaks of before he talks a It wasn't worth spending all that time listening for the good parts, which were few and far between. This series is testosterone-dominated. This set is no different. It kills him to talk about all female authors other than V.I. Warshawsky for some reason, which seems to be that she writes the most like a man than any other women. When he does, he provides you for spoilers for many, and I do mean many, of the books that he's talking about. Perhaps reading every book he speaks of before he talks about it would help. But what a drag. You like Patterson, Le Carré, McBain, Leonard, and Thompson? Here you go. Bang, bang, beat them up, shoot them up, scare them silly. Too heavy emphasis. This guy is so misogynistic that he thought that Sherlock Holmes was a sap because he let Irene Adler 'escape imprisonment' for her crime of having a picture of the King of Bohemia. Exactly what crime had she committed? He just doesn't know what he's talking about. I listened to at least 3/4 of the classes, but he repeats himself so often that he could have made it half as long. And don't let's get into 'everythink' because of his accent. He doesn't even try with the French, either. Harsh.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Hamish Seamus

    I really enjoyed the first quarter. The rest of it dragged on quite a lot. After introducing the genre, several threads are pursued. An interesting one is how the relationship between the protagonists of M&SF (mystery and suspense fiction) and official law enforcement have evolved over time. Poe's OG detective Dupin was positively antagonistic to the French police (during the 1840's police were a new institution and so were often distrusted), Holmes was accommodating but condescending to Scotland I really enjoyed the first quarter. The rest of it dragged on quite a lot. After introducing the genre, several threads are pursued. An interesting one is how the relationship between the protagonists of M&SF (mystery and suspense fiction) and official law enforcement have evolved over time. Poe's OG detective Dupin was positively antagonistic to the French police (during the 1840's police were a new institution and so were often distrusted), Holmes was accommodating but condescending to Scotland Yard, to hard-boiled private eye Sam Spade the police are something like a flawed institution which it is necessary to get along with, and in police procedurals law enforcement officers themselves becomes the protagonists. A thread which was pursued most thoroughly was how MS&F novels have been used to empower minorities. There are lectures are on "African American Mysteries", "Native American Mysteries", "Female Centred Mystery and Suspense" (also "The Lady Detective"), "Gay and Lesbian Mystery and Suspense" , and "Latino Detectives at the Border". Although this is interesting, it ended up being pretty repetitive. I would've liked to have learned more about real life crime, law-enforcement, and detection, and how the history of these areas is reflected in the genre. The fact that this was only ever covered tangentially seems like an oversight to me. I also would've liked an analysis of how changing attitudes to science and rationality have been reflected in the genre (Holmes & Dupin embody full enlightenment optimism about rationality triumphing over the world, in the war era people's faith in rationality as a power for good was shaken and about the same time the hard-boiled detective emerged [coincidence?], and more recent police procedurals are again very rationalism-positive, although there is more of an emphasis on teams of people with high-tech equipment rather than armchair geniuses). This type of thing was hinted at, but never directly addressed in the lecture series. My "to-read" list has expanded ~10% as a result of listening to this series.

  11. 5 out of 5

    MountainShelby

    Wow, what a difference from the detective fiction college course I took in 1984, which was limited to the traditional Poe, Doyle, Sayers track, with The Name of the Rose included because the instructor was a medievalist by academic training. This course, in contrast, presents a wide ranging overview of traditions, trends, and controversies--it's an expansive course, and not just because so many years have passed. As a decades-long fan of mystery and suspense fiction--starting with Nancy Drew and Wow, what a difference from the detective fiction college course I took in 1984, which was limited to the traditional Poe, Doyle, Sayers track, with The Name of the Rose included because the instructor was a medievalist by academic training. This course, in contrast, presents a wide ranging overview of traditions, trends, and controversies--it's an expansive course, and not just because so many years have passed. As a decades-long fan of mystery and suspense fiction--starting with Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys read in first edition hard copies on summer break from elementary school--I thought there wasn't much I needed to learn. I was wrong. Highly recommended.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hank Pharis

    (NOTE: I'm stingy with stars. For me 2 stars means a good book or a B. 3 stars means a very good book or a B+. 4 stars means an outstanding book or an A {only about 5% of the books I read merit 4 stars}. 5 stars means an all time favorite or an A+ {Only one of 400 or 500 books rates this!).The great news is that I can listen to a book a day at work. The bad news is that I can’t keep up with decent reviews. So I’m going to give up for now and just rate them. I hope to come back to some of the mos (NOTE: I'm stingy with stars. For me 2 stars means a good book or a B. 3 stars means a very good book or a B+. 4 stars means an outstanding book or an A {only about 5% of the books I read merit 4 stars}. 5 stars means an all time favorite or an A+ {Only one of 400 or 500 books rates this!).The great news is that I can listen to a book a day at work. The bad news is that I can’t keep up with decent reviews. So I’m going to give up for now and just rate them. I hope to come back to some of the most significant things I listen to and read them and then post a review.I would have preferred a more chronological rather than topical approach. flag Like  · see review Apr 22, 2019 Jeff J. rated it really liked it An absorbing compilation of 36 lectures on mystery and suspense fiction. The lecturer begins, appropriately, with Poe, Conan Doyle, and Christie, and frequently returns to them as exemplars of the form. Also appropriately, the lecturer organizes the series around mystery genres, including a few I hadn't thought of, such as the criminal as protagonist (gangster stories, but also serial killers such as Dexter and Hannibal) and books that end with "poetic justice". The lectures confirmed my belief An absorbing compilation of 36 lectures on mystery and suspense fiction. The lecturer begins, appropriately, with Poe, Conan Doyle, and Christie, and frequently returns to them as exemplars of the form. Also appropriately, the lecturer organizes the series around mystery genres, including a few I hadn't thought of, such as the criminal as protagonist (gangster stories, but also serial killers such as Dexter and Hannibal) and books that end with "poetic justice". The lectures confirmed my belief that I'm well-read in mystery fiction while also pointing me to some new books and writers I want to read. flag Like  · see review Jul 26, 2018 Peter Sidell rated it it was amazing If nothing else this is a wonderful source of recommendations of great stories and writers on the genre. I was a little disappointed to see John MacDonald and Michael Connelly left out but it could be argued they are mostly adventure than classical mystery writers. I did enjoy the way the lecture drills down to various subgenres as his way of presenting the material. Certainly I have a more formal understanding of the genre. The PDF provided helps absorb some of the details. flag Like  · see review View 2 comments Jan 31, 2019 Stacie rated it liked it Shelves: audiobook, currently-own, digital, non-fiction Lots of good coverage of hard-boiled detective/noir material discussed, other sub-genres are analyzed via their comparison with hard-boiled detective/noir material. I likely wouldn't have picked up this course if I'd been aware of the skew as I'm not a great fan of either of those sub-genres. flag Like  · see review Mar 03, 2019 Calvin rated it it was amazing Truly an incredibly comprehensive look at a vast genre. This really feels like a robust upper-level college course rather than a mere introduction. And yet, with great examples of works that most are familiar with, it's very accessible. Great. Great. flag Like  · see review Oct 20, 2017 Ryan Williams rated it really liked it Great review of the field. flag Like  · see review Dec 30, 2018 Madison Williams rated it really liked it It was okay, kinda just summarized different aspects of mystery books though. flag Like  · see review Jan 10, 2018 D.B. Watson rated it it was amazing Lovers of this genre and writers alike should listen to this 36 lectures it has something for everyone of you. flag Like  · see review Feb 05, 2018 Keenan Powell rated it liked it Shelves: non-fiction There is a lot of good information but the author clearly prefers thrillers and thinks Golden Age is less of an art form. He even said Miss Marple was a busy body. Honestly! flag Like  · see review Oct 19, 2018 Mark rated it it was amazing Great courses are one of the best things about Audible and this one is no exception flag Like  · see review Sep 07, 2019 Logan Horsford rated it it was ok The author knows his stuff. Unfortunately, the book would literally send me to sleep. I've almost completed all 19 hours of the audio book - in using it as a sleep aid. flag Like  · see review Mar 08, 2017 Brian rated it really liked it A very good history of mysteries and suspense fiction. The author emphasized Edgar Allen Poe, Earl Stanley Gardner, and Agatha Christie. There were some current authors, the evolution of the history of this fiction. It would have been nice to emphasize some of the current excellent authors who have benefited from this history. flag Like  · see review Aug 21, 2017 Aidan rated it it was amazing Shelves: audiobooks, lectures, nonfiction An entertaining and informative series of lectures that provides a broad overview of the development of the mystery and suspense genres as well as developments in a number of key sub-genres. Professor Schmid begins by focusing on the development of key characteristics to be found in mystery and suspense novels and then spends the final two-thirds of the course exploring different sub-genres as well as the work being produced in different parts of the world. Be prepared to encounter a wide variet An entertaining and informative series of lectures that provides a broad overview of the development of the mystery and suspense genres as well as developments in a number of key sub-genres. Professor Schmid begins by focusing on the development of key characteristics to be found in mystery and suspense novels and then spends the final two-thirds of the course exploring different sub-genres as well as the work being produced in different parts of the world. Be prepared to encounter a wide variety of authors whose work you may want to investigate!Schmid is an engaging speaker who does a good job of structuring his material for clarity, though the early lectures do have a tendency to frequently touch on one or two key texts, especially those of Edgar Allan Poe. This reflects the importance Schmid places on these works and I think he makes a good case for giving them the level of attention he does, but be prepared that some pieces of information will be repeated on several occasions. Also, be prepared for a few spoilers in discussions of some classic works. In particularly, if you think you might ever wish to read those Poe detective stories or Agatha Christie's The ABC Murders or The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, make sure you do so before listening to these lectures.For those who want to just enjoy the courses without taking notes, there is a course guide included with an Audible purchase or to those watching the lecture series on The Great Courses Plus. For those interested in this course but debating whether to listen or watch, I would say that the visual elements of this course are largely unimportant with few diagrams, maps or charts to look at and so you would not miss out on much listening to this on audio.I also wrote a review of this on my blog Mysteries Ahoy! flag Like  · see review Timothy Nutt rated it liked it Jan 24, 2020 DCT rated it really liked it Oct 25, 2017 Kristine rated it liked it Aug 18, 2018 Wayne Kearney rated it really liked it May 28, 2017 Bob rated it liked it Jul 18, 2017 BookCrazy rated it it was ok Aug 21, 2020 « previous 1 2 3 4 next »

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