Lists · Mystery · Reading

New Book, New List

I am happy to report that, 17 days into the New Year I am holding strong with my commitment to the TBR Dare. Let’s leave out the minor little detail that I’ve only read about 15 pages of anything so far, making it very easy to stick to said commitment, shall we?

I’ve decided to start the year the way I had initially intended to end the previous, with some good Detective fiction. Somehow the Holidays pushed everything around, and I’m only just now getting to the first two Sherlock Holmes stories, A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four. The Holmes set I have (which is actually my Dad’s, but has been gathering dust on my shelves for well over a year, and therefore, I believe, fully qualifies for TBR) combines these two earliest Holmes novels into one book. I’ve been meaning to read some of the stories of the great detective since the 2009 movie came out, and here we are in 2011 already….but what’s really got me in gear this time was the modernized version shown on PBS this past fall. The series was fun, sharp, and, I believe, seemed to more accurately represent the character of Sherlock Holmes as portrayed in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books. I’m not very far into the first story yet, but I’ve already been amused by the circling of time. When we first meet Dr. John Watson, the narrator of the stories, as well as roommate of Holmes, he has just returned from war in Afghanistan, listing off towns and provinces no doubt familiar in Doyle’s time–and now in ours as well. Needless to say, the BBC/PBS version was able to fashion Watson as a wounded Afghan war vet as well.

With detective stories on the mind, I decided to finally finish another list—Detective Stories & Mysteries. I am much more familiar with this genre than Italian literature, as I have read many, many mystery novels over the years. My recent readings have been somewhat of a letdown however, not to mention I’ve somehow missed some of the earliest, classic stories, so I decided to direct my attention primarily to the earliest stories. As with my previous list, I consulted 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die for ideas. I also browsed the Wikipedia pages on authors from the “Golden Age of Detective Fiction.” My focus on the early stories does mean that I am short on contemporary mysteries and on those by non-American or British authors, so if you know of any really good ones, please chime in!

  1. Poe, Edgar Allan:  Murders in the Rue Morge
  2. Poe, Edgar Allan:  The Mystery of Marie Rogêt
  3. Poe, Edgar Allan:  The Purloined Letter
  4. Collins, Wilkie:  The Woman in White
  5. Collins, Wilkie:  The Moonstone (re-read)
  6. Collins, Wilkie:  The Haunted Hotel
  7. Gaboriau, Émile:  The Lerouge Case (L’Affaire Lerouge)
  8. Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan:  A Study in Scarlet
  9. Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan:  The Sign of Four
  10. Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan:  The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  11. Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan:  The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
  12. Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan:  Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan:  The Hound of the Baskervilles
  13. Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan:  The Return of Sherlock Holmes
  14. Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan:  The Valley of Fear
  15. Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan:  His Last Bow
  16. Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan:  The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes
  17. Christie, Agatha:  The Mysterious Affair at Styles
  18. Christie, Agatha:  The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
  19. Christie, Agatha:  The Murder at the Vicarage
  20. Christie, Agatha:  Dieci piccoli indiani (And Then There Were None)
  21. Crofts, Freeman Wills:  Inspector French’s Greatest Case
  22. Van Dine, S.S.:  The Benson Murder
  23. Queen, Ellery:  The Black Dudley Murder
  24. Hammett, Dashiell:  The Maltese Falcon
  25. Hammett, Dashiell:  The Thin Man
  26. Iles, Francis:  Malice Aforethought
  27. Sayers, Dorothy L.:  Murder Must Advertise
  28. Sayers, Dorothy L.:  The Nine Tailors
  29. Stout, Rex:  Fer-de-Lance
  30. Carr, John Dickson:  The Hollow Man
  31. Greene, Graham:  Brighton Rock
  32. Chandler, Raymond:  The Big Sleep
  33. Chandler, Raymond:  The Long Good-Bye
  34. James, P.D.:  Cover Her Face
  35. James, P.D.:  An Unsuitable Job for a Woman
  36. Mankell, Henning:  Faceless Killers

Some thoughts:

  • I’ve read other Poe stories, but I can’t believe I’ve never read any of these mysteries, considered by some* the first detective stories written. Bonus points: I have a volume of Poe with two of these, so I can read them during the TBR Dare.
  • Doyle – definitely among the classics of detective fiction. My dad read quite a few of the stories to my brother and I when we were little, but I’ve never read any myself.
  • Christie – I’ve read quite a few of her novels, mostly the Poirot tales, if I remember correctly. It’s been ages since I’ve read any of her books, though, and having seen quite a few adaptation on PBS in the past couple of years, I thought I’d go back. Since I can’t quite remember what I’ve read, these titles are mostly placeholders.
  • Dieci piccoli indiani – I’ve definitely read this one before—in English! I picked this up when I was in Italy to try to improve my Italian, but never read more than a couple of chapters. With my renewed interest in reading in other languages, it’s time to finally read this. (Although ironically, I should point out I’ll be reading a translation, rather than avoiding one!)
  • P.D. James – The only James novel I’ve read was Children of Men. I think it’s time for her mysteries.
  • A number of the books here I’ve heard of, not as novels, but for their movie adaptations. (I’m pretty sure I watched The Big Sleep on the plane back from Italy.) It’s time to read these classics—I’m particularly looking forward to this group.
  • Brighton Rock – I saw the trailer for the new movie of this recently. Intrigued enough to try the book.
  • Collins – I love Wilkie Collins! I’m not sure why I’ve put off The Woman in White so long; it’s been on my shelf more than ten years. The Moonstone will be a re-read, and after chancing across The Haunted Hotel, I knew I had to read it: I’m a sucker for novels set in Italy (this one is set in Venice).
  • Mankell – I’ve seen the BBC/PBS adaptations of the Wallander novels, but was otherwise not familiar with them. After Richard’s review of this first book, I’m ready to try it.

*In researching titles for the list, I discovered that at least one scholar considers Mademoiselle de Scudéri by E.T.A. Hoffman the first published detective story.

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8 thoughts on “New Book, New List

  1. Great list, and congrats on holding strong! I’ve never in my life read a mystery. I seem to be prejudiced against them. Hopefully, Doyle will change my perspective. 🙂

    1. And I’ve read so many mysteries I can’t imagine not reading them! There is a great variety in the sort and quality of mysteries. Some are very well-written, some are not, some are easy to solve, some not, some describe violence graphically, some are quaint cozies, most fall somewhere between–you get the picture. I’m not sure what I’ll find with all of the books on the list, but since so many have such a long-standing reputation, I’m hoping for good things. I’m certainly enjoying Doyle so far–hopefully you will also!

  2. I usually don’t like mysteries because for some reason I equate them with scary. I don’t do scary.

    That being said, I read all of the Holmes stuff in 2010 and loved all of it. It definitely showed me that just because something is a mystery doesn’t mean that it will terrify me (I’m a big ol’ chicken). And I just finished The Woman in White and loved it, so I will definitely be making a point of reading more detective fiction in the future. Your list is great and gave me some names I haven’t heard of before!

    1. I suppose I think of scary more as belonging to “thrillers” than “mysteries,” but I guess there is some overlap. Many of the mysteries I’ve read in the past are not scary, but I can’t vouch for everything on the list. Although I don’t generally classify Christie’s works as scary, if you really don’t like scary, I’d recommend staying away from And Then There Were None, as it borders more on horror than mystery (at least in my opinion).

      I hadn’t heard of all the names in the list before I started researching for it, either, but I couldn’t stop myself from adding many of the authors from the “Golden Age.” And I can’t wait to have time to read The Woman in White–I nearly signed up for your read-along, but knew I wouldn’t have time to get to it. Sigh. It’s even sitting so nicely on my shelf, just waiting…

  3. I think you’ll have a lot of fun with that list, Amanda, although I read some of those titles so long ago I only have hazy memories of them now. Do try and make time for The Woman in White, though, as it’s good cheesy fun with one of the most memorable villains (Count Fosco) you’ll find this side of Dr. Moriarty!

    1. The goal was for this to be a fun list! I’d really like to get to The Woman in White this year, hopefully. I’ve had it far too long not to. I have the same hazy memory problems when it comes to the Christie’s, so I may have read one or two of the ones I’ve had listed. It’s been so long since I’ve read any of hers, that I’d like to include at least a couple for comparison to other detective novels of her era, but they may not ultimately end up being the ones I have listed.

  4. I hear wonderful things about The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, but I’ve yet to read it. I have read P.D. James’ Cover Her Face, which was good, as was The Woman In White. I also love Robert B. Parker’s novels, but they’re somewhat ‘light’ if you want something terribly literary. I’m just finishing an amazing, scary mystery called The Devil’s Star which I’ll review February 10th for TLC Book Tours. It’s great.

    1. Hmm…I’m 90% sure I’ve read The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, but I’ll have to check my list. I know my brother has read several le Carré novels and thoroughly enjoyed them. I’m really looking forward the The Woman in White, so that’s probably going to get read this year (I hope!). I look forward to your review of The Devil’s Star–I’d not heard of it, but always like to hear about good new books.

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