Up Front by Emma Hart

Read Post

Up Front: Reading Murder Books

100 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 Newer→ Last

  • Lilith __, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I was just thinking that of my four 'favourite books', P&P is the only one that isn't in some way a mystery. Rebecca certainly is, and I think, stretching the point more, Possession is as well.

    I think Possession gets bonus points for oddly-plausible dark-stormy-night-graverobbing cliffhanger.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    My favourite re-imagining of Sherlock is Neil Gaiman’s Lovecraftian short-story A Study in Emerald, which is collected in his Fragile Things.
    On looking it up just now, I see that it’s also in an anthology of Sherlock/Cthulhu mashup called Shadows Over Baker St. Well.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    I think I've mentioned this before but I was very struck with Josephine Tey's Daughter of Time, which is the story of a detective who examines a historical mystery while stuck in hospital: did Richard III kill the Princes in the Tower?
    Wikipedia informs me that it was "voted greatest mystery novel of all time by the Crime Writers' Association in 1990". There's been doubt cast on the soundness of some of her evidence, but it's a thrilling read.

    I read one of her other detective stories, which was also excellent, and I'd read more if I could get a hold of them.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to kiwicmc,

    Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series – Case Histories is the first one and then there’s another three to knock off after that.

    Yes yes yes. Although the story is legitimately horrifying, the characters are engaging, the plotting deft, and the dialogue hilarious. My favourite of the series is the second, One Good Turn, which is not only screamingly funny, but makes me go “Ahhh!” at Atkinson’s cleverness.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Another vote for the wonderfulness of Raymond Chandler. His books are tiny masterpieces of their kind. As you say Emma, his language is both sassy and original. And the deeply seedy atmosphere carries from book to book – if the pages of your copy aren’t tatty, and the cover sticky, it hardly matters.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Biobbs,

    my absolute fav detective of all time is Lauren Henderson’s hilarious Sam Jones . Sam is a Camden girl – hedonistic, foul-mouthed and witty, and when not detecting or doing her day job as a sculptor, spends her time clubbing in black leather and rubber (one of the books is even called Black Rubber Dress). Lauren also has a newer YA detective series which I’ve not read, but has really good reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.

    Thanks B, have added her to my list!

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Do be a Dick!
    Ya can’t do Raymond Chandler without a side of Samuel Dashiell Hammett as well, heck, as it’s a buffet throw in a plate of Kenneth Millar as well… and if we’re going there we’d best knock back some Damon Runyon for the authentic street voice, too…
    Jim Grant can always be relied on for Just Des(s)erts! (with extremely accurate time-telling)

    Doobie Dick?
    I tried to like Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice both in book and movie formats, just didn’t work for me, tried too hard, too many words, or something…

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7892 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Doobie Dick?
    I tried to like Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice both in book and movie formats, just didn’t work for me, tried too hard, too many words, or something…

    Pynchon's been trying too hard since Vineland. Like Don DeLillo and Martin Amis, allowing himself to be anointed as a kind of secular shaman whose every sentence is presumed to be rich with significance has turned him into an indulgent bore.

    Both Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 (the title is also the final sentence - "She settled back to await the crying of lot 49") and V are delightfully complex whodunits dealing with massive conspiracy theories, which cut out just as the expected resolution appears imminent. Once you're over the initial "You bastard!" reaction the implications of what you've been reading start to percolate, which wouldn't happen if things had been tidily resolved.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • sandra, in reply to Lilith __,

    Thanks Lilith, I will try 'A Study in Emerald'. For Holmes fans I’d also recommend the slim volume (novella) that is 'The Final Solution' by Michael Chabon. It’s not predictable and rather sad - and I don't think the name 'Sherlock Holmes' is ever mentioned.

    Also, 'The Yiddish Policeman’s Union' by Michael Chabon which is dazzling and puzzling and sometimes both at once but thoroughly enjoyable. Its initial twist is that the Jewish homeland wasn’t successful in Israel and so Alaska was settled instead.

    tauranga • Since Dec 2011 • 71 posts Report Reply

  • Tamsin6,

    I love this thread - I have loads of guilty reading pleasures and slightly cosy early 20th century set crime fiction is among them. Recently I've been reading a few genuine early 20th century mysteries, thanks to some reissues by the British Library, as per the catalogue here and this morning when I was supposedly Christmas shopping I bought a couple more, thank you Foyles, for sticking them right by the door where I couldn't go past them... Very much looking forward to The Santa Klaus Murder by Mavis Doriel Hay and Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon.

    I also like the Maisie Dobbs books by Jacqueline Winspear, and the Dandy Gilver series by Catriona McPherson, both modern creations but set in the 1920's.

    I love mystery fiction, even when the writing is not always brilliant (I love Agatha Raisin, but this is one example along with M.C Beaton's Hamish MacBeth books where the tv adaptations are better than the books).

    London • Since Dec 2007 • 133 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Lilith __,

    I think I’ve mentioned this before but I was very struck with Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time, which is the story of a detective who examines a historical mystery while stuck in hospital: did Richard III kill the Princes in the Tower?

    Oddly, I've read this book twice, because I get it confused with Elizabeth Peter's The Murders of Richard III, which is about a series of copy-cat murders of Richardists.

    My favourite re-imagining of Sherlock is Neil Gaiman’s Lovecraftian short-story A Study in Emerald, which is collected in his Fragile Things.

    It's also a board game I really, really want.

    I love mystery fiction, even when the writing is not always brilliant (I love Agatha Raisin, but this is one example along with M.C Beaton’s Hamish MacBeth books where the tv adaptations are better than the books).

    Quoted for Truth.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Soon Lee, in reply to sandra,

    "A Study in Emerald" is available free from Gaiman's website .

    Auckland • Since Apr 2013 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • Soon Lee, in reply to A C Young,

    Regarding Bridge of Birds, the forgotten classics podcast recorded all of bridge of birds as hourlong pod casts starting here:

    http://hcforgottenclassics.blogspot.co.nz/2011/09/episode-168-bridge-of-birds-ch-1-3.html

    Thanks! Runs off to download.

    The Subterranean Press version has additional notes from Hughart which I have excerpted below. Seasonally apropos warning: contains references to turkey.

    "Will there be more? I doubt it, and it’s not because of bad sales and worse publishers. It’s simply that I’d taken it as far as I could. Oh, I could come up with more ingenious plots and interesting characters and so on, but the Ox/Master Li format had become just that, a format, and no matter how well I wrote I’d just be repeating myself. Many writers are content to settle down with an endless if predictable series, but I’d be miserable, and so it was like deciding to quit smoking: cold turkey or forget about it, and I chose cold turkey. Anyway, it was a lot of fun while it lasted, and I hope Ox and Li Kao can continue to give fun to readers, and I most particularly hope that on dark and stormy nights some of those readers will be able to crawl into my alternate world and pull it over them like a security blanket."

    Auckland • Since Apr 2013 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to sandra,

    Kirby your enthusiasm…

    Also …. by Michael Chabon

    do try The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay as well
    Not so much a whodunnit as a ‘comics opera’ from the heroic age of escapism.
    All that and a golem too, IIRC, mud sticks…

    <aside>
    - where is Stanley Lieber’s ‘Schneider-Man’?
    Seemed like a gimme to me…
    </aside>

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7892 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Arrrrgh! So many books I now need to read. Thanks everybody!

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Emma Hart,

    A Study in Emerald, which is collected in his Fragile Things.

    It’s also a board game I really, really want.

    Wow! Pity one has to pay so much to get one's tentacles on it.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Some good recs here - good reason to fire up LibraryThing to add to "should-reads"!

    I quite specifically didn't do English lit during the 5 minutes I attended university in the 80s (I did linguistics). I've always detested being told what novels to read, because most "worthy literature" appears to be as depressing AF. I did like Jane Eyre, though. Read that when I was 13. Never did buy the romance with Mr Rochester, but I did enjoy her choice. Also, love Jane Austen.

    Another one here for loving trashyish J.D. Robbs, and I quite enjoy Nora Roberts' long form detective/suspense novels (they've all got romance elements). I steer away from the trilogies that involve a set of siblings getting married off, indulging her Ireland fetish, and the ones with mystical elements.

    I have to say I bounced off Jim Butcher massively. The first book of his with the wizard guy that I picked up had some stupid byplay with a woman police officer/detective (?not sure) - he insisted on getting the door while she was leaving (going through stupid contortions to get there first) and when he knew she didn't want him to. Maybe he is supposed to be redeemed as a patronising White Knight later, but man, I wouldn't have much tolerance for that in Real Life. (I don't mind anyone getting doors for me! I mind people doing shit when they know I don't like it.) While I struggled through another 20 pages or so, I just couldn't get past it. If it was supposed to be romantic tension, it certainly elevated my blood pressure.

    So yeah. Love Ben Aaronovich though. Massively.

    Love a lot of the Agatha Christies, Dorothy Sayers and so on. Haven't read a Raymond Chandler yet, and really should. Also, I find all of Kerry Greenwood's oeuvre good snacky reading - the Phryne Fishers (although they get a bit samey) and Corrine Chapmans.

    My favourite contemporary detective writer is Laurie King - the Sherlock Holmes pastiches are great. Some of the locations are getting a tad exotic, but she researches them so thoroughly and is so obviously enthusiastic about them, you can't begrudge. I love her standalone thrillers and ONE SF book, and the earlier Kate Martinelli series. How often do you get a heterosexually-married author starting with a lesbian detective series? And doing it so well. Her last series, set between the world wars, doesn't really appeal to me, though.

    For fantasy escapism, I really enjoyed Elizabeth Moon's latest outing into the world of Paksennarion - better than the Gird/Luap books. And I've just started the Ancillary Justice trilogy for hard SF - an artificial intelligence formerly used to run space stations and colony administration is stuck in a single human body. No idea what's going to happen yet!

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    do try The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay as well
    Not so much a whodunnit as a ‘comics opera’ from the heroic age of escapism.

    Great book, but given the Bam! Kapow! background/subject matter, its very downbeat. One of those highly fashionable grimy reboots, no doubt....

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • sandra, in reply to Soon Lee,

    Thanks so much Soon Lee. Have bookmarked it.

    tauranga • Since Dec 2011 • 71 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to TracyMac,

    My favourite contemporary detective writer is Laurie King

    Yes. A shameless fan. I own (because I have to) all the Kate Martinelli books, Folly, Birth of a New Moon and O Jerusalem. The other Mary Russell books are on the 'list of what to look for' at the second hand bookshops.

    I have a weakness for Faye Kellerman...the family folksy Decker series, the off beat Moon Music and the rather depressingly gripping Straight into Darkness..set in late 1920s Munich.

    Wanting to remain in Sweden after re reading the Millennium series (and , and shouting us a new copy of the 'Spider Web!) I've just enjoyed Kristina Ohlsson's Unwanted.

    Anything by Mo Hayder...for the truly macabre...start with Birdman.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Emma Hart,

    This is an odd co-incidence, because I was just thinking that of my four 'favourite books', P&P is the only one that isn't in some way a mystery.

    Since you mentioned P.D. James, if you track down a copy of her 'diary as an oblique memoir' Time To Be In Earnest, it includes the text of a fascinating speech she gave to the AGM of the Jane Austen Society considering Emma as a mystery.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    So let’s take time out from pre-Christmas stress and bitching and Judith Collins’ smug face, and share stories of our favourite murder books.

    Here goes, with standard warning that there may be spoilers at the links.

    The Talented Mr. Ripley (Patricia Highsmith). Pop culture is awash in sociopaths who get away with it (I blame Hannibal Lecter myself), but accept no substitutes. Tom Ripley's murderous brand of upward social mobility still has no peers.

    Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s There's another Highsmith novel here (and not one of her best IMO), but this is a splendid two volume LIbrary of America set. Worth finding for Margaret Millar's Beast in View alone.

    The Hunter Another all too tiresome crime writing trope is the cold-eyed anti-hero on a roaring rampage of revenge, but it was never done better than in Donald E. Westlake's Parker series of which this is the first.

    Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. If you're in the mood for something a little more genteel, here's my favourite Sayers -- and the most atypical. There's no murder, but while the central mystery is fascinating and fairly worked out, the real strength of the novel is Vane's own struggles with her relationship with Lord Peter.

    I'll probably think of more a bit later...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • EliotBlennerhassett,

    I have to add to this growing mountain of recommendations the cyberpunk/crime novel When Gravity Fails and its two sequels by George Alec Effinger. An accidental discovery at the local library of course.

    Christhcurch • Since Jan 2010 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • Tess Rooney,

    I adore, ADORE, all those authors, especially Raymond Chandler. I think I've read most Agatha Christie (also from the library), and I own quite a few of Chandler's books.

    Chesterton's Father Brown series isn't bad either.

    I love it when the killer is someone I never guessed, but who it makes perfect sense for it to be.

    My personal reading go to when I just want something fast and easy is Mills&Boon Intrigue. Some of them aren't even badly written, and given I also read for pleasure Homer, Dante, Murasaki, Henry James, etc. people can go jump about my M&B enjoyment.

    I've been moving into horror lately. I read The Exorcist and The Haunting if Hill House, both of which I liked. I also like old gothic fiction, Ann Radcliffe and Horace Walpole.

    Wilkie Collins is brilliant, but I've only read The Moonstone and The Woman in White.

    Since May 2009 • 267 posts Report Reply

  • Sister Mary Gearchange, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    Patricia Cornwell? I just couldn’t cope with the shitty writing. Elizabeth George would be a co-offender in that respect: when she’s not busy being impressed with herself about how clever a writer she thinks she is, her stories are quite good. Just to stay in the pop culture lack-of-respect theme I’ve got going, Lois Mcmaster Bujold is rather enjoyable on a rainy winter when there’s nothing to do but read and drink endless cups of tea (oh, the humanity!) with her Vorkosigan series. Nominally sci fi, but ranging across space opera to murder mystery to RomCom and farce, she delivers a good (albeit erratic at times) escapist read. ‘A Civil Campaign’ has been my most re-read book ever since it was chosen at random from a $5 discount bin just before going to Japan in 2000. Any time I fly for more than 4 hours it comes with me. A genuine ‘comfort book’. Dragging myself back to murder mystery, PD James is about as far as I ever got, but I have no problem with that.

    And before I forget: stop making all these suggestions, dammit! :) I have a very limited amount of time left and simply can't fit them all in. (Also, dammit)

    Since Oct 2015 • 19 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.