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.
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.
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.