Must reads of the genre?

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Must reads of the genre?

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1waiting4morning
Oct 31, 2006, 7:09pm

What books do you think must be read for a good sampling of British/Irish crime fiction?

1) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, definately. Though it's hard to stick with one story since most of the short stories are excellent; but a as a novel Hound of the Baskervilles is very good and a cornerstone of the mystery genre I think.

2) Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter mysteries. Sayers' stories brought a new, intellectual flair to a genre that wasn't known for its appeal to deep thinkers.

Any others you can think of?

2quartzite
Edited: Nov 10, 2006, 10:06am

Agatha Christie, of course, is a must read. E.C. Bentley's Trent's Last Case is an early classic. For the classic era one should also read some Margery Allingham.

In more recent times, P.D. James is a must read starting with Cover Her Face. I would add Reginald Hill, Colin Dexter, and John Harvey as well.

3quartzite
Nov 10, 2006, 10:01am

oops! Forgot Josephine Tey!

4aluvalibri
Nov 10, 2006, 10:19am

What about Michael Innes and Ngaio Marsh?

5hailelib
Nov 10, 2006, 1:17pm

6Sarahsponda
Nov 11, 2006, 4:22pm

Must-read authors are very well and good, but I'd love to have a couple of specific titles attached to each author; I'm relatively new to the mystery genre and need guidance!

For instance, which Dorothy L. Sayers book is a must-read?

7hailelib
Nov 11, 2006, 4:39pm

8Eurydice
Nov 11, 2006, 11:20pm

And most people would add, for Sayers, Gaudy Night, without which Busman's Honeymoon has far less resonance, I think.

For Josephine Tey, take The Daughter of Time (the most famous) and Brat Farrar (my favorite, and the best plotted) for a start.

9quartzite
Nov 12, 2006, 7:09am

Sayers is going to be tough find consensus. Myself I would say Strong Poison and Murder Must Advertise.

For Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Murder at the Vicarage and possibly Murder on the Orient Express, as well as And Then there were None

10Eurydice
Edited: Nov 12, 2006, 7:39am

Murder Must Advertise - definitely. A favorite, there. Whose Body? is great, but among early Sayers, I simply love Murder Must Advertise.

I wish I had time for re-reading them. Maybe soon.

(edited for a misspelling)

11Eurydice
Nov 12, 2006, 7:38am

(Thanks, quartzite, for pointing it out! My brain hasn't been all here.)

12hailelib
Nov 12, 2006, 7:50am

I tend to think of Murder Must Advertise as being in the middle, neither early nor late. My husband loves The Nine Tailors but it's probably not for everyone.

Dick Francis: try High Stakes, Enquiry. and Risk.

13Eurydice
Nov 12, 2006, 7:57am

Oh, yes, hailelib; quite right. I'm sorry, my brain was on the fritz. It's ten years into the series.

I confess I've never actually read Dick Francis. Anyone want to enlarge on his appeal, strengths, characteristics?

14hailelib
Edited: Nov 12, 2006, 9:25am

I believe Francis began writing mysteries about 1968-1970. He began by using main characters involved in British horse racing, an area he was very familiar with from his first career as a jockey. As a second career, he wrote about racing as a reporter/commentator which has probably affected his style.
The books are told in first person and do contain somewhat graphic violence (though it seems less so to me now than it did 30 years ago). The puzzles are generally interesting and Francis tends to explore a different facet of racing with each book and eventually branches out into other professions such as pilot, glass-blower, banker, etc. One reviewer once said that part of the fascination was to see how the horses would be worked into the plot of each book. For instance the investment banker was involved in financing the syndication of a stallion purchased for stud purposes.

My husband feels that the last half dozen or so are weaker stories than the earlier ones and I have noticed that my personal favorites are mostly among the first half of his works.

15Eurydice
Nov 12, 2006, 9:26am

Thank you, hailelib! I've a lot of fondness for older mysteries worked into some setting of that sort - a profession of some kind, or a given milieu - but admit horse-racing has little appeal for me. - Still, I won't sell him short without a fair trial. I'll keep the titles you cited in my browsing list, mental or otherwise, and see if I run across a copy one of these days when I'm in a mood for something different. :)

16hailelib
Edited: Nov 12, 2006, 10:39am

Ellis Peters? In particular one of the Cadfael books.

17aluvalibri
Nov 12, 2006, 12:13pm

Anne Perry? I think I prefer the William Monk series to the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt's.

18akenned5
Nov 12, 2006, 5:05pm

I think Minette Walters is becoming one of the best in the genre. Only a couple of her books have been less than totally absorbing, intelligent and bold.

19BoPeep
Nov 12, 2006, 7:43pm

I have to put in a vote for Ian Rankin here - the Inspector Rebus series is extremely gripping and well-written. I also really like Lindsey Davis and her Falco novels. The Best British Mysteries compilations are excellent tasters - I hadn't read any Reginald Hill (although I'd seen Dalziel and Pascoe on tv) and was tempted to try him after reading a D&P short story. Well worth it.

20SimonW11
Edited: Nov 14, 2006, 3:46am

with Cadfael I think it is important to begin at the beginning of the series and not continue to the end.

21trawna First Message
Nov 13, 2006, 2:52pm

Can you count Peter Robinson (born in Yorkshire with his undergrad degree from Leeds,and also the UK is the setting for his Inspector Banks novels) as British? He did post-grad work in Canada and has lived in Canada for quite a while, but his settings and characters seem quintessentially British. IF he counts as "british" then I would highly recommend his works, and particularly the Banks novels. Gallow's View (#1) in the series is a great introduction to the author and his characters. I've asked for his latest one (Piece of My Heart) for Christmas this year.

22waiting4morning
Nov 15, 2006, 7:19pm

Gaudy Night and Murder Must Advertise have my votes as well for Dorothy Sayers.

And, for a taste of the WWI era, I will also recommend Gillian Linscott. Perfect Daughter in particular, though I haven't yet read everything by Linscott, but if what I've read so far is anything indicative of her other books, she's truly stellar work and should be listed as a sampling of what modern British authors can do.

23tripleblessings
Nov 17, 2006, 11:29am

Peter Robinson is labelled as a Canadian author in our Canadian book stores, but it sounds like the English would also claim him as a native writer. I agree, his Yorkshire mysteries are superb, and get even better as the series goes along.

24Bestine
Dec 1, 2006, 3:25pm

I'm rather fond of the Jonathan Gash "Lovejoy" series (his "Dr. Claire Burtonal" series leaves me cold). My favorite Lovejoy mystery is Firefly Gadroon, one of the earlier ones.

25parelle
Edited: Dec 1, 2006, 4:17pm

If I could say three from Sayers, they would be Whose Body because of what you learn about Lord Peter, a toss up between Strong Poison and Murder Must Advertise as the middle though probably with some leanings towards Murder Must Advertise, as it's possible to enjoy Gaudy Night without actually having read the earlier Harriet novels. Gaudy Night in particular I think is important at least in part because it's not a murder mystery - and it's a great book regardless of genre.

There was a question on the LJ Baker Street community which was the 'one' Sherlock Holmes to read - I think the consensus was The Sign of the Four for the novels, though the short story choice was a bit up in the air...

A quick addition - I haven't read that much Chesterson, but surely some of his Father Brown would also make the list? After all, it's our group's picture :)

26Linkmeister
Edited: Dec 1, 2006, 4:33pm

It's amusing how different folks like different books from the same author. For Dick Francis I'd recommend Nerve, Rat Race, or Break In. Others think the Sid Halley books from Francis are the best. And above, hailelib picks three completely different ones.

I'd agree that the earlier-to-middle ones are the best. I have the latest (first in six years), and it (Under Orders) isn't bad, but there's a bit of rust showing.

27pamelad First Message
Edited: Dec 2, 2006, 4:33am

Golden age British crime including :Frances Iles Before the Fact; Edmund Crispin The Moving Toy Shop; Patricia Wentworth the Miss Silver series

And, more recently, the very witty Sarah Caudwell e.g. The Sirens Sang of Murder

28pamelad
Edited: Dec 2, 2006, 4:42am

Another golden age one - Green for Danger Christianna Brand

29quartzite
Dec 2, 2006, 2:25pm

I second the excellent choices from pamelad!

30nickhoonaloon
Edited: Dec 3, 2006, 9:50am

I`m going to play a rogue card and suggest The season of The skylark by Jack Trevor story, which is a slice of the British life in the `60s combined with a rather good crime/adventure story. Reminds me a bit of some of the Ealing films.

JTS was one of those strange writers who wrote under a variety of names, in a variety of styles. Should you be interested, there is a rather good Jack Trevor Story web site, run by Guy Lawler.

Just remembered - you might know of Jack Trevor story as the man who wrote The trouble With harry, which became a Hitchcock film.

31leennnadine
Dec 20, 2006, 1:42am

I have to put in a word for Edmund Crispin as well as Allingham.
Murder Must Advertise is a must read Sayers in my opinion.
Brand too.

32valz
Jan 1, 2007, 2:19pm

Jill McGown - she's written a couple of duds, but most of her books are excellent. I particularly liked Death of a Dancer, Murder Now and Then and The Murders of Mrs A and Mrs B.

I'm another fan of Dorothy Sayers and, like several others here, liked Murder Must Advertise and Gaudy Night most.

Dorothy Sayers was a good stylist. She wrote a short story, about a man who attempted to murder someone by pushing him through a plate glass window, that actually made me faint. Her description of what happened to the victim was so vivid that I passed out while sitting down in my armchair.

33Linkmeister
Edited: Jan 1, 2007, 4:37pm

valz, If I read that Sayers description I might have flashbacks.

34quartzite
Jan 1, 2007, 5:05pm

Linkmeister,

flashbacks? Were you pushee? or pusher?

35Linkmeister
Jan 2, 2007, 4:05pm

Not quite either. But I have vivid memories of an encounter with a plate glass door.

36hailelib
Edited: Jan 2, 2007, 4:37pm

Linkmeister, a very interesting story. I can sympathize as about 4 years ago when coming down the stairs at my house (to let a cat out in the early morning hours) I totally missed a step and had an $8000 'simple' fracture of my dominant arm.

But back to mysteries. Has anyone else read anything by Elizabeth Lemarchand? It's been a while but I do remember enjoying them. I think they were written in the '70's.

37valz
Jan 7, 2007, 3:06pm

To those of you who mentioned Christianna Brand as a must-read, thanks. I had never heard of her before, but I've just completed Green for Danger and found it very good. I'll certainly be looking out for other books by this author.

38leennnadine
Jan 10, 2007, 1:24am

Glad you enjoyed Christianna Brand

39Blackeminence
Edited: Feb 5, 2007, 5:21am

What about Georgette Heyer, Behold here's poison?
Oh and for Allingham, must reads would be Sweet Danger and the Tiger in the Smoke, also Flowers for the Judge.

40Dragonfly
Feb 8, 2007, 8:05pm

My favorite Dick Francis is still Flying Finish. I also like the Sid Halley books and Banker. I think the last one is due to the unfamiliar setting. I always like books that tell me about what other people do for a living.

41ds_61_12
Feb 28, 2007, 6:56am

Is it me, or haven't I read about Ngaio Marsh yet. I know it's New Zealand, but since the books are set in GB and NZ is part of the Commonwealth (I AM dutch so if i make mistake don't be to harsh please... ;)

42Blackeminence
Mar 1, 2007, 3:20am

Oh of course, I'd nearly forgotten about her! What are your favourites there? I really love the ones with a stage setting, but the best of all must be Off with his head.

43ds_61_12
Mar 1, 2007, 3:55am

Hmm, difficult to say, I haven't read Off with his head as yet (in the Netherlands she is rather hard to get). I like the stage ones as well, but mine would be Death In A White Tie or Surfeit of Lampreys. Blackmail has always fascinated me, don't know why and Robin Grey is a favourite character of mine.

44reading_fox
Mar 1, 2007, 4:48am

Does Lee Child count? he's a british writer, though currently living and writing in the states. His latest Hard way is I believe due to take the action back to England.

Ruth Rendell's inspector Wexford is pretty good, though I don't own any, and can't remember the titles of those that I enjoyed.

For Dexter the last Remorseful day is probably the best IMO but you need to have read some of the previous to get a feel for the characters.

45artisan
Mar 1, 2007, 2:30pm

#43> I haven't read Off with his head as yet (in the Netherlands she is rather hard to get).

You are a logical candidate for joining Bookmooch. Today there are 32 copies of her books available.

46ds_61_12
Mar 2, 2007, 12:29pm

#45
Could be, but I've had bad experiences with such things. Besides it takes away the fun of trying to find ALL the little bookshops in the Netherlands. I've only visited about 50 yet...

47Blackeminence
Mar 11, 2007, 7:28am

I've just remembered, John Dickson Carr's And so to murder. There are other good ones but I like that one best.

48Blackeminence
Mar 14, 2007, 12:49pm

Oh, just found out he was american,I never realised that.

49aluvalibri
Mar 14, 2007, 1:20pm

#48> you thought he was British, huh? Well, so did I at the beginning!

50Blackeminence
Mar 14, 2007, 5:27pm

Thanks, good to know I'm not the only one.

51SJaneDoe
Mar 15, 2007, 8:32am

She's not to everyone's taste, but I would add Val McDermid.

52malundy
Edited: Apr 19, 2007, 12:41pm

For more modern stuff, I really like Ken Bruen. He has one series that features Detective Sergeant Brant. These stories, set in London, are like 82nd Precinct
meets NYPD Blue with more than a little of the tv series, The Shield. Darkly humorous. I think the first featuring Brant is A White Arrest (1998)

Also, I've just started his Jack Taylor series about a former member of the police force (the Guards) is a finder of things and helper of people since they don't appear to have private detectives. The Guards is the first in this series.

53pamelad
Edited: Apr 20, 2007, 6:08am

I'm reading Margery Allingham's Look to the Lady, the third Albert Campion mystery and have just been looking up the Internet to find out what a "jumper suit" is - the book's been translated into American!! I know for sure because Campion mentioned Lugg's fanny - Lugg wouldn't have one in England unless he were a hermaphrodite, and Campion wouldn't be guilty of such crudeness. In future I will be very careful to buy English editions.

Couldn't get the touchstone to work - English title is The Gyrth Chalice Mystery.

54gautherbelle
Apr 22, 2007, 11:50am

I really enjoyed 4 of the Dorothy L. Sayers' books involving Lord Peter and Harriet Vane. Lord Peter meets Harriet when she's on trial for the murder of her lover (with whom she lived out of wedlock). It's called Strong Poison. He felt and instant attraction to her and decided she was the woman for him. In the meantime he solves the murder, but she declines his offer of marriage and goes off on a walking holiday in Have His Carcus where they come together again to solve a murder. The relationship between Lord Peter and Harriet is very true to life. Gaudy Night finds Harriet at Oxford (both her and Peter went there). Of course there's another murder to solve and Busman's Honeymoon where they finally marry. I believe D. L. Sayers fell in love with Lord Peter.

55Bookbox First Message
Edited: Apr 22, 2007, 12:18pm

If you like a good murder mystery then I'd reccomend Lesley Cookman - her books are set in Kent.
For true Scottish flavour then detective Bob Burns who features in Peter Kerr's book is my favourite - I love the wry humour.

56Dragonfly
May 15, 2007, 8:49pm

My favorite Dick Francis is Flying Finish. Horses and flying, done by a man who knows what he's talking about. You don't have to have an interest in racing to appreciate this plot.

57laytonwoman3rd
Edited: Jul 9, 2007, 12:34pm

I just read Death Notes by Ruth Rendell. It's one of her Inspector Wexford series. I enjoyed it and intend to find others by her. I'm in the Sid Halley camp when it comes to Dick Francis, but I've enjoyed all his books.
I would also mention the "Gideon of the Yard" series written by John Creasey using the pen name J. J. Marric.

58Storeetllr
Jul 11, 2007, 8:46am

I just remembered Peter Lovesey ~ just checked my catalog and have 8 of his mysteries in my library. My favorites as I recall were Abracadaver and Wobble to Death. Haven't read anything by him in years; I wonder if he's written any Sargeant Cribb mysteries more recently than the 70s.

59SJaneDoe
Jul 11, 2007, 9:00am

Message 58: Storeetllr: I wonder if he's written any Sargeant Cribb mysteries more recently than the 70s.

I don't think so...he seems to be concentrating on Peter Diamond lately.

60Storeetllr
Jul 11, 2007, 9:07am

Thanks, d2vge ~ I'll have to check that series out.

61Jebbie74
Jul 23, 2007, 1:57pm

I just discovered Lynda La Plante who writes an excellent series about a very young DI, Anna Travis. I recently finished Above Suspicion and am smack in the middle of The Red Dahlia.

62sunniefromoz First Message
Edited: Sep 5, 2007, 10:49am

Jebbie, I recently renewed my acquainance with La Plante via Above Suspicion. Loved it to bits. Bought Red Dahlia on the strength of it.

63Thrin
Mar 26, 2008, 7:59am

#4 and #41

Ngaio Marsh is a New Zealander and not British (unless she has, unbeknown to me - but quite possibly - taken out British Citizenship).

I know this "Commonwealth" thing is quite confusing!

64quartzite
Mar 26, 2008, 5:40pm

Ah, but many of her books were set in Britain, so we tend to include them as with books written by Americans but set in Britain.

65Thrin
Mar 26, 2008, 5:49pm

Thanks quartzite - I hadn't understood the rubric of this group. Thought it was about British and Irish authors exclusively.

66Grammath
Mar 28, 2008, 11:21am

A British crime author who ought to have wider exposure is Mark Timlin.

His PI, Nick Sharman, patrols the mean streets of south London. Some of the novels were adapted for TV in the 1990s with Clive Owen playing Sharman, who, although a fine actor, was not the right man for the job. Many are, quite wrongly, out of print at the moment.

Christopher Brookmyre's so-called "Tartan Noir" is good fun too. Imagine Carl Hiaasen if he was Glaswegian.

Speaking of Glasgow, the British crime book I've probably enjoyed most recently was Louise Welsh's The Cutting Room.

67pamelad
Mar 29, 2008, 4:58am

Adding Cyril Hare to the must reads. I am currently reading An English Murder, a classic country-house murder, suspects isolated from the outside world by snow. Light, witty, erudite.

Looking forward to reading Hare's Tragedy at Law next, then two Francis Iles classics - Malice Aforethought and Before the Fact. Francis Iles also wrote as Anthony Berkeley.

68quartzite
Mar 29, 2008, 1:00pm

Cyril Hare is one of my favorites and I especially liked An English Murder because I was able to guess the motive and thus the villain because I had read Trollope's Palliser novels!

69Eurydice
Mar 30, 2008, 3:36pm

Lovely! And I do like Hare very much. I've yet to acquire Anthony Berkeley, under his own name, but do think very well of his duo, written as Francis Iles.

Pamela, quartzite: nice thoughts on the part of both of you.

Grammath, I look forward to checking out the books you mention.

My own current TBR, looked forward to, include Peter Dickinson's The Old English Peep Show, and Michael Innes' Seven Suspects, aka Death at the President's Lodging. Also, Hare's The Wind Blows Death/When the Wind Blows. :)

70pamelad
Apr 20, 2008, 3:33am

Just finished Before the Fact a thirties classic by Francis Iles. We know who the murder is, but who is the victim? Filmed by Hitchcock as Suspicion.

About to start Malice Aforethought.

71Thrin
Jun 4, 2008, 7:06pm

Have just finished my first Peter Robinson - Past Reason Hated. Thanks for the recommendation #21 trawna.
The only annoying thing about this book (at least to me) was the title. I shall read more of this Inspector Banks series.

72Coessens
Jun 5, 2008, 8:55am

I suppose some of you have read the "Frost" novels bij RD Wingfield. I just started with my first one, Winter Frost. Very good, especially if you're in to British humor. Looking forward to possible comments on this series.

73Eurydice
Jun 6, 2008, 6:20pm

Pamelad, I enjoyed Malice Aforethought much more than Before the Fact, though it was decidedly unconventional, and raised interesting issues.

What I need to do is read some of his books as Anthony Berkeley.

74aluvalibri
Jun 6, 2008, 6:53pm

I just started The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin, and can already say that it is excellent. As many British classics, it is pervaded by that irresistible sense of humour which, to me, is priceless. Definitely a must read!

75Eurydice
Jun 6, 2008, 7:04pm

Ah, then you must read The Moving Toyshop - a favorite, and his best book! It instantly converted me. Whimsical, literary, and witty. (Or utterly daft, as Fen may be. :))

76quartzite
Jun 7, 2008, 1:24pm

I love R.D. Wingfield's Frost books. After a 20 year break he just wrote a new one that I have ordered from the UK. There is also quite a good British TV series based on the books that I think does a good job of getting the character and mood of the books right.

77Thrin
Jun 7, 2008, 6:24pm

#76 - quartzite - It looks as though R.D.Wingfield's A Killing Frost might be the last of the series as I believe the author died last year. The TV series was shown here in Australia some years ago - very enjoyable I thought, and I agree that the mood and character were well captured.

78aluvalibri
Jun 7, 2008, 6:28pm

#75> Eurydice, I actually plan to read them all, and in order of publication, if possible. Thanks for the input!
:-))

79Eurydice
Jun 7, 2008, 7:50pm

Very sensible. I'm afraid I did them haphazardly, as they could be found (mostly in shops, so not efficiently). But Fen is great fun.

Donnish detective stories really charm me. Especially whimsical ones, like his and Michael Innes'.

Hm... I have a feeling there's an unread Edmund Crispin in the house...

80quartzite
Jun 7, 2008, 7:58pm

#76 That's too bad. I was so pleased to see a new one, and hoped that meant more to come.

81RidgewayGirl
Jun 15, 2008, 2:55pm

PD James is the most quintessentially English author I can think of. An Unsuitable Job for a Woman is a good starting point, but they are all good.

82pamelad
Jul 26, 2008, 8:21pm

Adding R. Austin Freeman to the list. Intelligent, well-written puzzles. A rediscovery. Just finished The Eye of Osiris and am now reading The D'Arblay Mystery. Written in the 1910's and twenties. I'd classify them as golden age mysteries.

83McFudge
Aug 26, 2008, 8:13am

My dad's book Little White Lies came out in July and has done very well so far. It is very popular in Libraries in Lancashire and Oxfordshire. it is a similar style to Midsomer Murders and he sold out at his book signing. If anyone does choose to read it we would appreciate a review as these help to get books into libraries and book shops. My Dad's name is Ian McFadyen and his book was published by the book guild.
Thank you

84CD1am
Sep 17, 2008, 2:36am

Just read my first Brother Cadfael books. Although I enjoyed them, I knew whodunit by the time the misdeed was committed or the body was found, which was usually halfway thru the book. I'm not normally so astute at figuring out who the criminal is, but here I usually even had motives right long before Cadfael figured it out. I'm surprised these mysteries were so easy to figure out.

85CD1am
Sep 25, 2008, 4:40pm

Thought I should clarify my post #84. The Cadfael books I read and easily figured out were late in the series. I've now read the 2nd Cadfael book, One Corpse Too Many, and had no clue whodunit until Cadfael figured it out. Perhaps Peter's early books are better than the later ones.

86Romonko
Jan 9, 2011, 11:56am

I think there are some good suggestions here. Most of the best ones have been covered. I know Ngaio Marsh is from New Zealand or Australia originally, but her series is a good one too-written in the "Golden Age" manner. I also have to mention Peter Lovesey. His Victorian series with Inspector Crabbe is wonderful, but so is his Peter Diamond series. And we can't forget to mention Ruth Rendall (or Barbara Vine). No matter what name she writes under and whether or not the book is a series book, she can't be beat.

87pinkozcat
Edited: Apr 13, 2011, 8:38pm

Has nobody yet discovered Ruth Dudley Edwards? Her The Anglo-Irish Murders should be the flagship of this group ... as well as being one of the funniest books I've ever read.

Edited to check that I put in the touchstone brackets; I did.

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