Crime reading for neophytes

Thanks to Maxine at Petrona, I discovereed Uriah Robinson’s “Snowed in on Dartmoor” challenge: to list 12 books you would recommend to a reader who has never read any crime books.

While I have read hundreds – perhaps over a thousand – crime books, my reading has been somewhat limited in that I don’t particularly like a certain sub-sub-genre of the hardboiled sub-genre and have read very few caper books, but I still managed to find books to recommend from all 12 sub-genres he mentions.

1] The Origins:

Wilkie Collins: The Moonstone. One of the earliest mystery novels and a very enjoyable read.

2] The Age of Sherlock Holmes :
G.K. Chesterton: The Innocence of Father Brown. I considered R. Austin Freeman and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but in the end I decided on Chesterton, because I love the Father Brown stories.

3] The Golden Age:
Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None. There are a number of writers I could have recommended here, such as Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham, Josephine Tey or Ngaio Marsh.

4] Hardboiled:
Dashiell Hammett: The Maltese Falcon. My most recent hard-boiled read and one that I like very much.

5] The Police Procedural:
Hillary Waugh: Last seen wearing. It was either this, Ed McBain’s Cop Hater, or J.J. Marric's Gideon's Day, but I liked this one best.

6] Detectives [police, forensic and private]:
Sue Grafton: A is for Alibi. A very good introduction to the private eye genre.

7] Psychological suspense:
Thomas Harris: Red Dragon. There were several I could have recommended here, but I think this one is a good introduction to the genre.

8] Caper and comic crime fiction:
Carl Hiassen: Stormy Weather. Hiassen never fails to make me laugh. Had I chosen a caper story, it would have been Michael Crichton's The Great Train Robbery.

9] Historical crime fiction:
Ellis Peters: A Morbid Taste for Bones. An excellent histrical, but I did have a hard time here. I could have recommended Anne Perry, Elizabeth Peters, Lindsay Davis, Steven Saylor, Paul Doherty, or a number of others, but in my mind Ellis Peters is the queen of the historical detective story.

10] Thrillers:
Desmond Bagley: Running Blind. One of the earliest thrillers I ever read – and it takes place in Iceland.

11] Crime fiction in translation:
Arnaldur Indriðason: Silence of the Grave. He's Icelandic. So am I.

12] The Wild Card category:
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: The Hound of the Baskervilles. I felt Doyle rated a mention.

To this I would like to add:

13] Fantasy/sci-fi crime fiction:
Terry Pratchett: Feet of Clay. Quite a good police procedural, with the addition of a werewolf, dwarves, and golems.

14] Spy and espionage fiction:
Ken Follett: The Key to Rebecca. Based on a true story, this is one of the best spy thrillers I have read. Could also have gone in the thriller or historical categories.


Dorte H said…
Great answer to Norman´s challenge :)
I haven´t read them all, but I know 8 of the authors, and I really like your countryman. I also had problems with the hardboiled genre but decided that Ian Rankin´s Inspector Rebus must be tough enough for most people.
Uriah Robinson said…
Thanks for taking the challenge and a fantastic list.
George said…
In the CAPER/COMEDY genre, I think Donald Westlake is the king. Under his own name, he wrote the classic THE HOT ROCK and under the pen name of "Richard Stark" he wrote the gritty Parker series. My favorite Parker is SLAYGROUND where Parker accidentally witnesses a drug transaction and the gangsters chase him into an abandoned amusement park. Mayhem results.
Bibliophile said…
Dorte, I agree on Rebus.

Uriah, thanks for posting the challenge.

George, I have seen a couple of Westlake movies but never read any of his books, although I do have a number of his books on my TBR list. Thanks for the recommendations.

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