Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Books to Die (or Kill) For

I am not generally a reader of “mysteries.”  By “mystery”, I mean those cute little series of “The Body In . . .” or “The Cat Who . .  .”, or  those infinitely numbered (or lettered) series featuring the same quirky private detective chasing the same villain down the same tortuous paths in book after predictable book.  

But I do like a well-written crime novel . Secret guilty pleasure: if it is a police procedural that features a hard-bitten, angst-ridden, middle-aged detective at odds with his superiors and still in love with at least one ex-wife, I may even read a whole series. I listen to Michael Connolly’s Harry Bosch novels, and read all of Ian Rankin’s books until he retired John Rebus.  I am now working my way through the audio versions of Tana French’s four “Dublin Murder Squad” books, each with its own haunted protagonist.  Richard Price’s gritty novels, set in New York City, and those of George Pelecanos, set in Washington, D.C., bring the streets of those cities alive -- literary versions of The Wire.

So I was intrigued by the new anthology Books To Die For:  The World’s Greatest Mysteries, selected by the World’s Greatest Mystery Writers. Editors John Connolly and Declan Burke, themselves modern masters of the genre, asked 119 mystery authors from 20 countries to select one - just one - crime novel that for them represents the best of the canon, and to write about it. What they got were thoughtful, personal essays that not only express the contributors’ “passionate advocacy” for their selections, but also reveal a good bit about the writers themselves - their inspirations, their prejudices, their own creative odysseys.

The selections are arranged chronologically by publication date, starting with Edgar Allan Poe’s The Dupin Tales and Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities and ending with Mark Giminez’s 2008 The Perk. (Who?) Included are the familiar (Raymond Chandler, Ed McBain, Dennis Lehane), and the relatively obscure (Newton Thornburg, Derek Raymond).  Many of the contributors are themselves the subject of another’s essay. The author most frequently mentioned?  Josephine Tey.

Many of these books are now out of print and hard to find. But we’ve pulled together all that we have here at RPL and put them together for your browsing pleasure. Come see the “Books To Die For” display in General Collections at the Main branch.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Funny you noted Josephine Tey. I looked up The Daughter of Time today after reading the late Christopher Hitchen's comparison of her writing to Hilary Mantel. (I'm currently reading Wolf Hall so I can get to Bring Up the Bodies!)