Mysteries and detective stories are among the most popular of books but the writers of such genre fiction suffer from a perception that their work is to be taken less seriously than so-called literary fiction. The novels of James Lee Burke, one of the most distinguished writers of crime novels, challenge that notion, as do the twelve essays in this collection. This work examines Burke as a writer who has expanded the mystery-detective genre with an astonishing diversity of themes, imaginative language and descriptions, and unforgettable characters. He seems unbounded by limitations of genre. An interview with Burke is included.