View Full Version : Your Favorite Detective Novels

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Tinami Amori
02-25-2012, 09:02 PM
As a kid, I loved Georges Simenon's Commissaire Maigret series. Still love to catch an episode on TV.

I did not like Jules Maigret after the first few stories.. There is nothing distinguishing a bout him.. He gets drunk on beer and ale (vs. Holmes who uses opium and cocaine, and other detectives who drink absinthe and calvados.. ), he wears the same old military-police gear (vs. Poirot and his exquisite wardrobe) etc.

I do like however other works of Georges Simenon (Strangers in the House, few stories which were made into excellent French movies, etc.).

02-26-2012, 11:10 AM
I absolutely loved Dorothy Sayers, particularly Gaudy Night & Busman's Honeymoon. And definitely Dick Francis.

And I always enjoyed a Ngaio Marsh or Agatha Christie and some of Mary Roberts Rinehart.

Some old timers that have not yet been mentioned:

Josephine Tey "A Shilling for Candles" and others

Tony Hillerman "The Blessing Way", "Skin Walkers" and others of the Leaphorn/Chee series, some of which were televised in the PBS Mystery Series

Georgette Heyer, the best Regency novelist ever, wrote a lot of interesting detective novels set in the 20th century amongst the British upper class. "A Blunt Instrument" was particularly good, AFAIR.

Thanks to all for the suggestions, especially the older ones, because some are available for free as ebooks!

02-26-2012, 12:44 PM
Heyer has a lot of good mysteries, but they do get a little formulaic at times. When you read the "plucky young girl drawn to arrogant young lawyer with carefully hidden heart of gold" plot five times in a row, it gets a bit stale. :)

However, I did enjoy the books on the whole. Penhallow is my favorite, though I see it got mixed reviews on Goodreads. It's really different from most mysteries -- you know whodunit all along, the point is just to see the effects of the crime on everyone -- but I thought it was very well done.

02-26-2012, 03:48 PM
All mysteries are a bit formulaic-they start with a death and end with an arrest. When Christie wrote Roger Ackroyd, many thought it was unfair because it violated the formula :) I liked Penhallow though. What I like about Heyer is the humor in her writing. Not all the mysteries are as good as her Regency novels though-not as funny.

02-26-2012, 05:57 PM
Seems I forgot to mention Kate Atkinson series starting with Case Histories. I think she uses the older retired guy detective, Jackson Brodie and the last one switches to the woman, whose name I forgot. It was refreshing to read a murder mystery that takes place in the 21st century. I also liked Tana French's The Likeness, although you'd really have to suspend your disbelief.

02-26-2012, 08:08 PM
All mysteries are a bit formulaic-they start with a death and end with an arrest.

Not really. Gaudy Night, my favorite mystery, doesn't have a death at all. Unless you count the death way before the start of the book, that triggers the events of the story.

02-26-2012, 09:14 PM
Another Sue Grafton fan :)

02-26-2012, 10:13 PM
OK, almost all :)

And yes, I love Gaudy Night-in fact I haven't reread it in about 10 years, and I'm due again.

02-26-2012, 11:06 PM
I'm currently on the third of Stieg Larsson's trilogy (Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, Girl who played with Fire, Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest) - although not classical detective novels they do sort of fit into this category as they are mysteries with multiple detectives. I have roared my way through the three books and it is a tragedy that Larsson died and was unable to write more books. Great stories and a brilliant creation of an anti-heroine. There are few men who can write women well in my my experience, and Larsson is certainly one of them.

Next I'm going to read the Wallander series.

I enjoyed most of Kathy Reichs' books but the last few seemed rushed and weren't of the same quality - it appeared that her publisher was pressing her for copy. The same thing happened with Cornwall's "Scarpatta" series.

02-27-2012, 01:19 AM
That is another great series.

I adore P.D. James and I've read everything she has ever published. Her Adam Dagliesh mystery novels are some of the best detective fiction I've read. Ruth Wendell's Inspector Wexler novels are a close second, imo. Other favorites are the Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith and the Blanche White mystery novels by Barbara Neely. I used to like the Alex Delaware novels by Jonathan Kellerman and read several of them. But the older I get the more tiresome Alex becomes, imo.

02-27-2012, 01:27 AM
there's a new No. 1 Ladies coming out this spring. :cheer2:

02-27-2012, 02:21 AM
OK, almost all :)

And yes, I love Gaudy Night-in fact I haven't reread it in about 10 years, and I'm due again.

Enjoy! That book is always SUCH a good read.

02-27-2012, 05:27 AM
I forgot to mention Martin O'Brien's Inspector Jacquot series about a former soccer player who had one brief moment of glory on the field. Jacquot and The Master is particularly good for the food! Don't read this if you don't have wonderful food close at hand! Makes me want to eat my way through France.

Just finished Iris Johansen's Bonnie. I was disappointed but then this story has been dragged out over so many books in extremely soapy fashion that I really don't see how she could pull it off. I think she'll switch to other characters for a while and put Eve Duncan in the background.

It's really hard to sustain a series, isn't it? I tired of Kay Scarpetta long ago (especially niece Lucy who always seems a basket case) and much prefer Kathy Reichs.

The early Robert Tanenbaum books with Marlene Ciampi and Butch Karp were pretty good but he's faltered with the last 2 or 3. I hope he gets it back as I really liked Lucy, Tran and the dogs!

More when I think of it!

02-27-2012, 03:53 PM
Cyn - you picked exactly the wrong one to read! I used to read her books - until I read "The Last Precinct" (if that's the one with the weird cat digression?). Hated it.

That is the one when she returned to writing about Scarpetta after starting the Hornet's Nest series and she changed from present tense to past tense writing isn't it? She's also changed from 1st to 3rd person more recently as well. I haven't liked any of her books since before Hornet's Nest. Up to 1996, I would call them more "page turners" than "well-written." But they held my interest. After 1996, I'ver read some, but they were trashy or self-indulgent or just plain weird.

02-27-2012, 04:10 PM
All mysteries are a bit formulaic-they start with a death and end with an arrest. ...

What about Josephine Tey's "Daughter of Time"?