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!
- Poe, Edgar Allan: Murders in the Rue Morge
- Poe, Edgar Allan: The Mystery of Marie Rogêt
- Poe, Edgar Allan: The Purloined Letter
- Collins, Wilkie: The Woman in White
- Collins, Wilkie: The Moonstone (re-read)
- Collins, Wilkie: The Haunted Hotel
- Gaboriau, Émile: The Lerouge Case (L’Affaire Lerouge)
- Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: A Study in Scarlet
- Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The Sign of Four
- Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
- Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
- Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The Hound of the Baskervilles
- Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The Return of Sherlock Holmes
- Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The Valley of Fear
- Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: His Last Bow
- Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan: The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes
- Christie, Agatha: The Mysterious Affair at Styles
- Christie, Agatha: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
- Christie, Agatha: The Murder at the Vicarage
- Christie, Agatha: Dieci piccoli indiani (And Then There Were None)
- Crofts, Freeman Wills: Inspector French’s Greatest Case
- Van Dine, S.S.: The Benson Murder
- Queen, Ellery: The Black Dudley Murder
- Hammett, Dashiell: The Maltese Falcon
- Hammett, Dashiell: The Thin Man
- Iles, Francis: Malice Aforethought
- Sayers, Dorothy L.: Murder Must Advertise
- Sayers, Dorothy L.: The Nine Tailors
- Stout, Rex: Fer-de-Lance
- Carr, John Dickson: The Hollow Man
- Greene, Graham: Brighton Rock
- Chandler, Raymond: The Big Sleep
- Chandler, Raymond: The Long Good-Bye
- James, P.D.: Cover Her Face
- James, P.D.: An Unsuitable Job for a Woman
- Mankell, Henning: Faceless Killers
- 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.