In June 1972, Dilys Winn opened the first specialty bookstore devoted to mysteries and crime fiction. Titled Murder Ink, the store stood on its original spot in Manhattan for 34 years before it had to close in 2006. Winn continued to serve the mystery community even after selling the store in the '70s, with the occasional essay in publications like the New York Times and also by writing reference books. In fact, the bio in one of her NYT pieces indicated she was the author of 17 books, but sadly, most of those are apparently not available.
What is available is the most popular of those books, appropriately titled Murder Ink: the Mystery Reader's Companion, dating from 1977. Once again, it was a Winn-trailblazing-project by being the first of its type, combining a compendium of information on crime fiction with a very large dose of humor. It was so popular, that Winn came out with the revised version in 1984. Whereas the first edition was subtitled "Perpetrated by Dilys Winn," the update is subtitled "Revised, revised, still unrepentant AND perpetrated by Dilys Winn."
The 1984 version contains many of the same features from the original, with a host of essays on Plots, Trouble Spots (settings), Suspicions (suspects), Crimes, Victims, Bloodhounds (detectives), Motives, Justice and some miscellaneous fun in Side-Tracked and Complications. Contributors to the book include reviewers like Marilyn Stasio with the New York Times; authors including Ed McBain, Martha Grimes, PD James; publishers like Otto Penzler; and dozens of other "first-time offenders," recidivists," and "imposters."
Also new to this edition is a "book within a book." It's a story titled "The Tainted Tea Tragedy," told on the first three pages of each chapter, with two clues to a chapter and additional clues scattered throughout the book. There's even a mirror-image recap of the aftermath one year later in the Index, although "those who peek are "despicable beyond words."
Fun interstitials are sprinkled throughout the book, too. You'll find cartoons like an illustration of the authentic classic private eye trenchcoat, appropriately labeled; sidebars galore filled with trivia, quotes and poems; bibliographies; glossaries and lots of literary eye candy. There's also a section on the crime fiction awards categories, although there is one award missing: the Dilys Award. In 1992, well after this book was published, the Independent Booksellers Association created the award for the mystery titles of the year that member booksellers have most enjoyed selling. They named it after—who else? Dilys Winn.