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Calling enthusiasts of crime fiction!

 
 
msolga
 
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2012 02:10 am
This summer I've been working as a volunteer for a not-for-profit agency which sells pre-loved books online.
We receive humongous quantities of donated books (I have never seen so many books in one place in my life!) & we "market" them online. Very interesting work for a book lover! The profits from sales contribute to financing the work of an established & respected agency which advocates on behalf of the most disadvantaged in Oz society.

Anyway, the number of crime fiction/thriller books to pass through our hands is quite amazing. I had no idea that this was such a popular genre till now, not having read too many (any?) till now. I am now determined to read a few, at least, but am not quite sure about where to start/what to choose.

So, dear readers of crime fiction: what authors & titles would you recommend to a novice?

If I asked you to name your ... say, top 5 crime fiction recommendations, what would they be & and why? Though there's no need to stick to that number ... any contribution on the subject would be appreciated.

It seems to me that perhaps this is a neglected, perhaps underrated genre, as I've seen little in the way of "serious" writing & reviews about it. Or perhaps I wasn't looking in the right places?

This list I came a cross today when I Googled crime fiction might (or might not) inspire a response from you.:

50 crime writers to read before you die:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/3671363/50-crime-writers-to-read-before-you-die.html

Thanks,
Olga
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Roberta
 
  3  
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2012 02:58 am
@msolga,
You might want to start with Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. I read the complete works. I liked them all.

I greatly admire Ngaio Marsh. I highly recommend her books.

The Swedish couple Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo wrote wonderful crime fiction. I highly recommend them.

Joseph Wambaugh writes police procedurals rather than crime stories. He's a superb writer. Also a high recommendation.

As with any author, I suggest starting with the earlier works and working up to more recent material.

Enjoy.

If someone else pops to mind, I'll let you know.



msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2012 03:02 am
@Roberta,
Thanks, Roberta!
Just curious: what does reading crime fiction do for you?
I know that sounds a silly question, but why do you enjoy reading it?
It's all rather a mystery to me at this point in time & I'd be really interested in your answer!
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Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2012 03:26 am
I'm fairly new to the genre, too. To Raboida's list i would add Dorothy Sayers ("Lord Peter Wimsey"), but especially P. D. James ("Inspector Adam Dalgleish"). There is another author whom i have greatly enjoyed, but whom you will probably not easily find. That is Sue Grafton. She wrote a series of mysteries known as the "alphabet mysteries"--beginning with A is for Alibi and continuing to V is for Vengeance. It's not great fiction, but i was impressed with her continuity. Continuity is usually not noticeable until it fails--such as in the motion picture Fatal Attraction when Glenn Close is shown with a sheet around her below her breats, they pan over to Micheal Douglas and when they pan back, her breasts are covered. That was so bad that when i was in the theater, some woman shouted out "Continuity!" when that flub was shown on screen. Grafton's character, Kinsey Millhone, pursues all of her cases in the mid- to late 1980s in a fictional town in California. Every case begins shortly after the last case and refers correctly to all the events which have preceded it. So, by the time that you are reaching the end of the alphabet, although Grafton has been writing these for over 20 years, it is still the late 1980s in Santa Teresa, and all reference to styles, prices, automobiles, national and world events are solidly grounded in the late 1980s. She maintains perfect continuity.

Why are women the best mystery writers?
Roberta
 
  2  
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2012 03:27 am
@msolga,
I like the mystery, the suspense. What happened? Why? Who did it?

Also the main character, the detective, is crucial. The more well-formed and interesting this character is, the better the book. Most mystery writers stick with the same detective through all their books. You get to know these people. Their thought-processes. Their idiosycracies. IMO, it's the detectives that make the books worth reading.

I love Ngaio Marsh because her detective is fascinating.
izzythepush
 
  2  
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2012 06:18 am
Raymond Chandler, and Phillip Kerr's Bernie Gunther books.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2012 06:32 am
@Setanta,
Thanks, Setanta.

Adding Dorothy Sayers, P D James & Sue Grafton to my list.
Looks like there might be quite a few of Sue Grafton's books available!:

http://www.brotherhoodbooks.org.au/Query.aspx?key=sue%20grafton

This is going to be interesting! Smile

Quote:
Why are women the best mystery writers?

Is that so? (I'm in no position to have an opinion on that, obviously.)
I'll be interested to see if others agree.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2012 06:45 am
@Roberta,
Quote:
Also the main character, the detective, is crucial. The more well-formed and interesting this character is, the better the book. Most mystery writers stick with the same detective through all their books. You get to know these people. Their thought-processes. Their idiosycracies. IMO, it's the detectives that make the books worth reading.

I love Ngaio Marsh because her detective is fascinating.

That's interesting & a quite different reading experience from other fiction novels .... getting to know one character, the detective, extremely well over a series of books.
I guess avid crime fiction readers would have particular favourite detectives for all sorts of different reasons.
What sorts of qualities characteristics make Ngaio Marsh's detective so fascinating for you, Roberta?
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  2  
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2012 06:58 am
@msolga,
my mother (and tai chi) are the crime/mystery book readers in the family

some of mom's recent discoveries and likes
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Nadel
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacqueline_Winspear
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donna_Leon
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henning_Mankell
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2012 07:03 am
@izzythepush,
Just now reading about Raymond Chandler, izzy.

Quote:
“Chandler wrote like a slumming angel and invested the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a romantic presence.” –Ross Macdonald[19]

“Raymond Chandler invented a new way of talking about America, and America has never looked the same to us since.” –Paul Auster[19]

“The prose rises to heights of unselfconscious eloquence, and we realize with a jolt of excitement that we are in the presence of not a mere action-tale teller, but a stylist, a writer with a vision … The reader is captivated by Chandler’s seductive prose.” –Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books.[19]

“Chandler is one of my favorite writers. His books bear rereading every few years. The novels are a perfect snapshot of an American past, and yet the ruined romanticism of the voice is as fresh as if they were written yesterday.” –Jonathan Lethem[19]

“Chandler seems to have invented our post-war dream lives–the tough but tender hero, the dangerous blonde, the rain-washed sidewalks, and the roar of the traffic (and the ocean) in the distance … Chandler is the classic lonely romantic outsider for our times, and American literature, as well as English, would be the poorer for his absence.” –Pico Iyer[19]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_Chandler

Lavish praise indeed!

What would you recommend for someone unfamiliar with his writing & who might read only one of his novels?
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2012 07:05 am
@djjd62,
Thanks, dj.
Looking through those links now.
And it would be good to hear from Tai, too!
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  3  
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2012 07:24 am
@msolga,
I really like The Lady in the Lake, Farewell My Lovely is very good too. The difference between Chandlereque crime and the Whodunnits of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers, is that because of 1st person narrative you're inside Marlowe's head all the time. You find things out at the same time he does, there's no scene at the end where the detective exposes the murderer.

On a separate note, are you familiar with The Macbeth Murder Mystery by James Thurber?
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2012 07:35 am
@izzythepush,
Nope, not familiar with that one, either, izzy.
Told you I knew next to nothing! Wink

Quote:
The difference between Chandlereque crime and the Whodunits of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers, is that because of 1st person narrative you're inside Marlowe's head all the time. You find things out at the same time he does, there's no scene at the end where the detective exposes the murderer.

Rather rather like what Roberta said .... getting to know the detective, who they are & how his/her mind works ......
Sounds more like what I'd enjoy reading.
Not really crazy about the Whodunits where all is neatly explained at the end.
Sounds like there's a strong sense of place in Chandler's writing, too.

sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2012 07:44 am
@msolga,
Sara Paretsky, her V.I. Warshawski books.

Kinda dark though.
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2012 07:47 am
@msolga,
Never got into this genre of fiction. I do like the non-fiction works that surround things like art theft or the development of forensic sciences. Like, for instance"the Poisoners Handbook" which was a good review of the development of forensics in the US from late 1800 through DNA methodology.

I tried reading a Janet Ivanovitch and was really turned off within 10 pages

I did like some stoies like many of the the Frank Robichauex series or "Midnight in the Grden of Good and Evil" But those are more celebrations of the cities and surrounds where the stories took place.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2012 07:50 am
@sozobe,
Dark is good, sozobe! Smile

You mean dark in a "psychological" sense?

0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  2  
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2012 07:55 am
@msolga,
The Macbeth Murder Mystery is a short story by James Thurber. It's a lot of fun, the author meets a lady whilst on holiday. She devours whodunnits, but is quite disappointed to find that instead of her usual Agatha Christies, she's got a copy of Macbeth. She reads it, and comes to the conclusion that Macbeth didn't do it. It's about what happens when you apply the rules of one genre, (murder mystery) to another (Shakespearean tragedy).
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2012 07:56 am
@farmerman,
Quote:
Never got into this genre of fiction. I do like the non-fiction works that surround things like art theft or the development of forensic sciences. Like, for instance"the Poisoners Handbook" which was a good review of the development of forensics in the US from late 1800 through DNA methodology.

I tried reading a Janet Ivanovitch and was really turned off within 10 pages.

Yeah, I don't know whether I'll like it or not, either, farmer.
But I'm curious to investigate & see.

Funny, I quite enjoy the BBC's crime/ thriller/ suspense tv series (Friday nights on Oz ABC ), but have read next to nothing of the genre.
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  2  
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2012 07:56 am
i quite enjoyed China Mieville's The City & The City

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_City_%26_the_City

it's an odd blend of detective and fantasy
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2012 07:59 am
@izzythepush,
That sounds like good fun, izzy! Smile

I was thinking: James Thurber? Crime writing? Confused

http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTycJi59kRsakp9H2fQL3vqIgdaKPebcYEP3vJJPYuIOQPWPlFLzV5F_wpGxA
0 Replies
 
 

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