British & Irish Crime Fiction Message Board
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- And if so (in either case), what Rankin books would you recommend to start with?
That said, there are a couple of short-story collections so starting with one of those would be less traumatic to the storyline. Beggar's Banquet has 7 Rebus stories and a number of other non-series tales; there's also a Complete Short Stories out now, but that includes the Rebus anthologies too.
As far as 'British' mysteries go we tend to read bth the 'cozy' and the Scotland Yard types.
Tricia aka hailelib
Must buy my own copy of TMT one of these days...
I'm delighted to see we have enough copies of The Man Who Was Thursday and a PROPER array of Edmund Crispin's books (I'm grinning) - but also deeply envious of you, BoPeep! To live in Oxford, so close to the scene of the crime...! I've a very different sort of passion for Inspector Morse - far less gleeful - but sincere enough when not utterly depressed by the books. The last three or so I read were disappointing. What I love most in both authors is their very different intelligence and literacy. Daftness and disillusion.
Curiously, I know of no mysteries set in my own city (though Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins grew up here); yet I'm sure our actual crime rate is by far the greater.
(Yes, I mentioned American mysteries! Sorry! :) )
12Sarahsponda Ensimmäinen viesti
This probably depends on the book; I've read a random smattering of Poirot books and don't feel like I'm missing much. Conversely, it was important to me to read all the Sherlock Holmes stories in order. Thoughts?
My first James was An Unsuitable Job for a Woman and I just finished Cover Her Face, since it is the first Dalgliesh book. Should I track down a copy of Unnatural Causes or can I jump around?
*Must find some Edmund Crispin*
I agree with you on Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes, both. In Doyle there may be uneven development; but in Christie, there's hardly any at all.
Some series don't seem to spend much time on changes in the main character and his general situation in life while others seem to spend a lot of time on this. When I was going through my James stage I didn't notice that it made much difference what order I read them in. On the other hand I think Dorothy Sayers should probaby be read in order as there are definite differences in Lord Peter in the early and later books. How much of this is due to the advent of Harriet?
Much of Lord Peter's change is due to Harriet, no doubt - but also much to Sayers' uncertain viewpoint (or so I felt). It doesn't read at all like a long-planned sequence of development, nor a purely natural one. But I love the result anyway. Her ouvre is one of those I cherish, without thinking it always well-concieved.
I'm curious what people's favorite Wimsey stories are, and whether anyone's read a good biography of Sayers?
Off the subject: How happy I am to see NINE copies of a work by Josephine Tey! (Though I prefer Brat Farrar.) Does anyone know of other 'historical mysteries solved by hospital-bound inspectors' - besides Dexter's The Wench is Dead?
I agree with Eurydice that some of the American cozies are dreadful. Naming no names......
I have read a good biography of Dorothy Sayers, but unfortunately it is in storage, and I am not sure of who wrote it.
As others have mentioned, I read books in chronological order, even if I have to go to great lenths to obtain them!
Past reads have included all of the Rebus stuff (Knots & Crosses is probably my favourite, but Resurrection Men would come 2nd), all of Forsyth's stuff (probably my favourite here is The Deceiver), and Mo Hayder's books (though I find them unnessarily lurid).
My "to-do" list includes Minette Walters as well as John Harvey. I have started reading the Frank Elder novels, with Ash & Bone being great!
After a six-year hiatus, he's written a new book.
She was his principal researcher, evidently, so when she passed away he just quit. Now he's back.
I like Halley, but there are about five I'd pick as favorites ahead of the ones featuring Sid (to each his dagnab own, sez Pogo). Nerve might have been the first one I read.
They show you parts of racing beyond the "They're off!" part of it on the track, which interests me. How horses and people are transported to tracks (Rat Race, Flying Finish), life in the towns which do or did revolve around training horses, etc.
As laytonwoman3rd says, the lead characters have morals and high pain thresholds. There's usually a mild romance involved too.
In these days when a new paperback runs $7.99, that's a big plus.
Some people who like Sayers also like Allingham featuring Albert Campion as the main character.
I agree with Linkmeister on the beauty of being able to buy books so cheaply. It can be anything from a big plus, to a positive essential!
Now, myself, while I actually enjoy the older TV adaptations of Campion mysteries, starring Peter Davison, I don't enjoy the books at all. I've even gotten rid of some. My own idiosyncrasy here. I don't like Ngiao Marsh, either, and theoretically I should. So, my own suggestions would be: Agatha Christie, if you don't own her, Josephine Tey, Edmund Crispin, and, if you will forgive an American interjection, Rex Stout and perhaps Dashiell Hammett. Rex Stout is actually calculated as the second 'most similarly tagged' on Sayers' author page, or I wouldn't follow through on my impulse to bring him up. (See The Black Orchid, however, for why I might want to.) Hammett is an easy introduction to the alternative hardboiled school, and one of the acknowledged masters. Good if you'd like a change. But I agree all of the others are good starting-points, whether I prefer them or not; and Tey and Crispin are two of my all-time favorites, with links to Sayers of intelligence and literacy. (Though Edmund Crispin was wonderfully daft, as well. :) ) Hope this helps...
Murder Must Advertise is probably my favorite non-Harriet novel, though I love Gaudy Night and the last chapter of Busman's Honeymoon is so very touching.
I was introduced to Lord Peter via my present-boyfriend (we weren't dating at the time, when I first started reading them) but I first heard of him via, indeed, A Letter of Mary and To Say Nothing of the Dog.
I'd honestly recommend Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series (starting off with The Eyre Affair particularly if you're fond of TSNotD.
There's something to the series which makes them feel like you're part of a massive inside joke in the literary universe. And besides, who wouldn't want to live inside of a book for awhile?
No kidding! I've only read The Eyre Affair, ages ago, but expect all the discussion will nudge me into seeking out the rest.
Meanwhile: no, I do not like Ngaio Marsh. Christie's early antics were rather fun; the only Marsh I've read was merely awkward. Perhaps I'm wrong; but I didn't like it. And I always want to like Margery Allingham; but I don't, quite. Maybe it's Lugg. I'm a Bunter loyalist, and I can't get my mind around Lugg. :D
However... give me the names of the top two or three best Marsh books, and when I see one of them for cheap, I'll give her another try.
My personal favourite Ngaio Marsh is Artists in Crime. That was the first one I read, after watching an excellent BBC adaption about a decade ago. I agree that some of her later ones were more awkward, particularly ones set in the late 50s & 1960's. The 'hip mod drug slang' was simply embarrassingly wrong.
I think Agatha Christie also had a similar uncomfortableness in some of her later books.
Other Ngaio Marsh titles that I favour are Death in a White Tie, Swinging in the Shrouds, Clutch of Constables & Opening Night. She's excellent when including theatre or Troy's painting within the story context. ryn
quartzite: I've been wanting to get Foreign Correspondent, and debating whether or not to read an earlier book first. There are clear economic advantages, and perhaps others, to starting with an older volume. But I find it very tempting. Please let me know what you think of the two - and earlier Alan Furst books you may have read. Thanks!
However, we have no literary crime tradition to speak of out here in the mid-Pacific.
He was from your state!
The formula was, for the most part-- Charlie Chan of the Honolulu Police Force, crack detective and worldwide celebrity, happened upon a good case of murder in an interesting or exotic locale, usually not Honolulu.
The closest we've got is Steve McGarrett of Hawaii Five-O.
I was grumbling about this on a Hawai'i message board and got no answers: how come we haven't developed authors who write fictional accounts of the corrupt political system that's in bed with land developers? Florida has several authors who have done that, and our growth has been just as horrible. If I could write, there's a market niche waiting to be filled. ;)
Ah well, that complaint belongs in the Crime, Mystery forum, not here in the British group.
Agreed on avoiding her later books (unless, like me, you're a rabid completist), but I adore her earlier ones.
One older set of books that I recommend are those by Cyril Hare. Soem have a strong legal element, others don't. With a Bare Bodkin set in a mythical World War II ministry is my personal favorite, though some critics laud The Wind Blows Death.
Quite the reverse of Allingham in books or adaptations, though I do like Morse adaptations very much, I like several of Dexter's books still better.
No, I have never read anything by Len Deighton.
I once watched a movie made from one of his books, starring Michael Caine, and thought that it was boring.
That put me off his stuff....Perhaps I should have another look.
88tripleblessings Ensimmäinen viesti
Rebus's Scotland is described by Ian Rankin as "partly my autobiography, part biography of Rebus, and partly a book about modern-day Scotland, where it's going and where it came from."
It's a companion book to the Inspector Rebus mysteries, illustrated with atmospheric black and white photographs by Tricia Malley and Ross Gillespie, who create the jacket covers for the Rebus novels. It's a fascinating read for Rebus fans, or for those who are interested in Edinburgh, Fife and modern-day Scotland.
The Skinner books by Quintin Jardine are another series of police procedurals set in Edinburgh. The mood is less dark, more of a thriller and suspense genre. It's important to read these in sequence, beginning with Skinner's Rules and Skinner's Festival, as the Detective Chief Inspector's personal life is central to the stories. There are terrorist attacks, organized crime rings, and crimes which threaten Skinner and his family. The Edinburgh and East Lothian setting comes through strongly, and the local dialogue is realistic and enjoyable.
Jardine writes another series about Blackstone and Primavera that I don't enjoy nearly as much. They have too many improbably situations, a main character who is too arrogant and silly for my taste, and there is too much sex and silly adventures, not enough detection.
There is another good Scottish series set in Glasgow by Peter Turnbull. I have only a few of them, but they are very good. They are true police procedurals, featuring the police detectives of P Division, with no one lead character. Big Money is an especially memorable plot about a Post Office robbery on pay-day.
Any other recommendations for Scottish mystery series?
Incidentally, what are people's thoughts on M.C. Beaton's Agatha Raisin series (English Cozies - just found that term on Amazon, and have to say I love it)?
Personally, I find them generally poorly written, outrageously homophobic (in fact generally with stupid and unpleasant comments throughout, like a Daily Telegraph Outreach Programme ......) and yet, strangely compulsive - gosh, I'm reading the sixth.....
Sometimes the books just come alive (especially through dialogue) and suddenly the fact that the author wrote the rather successful 'Hamish MacBeth' series doesn't come as a surprise. About six to go - so I suppose that's a confession.
In response to red_guy, I have enjoyed some Michael Innes very much, though I miss Crispin's outright and inspired daftness. However, I may not have read the best books/short stories. (Simply picking up a little in used bookstores, unmethodically.) What would your top choices be?
I've just gotten several additional books by another favorite M.R.D. Meek .
Her series character, Lennox Kemp, is a disgraced and disbarred lawyer, attemting to redeem himself, which lends a bit of seedy, noir sadness to the more traditional English small town murder mystery. It's a series best read in order, I think Hang the Consequences is the first one.
My recommendations for this week something new, something old.
New: Stephen Booth who is writing those gloomy Yorkshire mysteries full of people with complicated relationships that seem to go with that geographic territory. His first in the series was The Black Dog and the most recent is Scared To Live.
Old is relatively obscure, but one of my favorites Douglas Clark and his Masters and Green Mysteries. Police procedurals, they involve cases that you have a strong medical or scientific mystery behind the murder method and/or solution, and I found this element especially interesting. One reviewer complained that the antagonism between the two officers became tedious, but by mid-series it reverses itself and I found the chumminess more annoying than the antagonism! That is a very minor element of the stories though, so don't let either put you off. My very favorite is Table d'Hote, but others such Roast Eggs and Sick to Death are also very enjoyable.
However: thanks for introducing titles and authors I'm not familiar with. I always end up needing new names, especially in mysteries, whatever else I happen to be reading. Actually, both Michael Gilbert and M.R.D. Meek, from the post before last, sound quite appealing. Given my passion for tea, a decent mystery titled The Crack in the Teacup is well-nigh irresistible! (Alas the dregs of 'mystery writing' that profane both it AND tea... Not that I said anything! ;) )
Thank you for keeping ideas coming. They're most welcome.
I've never read Aird. But from the contrast in your post, she sounds appealing. Where should I start?
Just corrected the touchstones on message 10 so they work now.
I have been watching the Frost series on DVD, so I think it only fair to put in word for the great and all too few books (only five) starting with A Touch of Frost by R.D. Wingfield. Gritty, dark and yet darkly funny they are a real treat.
If it's not too late to chime in, my favorite Francis mysteries have got to be Reflex, For Kicks and Banker. It's so hard to choose just one.
Before this gets too long, Stuart MacBride, mentioned upthread, just rocks. Both Cold Granite and the recently released second in the series, Dying Light, are gritty, horrifying, wickedly funny and full of quirky characters. I can hardly wait for the next one.
ETA: MacBride's Dying Light is coming up in the Touchstone thang as the Davis/Falco "A Dying Light in Cordoba" mystery, hee!
The setting is 1950's Dublin and Boston, and the main character is a pathologist by the name of Quirke who first appears in a drunken state and subsequently sleeps it off in the morgue, but not before he observed an obstetrician falsifying a young woman’s death certificate. Without letting on too much, Quirke subsequently follows the trail of the former life of the young woman, and in the process there’s some intriguing plots involving The Mother of Mercy laundry, the sinister Knights of St. Patrick, and an enterprise involving the smuggling of surplus babies from Ireland to Boston whereby nurses and nuns are recruited as couriers. And best of all, saints be praised there’s a plot!
I’m a not a mystery/crime fiction aficionado so I’m not real familiar with that genre, but the short, staccato prose I found in the few works of Ken Bruen and Denise Mina that I’ve read are absent. However, all the inveterate trademarks of Banville’s writing appear once again - lyrical prose (without the big words this time, no need to have Brewer’s or the OED handy), impeccable sense of time and place, vivid descriptions of loneliness, fear and pain and just enough drips of information to keep the imagination bubbling. Bottom line, thanks to the caesarean of those annoying, obscure words Banville has a habit of using and the toned down prose, it’s effluent and a definite page turner. Anyone who enjoyed the Denise Mina books will love Christine Falls.
The book seemed to be pretty good up to this point. But now I think I'll pass it. :-)
You asked about Crispin, I agree with Eurydice, The Moving Toyshop is not only the most known, but also one of the funniest. But if you like the really weird stuff, read Glimpses of the Moon, it's amazing!
You say you miss Crispin's weirdness in Inness. I know what you mean, but have you read Appleby's End? That beats a lot of things, I find!
Also, what about George Bellairs ? I know from work that he has a dedicated following out there. In fact, when we stocked a selection of `40s Foyles Thriller Book Club titles in our shop, they sold poorly, except for George`s works, which went like lightning.
There is a site for him (in real life he was a banker/philanthropist from Salford, Mancs), as far as I recall, it`s pretty good.
Allingham is a funny one. I`ve mentioned this elsewhere, but as a bookseller I had some reservations about selling her appalling Police at the Funeral - then again, I fundamentally don`t think booksellers should act as self-appointed censors.
I do have her Tiger in the Smoke in my own collection, which is a much-cherished classic. Then again, it is equally the work of a lunatic ! As I understand it, she believed that the introduction of the welfare state in the UK post-World War Two would bring the country to a state of anarchy. If the book`s anything to go by, she seemed to think the devil himself was behind it all ! From what I`ve picked up, I think she was easily bonkers enough to believe such a thing quite literally.
They don`t make them like that anymore !
pamelad invoked a bit of Belloc - your message calls up another:
Oh! let us never, never doubt
What nobody is sure about!
I just dropped into to LT to put something on another thread. I was planning to go `direct to go` without looking left or right, but I saw your name and had a look as I knew it would be something entertaining.
You might have a point - when I was young and unemployed I`d have readily believed the devil ran some social security offices in Nott`m !
oh, me too, me too. I also get so tired of the tough hard boiled female detectives who 'pack guns' - as if that is feminist and independant, somehow! It has been said by someone cleverer than me (whose name escapes me for the minute) that the sign of degeneration in a tv or book series is when every story line embroils the main character's safety, or that of a family member. For example, IMHO, The X-files got so dull when they abandoned investigating weird occurances and focussed entirely on a conspiracy that involved Fox and Dana personally. And the heinous work of Patricia Cornwall would have to be the epitome of this technique.
And I like Kinsey Millhone, but wish she wouldn't moan whenever she eats a hamburger. You wouldn't catch Miss Silver doing that, or Harriet Vane.
I feel compelled to say I don't like Rankin. I have a crush on Rebus, but find something lacking in the novels. Can't put my finger on it. It doesn't stop me reading them, though. I feel the same about P D James and also continue to read her novels, though I prefer her writing style.
OH, I am so tempted! But I will not touch that with a ten-syllable metaphor - or a six-foot Pole, for that matter.
I'm about to start 'Over the Edge' by Stuart Pawson, the tenth D.I. Charlie Priest mystery published in 2004. I've read most, but not all these, and enjoyed them all.
I stopped reading Patricia Cornwall (who I enjoyed immensely in her first few novels) not only because she put her main character in jeopardy over and over, but because her main character insisted on doing stupid things, totally outside her job description, that put her in jeopardy over and over. And then, of course, Cornwall simply jumped the shark with Benton's "death". I also got terribly tired of Scarpetta's total inability to relate in a sensitive, caring sort of way to ANYBODY.
I, too, like James Lee Burke, but I sure would like to ask him why he seems to enjoy killing off the good women so much. In Star Trek (TOS) we used to call that the "red shirt" syndrome. You see a guy in a red shirt and you know he's doomed by the end of the episode. A woman marries Dave Robicheaux, and you know a few books down the bayou, she's bound to die. You'd think even a fictional woman would catch on to that history, wouldn't you?
As for Charles Paris mysteries, I've never read one, but think I heard half of an adaptation on BBC Radio 4, recently. Give me a top suggestion or two, chamekke, and I'll keep an eye out!
Other good suggestions are, I hope, filed away from my quick, overdue reading.
The Act of Roger Murgatroyd by Gilbert Adair, A Quiet Belief in Angels by R.J. Ellory, Deadly Code by Lin Anderson and finally the The new John Harvey book Cold in Hand. Now I just have to figure out where to start.
Ron Faust is an American who sets most of his novels in international waters, on various sailing vessels. Most of his stories are one-offs, but of late he has been writing a series character based out of Florida. Anyway, if the sailing part is more important than the British part, you may want to give him a try. He lays down a very literate track.
I'll certainly look out for the Cornwell, Bagley and Innes books.
#145 - Hog, thanks to you too - Ron Faust is now on my TBR list (and the sailing part is definitely more important to me than the British part).
Oh, the lists, the lists.....
Having read and admired Banville's The Sea, I was curious to see how he handled crime fiction.
Well, both The Silver Swan and Christine Falls have left me uncertain as to whether I want to read more of "Benjamin Black".
Somehow the female characters seemed less than convincing to me, and the hold that the Irish state religion had over the Irish is just so depressing. The books are set in the 1950s - Obviously things have changed a lot since then.
"Uncomfortable" probably just about sums up my reaction to these two books, and I'm not sure why.
What do other readers of The Silver Swan and Christine Falls think?
Anyone familiar with this series? Do later books in the series have an archaeology focus? Or have I been misled?
Happy New Year to y'all
I wanted to read it as it was a choice for the Guardian Book Club back in April:
I've just joined Librarything though I have been on Goodreads for a while.
To introduce myself:
I have five mysteries available on Amazon Kindle and one romantic suspense, as well as an SF book.
There is plenty of crime in the SF one which is set in a future London.
Murder At Irish Mensa
Murder At Scottish Mensa
Murder At Dublin Mensa
Murder At Kildare Mensa
Murder At Wicklow Mensa.
Silks And Sins (romantic suspense)
Dining Out Around The Solar System (SF)
I read a lot of crime, procedurals and cosy mysteries more so than serial killers. I enjoy Stephen Booth, Peter Robinson, Linda Fairstein, Donna Leon, Sue Grafton, Carol Lea Benjamin, Ian Rankin, Donna Andrews and many more.
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