Thursday, April 7, 2011

Crime Fiction Alphabet - This Week: Letter M Is For Mystery

M is for Mystery, of which I've read plenty. (I was going to do a poem, but I couldn't find many words that rhyme with 'plenty'.) You could say that my downfall began with PIPPI LONGSTOCKING's adventures in hoodwinking adults and you'd be right. I'm all for hoodwinking adults and anyone else that cares to show up. Ha! The Crime Fiction Alphabet 2011 is a weekly meme hosted by Kerrie over at her blog, MYSTERIES IN PARADISE. Check out who else is participating and their choices for this week's letter. Link.

Then came Nancy Drew, then The Dana Girls, then Agatha Christie then, you name it, I've probably read it. Long as it's a mystery of a certain type I'll be there to say: Please sir, may I have some more?

Although lately, reading all the names of past authors (on all the wonderful Vintage themed Mystery Blogs) who seem to have eluded me, I'm thinking I didn't read that many after all. My only feeble excuse is that I can't have been expected to read EVERYTHING. Although sometimes it feels as though I did.

Confession: There was a time that for about four or five years, all I read were romances. I thought then I'd outgrown my love of mysteries. Mysteries were passe. I was a grown up. I wanted to read about the romantic entanglements of other grown-ups. (But only with happy endings, of course.) A friend introduced me to the romance 'genre' - books I hadn't even known existed - I'd led a very sheltered life.

But eventually I came to my senses. (Though I still will read a romance or two or three, usually from my own stacks and stacks of books leftover from The Phase. There are certain romance authors I remain devoted to, no matter what. And a couple of new ones too, i.e. Lauren Willig.

As for 'thrillers' - I didn't discover them until late in life. I thought I just was not a 'thriller' type reader. Of course, I was wrong. Mysteries and Thrillers go hand in hand far as I'm concerned - it just took me a while to discover it - I must be a slow learner. I am now happily devoted to Lee Child and Robert Crais and several other writers of so-called 'thrillers' and continue to be so.

When I'm blue, when I'm feeling not-so-hot, when I'm sick or just verklempt, I love a good mystery. Even on occasions when I'm deliriously happy, there's just nothing like a good mystery. In fact, there are very few occasions when a mystery won't do. But the truth is, here's nothing like a whodunit to chase away the occasional gloom. And since I seem to be gloomier than most, there are lots of mysteries piled on bookshelves in every room in my house save the bathroom. (Moisture is the enemy of books!) Mysteries are my brain's comfort food. No doubt about it.

And even if I know whodunit, I reread my favorites over and over and over again and never tire of their power to seduce. One good thing to be said for Old Lady Memory - I tend to forget occasionally who the killer is. Ha!

So, what are my Favorite Mystery and/or Thrillers? Well, if you read this blog, you probably already know the answer. But just in case you don't, here are my Top Twenty-Five (10 would be impossible to select and even 25 is hard as heck and likely to change on any given day):



3) O JERUSALEM by Laurie R. King

4) THEY CAME TO BAGHDAD by Agatha Christie

5) THE MAN IN THE BROWN SUIT by Agatha Christie

6) CAT AMONG THE PIGEONS by Agatha Christie

7) MURDER BY THE BOOK by Rex Stout

8) PLOT IT YOURSELF by Rex Stout


10) INDIGO SLAM by Robert Crais

11) L.A. REQUIEM by Robert Crais

12) WORTH DYING FOR by Lee Child

13) THE MOVING TOYSHOP by Edmund Crispin

14) THE CIRCULAR STAIRCASE by Mary Roberts Rinehart

15) LOOT by Aaron Elkins

16) DIED IN THE WOOL by Ngaio Marsh


18) DEATH OF A PEER by Ngaio Marsh

19)DAUGHTER OF TIME by Josephine Tey

20) THE OLD SILENT by Martha Grimes

21) DIRTY LINEN by Nicholas Kilmer

22) LADY IN THE LAKE by Raymond Chandler

23) THE SECRET VANGUARD by Michael Innes

24)TO THE HILT by Dick Francis

25) CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK by Elizabeth Peters

...I could easily go on and name another 25 but I won't. Just keep in mind that this is a fluid list. M is certainly for Mysteries or even, for Murder Most Foul.


  1. Omigosh, I've only read two of these, the Sherlock Holmes and the Mary Russell. I think I read "The Doorbell Rang," many years ago, but I will try to reread it.

    A few I've seen as movies.

    But I'll take notes and add books to my TBR mountainous tome.

  2. Kathy: You'll have to get crackin'! Ha!

  3. If I started a list of my favorites, I'd never stop. Here's a list of favorite authors:

    Dorothy L Sayers
    Agatha Christie
    Ngaio Marsh
    Edmund Crispin
    Cyril Hare
    Frances & Richard Lockridge
    Rex Stout
    Amanda Cross
    Elizabeth Daly
    Michael Innes

    I could go on and on and on.....

  4. Bev: I know, it's hard. But I did say my list remains fluid. That's my 'out'. Ha.

    We share several writers. :)

  5. I've got to keep this list saved for when I'm ready for another good mystery month! So many authors on your list that I've never heard of before your blog.

  6. I too find mysteries "comfort" reading. I suppose it's the imposition of order on anarchy, when the villain is caught and punished, that it is so satisfying.

    You? Gloomy? I visit your blog for the beautiful pictures and your wholehearted enjoyment of movies and books. Maybe you're just introspective.

  7. How can anyone not love a well crafted mystery story. I'm still convinced a good mystery is one of the hardest things to write. I share your love of Agatha Christie. I can never tire of her work. Great post.

  8. When I saw "M" is for Mystery I thought of the "M" is for Mystery Bookstore in San Mateo.

  9. Bill: Why not? We can say that it is also for the Mystery Bookstore in San Mateo. Gotta' love those independents!

  10. Lisa: I'm so happy to be introducing you to some of the best mystery writers. At least, I think they're 'The Best'. :) I hope you'll discover that you like them as much as I do as you go along.

  11. Carol: Yes, exactly - '...the imposition of order on anarchy.' - I like that. Very tidy, too. I like 'tidy'. :)

    From now on I will try and think of myself as 'introspective' rather than 'gloomy'. HA!

    And thanks again for your kind words.

  12. Ryan: I mean, really, right? A good mystery is definitely one of the harder things to write. You said it. I am always amazed when someone manages to do it. And, of course, Agatha Christie was/is the Queen of Mystery. Far as I'm concerned, anyway. :) Thanks, Ryan.

  13. I so loved reading your list! A fellow Rex Stout fan! I tend to say my favorites in series - the WHOLE Amelia Peabody series, the WHOLE Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, the WHOLE Wolfe and Archie series. And those are just three. I've come to love so many series, so many characters over the years.

  14. Nan: I've read all the series you've mentioned and loved them. It's so hard to pick my favorites when they're ALL mostly my favorites. Ha! That's why I say that the list is 'fluid'.

    I reread the Nero Wolfe books every few years. My liking for them has never dimmed. ;)

    You're right: so many characters, so many books. I feel sorry for people who don't read.

  15. An excellent post Yvette. I've never dabbled much in romance, but I loved historical fiction for a long time, but crime fiction is my addiction. Thanks for participating so whole heartedly in this week's CFA

  16. You're welcome, Kerrie. It was fun to do. :)

  17. Yes, crime fiction is our addiction, many of us.

    There is nothing like it to distract, divert, entertain. Stressed out? Pick up a mystery, get into a whodunnit, another world.

    I've discovered international crime fiction, aided by a few terrific websites with reviews and comments, and it's added a lot to my excitement and learning about various countries to some degree. This is very enjoyable.

    Last week, stayed up nights to literally vacuum up Jo Nesbo's "Nemesis." Wow, does that guy write words that one has to think about, deep character development, and a plot that never takes a break -- on a high wire on every page. And interesting!

    I've just loaned that book to a friend who has been up for hours all week, and told me that this is one of the best books she's ever read, and she a thriller reader who loves Lee Child, Michael Connelly, etc. (Yes, after I read Robert Crais' The Sentry, I'll pass it on to her.)

    The problem is that when it's really a good book, nothing gets done: no errands, tasks, bill paying, NY Times reading, email checking, nothing. But it's sheer bliss, isn't it?

  18. Oh, I know the feeling, Kathy. Occasionally I stay up until all hours to read a book that just won't let me quit. Ha! It's an addiction, no doubt. I've never read Jo Nesbo. I'll add NEMESIS to my TBR mountain, for sure. I've heard the name around, but just never picked one up.

    When I was a kid I used to have my nose stuck in a book more often than not. You can't break the habit of a life time. Most especially when it's a good habit. :-)


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