Thursday, February 28, 2008

Are you on the case? How many have you read?

The Telegraph has just complied a list of the 50 crime writers you must read before you die. Their main criteria? Crime writers who could actually write. It's a nice ecclectic mix and the panel also helpfully includes a title suggestion to start with if the author is new to you. Among the classics by Chesterton, Dickens, and Wilkie Collins, there are representatives of the Golden Age in Christie, Sayers, Margery Allingham, and Ngaio Marsh and the expected hardboiled, noirish Americans such as Hammett and Chandler. It's also nice to see Jim Thompson acknowledged; The Killer Inside Me is a terrific read. I'm likewise happy to see lesser known (but very funny) Edmund Crispin and Michael Innes make the list; their mysteries are great for bibliophiles, containing as many literary allusions as corpses. And then there are a few intriguing names that I'm unfamiliar with, but must check out. Kyril Bonfiglioli for example, whose antihero is described as having "the manner of a demented Bertie Wooster and the morals of a polecat." Or Janwilliem van der Wetering who writes about musical cops in Amsterdam. And though I've read several books by Julian Barnes and John Banville, I've never read their mystery novels written under their crime aliases Dan Kavanagh and Benjamin Black respectively. Could I have twenty snow days please?

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