BERNICE LAYNE BROWN GALLERY, DOE LIBRARY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2011-FEBRUARY 29, 2012
The confluence of striking natural scenery, culturally diverse populations, and compelling history in the land connected by the San Francisco Bay Bridge has produced a locale rich with potentialities for crime and mystery novelists. During the last 150 years, hundreds of authors have been beguiled and inspired by San Francisco and the East Bay region into creating gripping stories where baffling and horrific human actions of murder and mayhem arise out of, and are explained within, the context of this unique physical, cultural, and historical environment.
Bay Area mystery novels date back to the early days of printed books in California and continue to the present day. From well before Dashiell Hammett penned his classic hard-boiled detective novel The Maltese Falcon in 1930 to the present, the Bay Bridge region landscape has been mined for its mystery possibilities. Though the region lies within a temperate Mediterranean climate, swirling fog and summer chill have been used to define and create an aura of shrouded mystery. The fact that the area lies on the western reaches of the continental United States, along with San Franciscos ubiquitous hills, and cataclysmic episodes such as the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes, has underscored the precariousness inherent in these mystery novels.
The library collections at the University of California, Berkeley (including the Doe/Moffitt Libraries—Doe & Moffitt, Morrison, Graduate Services, Media Resources Center—the Bancroft Library, the Ethnic Studies Libraries, the Education-Psychology Library, and the Law Library) provide unparalleled resources for studying the rich mystery tradition of San Francisco and the East Bay. The focus of this exhibit is on first editions of mystery novels, supplemented with additional materials that contribute to the understanding of the genre and the place.
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