Friday, 11 July 2014

Lit Nerd Recommends: Detective Fiction

For some reason this week I have been on a detective/mystery fiction binge (with moments of Moran-filled clarity). It started when the lovely Charlotte recommended Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None as the perfect seriously unputdownable book. It really was seriously unputdownable. So, last night when it came to choosing my next read, it was difficult to look past the Lord Peter Wimsey novel waving at me (loving it so far). 

Here is a round up of my favourite detective novels - including those with actual sleuths and those where as a reader you're invited to do some sleuthing of your own.

The Fiction:

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Will I ever stop talking about Wilkie? Not likely. Sargeant Cuff (and his roses) happens to be one of my favourite literary detectives.

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club/Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers
Ah Peter Wimsey, you may almost certainly be suffering from PTSD but you still manage a jolly good show. It's hard to say quite how much I adore Dorothy L. Sayers.

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
This is one that is not technically detective fiction (the lines are a bit blurry), but there is still an investigation. Plus it's super creepy. As a side recommendation, it's definitely worth reading Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin.

Anything involving Miss Marple
My love for Agatha Christie was well and truly rekindled this week by And Then There Were None. I don't actually remember reading any of her works that don't involve Miss Marple (who, though at times a giant pain, I do love), so I feel it's time to spread out and enjoy some Poirot too (let me know where to start!).

The Hound of the Baskervilles
No list would be complete without England's favourite addict detective, Sherlock Holmes. The Hound is one of my favourites purely because of its setting (hello scary moor I spent a lot of time on as a teen).

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
Jackson Brodie is my favourite contemporary detective. Especially when he is played by Jason Isaacs in the BBC series.

The Non-Fiction:

Talking About Detective Fiction by P.D. James
I studied Dorothy L. Sayers at uni and read this to get a bit more information about the genre. It's a really good non-fiction read, both for study and personal interest. I really enjoyed the section on the Golden Age (obviously).

The One(s) to Read:

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
I just feel it's a must.

One of the Albert Campion mysteries by Margery Allingham
I can't deny that I love a good gentleman sleuth.

Anyone else out there secretly wish they could sleuth like a pro? Let me know who is your favourite literary detective.



  1. Poirot all the way! Murder on the Orient Express is the best but don't start with it. Maybe the ABC Murders? I also love Jackson Brodie, especially when played by Jason Isaacs. The Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear is good too.

    1. ABC Murders is now at the top of my list - thanks! I've read another novel by Winspear recently and was pleasantly surprise so I'll give Maisie Dobbs a go.

  2. Oh, it's been so long since I've read Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. I should dig those books out again at some point. I haven't read all of Poirot's books, but I like Death on the Nile.

    1. All the titles sound so familiar, I'm getting excited even thinking about finding a new detective to read.

  3. Great recommendations! I love Case Histories and Wimsey. I'm pretty attached to the Flavia de Luce series, she's just wonderful.

    1. I've heard of her a few times, I'll have to give it a try!

  4. Haven't read any Wilkie (yet) but I have a few of his somewhere.

    *Loved* the Miss Maple films though I haven't read any of the books.

    Agree with Hound of the Baskervilles. Best.... Holmes.... Ever!

    Adore Raymond Chandler - well, anything Noir really. Oddly got into him via William Gibson who was labelled the Chandler of SF. Loved his work so checked Chandler out. Found I loved that too!

    Detective fiction is probably my 3rd favourite genre or 2nd if its historical. Holmes is great and I've read almost everything Conan Doyle wrote. Also Marlowe (of course) plus Lew Archer (an American detective created by Ross Macdonald in the 1950s/1960's working in Southern California and played by Paul Newman in the movie adaptation).

    1. You must read Wilkie, you'll love it. The Marple films are always brilliant but the books build the tension even more.

      I've heard really good things about Chandler and obviously he is such a big literary figure, but I've never felt the urge to read anything. When I was thinking about this topic I realised how much I actually love this genre (like you, second to historical), so I'm feeling the need to expand my horizons and give him a go.

  5. I have to go with Thursday Next, she's my girl.

    When it comes to smart old men I think Hercule Poirot, he was my first detective love.

    I want to see what Jackson Brodie is all about!

    1. How could I forget! I keep saying I'll read the next instalment (I've only read book 1 so far), but I think this summer is the time.

      You must try some Jackson Brodie, it's very contemporary and very good. Atkinson is just the perfect writer.

  6. I loved And Then There Were None when I read it during Dewey in April - it was my first Agatha Christie in YEARS and definitely lived up to all the rave reviews. And Baskervilles... yes, that book's definitely up there for me. It's so atmospheric, I got chills down my spine even though I'd seen the (fairly) recent adaptation with Richard E. Grant and Ian Hart a bunch of times and knew what was going on. And The Moonstone's OBVIOUSLY awesome. :)

    P.S. JASON ISAACS ROCKS. That is all.

    1. I did not know Richard E Grant did an adaptation of Baskervilles! I've only seem the Benedict Cumberbatch one (which is obviously amazing - put it this way, the dog was not the only drooling thing around).

  7. I haven't read nearly enough detective type books! I really did like Jekyll and Hyde :) I've been meaning to get to Sherlock forEVER.

    1. I think reading at least one Sherlock book should be a rule in life :D

  8. I can really get in the mood for mysteries (and thrillers) sometimes -- would love to read that Atkinson book -- was not familiar with it before now! And I kinda want to crack out my Agatha Christie books I bought with such good intentions and then pretty much forgot about :(


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