Re: Recommendation

1

This comment, which directs you to... what?!?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:23 AM
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Is that on Kindle?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:26 AM
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It's a mystery!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:28 AM
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The Warren Commission Report.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:31 AM
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Do you like your mysteries hard boiled, gentrified or procedural?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:32 AM
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Ground up and in the freezer.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:37 AM
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Jacqueline Winspear. (Gentrified, but a lot of upstairs, downstairs.)


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:39 AM
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And what have you read? Have you read all the super-classics? Sayers, et al. I mean, if you've never read Murder Must Advertise and you are down for a British mystery set in the 20s, then go do this now.
But do you want modern?
Pick a timeperiod and country!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:45 AM
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I haven't read anything!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:47 AM
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But it helps if there's a Kindle edition.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:47 AM
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Murder Must Advertise is book 10 in a series. Does that matter?

(I vaguely am auditioning possible books for Book Club next month, when it's my turn to choose.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:49 AM
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Sayers is the best Gentrified ever; for procedural, my go to are Reginald Hill and Donna Leon (set in Venice, Italy); hard boiled is harder, because they're on a spectrum of straight on to cynical/funny and I prefer the latter. But if you really haven't read anything, Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammet are a treat in store.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:54 AM
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Hmm. A Kindley book club book . . . Have you read The Historian? Not *strictly* a mystery, but I thought it was good.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:55 AM
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12: Chris is correct.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:56 AM
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PD James. There are reaccuring characters in her novels but you don't really have to read them in order. Barbara Hambley writes about a free black man in pre-Civil War New Orleans. A really interesting setting and conundrums.

I just finished 4 and 5 of Winspear's mysteries and I don't particularly recommend them. The main character is too modern for her settling.

Lindsay Davis is good if you feel like a silly mystery (based in ancient Rome).

Agatha Christie, who is now seen as old fashioned and too much about the puzzle not the psychology, is still pretty great depending on the book. Murder on the Orient Express is kind of crazy, kind of awesome.

I have lots of others too - Ruth Rendell (British small town mysteries), Laura Joh Rowland (ancient Japan), Peter Lovesey (British).


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:58 AM
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||

Q. to oudemia, if she's still around. Mary Beard (or rather her agent) has invited me to a meet up, which is kind, but it's in London. Should I try to go?

|>


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:59 AM
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16: YES! OMG!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:03 AM
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What do I say to her, then?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:04 AM
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Of the Roman-type mysteries, I like Steven Saylor best, because late-Republican Rome is the best Rome. (Also, the first several are based on defense orations by Cicero, so you get a whole novelized account of a speech you have maybe already read!)

For more novel-y mysteries that folks might want to discuss there's also Wilkie Collins: The Moonstone and Woman in White are the biggies.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:06 AM
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18: I said, "OMG! I love you so much" pretty much. I don't know her or anything, I've just always really admired her on any panel (academic or otherwise) on which I've seen her and she's just very charming and gracious.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:08 AM
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Either John D MacDonald, especially the later ones, or Ross MacDonald are pretty good for midcentury thoughtful hardboiled set in the US. Walter Mosely and George Pelecanos are both pretty good and contemporary. Boris Akunin is nice for historical mystery.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:12 AM
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20. Right. That's pretty much what I'd say if I hadn't prepared something urbane and witty. I dare say I'll manage something.

I like Saylor, but sometimes I think his protagonist is too nice, in the sense of having too much modern sensibility. I think he's best when he's actually writing about Cicero or Sulla or somebody and feels freer to make them as nasty as they no doubt were.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:13 AM
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Wow Chris, yes. She seems like someone great to meet, whatever the reason. (What is the reason?)

Kid A is muttering about possibly doing a classics degree.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:14 AM
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Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie books are entertaining. Our just watch them on tv for lots of Jason Isaacs with his top off.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:15 AM
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I don't really care about category of mystery, I don't think. I care more about a fun read with a great plot.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:15 AM
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I've been reading Dorothy Sayers mysteries because they are 99 cents on Kindle and because of the massive aristocracy boosterism.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:15 AM
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David Markson's Epitaph for a Tramp and Epitaph for a Dead Beat are fun.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:21 AM
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16. I like her history and would jump at the chance to meet her. I'm pretty curious about circus factions and the ability of both military and non-military powerful Romans to incite mob violence to political ends, rather than react to it once it happened.

To the OP, Cicero's oration in defense of accused murderer's are IMO very interesting reading, Penguin published them as Murder Trials


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:21 AM
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Really, anything by Umberto Eco is great. The Name of the Rose, for instance is a good start. *adjusts monocle*


Posted by: JupiterGee | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:24 AM
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Wow Chris, yes. She seems like someone great to meet, whatever the reason. (What is the reason?)

Maybe she has long admired Unfogged!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:25 AM
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I disagree about Eco. His essays are better than his novels, especially the recent ones.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:26 AM
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26: Some dude has a website where he's put all of them up on pdf for free. I've been rereading them in protest since I saw that Kindle wants $15 or something for the latest Harry Bosch books (which aren't great, but they soothe me).


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:26 AM
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The Georgette Heyer detective stories are pretty good, if you can tolerate ludicrous romantic subplots.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:27 AM
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I'm really fond of Michael Innes -- there's a million of them, all mostly on a level in terms of quality. In some sense they're a series, but it doesn't matter if you read them out of order.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:28 AM
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23. About a year ago I commented on her blog (I do occasionally) and she decided to include it in a book of blog posts she was putting together. I think it says something that she felt she should include selected comments as well as her own essays.

So her PA emailed and asked my permission! And I said, as you would, "Look, it's on the internet. Go ahead." And next thing I knew I got a signed copy of the book in the post. So that was nice.

And then this morning I got another email from the same PA: "Mary, and her publisher Profile Books, would like to invite you for drinks and nibbles on Tuesday 4th September, 6.30-8pm, to thank you for your contribution to 'All in a Don's Day'"

So that's nice too. I feel like a total fraud.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:29 AM
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35: She is the best! Seriously, I love this. You must go.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:30 AM
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37

Mystery recommendations:

1. The Bible! How will it end? Who wrote it!?!? Why cant people cite it correctly!?

2. The Cying of Lot 49

3. The Death of Artemio Cruz, Carlos Fuentes

So, maybe not traditonal mysteries.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:32 AM
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35: That is so cool!

(Mark Helprin never asked permission! Bastard!)


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:33 AM
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31
I'll have to check out the essays. I guess I'm an easy mark for the Antique Book Dealer trope. And I really liked the process of "The Island of the Day Before." Sort of a literary "Memento."


Posted by: JupiterGee | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:34 AM
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32: That might explain why they are being put on Kindle now. The third is just coming out now.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:34 AM
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41

Astonished by all the Sayers plugs. Am I alone in finding Lord Peter super fucking annoying?


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:35 AM
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36. OK, accepted.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:39 AM
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43

Grafton has sold millions for a reason; I like her for her classic hard-boiledism.

Dick Francis has sold tens of millions for a reason.

Stuart Kaminsky has three series, the Hollywoods are very short and funny; the Russians break my heart.

JA Jance writes Seattle hardboiled but warmer than Grafton; Marcia Muller started out trying to be Grafton but got cozier.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:39 AM
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41: A bit but they are breezy reads.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:42 AM
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45

"a fun read with a great plot" Is a precise description of the Dortmunder series by Donald E. Westlake, which was written over about 40 years. They are also very funny, and extremely quick reads. Also, the Dortmunder character has been played in different movies by Robert Redford and Martin Lawrence.

Technically, they are caper novels, not mysteries. crimes and suspense, but not the whodunit type plot.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:45 AM
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Lindsay Davis is set in Rome, Titus and his father I think; sillier than Saylor but much more romantic.

Jeremiah Healy;John Lutz,Jane Haddam;Ed McBain of course.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:46 AM
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Titus and his father I think

Heee! (er, yes.)


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:48 AM
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Oh yeah, Westlake. Earlier better than later, IMO.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:50 AM
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41: My feelings are more indifference and puzzlement that people talk up Sayers so much. I'd rather read Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot. Maybe it's because I don't like a lot of romance in my mystery.

Hee.


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:50 AM
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Ooh, heebie: Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn is great fun, if you haven't read it. Protagonist has Tourette's, and the writing often takes Tourettic turns.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:53 AM
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I've read Sherlock Holmes so many times I know them by heart. I did not like Poirot but should try it again.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:55 AM
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50: I've actually read that one (strange!), and it was a lot of fun.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:55 AM
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49. At one level it's personal taste. I hate Agatha Christie's writing like poison and find her a lot more snobby than Sayers in spite of her locked rooms being marginally more middle class. But I don't think you can make an objective judgement either way. Ngaio Marsh should be mentioned from that period, too, IMO.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 7:56 AM
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54

Westlake was simply a fantastic writer, period. But not a mystery writer, even in his out of series stuff.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:01 AM
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||

I got an email purportedly from Barack Obama, and the subject was just "Hey". It would have been so awesome if the subject would have been "Hey girl."

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:03 AM
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Gotta be careful with Ngaio Marsh, you don't know whether you're getting a proper mystery or just a halfassed thriller. There's one where Alleyn's little boy is kidnapped and there is no mystery at all.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:04 AM
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For older mysteries, Simenon is better than English contemporaries.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:05 AM
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I'll see if Marsh isn't on Kindle.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:05 AM
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55: Aha, I was just cackling at mine this very second.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:07 AM
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41. Agreed. I liked the first few Lord Peter Wimsey stories (no Harriet Vane, more Bunter and Inspector Whashisname). After that Peter gets progressively more unbearable.

Anything by Josephine Tey.

I really like Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh.

Best modern mystery I've read in recent years -- Tana French's Faithful Place.


Posted by: Jms | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:09 AM
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James McClure is probably my favorite mystery writer other than the obvious names. Maybe my favorite mystery WRITER other than Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald, in the sense of how often I am impressed at the quality of the writing. All of them are equally excellent except "The Steam Pig" and "Snake" which are overly lurid.

I'm really fond of Michael Innes -- there's a million of them, all mostly on a level in terms of quality. In some sense they're a series, but it doesn't matter if you read them out of order.

Some of those books are incredibly weird. It's the format of a mystery, but sometimes 25 unexpected and unexplained things happen to the protagonist before he understands an iota of what's going on. e.g. "The Paper Thunderbolt"


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:09 AM
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I didn't realize there was such a profusion of mysteries (not just than historical novels) set in ancient Rome.

I suppose it makes sense that Cicero's works have been mined as much as I'm seeing.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:11 AM
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54 - There are a couple Westlake books that work as mysteries (Somebody Owes Me Money, our copy of which Nosflow never finished, is the one that comes to mind; there's also the very hard-boiled 361).

Murder Must Advertise is a good starting point for Sayers, because the setup of it means you really don't need to know anything else about the series; Harriet is entirely absent except for one fleeting paragraph.

I'm gonna say An Instance of the Fingerpost, Heebs. A big fat genre-bender of a mystery, set in 17th century England and featuring historical conspiracies and spies and stuff.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:12 AM
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15: Interesting comment about Agatha Christie - I remember any number of Christie novels in which the detective's suspicions are aroused because someone does something that doesn't fit the type of character they are presenting themselves as. Might be a side-plot, but often part of the key to the puzzle. Of course, the psychology might strike us differently from a modern perspective.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:13 AM
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My beef is not with the romance but with Lord Peter personally. Obviously I can stomach endless pedantry and classical allusion, but I really can't take Peter being all mopey and feeling sorry for himself. Also the "is it wrong for me to expose this murderer" moral waffling makes me roll my eyes so hard it hurts.

For more recently published stuff, I like Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce series and Lawrence Block's "Burglar" titles.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:15 AM
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I liked Agatha Christie an awful lot when I was younger. I guess I don't really know how they hold up. A few years ago I started At Bertram's Hotel and couldn't get into the mystery but found it sort of a poignant rumination on watching the world change as you age. Um, yeah, so that sounds like fun, right?


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:18 AM
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63. Instance of the Fingerpost really was well-done.

I didn't like Murder Must Advertise (in fact, that's the book that put me off of Sayers), but I admit it was well-plotted and a tidy standalone story.



Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:19 AM
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Oh, I also enjoyed Donald Westlake's somewhat dated Tucker Coe series.

L., I've really enjoyed Lawrence Block's "Hit" series and the few Scudder books I've read ("When the Sacred Ginmill Closes" and "A Long Line of Dead Men"). What's a good place to start on the Burglar series?


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:19 AM
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I forgave Peter Wimsey's moping becaus of the affecting parts about his shell-shock from the Great War, that manifest in a couple books.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:19 AM
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47:I knew dad was Vespasian, but felt insecure.

William Tappley is typical of the regionals;uses the Boston area very well and the protagonist's real profession as an estate lawyer to great effect. Between h-b and cozy, but mainly, as always, a good "voice."

My suggestion? Go to a big used bookstore and buy 26 very old pbs, each for a dollar, from author a to z, and see who you like.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:20 AM
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Lawrence Block's "Burglar" titles

Health warning. Most of them are great, but one of the later ones - I think The Burglar in the Library had some really tacky (being kind here) bits. Not sure what happened to his inner editor with that one.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:21 AM
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65. Seconded. Also, does he have to be perfect at everything? Aristocratically handsome, cleverest man in the room, athletically graceful, slender yet surprisingly strong, supple and melodic singing voice...? When he walked into an advertising agency undercover and dashed off a brilliant campaign off the top of his head, astonishing all the ad veterans. I just gave up.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:23 AM
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68. 2. Start with The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling and go on till you get to the end, except for Library.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:24 AM
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74

What's the name of that one Sayers parody? You know the one I'm thinking of.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:26 AM
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75

Or you could give on fiction.

Currently:

Vicarious Language:Gender and Linguistic Modernity in Japan

Welfare Capitalism in Postwar Japan (political institutions like MMD/SNTV)

The Eclipse of Keynesianism (discourse theory and history of economic thought)

Michal Kalecki

Marxist Theories of Imperialism


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:27 AM
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When he walked into an advertising agency undercover and dashed off a brilliant campaign off the top of his head, astonishing all the ad veterans.

Sayers of course, did more or less that herself. Twice.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:27 AM
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Non-fans of Lord Peter Wimsey should watch the Olivier Sleuth!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:27 AM
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78

Or at least the opening scene.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:27 AM
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75: You must belong to a wildly different book club than me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:27 AM
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72: Plus his middle name is Death.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:28 AM
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81

60 - re Tana French - haven't read that one but the first two are very good. And her fourth has just come out!


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:30 AM
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Non-fans of Lord Peter Wimsey Everybody should watch the Olivier Sleuth!

Fixed.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:31 AM
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83

I liked Fingerpost a lot. I don't read mysteries hardly ever, but found myself liking Iain Pears' art detective mysteries.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:34 AM
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81. I liked the third one far better than In the Woods or The Likeness. Did not know she had a new one, thanks!


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:35 AM
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85

re: 29

No. No. Thrice No. The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum are both great. As far as I can tell, every other piece of fiction he's written in plodding lazy shite.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:37 AM
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86

so awesome if the subject would have been "Hey girl."


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:40 AM
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87

Also, remember everyone about my exceedingly dinky attention span. No plodding books, please.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:42 AM
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85. So true. Bardolino started well, but he totally lost it about 2/3 of the way through. The rest... meh.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:42 AM
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89

Now here's a mystery, though I admit the details set my blood to boiling. Who messes around with an ancient manuscript?!?!

Related, I too loved The Name of the Rose, as well as Eco's essays, and second the rec for Kostova's The Historian.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:43 AM
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85 is right.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:44 AM
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91

Others have recommended most of the people I would. I'd just second Chandler. The plots are neither here nor there, they are hardly classic mysteries, but he's a brilliant prose writer.

I haven't read much Simenon, but I was struck by The Hatter's Ghost, and the prose style made me want to seek out more.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:45 AM
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re: 89.1

Interesting. I have some tangential work connections to some of this type of stuff [not that book]. It's a murky world.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:49 AM
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Anything by Josephine Tey.

Yes, Josephine Tey is really good for quick, lively, smart, well-written light mysteries. It's hard for me to imagine that anyone looking for a fun mystery would dislike them.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:52 AM
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93 is seconded!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:53 AM
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71, 73: On the "Burglar" books, I'd check the publication dates -- 80's is good, 90's or later is bad. There's a big gap in the middle IIRC, where he dropped the character and then picked him up again, and he doesn't fit out of his early-80's (late 70's?) casual sex milieu -- light comedy in the social setting he started out in looks weird and unpleasant when you drop it without adjustment a couple of decades later.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:53 AM
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96

Let me be the first to suggest Fresh Salt.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:55 AM
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97

And Fingerpost is very, very good, but not fun, I think.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:55 AM
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71: One of the later ones has some MAJORLY fucked-up gender stuff. I can't remember which one, I couldn't even finish it.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 8:57 AM
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98. Yup.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:00 AM
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100

I don't think I've read all the later ones -- I hit them in high school, up until the gap, and when he started writing them again I picked one or two up and didn't like them.

I do like the Matt Scudder books, again older more than newer, but those are all gritty alcoholism/recovering alcoholism, not light comedy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:06 AM
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97: Ah, but the "f" word in the OP was "fantastic"! Nevermind.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:06 AM
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102

Let me be the first to suggest Rex Stout. They're not deeply meaningful or anything, but if you like them, and I do, there's a whole lot of them. I almost don't care about the plots, I just like listening to Archie talk.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:07 AM
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103

Everyone in this thread should read James McClure. MCCLURE MCCLURE MCCLURE MCCLURE


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:10 AM
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102: I was wondering when someone would recommend Stout--it was on the advice of the Mineshaft that I picked his books up, and I've zoomed through most of them. I enjoy them in the same sort of way I like plowing through a hoard of Dick Francis mysteries.


Posted by: J, Robot | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:11 AM
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72: He is supposed to be funny-looking. Big beaky nose, looks like an upperclass moron. But I do take your point generally; I like the books a great deal without liking Peter himself all that much: there's Bunter, and Miss Climpson, and the Duchess, and Parker, and Harriet, who are all appealing in their own right.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:13 AM
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57: I was going to ask about what Simenon to read, as I have been re-reading George Alec Effinger's Marid Audran trilogy, and apparently Simenon was a major influence

Some of my favorites:
Celestial Matters, Richard Garfinkle -- I've recommended this before I think, in SF discussions. It's a real genre-bender, a mystery/SF crossover set in an alternate history where the Greeks and the Chinese not only divide the world, but do so using their ancient natural philosophy, which is all true.

Red Harvest, Dashiell Hammett -- His best book, to my way of thinking. Really gets to the heart of his conflict between the Continental Op as a force for justice and the ultimately unjust nature of being a PI in a capitalist society.

The Grifters, Jim Thompson -- Better and more tragic than the film, which was quite good. Not really a mystery of course, but also fascinating as a slice of working-class LA life in the 50s.

When Gravity Fails; A Fire In the Sun; The Exile Kiss, George Alec Effinger -- the aforementioned Marid Audran trilogy, also crossover mystery/SF, and of course it's all a roman à clef for the French Quarter in New Orleans.

In the Wind, Barbara Fister -- Chicago/Mpls-based detective novel about the aftermath of the various 1960s liberation movements. Anarchist-identified librarian author. Much more jaundiced view of police work without being over-the-top about it.

Also, of course, the Martin Beck series, preferably the earlier ones where they're a bit less depressing. Barry Eisler's assassin books are a guilty pleasure, and they're not precisely mysteries, but the plotting and descriptions of place are excellent.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:14 AM
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98: ...like what? I don't think I've read them all, so maybe I just missed the really appalling ones. Or maybe I'm just used to reading around fucked up gender stuff. (isn't everyone?) plenty of fucked up gender stuff in Rex Stout, for instance. I was thinking of suggesting Stout but I think most of the enjoyment comes from knowing the characters, so it seems like where one begins is crucial. But I can't think of what I'd recommend as a starting point.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:14 AM
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98: ...like what? I don't think I've read them all, so maybe I just missed the really appalling ones. Or maybe I'm just used to reading around fucked up gender stuff. (isn't everyone?) plenty of fucked up gender stuff in Rex Stout, for instance. I was thinking of suggesting Stout but I think most of the enjoyment comes from knowing the characters, so it seems like where one begins is crucial. But I can't think of what I'd recommend as a starting point.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:14 AM
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102: Cosign.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:15 AM
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re: 106

Ta. Couple of interesting looking things there.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:15 AM
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You're right that the Stout books are about the characters, but they don't change much, so starting anywhere is pretty safe.

I hadn't thought about the Continental Op, but I'd start with the short stories. I love the short stories ("Little fat detective whose name I don't know...").


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:17 AM
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108: There's a bit of date-rape in one of them. Once I read that, it basically soured me on the character, the author and the series.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:17 AM
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Let me second the recommendation for Tana French -- very psychological police procedurals set in contemporary Dublin. The three so far are each fairly self-contained but there is some incentive to read them in order (_In The Woods_, _The Likeness_, _Fairhful Place_) because the viewpoint character of each one after the first is an important non-viewpoint character from the previous one. This way she gets to make each book the most important thing that ever happened to that character, but still have a connected series.


Posted by: DaveMB | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:17 AM
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There's some nasty stuff in the Kyril Bonfiglioli books, too. Particularly the last one. However, again, a brilliant prose stylist. Like a nasty Wodehouse.

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/09/20/040920crat_atlarge

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/forgotten-authors-no-56-kyril-bonfiglioli-2043234.html


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:19 AM
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Somewhere in the trash he reads Martland has read that heavy men walk with surprising lightness and grace; as a result he trips about like a portly elf hoping to be picked up by a leprechaun. In he pranced, all silent and catlike and absurd, buttocks swaying noiselessly. . . . Ignoring the more inviting bottles on the drinks tray, he unerringly snared the great Rodney decanter from underneath and poured himself a gross amount of what he thought would be my Taylor '31. A score to me already, for I had filled it with Invalid Port of an unbelievable nastiness. He didn't notice: score two to me.

Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:23 AM
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Second or third the Block "Burglar" recommendation as well as the first two Tana French. Am reading a collection of early Block pulp stories right now which are fun but I'm not sure I'd recommend.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:24 AM
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Google "Brother Cadfael" and "Judge Dee" if you haven't already read books about either.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:29 AM
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I thought the Tana French novels would be perfect for me, but I ended up being unable to get into them.

Brother Cadfael, on the other hand, I picked up at a B&B recently and was hooked on. Fun!


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:33 AM
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Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets and Maigret and the Madwoman off the top of my head.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:38 AM
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I have really enjoyed Michael Gruber recently - maybe more thrillers than mysteries, strictly speaking, but really good. Some feature a Miami police detective (Jimmy Paz) and should be read in order; others are standalones.


Posted by: julia f | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:41 AM
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There's some nasty stuff in the Kyril Bonfiglioli books, too

No kidding. I found the last one completely unreadable.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:41 AM
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119: Thanks!

117-8: I liked the Brother Cadfael books when I was younger, but they started to get repetitive after awhile. Another series to begin at the beginning, perhaps. Also, the Brother Cadfael books are the ne plus ultra of the major suspension of disbelief problem I have with many mystery series, to wit: Why doesn't anyone ever turn to the amateur detective and say "Gee, did you ever notice how many people get murdered under peculiar circumstances around here?" If it's a NYPD or Scotland Yard detective, it's plausible to have them involved in a lot of murders. But if you're a mystery writer? Or a doctor? Or a small-town sheriff? Or a fucking monk? That really strains credulity.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:43 AM
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122: The Cadfael Chronicles do have the advantage of being set during The Anarchy in Britain, so the prevalence of dead bodies is rather more explicable than in, say, the adventures of Miss Marple. My impressions are mostly formed by the earlier books, I imagine they could well get repetitive.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:57 AM
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I'm so overwhelmed by suggestions, for the record.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:59 AM
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I have read a couple of Magdalen Nabb's Marshal Guarnaccia books and would definitely recommend them. As for Simenon, the Maigrets are probably more consistent with what you're looking for here but the romans durs, like Strangers in the House and The Man Who Watched Trains Go By, are totally worth reading.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 10:10 AM
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125.1: Oooh, I read the first couple of those and really liked them (particularly the first).
Really, so much of the Soho Crime list is great.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 10:15 AM
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123: The Cadfael Chronicles do have the advantage of being set during The Anarchy in Britain

There's many ways to get what you want -- I use the best, I use the rest.

But how many people who died during that time died mysteriously?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 10:25 AM
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7,354/year


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 10:28 AM
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the prevalence of dead bodies is rather more explicable than in, say, the adventures of Miss Marple

Ha. I first started reading Miss Marple mysteries when I was nine years old. Remember the first Tuesday Night Club story, where a group of friends, looking for something to do, decide to each relate a mysterious story of a thrilling murder that they've personally come across in their lives? I think Raymond or someone says that everyone has experienced a shocking mystery at some point or other.

When I first read this, I figured that it just hadn't happened to me yet, because I was only in the fourth grade. But I thought I'd have accumulated like three or four murder mysteries by now. I'm still waiting.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 10:33 AM
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I forgot Margery Allingham. Really weird classic English detective stories: imagine if Peter Wimsey were really, really unequivocally annoying rather than only annoying if you have trouble accepting the perfectness. And just a whole lot of wackiness. Ghastly bizarre gender politics, but in that 1930's trying to be Freudianly sophisticated sort of way. They're very strange, but I like them. (And I never agreed with ChrisY about Ngaio Marsh, who's roughly in the same genre but much saner.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 11:15 AM
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But I thought I'd have accumulated like three or four murder mysteries by now. I'm still waiting.

Speaking of, where's Megan and her little elves?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 11:17 AM
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Was she supposed to murder someone for jms?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 11:18 AM
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Right here.

There have been no more house mysteries since I wrote. We did not re-key. We just tell ourselves that it is perfectly normal for stale deli meat to appear on the floor and naked fairy magnets appear on everyone's fridge all the time.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 11:20 AM
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Yes to Magdalen Nabb's Marshal Guarnaccia! And the all of the Soho Crime books. I actually search through my library's shelves for the distinctive covers because they are so uniformly good mysteries set in fascinating locations and times.

I've read 'Village of the Ghost Bears' Alaska Native community; Clara Black's series set in the grittier parts of Paris (but don't read too many at once or you'll start to notice the main character is horribly cold-hearted and is always using her friends while you wonder how she can even make or keep friends in the first place); Matt Beynon Rees' set in Palenstine (and apparently NYC); Jassy Mackenzie's were too violent for me and there was one other author who set a story in South America and every single woman was raped and I wouldn't recommend that one either; Michael Genelin; Colin Cotterill set in 1970s Laos. And more. Anyway, they're good.

The Agatha Christie thing I said above was based on a quote from PD James from an interview she gave to the Guardian recently. In comparison to James, Christie doesn't dwell much on the 'whys' of behaviour.


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 11:37 AM
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I second asilon's 24 as I think Kate Atkinson's books would be very good for book club and don't really require being read in order. My favorite so far has been "Started Early, Took the Dog" (or something like that) but I need a long break before reading another because several back-to-back made the structure more frustrating than entertaining.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 11:51 AM
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I got a bunch of stuff off of this list from the Telegraph out of the library. I remember reading a book of Chesterton's Father Brown, a Simenon, a Rendell, Dürrenmatt's Inspector Barlach Mysteries (probably my favorite),
Pelecanos, Kavanagh's Duffy (second favorite, although definitely on the crime, not mystery, side).

Others from the list I've enjoyed are Henning Mankell (didnt get the hype), Ellroy (the L.A. quartet is fantastic, the later, bigger books are too weighted with bile to get through), Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiassen (both terrific writers, also in the crime column).

Currently waiting to read (Donald Westlake as) Richard Stark's "Slayground" off of this LARB review. Also, anyone from the writers' room of The Wire is worth reading -- George Pelecanos, Richard Price, Dennis Lehane. Price is the best stylist of the three.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 12:25 PM
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delurking because: Ian Rankin! Henning Mankell! Smilla's Sense of Snow (Peter Hoeg). These are all on the slightly darker side of things, but not in a nightmare-producing kind of way.


Posted by: Sarabeth | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 12:29 PM
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I have a mysterious death story, come to think of it. We didn't expect him to die, we expected him to keep damaging other people. But one morning he was dead, with no-one to ask after him.

----

Frivolously, I recommend Kerry Greenwood's mysteries. The Phryneunbelievably Fisher stories are charmers if you can handle an improbably competent character*. The Corinna Chapman books are more realistic, though still unusually delightful, but the building they're set in is practically a Mary Sue itself.

*Are there mysteries based on Joseph Needham yet? Annie Besant?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 1:25 PM
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Mystery recommendations!

Bob, no love for Seicho Matsumoto or Akimitsu Takagi?


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 1:40 PM
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Are there mysteries based on Joseph Needham yet?

Somebody please, please make this happen.


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 1:41 PM
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139: Soho Crime really is almost always good!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 1:49 PM
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I've just checked Archive of Our Own, and there doesn't seem to be anything under Needham. (There's a decent, though confusing in that fanfic way*, Gondal fic.)

*How can you change everything about the history of several characters and expect them to be the same characters?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 3:25 PM
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127.2: Well, it's likely that there were plenty, as will tend to happen in any period of general violence anywhere. The conceit of Brother Cadfael is that he represents an interest in rationally investigating such deaths that otherwise wasn't all that prevalent in the England of the day.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 4:17 PM
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129: Yeah, it's mercifully rare IRL. Having said that, I do have one (it's a "disappearance" mystery strictly speaking, but the guy in question is most probably dead) and I know someone who has one of their own. Predictably, it doesn't bring out one's puzzle-solving instincts so much as it's just a creepy and depressing thing that happened.


Posted by: Lord Castock | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 4:23 PM
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24, 135: I am now reading Kate Atkinson's Emotionally Weird. Have either of you read her literary fiction?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 4:28 PM
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bob: I finally started watching Dollhouse because of your posts about it...I agree that it's amazing.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 4:41 PM
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I liked "A Coffin for Dimitrios" (aka "The Mask of Dimitrios") by Eric Ambler.

Among authors previously mentioned I generally liked James McClure, John D. MacDonald, Ross MacDonald, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammet, Rex Stout, Elmore Leonard and Josephine Tey.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 5:21 PM
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Someone just recommended Phillip Kerr's Berlin Noir trilogy to me. I've just downloaded it to my e-reader.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:06 PM
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145 - "Behind the Scenes at the Museum" is great, but I didn't much like "Human Croquet".

I adore the Weslake/Stark Parker books and I'm thrilled that Chicago is bringing them all back into print, but they're not remotely mysteries. They're amazingly great, though: a sort of counterpart to the Ripley books in the depiction of sociopathdom as a valuable character trait in your protagonist. Westlake's Killy and 361 are both quite good and in a similarly cold-blooded vein, although they're really period pieces now.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:10 PM
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And her fourth has just come out!

I'm about to start it. And yes, Faithful Place is great.

I also like Sophie Hannah, though her plots can get a little too intricate.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:26 PM
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139:Seicho Matsumoto

I have seen two of the Nomura film adaptations, Zero Focus and Castle of Sand. Both are highly recommended. Apparently Matsumoto collaborated with Nomura on eight.

Takagi apparently was adapted 8 times in the 80s, but I haven't ever heard of him.

Edogawa Rampo interests me.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:32 PM
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149.1: Ben Stiller is O.K., but Robin Williams new stuff just doesn't look good.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 6:37 PM
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I've been looking through this stuff and I have to say I'm not happy to pay $9.99 for an electronic version of a 75 year-old book. I've taken to reading Agatha Christie's "The Secret Adversary" in hopes that it would go better than the other time I tried her and because it cost 95 cents. So far, it's holding my interest well. There's a promise of evil Germans.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:14 PM
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Somebody in IP law or something, go let publishers know that maybe $5 would really move some old Nero Wolfe novels.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:17 PM
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The complete Fr. Brown mysteries are only $.99 because if there's one thing everybody says about G. K. Chesterton, it's that he know how to move the merch.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-26-12 9:24 PM
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Project Gutenberg has most of their stuff in various e-book formats now, so I'm not sure why you'd pay even 99 cents for Chesterton. Looks like they only have two books by Christie, however.


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 07-27-12 5:48 AM
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The formatting for a Kindle is worth something. I've tried pdfs on it, but it doesn't work as well.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-27-12 6:05 AM
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154: When they first showed up on Kindle they were $5!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 07-27-12 6:17 AM
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Interview with Tana French.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-27-12 6:21 AM
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Her books are $15 dollars on Kindle.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-27-12 6:30 AM
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Looking more closely, Nero Wolfe books are cheaper than I reported. The ones I were looking at cost ten bucks but they are multi-volume.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07-27-12 9:16 PM
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145: I have not. Do you recommend doing so?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 07-29-12 1:44 PM
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