Monday, October 8, 2012

Guardian's Crime Fiction Recommendations

The UK newspaper The Guardian recently posted an open thread blog for best crime fiction among its readership. They asked: "Who are your favourites, and which are their best books? Let's have a brainstorm and see what we can come up with."

This is what I recommended: "From the classics, nothing beats Dorothy Sayers and Ngaio Marsh. Josephine Tey and P.D. James, in the same style, run a close second. From the modern crop of writers, Ruth Rendell and Deborah Crombie are superb as are Elizabeth George's early books. For a historical turn of events, I find C.S. Harris marvelous. Another historical mystery writer I really enjoy reading is Elizabeth Peters. She writes Egypt-set British Victorian mysteries. For all of these writers, my key takeaways are their protagonists—enduring, finely drawn, with new nuances revealed about them in every book, aka character growth and change—and scene setting and complex mystery plotting skills."

The comment thread's now closed but has close to 50 entries. It's a great spot to find authors who are new to you. My discoveries were Paul Doherty and his historical mysteries particularly the medieval ones, Margery Allingham's classic British crime series, and Margaret Frazer's medieval books.

The Guardian started the thread off mentioning Peter May, but he seems to be an oft occurring theme among the readers, too. P.D. James pops up, as does Dorothy L. Sayers. A tip o' the hat to the Scandinavian writers, who became so popular from the mid-1990s, and to Japanese writers. There was even a call-out for Russian author Dostoyevsky's books, though what he would've thought of his work being classified as genre fiction as opposed to über literary fiction is anybody's guess.

One significant name missing from the list is John Le Carré, but it's difficult to figure out which category books come under. They rarely fall under crime/mystery/thriller, but his field is very narrow these days, so I wonder if it can be bundled under the thriller category. Those books are ones that should not be missed!

Which myster, crime, spy, or thriller novels are your favorites?