Good, Old-Fashioned Mystery Novels
December 10, 2003 4:36 AM   Subscribe

Whodunit? Who wrote it? Who'd have thunk it? is a great little website for all those who love a good mystery, whether ancient or modern. ( My favourites, btw, are Dorothy L. Sayers and Patricia Highsmith. This last website - Stop! You're Killing Me!" - is also well worth investigating.)
posted by MiguelCardoso (13 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Count me in as a raving Highsmith fan, although I generally prefer things in the line of Hammet and Jim Thompsom.

I also have two related vices: I never read Raymond Chandler (much like Pat herself, who was forever pissed off at him after he wrote the screenplay for the Hitchcock adaptation of "Strangers on a Train"). And I'll read anything by James Hadley Chase - rarely mentioned even in specialized sites - maybe because his output does not offer any of consistency when it comes to quality.

Lastly, "Mystery novel" and "Detective novel" sound so very lame when compared to "roman noir" or "novela negra". Maybe noir fiction?
posted by magullo at 5:08 AM on December 10, 2003

re Jim Thompsom check out this very good biography

see also Le polar au cinéma, excellent resource (warning: it's a Freedom language site)

and all movie buffs should check out Tavernier's (and Thompson's of course) amazing Coup De Torchon

very good piece about Woolrich in last week's Time magazine
posted by matteo at 6:18 AM on December 10, 2003

hey migs have you read 'thrones, dominations'? supposed to be pretty good (for a treatment of a 60 year old unfinished manuscript) but I've never got around to reading it.

ooh, looks like 'the jupiter myth' has finally made it over to this side of the atlantic, and ms davis slipped in a new one when I wasn't looking. excellent!
posted by dorian at 7:24 AM on December 10, 2003

I always find it weird that Le Carre is listed on mystery sites/lists. That said -- where do I go after I've read just about every Le Carre book?

And, if you haven't had the pleasure -- Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy and The Little Drummer Girl are absolutely fantastic, smart, literate, page-turners.
posted by Mid at 7:34 AM on December 10, 2003

Bastulli doesn't mention Barbara Hambly 's Benjamin January series (a review with excerpts here), but Stop You're Killing Me does, thankfully. The stories of a 1830s black surgeon/music teacher in New Orleans are an utter delight -- although I might be horribly biased due to my love of that period and how well Hambly melds everything together.
posted by Katemonkey at 7:36 AM on December 10, 2003

Thrones, Dominations can suck my ass.

Hate it, hate it, hate it. Vile abomination.

It should never have been finished. Sayers never intended for it to be finished. It was only after her son died and his half-sister--who never knew him while he was alive--got her hands on the Sayers Estate that the novel was completed and additional ones were commissioned. Next up in the whoring out of Lord Peter and Harriet: a novel based on the shopping list found in Sayers's cold, dead hand!

Full disclosure: I help moderate the largest online Sayers community, LordPeterLordPeter--we have nearly 1,000 members. I also maintain the FAQ. Jill Paton Walsh is, IMO, a fairly unpleasant person. She took exception to people's dislike of the Estate's actions a few years ago and had such a large hissy fit on the list that we had the distinct pleasure of banning her. She thought the rules didn't apply to her since she is an Author.

Miguel, you should come and join our conversation--it's a lot of fun. We're currently discussing the stories in Lord Peter Views The Body, and it will soon be time for my semi-annual defense of "The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba", which no one seems to like, which is really too bad. Because it's fun story.
posted by eilatan at 7:43 AM on December 10, 2003

see, now you just made me want to read it.
posted by dorian at 8:04 AM on December 10, 2003

It's vile. You can completely see the joins. There is no Sayers after Chapter 6. It's a terrible, flat mystery--the bulk of the plot was created by Paton Walsh, whose own mystery novels are out of print. Sayers didn't even know who the victim was going to be. If you must read it, either get it from the library or used. Don't put money into the estate's pockets. They have enough.

I am a very firm believer in adhering to people's wishes: Sayers didn't wish for Thrones, Dominations to be published. She didn't even feel it was worth finishing. She felt her religious writing was more important, more her proper job. For someone who never even knew her to exploit Lord Peter Wimsey in order to fatten their bank account is obscene in the extreme.
posted by eilatan at 9:43 AM on December 10, 2003

where do I go after I've read just about every Le Carre book?

John Lawton. His A Little White Death is just brilliant.
posted by biscotti at 10:22 AM on December 10, 2003

Thanks Miguel - a great resource!
posted by madamjujujive at 10:28 AM on December 10, 2003

John Lawton? I've got Old Flames in my book-case, waiting to be read over Christmas.

If you've read all of Le Carre, you should go on to Len Deighton.
posted by emf at 8:24 PM on December 10, 2003

Wow! Thanks, eilatan! Although I feel a little awed, as I haven't read even half of Sayers's stuff. :)

P.S. I suffer from the Read-All-Le-Carré syndrome too. I enjoyed his latest novels best of all. I live in fear he will die or stop writing. He's getting more and more paranoid and it's doing wonders for his writing which the Cold War never did - as he was so ambiguously and deliciously on both sides. He's no longer ambiguous and, strangely enough, I prefer him like this. Pharmaceuticals; the U.S.A; the new Russia; anything that gets his goat - wonderful stuff. Without the gloves. Yes, the gloves were magnificent (the prose has got simpler too) but this is much more passionate and readable, imo.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:33 PM on December 10, 2003

Charles McCarry is worth a look if you are a fan of spy fiction.
posted by emf at 5:12 PM on December 11, 2003

« Older Yin Yu Tang - a Chinese home preservation project   |   Cockroach baby ads banned Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments