Monday, November 22, 2021

The books that made us fans and writers of crime fiction

 HALLIE EPHRON: Remembering when I first became aware of “mystery” as its own genre. My mother had an Agatha Christie on her bedside table and I stole it to read. I can’t say I loved it – in retrospect I think I would have found it too talkie. Characters back then were… glib. It’s just how they were written.

In October, the New York Times Book Review ran two pages of original reviews for what they called “Classic Golden Age Crime Stories.” I was fascinated to read the book review excerpts, all of them of early crime novels by authors whose names we still recognize today.

The list included the first Hercule Poirot, the first Lord Peter Wimsey, and the world’s introduction to detective Sam Spade.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (1920)
Whose Body by Dorothy L. Sayers (1923)
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (1930)
The Dutch Shoe Mystery by Ellery Queen (1931)
The Crossroads Murders by Georges Simenon (1933)
Hag’s Nook by John Dickson Carr (1933)
The Saltmarsh Murders by Gladys Mitchell (1933)
The Death of a Ghost by Margery Allingham (1934)
The Kidnap Murder Case by S. S. Van Dine (1936)
They Found Him Dead by Georgette Heyer (1937)
The Secret Vanguard by Michael Innes (1941)
Death and the Dancing Footman by Ngaio Marsh (1941)

I’m embarrassed to say that there are only five authors on that list whose work I know. After reading the list and intrigued by the title, I borrowed the Ngaio Marsh (it’s one I hadn’t read) and found it… more death than dancing. Impenetrable, and too clever for its own good, though I remember loving so many of her other books. Go figure.

If I could fast forward a decade or more, my short list of crime novels that made a distinct impression on me would include:
Shroud for a Nightingale and An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P. D. James
Bratt Farrar by Josephine Tey
La Brava by Elmore Leonard
Fer de Lance by Rex Stout
Bone Crack by Dick Francis
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers

What are, with benefit of 20/20 hindsight, the crime novels from decades ago that still set the standard for you?

LUCY BURDETTE: I’m really bad about classics and will not tell you how many of those I’ve read. But here are some that influenced my journey:

The Black Echo by Michael Connolly
Catering to Nobody by Diane Mott Davidson
Bootlegger’s Daughter by Margaret Maron
Gone Baby Gone by Dennis Lehane
Thyme of Death by Susan Wittig Albert
The Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr
The Firm by John Grisham
One for the Money Janet Evanovich
The Deep Blue Goodbye John D. MacDonald

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: OH, such a great question! I loved Ngaio Marsh, and Margery Allingham. And Carr. I never “got” Simenon.

My influences? Ah….
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Seven Days in May by Fletcher Knebel
Blood and Money by Tommy Thompson
Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
On the Beach by Neville Shute
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow
The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
The Other Side of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon (THAT COUNTS!)

RHYS BOWEN: Hank, several of mine are on your list

Daughter of Time
Rebecca
Gaudy Night and my personal favorite
The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers
Definitely an Agatha Christie, probably a Miss Marple Nemesis? No— Sleeping Murder!
Ellis Peters: one of the Brother Cadfaels
Tony Hillerman. The Blessing Way was
A big influence and inspiration to write mysteries
Mary Stewart: Wildfire at midnight
Reginald Hill: On Beulah Height

JENN McKINLAY: I was definitely a Goth girl -- before it was all black eyeliner, combat boots, and spiky black hair and was more woman in peril suspense novel type stuff. So I cut my teeth on the DuMaurier disciples (after reading Rebecca, of course):
Victoria Holt - Mistress of Mellyn
Elizabeth Peters - Crocodile on a Sandbank
Phyllis A Whitney - Woman Without a Past

And then rolled into more traditional mysteries
Agatha Christie - Death on the Nile
Dorothy L Sayers - Gaudy Night
Josephine Tey - Daughter of Time

Modern influences (now decades old);
Janet Evanovich - One for the Money
Robert Crais - Monkey’s Raincoat
Harlan Coben - Tell No One

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Hmm, complicated question, Hallie. Of course I read Christie but I don't remember that I LOVED them.

It was Sayers that first made me fall in love with British mysteries, then PD James. But a couple of years ago I reread the first Dalgliesh novel, Cover Her Face, which I remembered as being so groundbreaking, and it wasn't! I also sat down fairly recently with Gaudy Night, and I just couldn't read it. Heresy, I know! Maybe I was just having a bad day.

Now I'm a little reluctant to dip into the books that were such strong influences, afraid I'll be disappointed. But there was also a very strong romantic suspense thread in my reading and when I recently reread Mary Stewart's My Brother Michael it was even better than I remembered. Whew.

Here are a few authors/books that were inspirational then:

All the Sayers
All the PD James, but especially An Unsuitable Job for a Woman
Colin Dexter (especially The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn)
All the Dalgliesh and Pascoe novels by Reginald Hill
Early Martha Grimes
Josephine Tey's Brat Farrar
Anything by Dick Francis
Mary Stewart's My Brother Michael and This Rough Magic
A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I was not a mystery reader when I started to write! I backed into mysteries by writing half a science fiction novel that turned out to be a mystery on a space station. I thought, if the genre seems to be calling me (let’s not look too closely on why murder and mayhem are at the fore of my creativity) I had better read up on it. So I began my apprenticeship with books of the nineties.

Like several of you, I was influenced by Elizabeth Peter, both in her Amelia Peabody books and her Vicky Bliss series. (I like romance in my stories, as you can tell if you read me.)

I was deeply influenced by Margaret Maron’s BOOTLEGGER’S DAUGHTER, as well as Tony Hillerman’s mysteries and Archer Mayor’s Joe Gunther books. These were the works that opened my eyes to how location and setting could be another character in the story.

Then I backtracked, started reading Dame Agatha, and fell hard for closed circle mysteries, aka, Country house mysteries. MURDER ON THE NILE, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES.

And I just remembered, I did read a classic mystery, not knowing what it was, because I thought it was historical fiction: THE DAUGHTER OF TIME. I’m pretty sure Josephine Tey is responsible for the deep respect shown to Richard III’s body when it was miraculously recovered under a car park in 2012.

HALLIE: So what about you? What blasts from the past whet your appetite for mystery novels?

78 comments:

  1. Several of the already-mentioned books would be on my list, too . . . I’d add
    Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None”
    Isaac Asimov’s “The Caves of Steel,” “I, Robot,” and the “Foundation” series
    Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes”
    Dorothy L. Sayers’s “Murder Must Advertise" and “Hangman’s Holiday”

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    1. Asimov! Of course. Which makes me remember Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land - not a mystery but a book that made me wish I could spin a story like that.

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    2. Oh, I still think about Stranger. All the time.

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    3. One of my favorite books . . . .

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  2. Hallie, like you, my first knowledge of a mystery author was AGATHA CHRISTIE (at age 11) but it was THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD for me. The memory of the unreliable narrator in that book still resonates. I read all the authors on your list except for GEORGETTE HEYER.

    As for other key additions, I would also add ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE'S Sherlock Holmes books, as well as several PI and spy/espionage series:
    RAYMOND CHANDLER, FAREWELL MY LOVELY
    ROSS MACDONALD, THE DROWNING POOL
    JOHN D MACDONALD, THE DEEP BLUE GOOD-BYE
    JOHN LE CARRE, TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY
    ERIC AMBLER, EPITAPH FOR A SPY

    More modern influential mysteries, several already on the list of other Reds:
    MICHAEL CONNELLY, THE BLACK ECHO
    ROBERT CRAIS, THE MONKEY'S RAINCOAT
    DIANE MOTT DAVIDSON, CATERING TO NOBODY
    ELIZABETH GEORGE, A GREAT DELIVERANCE
    P.D. JAMES, SHROUD FOR A NIGHTINGALE
    DENNIS LEHANE, A DRINK BEFORE THE WAR
    MARGARET MARON, THE BOOTLEGGER'S DAUGHTER

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    1. Yikes, I knew I would forget some key mystery books, including some groundbreaking female PI series, and one long-running American police procedural series:
      SUE GRAFTON, A IS FOR ALIBI
      SARA PARETSKY, INDEMNITY ONLY
      MARCIA MULLER, EDWIN OF THE IRON SHOES
      ED McBAIN, KILLER'S PAYOFF

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    2. Sara Paretsky! Still around and still kickin' ...

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    3. Marcia Muller also publishes a new Sharon McCone each year.

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    4. And to be fair, should also add some modern male PI series, both set in Boston.
      ROBERT B PARKER,s SPENSER (witty dialogue, his longstanding partnerships with Hawk and Susan, and the cooking!
      JEREMIAH HEALY, JOHN FRANCIS CUDDY (the grieving widower scenes always got me)

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    5. Yes, Ackroyd! (I read it again AFTER I wrote The Murder List, just to see...)

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    6. Grace,
      I’m curious how you have reacted to the last five or six of Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone series. They seem very different to me, in terms of writing style and content.

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    7. SUSAN: I agree the content in the last few Sharon McCone books is different from the earlier books in the series. But ever since Sharon got shot and was in her "locked in state" at the hospital, I figured she has re-evaluated her priorities, and this is reflected in her recent books. New office location, new home (due to arson), turmoil at work for both her and husband Hy + family issues with her Shoshone parents/relatives are coming to the fore. I have not yet read the latest one, Ice and Stone, yet. Waiting for it to become available at my public library.

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    8. I think the change in the main character, Sharon McCone is completely understandable. However, the books to me are not as well written, a lot of the characters seem very one dimensional and the story plots predictable and not satisfying. It is almost like someone else is writing the books, her husband is a well known author and apparently Ms.Muller’s health is not good, I just have not enjoyed the recent books and I don’t plan on reading the latest entry in the series.

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  3. I didn't read much of the classics - I was more a contemporary mystery reader
    The Bootlegger's Daughter by Margaret Maron
    Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol
    One for The Money by Janet Evanovich
    Catering to Nobody by Diana Mott Davidson

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    1. Encyclopedia Brown was my first read too, before Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys.

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  4. On the Beach! I read that and a bunch of Nevil Shute when I was young.
    After growing up reading my mother's mysteries - not only Christie but also Conan Doyle and Poe - I discovered Sayers in grad school and was so sad when I got to the last one.

    Then, like Lucy, I discovered foodie cozies:
    Catering to Nobody by Diane Mott Davidson
    Thyme of Death by Susan Wittig Albert
    The Body in the Belfry by Katherine Hall Page

    And, like Grace, the groundbreaking female PIs:
    SUE GRAFTON, A IS FOR ALIBI
    SARA PARETSKY, INDEMNITY ONLY
    MARCIA MULLER, EDWIN OF THE IRON SHOES

    Also favorites were Tony Hillerman and Dick Francis, but I went back to those female sleuths and cozy settings when I started writing.

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    1. EDITH: Books written by Susan Wittig Albert and Katherine Hall Page would be on my list, too.
      Too many titles to remember!

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    2. Tony Hillerman would have been in my list, too.

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    3. Edith, I don't know how I left out Poe on my list. I've been a huge fan of his since high school.

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  5. After watching the "condensed" PD James remakes on TV, I'm tempted to indulge in DEVICES AND DESIRES and AN UNSUITABLE JOB FOR A WOMAN. Before I tried writing my own mysteries, I enjoyed Diane Mott Davidson, Katherine Hall Page, Sue Grafton, and Sara Paretsky.

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    1. This is making me think of the difference between early and late works from the same author... James's "An Unsuitable Job..." is fewer than 300 pages long. "Devices..." clocks in at nearly 600. Same kind of difference between early Grafton (A: about 300 pages - Y: about 500) and late. I've often wondering if it's because the late books get less editing or the late authors feel unleashed.

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    2. Probably a little of both, Hallie. At one point in my life I read Danielle Steele until I started seeing almost no editing of blatantly extraneous writing, and that's when I quit reading her books.

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  6. I always think of myself as being late to mysteries but I read many of Poe's stories as a pre-teen and all of Sherlock Holmes, too. As a teen, I read Rebecca and Mistress of Mellyn and then Jane Eyre. I was a literature major in college so think everything from Tom Jones to War and Peace and tons of poetry. But, as early as age 11, I was choosing Leon Uris and Mitchner and Wouk. I think that my interest in WWII lit is what makes me such a devotee of Rhys's stories from that time and Jim Benn's Billy Boyle mysteries.

    Now, I read mysteries, from Lee Child and Michael Connelly to cozies, and romances but very little "serious" literature. Especially during the pandemic I've appreciated the lighter side of story telling. The 1920-1950's classic mystery authors, I haven't read them yet.

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    1. Me, too... in fact I've drifted over into Romcom. Horrors!

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    2. JUDY: Some of the classic mystery series from the 1920-1950s listed here do not age well (e.g. S.S. Van Dine and DASHIELL HAMMETT (Sam Spade, the Thin Man series). Can't believe I forgot Hammett on my original PI list of Chandler and the two Macdonalds.

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    3. Judy, if you do get around to some of these classics, it will be interesting to see what you think of them as compared to more contemporary works.

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  7. I only began reading in English in the eighties.
    My first love was historical - romance, fiction, suspense by authors like Johanna Lindsey, Elizabeth Lowell, Catherine Coulter.
    Then this last one began to write Savich and Sherlock FBI suspenses and I liked it
    I remember authors rather than titles

    My real first love for mysteries was Robert B Parker. Then, Diane Mott Davidson, Janet Evanovich, Elizabeth George, Michael Connolly, Sue Grafton .

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  8. So many, and I'm terrible at remembering books and plots, but especially endings. Which makes it easy to reread books, by the way.

    Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys were my gateway beginnings, like so many, but mystery authors who kept me reading/buying their books: Sidney Sheldon (you bet it counts, Hank!), Arthur Conan Doyle, P.D. James, Tony Hillerman, Dick Francis, Robert Parker, and of course Agatha Christie, but I have not read even half of her work. Later, I discovered Faye Kellerman, Dorothy Sayers, Diane Mott Davidson, Sue Grafton, and Janet Evanovitch, and realized I really enjoy books, especially mysteries, written by women.

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    1. Same here. I have shifted to reading more female mystery authors (like the Reds) and more cozy books after reading mostly thrillers/espionage/PI books after devouring the Christie, Allingham, Marsh, Try books.

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    2. Ugh autocorrect (Josephine) TEY!

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    3. Most of the mysteries that I read are written by women. And especially since the beginning of the pandemic, I preferably read cozies.

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  9. So many Christies, but MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS and AND THEN THERE WERE NONE lead the pack. I have also found that so many of the classics I loved when I was a teenager just aren't the same now.

    These aren't true "mysteries" but they certainly opened up the crime fiction genre once I cut my teeth on Dame Agatha, Ellis Peters, etc.:

    Thrillers from Frederick Forsyth (DAY OF THE JACKAL, especially) and Robert Ludlum.
    Techno-thrillers from Tom Clancy (RED OCTOBER remains the best IMHO)
    All of Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt novels (yes, they are formulaic and predictable, but fun)

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    1. OH yes, I totally forgot Day Of the Jackal, BEST EVER! And I remember reading the first Ludlum--what was it? (Was that The Bourne Identity? I will look that up..) And devoured the rest. They got less good, but I remember not caring.

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    2. LIZ: I think that is why I am reluctant to go back and re-read the Golden Age authors that I was so enamoured with as a tween/teen. Also, too many (new) books, too little time!

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    3. Oh, I'd forgotten Ludlum! I remember that I loved them, or at least the first couple.

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    4. Hank/Deb, yes, the Ludlums fell off the more he wrote, but by then, like Hank, I didn't care.

      Grace, I completely understand.

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  10. Thank you for this blast from the past! I read some of the old mysteries growing up because my parents (and auntie in Yorkshire) had a number of them: Agatha Christie and Margery Allingham and Dorothy Sayers and Dick Francis. I particularly remember Daughter of Time because it was such a great combo of history and mystery. It went along with some of the historical fiction I was reading: We Speak No Treason by Rosemary Hawley Jarman and the Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman in particular. Richard III was framed and defamed by the Tudors! In the '80s, a friend gave me a 'starter pack' of some mysteries and I was hooked. I remember a Frances Fyfield as one of my favorites of that batch. During the pandemic I re-read books I had sitting on my shelves: The first few Elizabeth Georges, Deborah Crombie, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Minette Walters, Reginald Hill, Louise Penny.

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    1. Too early in the morning! How could I forget Louise Penny!

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    2. Tey's daughter of time is frequently mentioned as a tour de force because the narrator is bedridden the whole time...

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  11. It seemed to me as a younger reader that romantic suspense and what would be called thrillers today always had an element of mystery--so my favorite reading was always a combination of these. Alistair MacLean's Night Without End, Helen MacInnes' books (especially the pre-war and WWII and immediate aftermath books), Barbara Michaels (and I was absolutely thrilled to learn that authors sometimes wrote under pen names--more books!!), Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, Joan Aiken Hodge, Dick Francis, Nero Wolf, Agatha Christies' Tommy and Tuppence books, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers (much prefer an element of romance in my books), and came later to the more modern authors I came to love--Hillerman, Ellis Peters, Margaret Maron, Martha Grimes, Anne Perry, Dorothy Gilman, Elizabeth George (her early books), to the most recent faves--looking at you, Reds!

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    1. Great list, Flora - with many authors I've never read. With others whose work I've read ALL.

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  12. Speaking of the masters..did you see the very sweet obituary of Caroline Todd? Both Debs and Rhys were quoted...
    and am I the only one who did not know Caroline Todd was a pen name? I know he Charles/Caroline Combo was one name, but neither her actual name nor Charles' actual name was Todd.
    Rutledge is certainly destined to be a classic.

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    1. Thanks, Hank. I just went and read it. Lovely.
      https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/19/books/caroline-todd-dead.html

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    2. I so agree--how could I have left them off my list?! I have devoured every single book they've written--even the stand-alones. Rutledge is a classic for sure.

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    3. News to me, too, Hank!

      Wonderful tribute to Carolyn/Caroline.

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    4. IN my case it was mis-quoted. I'm rather annoyed. I spent a long time telling the reporter what a gracious and kind person she was and how well liked she was and how meticulous their research was etc etc. And what do they have me say? One of the better mystery writers. Grrr.

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    5. Grrr is right. SO frustrating. But truly, it's FINE and lovely and let it go...xoxooo

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    6. I didn't know that she'd written gothic romance novels!!

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  13. The first mystery I remember reading was THE CIRCULAR STAIRCASE, Mary Roberts Rinehart. My father guided so much of my reading, and he bought me this book. I was very young, just graduated from picture books to "chapter books." I was taken to the county library weekly, and once a month he went into the city, Kansas City, on business, always brought me back a book, always a classic. But at the library I could pick what I liked, and I liked mysteries. I read my way thru Agatha Christie, Patricia Wentworth, Rinehart, Ellery Queen, REx Stout, Ngaio March, Georges Simenon, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Dorothy Sayers -- except for Gaudy Night. Like Debs, I can't get thru that one.

    Right now I'm reading something quite different: THE LOVE SONGS OF W.E.B. DUBOIS. By Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, going to be a five star book for sure.

    And I just finished THE LAST HOUSE ON NEEDLESS STREET, by Catriona Ward, whom I call the faux Catriona. The real Catriona recommended it and held my hand virtually thru the first few chapters. Holy crap!

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    1. I did love Gaudy Night at one point, Ann. I might love it again. But on this particular reread I found Harriet's voice to be quite viper-ish.

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  14. So many great authors! I love seeing the literary threads that tie us all together.

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  15. Someone should organize a "Re-reading" Book Club, where every book is one most of the members have read before. Then see how it stands up to a revisit, and how it strikes you today, as opposed to the first tie you read it.

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    1. Greaet idea! Can we call it the READ IT AGAIN, SAM'S CLUB?

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    2. I love this idea!! Maybe a Jungle Red project for the new year?

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    3. I loved this discussion but couldn't get to respond until now (very late). So much fun to see what everyone loved in the great mystery age of the 1970s+. I'd join that book club! I haven't read Christie in decades. I do wonder what I'd find now. Or Sayers. Would it all seem very dated? I kind of liked the recent continuation of ideas she had. I think Stewarts best books were This Rough Magic and My Brother Michael and think they stand up astonishingly well. I re-read Michael some years ago when we went to greece and knew we would be in Delphi. Then I made my husband read it. He complained for the first few chapters (not enough excitement) ...and then couldn't put it down!

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  16. Going back years ago I read all of Christie and then was almost obsessed with Ed MacBain as well as his Evan Hunter books; I simply could not get enough. Does anyone remember the Richard and Frances Lockeridge books? I got them from the library and now I recall them as suburban mysteries - is that a thing? I believe there were at least 2 series but I remember the Captain Heimrich ones best. Oh, and those old Cape Cod mysteries about Asey Mayo, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor. I reread one of the books last year, and while I did love them when I first read them, maybe as much for the idea of Cape Cod, I wasn't too impressed in rereading them.

    Then there was Phyllis Whitney with her enjoyable books. I guess they were mysteries but mostly I remember the trivia sort of things I learned. Another favorite was Elisabeth Ogilvie with the island off the Maine coast mysteries.

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    1. JUDI: I read all the Ed McBain 87th Precinct books (precursor to TV's Hill Street Blues ensemble police show) but none of his Evan Hunter books. And yes, I read and own almost all the Richard and Frances Lockridge books (Pam and Jerry North).

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  17. I'm going to go back to childhood. For me, it was the Hardys, Nancy, and Trixie Belden. Encyclopedia Brown as well. Then, I'd say, Murder, She Wrote. While I don't know that I read the classics, by the time I was an adult, I was ready for mysteries and more mysteries, so that's what I've been reading ever since.

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  18. I think I jumped from Nancy Drew and her ilk to children's books like The Secret of the Andes to Sherlock Holmes and on to Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, etc. Jack Higgins, Alistair McLean, Helen MacInnes. At some point I started reading Lord Peter Wimsey, Campion, all of Josephine Tey, Agatha Christie, P.D.James, Ngaio Marsh. Later still, Martha Grimes and a whole host of "newer" writers like Sharyn McCrumb and Joan Hess. And I'm still adding authors on to my reading list!

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  19. I thought it was fascinating the number of books the Reds had in common, but it only occurred to me afterwards that there were no American writers on my "influences" list. I did love Hillerman, and Paretsky, and some others who's careers took off in the decade or so before I started writing, but I never particularly liked the American mystery classics like Hammett and Chandler. I never read Nero Wolfe or Earle Stanley Gardener. My loss, I'm sure!

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    1. It's worth reading Raymond Chandler's essay on crime fiction (praising hammett, for instance) in THE SIMPLE OF ART OF MURDER. It's a famous essay that disses Dorothy Sayers and her ilk in favor of more the realistic and noirish. I found the essay here: https://www.fadedpage.com/books/20140930/html.php (I've got the book somewhere in my office but dang-it Cannot lay my hands on it right now.)

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  20. Oh, gosh. I think my first real awareness of the mystery genre was sometime in the third grade when my mother gave me a Nancy Drew book--Secret of the Old Clock? She said she had read and enjoyed them when she was a girl and I might like them, too. I did, and read dozens. After that I graduated to Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes and read John Creasey's "The Toff" series by the bushel. I remember reading a couple by Marsh, but not really getting into them. Skipped Tey, Sayers, and some of the other golden age writers, but I did dip briefly into Dashiell Hammett, P.D. James, Sarah Paretsky, and Sue Grafton. Dick Francis was a must-read.

    As an adult, I have read all kind of stuff, from Lindsey Davis' Falco stories to Darcie Wilde's Regency mysteries to J. D. Robb's futuristic Eve Dallas novels. Is there a pattern? Probably not, but there have been enough hours of enjoyment to add up to years of fun.

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    1. Thank you, Gigi! I could not remember John Creasy's name this morning--he was one of my first 'adult' mystery authors. And yes, Lindsey Davis, and from Pat D.'s comment, Joan Hess, for sure.

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    2. GIGI: Yes to reading John Creasey's The Toff series as a teen.

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  21. Oh, this is a fun post. Before I list any books, I want to say that I've only recently begun my interest in Golden Age books (and some other classics). This interest includes both American and British classics. Wonderful, amazing Martin Edwards has been the guiding force for the British Library Crime Classics, editing a majority of those volumes. Martin also wrote the definitive Golden Age of Murder, the history of British detective fiction between the two World Wars. That's just the beginning of Martin's part in Golden Age books. For American Golden Age and classics, I recommend Library of Congress Crime Classics which feature American crime writing from the 1860s to the 1960s. I recently read Last Seen Wearing(1950) by Hillary Waugh from the Library of Congress Crime Classics collection. It is credited with being the first successful police procedural book (not the first, the first successful). It has an introduction by Lesley Klinger that is wonderful. In fact, all of these reissues have two amazing things in common, a fabulous introduction by a contemporary expert and interesting covers. Then there are the reissues from Otto Penzler's American Mystery Classics, and the covers of these reissues are some of my favorites.

    So, back to the lists.

    Older Influences:
    Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt (So glad to see this on your list, Jenn. This is one I plucked from my mother's books.)
    Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
    Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
    Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    So many by Agatha Christie

    Contemporary:
    A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
    The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
    Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
    The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
    Still Life by Louise Penny
    All the Reds books

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  22. My cousin gave me Prelude in Terror by Helen McInnes when I was in high school. Not sure when I started Phyllis Whitney's and Victoria Holt's books but those were the authors I constantly checked out of the library. I didn't read the classics listed above. I know, I know.... but I honestly don't remember seeing them in the library. Maybe they were in the fiction section because they are/were considered classics?

    More contemporary authors have included:
    Nevada Barr - I haven't seen a new one from her in awhile
    Janet Evanovich - though I behind
    Sally Goldenbaum -
    The list goes on... of course, you lovely ladies....

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    1. NEVADA BARR wrote a stand-alone thriller in 2019, What Rose Forgot.
      Nothing after that is listed on her website or on Goodreads.

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  23. Danna at the Cozy Mystery Blog posted about ELIZABETH DALY's Henry Gamadge books recently. DALY was supposedly AGATHA CHRISTIE's FAVOURITE AMERICAN MYSTERY AUTHOR, but she is mostly forgotten and her books are out-of-print. I read (and own most of) the DALY books over 40 years ago and liked them. Did anyone else like reading them?

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  24. What a great question. With each list I shouted, "Yes, that one, too!"

    S.T. Haymon's Stately Homicide was the scale tipper for me. Christie, Whitney, Holt, Sayers, Hill, Dexter, and others made me fall in love with mysteries, but Haymon took my breath away and made me want to write them.

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  25. I'd completely forgotten about the Mrs. Pollifax books! Many years of Reader's Digest Condensed Books included that series by Dorothy Gilman. They were always so much fun to read.

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  26. And what about John Mortimer's Rumpole of the Bailey!? I loved them but did come to them late -- an awful lot of mystery authors have come to me via public television's Masterpiece Murder.

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  27. When young, Trixie Belden mysteries and Poe stories. Much later, P.D. James, Elizabeth George, Alexander McCall Smith, Walter Mosley, and Rex Stout.

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