Saturday, September 21, 2013

Crime Novels

I was looking for this list by the UK Crime Writers Association of the 100 best crime novels of all-time, and stumbled upon related lists, such as the American version the Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time,  mystery writer HRF Keating's 100 Best Crime And Mystery Books, and a List of 22 Lists of mysteries.

All the lists include the standards - Sherlock Holmes, a fair bit of Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, but there is some variety. Keating's list is weighted heavily to earlier authors - Poe, Dickens, Wilkie Collins and many I had never heard of; the American list leads with Sherlock Holmes and The Maltese Falcon, but includes a good bit of Raymond Chandler and John LeCarre. The UK list is topped by Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time; all include some authors we don't automatically associate with mysteries, such as Ian Fleming, Dostoevsky, and Umberto Eco.

One reviewer did notice that the American list includes an even more unusual entry, however.
Here it appears some selectors did not read the "books" they chose. As the book's compiler notes concerning selection nineteen, Agatha Christie's, "A Witness for the Prosecution", "... it should not have been ranked as one of the top 100 mystery books because, well, there is no such book". Perhaps some voters choose this selection based on the movie, which in turn was based on an Agatha Christie short story - although the endings differ.
Ah, claiming to have read the book by seeing the movie again, eh? It worked in high school.

I don't think of myself as a reader of mysteries anymore. That was years ago. I also haven't had much motivation to read some of these titles even though I have been hearing about them for years, such as The Anatomy of a Murder or The Thin Man. Yet I have to admit, the titles I have read are among my all-time favorites, so perhaps I should read more.

Here's the new plan, then.  Abandon all other topics and just read these.

1 comment:

james said...

You could do a lot worse. Genre fiction has to submit to at least the discipline of being about something. You know how limitations can simulate creativity. A lot of works will be formulaic hack jobs, but those that aren't stand a chance of being quite good. Some from those lists I've read more than once: believable characters, tightly plotted, interesting story...

The Name of the Rose is a bit of an exception, I suppose. It was fun, but not tightly written and the characters seemed a little fuzzy. Eco seemed to throw in a bit of everything--like Dante?--but it is interesting enough to keep you reading.