Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Top Ten Books I'd Recommend to a Non-Mystery reader.
What a cool topic for today, Top Ten Tuesday is the weekly meme hosted by the gals at THE BROKE AND THE BOOKISH. So don't forget to head on over there and check out the rest of the Tuesday Top Ten Lists at this link.
Hard as it is to believe I know there are people out there who do not read mysteries or thrillers. I know, I know, you're saying: huh? Me too.
But let's pretend that those who haven't been converted are merely waiting for the right approach. So without further ado, here are my
Top Ten Mystery and/or Thriller Books I'd Recommend to a Non-Reader of Mysteries and/or Thrillers.
1) The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
The book that begins it all. This is the only instance where a writer has managed to continue characters created by someone else - in this case, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famed Sherlock Holmes and John Watson - and done a hell of a job. King turns Holmes into a real life flesh and blood man and creates a new partner for him, a young woman of equal brilliance and eccentricity. If you have even just a vague notion of Holmes, this book will wow you.
2) The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
This can probably be read as a luscious though sinister Victorian sojourn in the company of one of the foulest and creepiest villains in English literature. Damsels in distress, thwarted young love, moody evenings in the fog. What more could you want?
3) The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
When a Scotland Yard inspector breaks a leg and is confined to hospital, his friend brings him books and mags to read. While looking at a print of the notorious crook-back, the reviled Richard III whom most everyone knows murdered the two young princes in the tower of London - his brother's children - so he, Richard could become King, Inspector Grant begins to muse.
The story has captured his interest and, having nothing better to do, he asks the friend to bring him more research material on Richard III. Thereby Tey spins a mesmerizing tale of long overdue retribution. Grant begins to realize that perhaps, history is totally wrong.
4) The End of Everything by Megan Abbott
A young girl disappears from her heretofore 'idyllic' neighborhood and family and friends are devastated. Megan Abbott brings to vivid life the often moody world of a thirteen year old Midwestern girl whose best friend's disappearance makes her question everything she knows or thought she knew. A moving, gut wrenchng read.
5) Not All Tarts are Apples by Pip Grainger
It's 1953 London and young Rosie Featherby is 7 years old. She is beloved by everyone who has had a hand is raising her, including her step parents Bert and Maggie. Rosie is trusting, caring and rather wise for her tender years. She thinks her London block is the best place in the world to be and who could blame her? The block is full of affectionate eccentrics who adore her.
But not everyone has Rosie's best interests at heart.
Certain events have begun to confuse the issue of who she really is and how she came to be brought up by the owners of a working class cafe on Old Compton Street in Soho.
A possible kidnapping is in the works.
The charm of this wonderful book is in the writing talent of Pip Grainger and the whole world on a London block she's created. The observant Rosie tells the tale from her point of view.
6) The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
Derring-do during the French Revolution as 18th century English aristocrat Sir Percy Blakeney masquerades as a fop by day and a dashing hero by night. He crosses the channel accompanied by two or three faithful-until-death followers, and helps French aristos to escape the guillotine. In the meantime, his beautiful wife grows more and more contemptuous of his foolish foppishness.
7) The City and the City by China Mieville
I definitely can't do any better than to point you to this fabulous review of one of my all time favorite books. I'm not usually a reader of fantasy or science fiction, but sometimes a writer transcends genre and you have to go with the flow. This is a combo mystery/thriller/sci-fi tale which should fascinate any reader.
8) Lost In A Good Book by Jasper Fforde
Not the first in this literately inclined and very fun, mystery/thriller/fantasy series, but this particular volume is my favorite. It is visually full of everything wonderful from the mind of one of the more inventive writers working today.
Fforde is the king of puns, literary jokes, double meanings and imaginative other wordiness. He has created an alternate universe - an England where, among other things, computers haven't been invented nor has air travel, except for balloons and airships. In this place and time, the literary world is a live, separate entity. Pages of a book can be entered, classic tales can be altered and characters from books can interact with humans. Oh yes, and time travel is occasionally possible.
It is the job of the literary detective to see that the classics aren't fussed with. (Imagine altering the end of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE or JANE EYRE - horrors!)
This is where Thursday Next, Literary Detective comes in. Fforde's heroine is charged with keeping a very vibrant literary world from running amok. Good luck.
9) Come to Grief by Dick Francis
A tale of thwarted friendship, misplaced loyalty, evil in the guise of normality and the resulting escalation of violence aimed at ruining a man's life. This is an Edgar Award Winner (Award named after Edgar Allan Poe) and rightly so. One of Francis's finest books. Read the intriguing synopsis here.
10) Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson
A literate 18th century historical mystery enhanced by incredibly good writing. An amazing debut. See my review from yesterday.