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Books to Die For

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  270 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
The world's leading mystery writers have come together to champion the greatest mystery novels ever written. In a series of personal essays they often reveal as much about themselves and their work as they do about the books that they love.
Hardcover, 560 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published August 30th 2012)
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Bill  Kerwin

This hefty volume (more than 500 pages) contains one brief essay each by 119 mystery writers from 20 different countries, each of whom writes about a favorite book. Their choices favor noir and bleak crime novels rather than cozies and puzzles, and include more than a few mainstream literary novels with crimes in them, books that many of us wouldn't call mysteries, but any lover of the genre should find at least a couple dozen essays here to interest him. Many—like me—will find considerably more
Jul 19, 2012 Ellen rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I was the editorial assistant on this book, so I can't pretend to be objective. But it's a wonderful collection for anyone who's ever looked at a bookstore or library shelf and thought, "Already read that, read that, read that, read that..."
Cathy Cole
Dec 22, 2014 Cathy Cole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title says it all: 119 authors from 20 countries share the one mystery that is the most important one they've read. With this many authors represented, there's a wide range of books being shared, and one of the joys of reading a book like this is agreeing-- or disagreeing-- with each author's choice.

Each essay also tells us a bit about the author writing it, and as I read, I also found myself learning not only about the authors and the books chosen, but about the history and evolution of cr
Hana Howard
Nov 27, 2012 Hana Howard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lucky is the mystery fan that gets this book as a gift for Christmas. This is not just a book to read, but to savor. The stories picked are from around the world and the perspective of all the contributors seems to be that the mystery form understands that plot comes out of character.

The authors have put together an anthology of essays written by mystery writers about their favorite mystery writers and their works. Because the contributors were asked to choose books that were of a personal natur
Oct 12, 2013 Jean rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, non-fiction
Books to die for is a fun read, but beware - if you are a fan of mysteries, it will add many books to your "to read" list. It's non-fiction, a listing of favorite books by mystery writers. The list is chronological, beginning with Wilkie Collins, Poe, and Sherlock Holmes. (I learned that Holmes afficionados never say the name of the author, since it's assumed that Holmes is/was a real person.) The discussion on each book included how the author found it and why it is a favorite, and how it deser ...more
Jason Goodwin
Oct 02, 2012 Jason Goodwin rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: crime
I confess - I'm a contributor to this collection, with a piece on the neglected crime writer Nicolas Freeling's Van der Valk mysteries.
The rest of the book is stuffed with excellent essays and suggestions for a good crime read!
Lee Thompson
Aug 09, 2012 Lee Thompson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everybody who enjoys Crime Fiction
Recommended to Lee by: john connolly
A treasure trove. If you love Crime fiction and authors like John Connolly, Dennis Lehane, James Lee Burke, Lee Child, Karin Slaughter, etc., go grab this bastard!
Apr 18, 2013 Carol rated it it was amazing
Books to Die For is like an appetizer what with its recommendations of the greatest mystery stories by the authors who are currently writing in this genre. These essays will stimulate your appetite for more.

This is a book to own. I call it a dipping book, dip in and out and find something new with each reading. I could not possibly read all the wonderful books suggested but have chosen one or two to add to the pile. Edmund Crispin's (1946) The Moving Toyshop enthusiastically presented
by Ruth Du
Tim Niland
Oct 20, 2012 Tim Niland rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-reads
One of my favorite authors, John Connolly, co-edited this fascinating book where well known mystery and crime fiction writers recommend one book that influenced them or that they particularly enjoyed. The books are are arranged chronologically by recommendation beginning with classics like Edgar Alan Poe's Daupin stories and the Tales of Sherlock Holmes. After that, they move into the classic era of American crime fiction with writers like Michael Connelly developing entries on Raymond Chandler, ...more
Feb 06, 2013 Pat rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
I got this book as a reference for some new mysteries but what a treat of a book! Novels are reviewed by mystery writers. Some of the novels listed I have already read but I enjoy reading the author/reviewers comments to see what new insights I can gather. There are also a number of novels listed that I own but have not gotten around to reading, and the reviews are getting me excited again for why I bought the book and what interested me about it. The third part are books I have either not heard ...more
Kerryn Whiteside
A wonderful resource - short essays and reflections by modern authors on some of the great classics of crime and noir. I am discovering authors right left and centre!
Dec 25, 2015 Francis rated it it was amazing
Essays by mystery writers on favourite mystery novels. A good read, a good reference. However, reading it may result in considerable damage to your wallet.

You've been warned.
Jun 22, 2013 Sps rated it liked it
Shelves: 800s, books-books
This could make an excellent introduction and genealogy chart for the genre. Or I guess genres: thriller, mystery, crime novel, and all their variations.

Some writers approached their contributions like a book report, others like an an English lit analytic paper, others like a memoir or a booktalk. David Peace tried to write like his subject, Dashiell Hammett; I didn't care for it. Rebecca Chance had a more successful fun and big-vocabularied take on Dorothy Sayers's Lord Peter stories, but even
Oct 09, 2012 Kgwhitehurst rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Any time you're looking for suggestions for crime novels, start here. Current top-of-the-game crime writes discuss in short, personal essays why a specific book by a past master or overlooked master of crime fiction resides at their heart of crime fiction. What work moved them the most? I read several of these essays in the "What's with this guy? How could he possibly like so & so's novel?" I read a couple of other essays with the idea I must have overlooked something. Okay, Sara Paretsky an ...more
Nov 01, 2014 Linda rated it it was amazing
My copy of this book is a Library Book lent to me by a customer. What a little gem of a book it is. The Worlds Greatest Mystery/Detective writers on the Worlds greatest Mystery Novels.
It is a book you dip in and out of. Of course the first chapters I read were from my favourite authors, Mark Billingham, Peter James, Paul Cleave, Michael Connelly,.............. They choose their favourite story and at the start of the chapter there is an introduction to the author of the story, then the current a
Dec 15, 2012 Ash rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was the surprise of the year! I honestly do not know why I was thinking before I read the book that it was going to be suffocating and insanely academic approach to the whole crime/mystery genre.

Why did I think this? Especially when the book covers told me it was mystery novelists discussing their favorite mystery novels. I should have known right there I was in store for the most intellectual, honest, funny, love-letter type gab fest out there. I was introduced to authors who I've ne
Carole Barrowman
Jan 22, 2013 Carole Barrowman rated it really liked it
If you were to choose what mystery deserves a place in the canon of crime fiction what would it be? While you consider your choice, the "world's greatest mystery writers" have already picked theirs in this anthology edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke. This is an engaging, erudite and substantial anthology about the "world's greatest mystery novels."

Organized chronologically starting with J. Wallis Martin's essay on Poe and closing with Anne Perry's selection of Mark Gimenez's "The Perk" (2
Natalie Tyler
This book is a collection of essays in praise of other mystery authors written by mystery writers themselves. Some of the essays are quite brilliant and some of them will make you add more titles or authors to your "TBR" shelf.

I was stunned by some of the omissions, however. But these gaps are what one expects in a book that is essentially a compilation of very good essays. The book is certainly not the final word on which books from the past are worth reading but it will entice you. The quality
Dec 18, 2013 Ange rated it liked it
Only reading the few authors I know who are critiquing the classics. Didn't care for Rita Mae Brown. Even though she is somewhat local, reading just one of her books were enough.

Now Michael Connelly is another matter. He tells how THE LITTLE SISTER By Chandler is more than just his favorite. "The writer's job is to connect, to tap into the dark folds of the heart and soul, to make the reader nod--yes, I get it--withouth even realizing it. Shared experience. ... The great writer can find it in yo
Oct 03, 2012 GONZA rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful, my favorite authors talk about their favorite thriller stories!!! Many I've read but much more I have not, so this was a great way to pick up new ideas for books to read and to find out more about my liebliengs writer!

Fantastico, alcuni tra i miei autori di gialli preferiti che parlano delle storie che più di tutte gli sono piaciute. Molte le avevo lette e le conoscevo ma molte di più invece le ignoravo, quindi questo libro è stato un ottimo metodo per scoprire nuovi libri da leggere
Jan 12, 2013 Marcia rated it it was amazing
I bought this book both to see what books some of my favorite writers chose as their favorite mystery and to find some new writers to enjoy. For lovers of mystery writing, the chronological presentation gives you a great history of the genre.Some pieces say as much about the writer as their choice.For example, Elmore Leonard seemed to want to use his essay onThe friends of Eddie coyle as a chance to tell us how similar he is to Higgins. I was surprised that no one chose my favorite book of all t ...more
Pete Wung
Sep 02, 2014 Pete Wung rated it really liked it
I suspect I will be returning to this book often as I work my way through the mystery novel genre. The essays are short and sweet, as all mystery novels should be. the authors of the essays briefly sets up the plotline of each of the books and then dives in quickly and ,of course, stylishly into the reason why they chose to write about that specific author and that specific book. The essays are enjoyable because the essay writers are delving into an area of their passion and they are telling you ...more
Wendy Hines
Jul 08, 2013 Wendy Hines rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an off-beat must have book for mystery lovers! Several crime/mystery writers come together, in one volume. In short 'essay' form, the writer chooses a lesser known mystery and talks about why the love it, what inspired them from it, how it's clever and whatnot. It's a surefire way to find some new writers and books to read, that's for sure! A great book to keep on your bedside table and read at your leisure. It would also make a wonderful gift, this upcoming holiday season. It's beautifu ...more
Jul 27, 2013 Herzog rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Just a brilliant concept having top notch mystery writers write brief pieces on their favorite mystery books. The authors of the pieces include so many of the best contemporary writers - Michael Connelly, Peter Robinson, Lee Child, Qiu Xiaolong, so many more. The book is ordered chronologically so that, of course, you get the classics - Poe, Dickens (!), Doyle, Hammett, Agatha Christie to current masters like Connelly and Lehane. For the uninitiated, a great introduction. For fans of the genre, ...more
Jan 02, 2015 Jan rated it it was amazing
This book is extra special. I enjoyed it so much that I had to buy a copy (I had read my library's copy). I learned about authors who wrote great detective/mystery novels only to be lost to time. I use this as a reference book, returning to it often to find another great read. I also enjoy learning why a particular author inspired someone writing today. I immediately read books by Josephine Tey and Dorothy B Hughes. If you like the genre and want to explore how the genre developed then this is t ...more
Nov 30, 2012 Michele rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a book I picked out by chance from the library. I'm so glad I did! It's a book of essays by mystery writers on their favourite mystery. Beginning with Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Dickens and working up to modern-day writers, it's a great resource for anyone who loves mysteries or crime fiction. I plan to read my way through the list. There are 120 essays, so it might take me a while, but I'm sure I'll manage. I enjoyed some of the essays more than others, just as I am sure that I will e ...more
Aug 19, 2015 Jeni rated it really liked it
This was a great way to get an in-depth view of many of the greatest crime novels from all over the world. I added many of them to my Goodreads account, agreed (or disagreed) with some reviewers on past reads, and got a taste of a writer's style, since the reviewers were crime writers themselves. This took me a long time to get through (multiple library renewals), but if you want to expand your knowledge of the genre and authors, this is a very good resource.
Jan 24, 2017 Laura rated it really liked it
This was a fun book. It's a book of essays by mystery writers about their favorite mystery novels. There's a broad range of writers from all ages - Dickens, Marlowe, Hammett and King are represented, as well as lots more modern writers. I love to hear what other people think of books I've read, and each essay is only a few pages long. If you like mysteries this is worth checking out - you'll end up adding several books to your reading list.
Tom Gorski
May 10, 2013 Tom Gorski rated it really liked it
Interesting concept having 119 current day mystery/crime authors do a short essary on their favorite writer and book within the field. So you get things like Michael Connelly on Raymond Chandler's "The Little Sister" and Joe Nesbo on Jim Thompson's "Pop. 1280". Joseph Wambaugh chose Capote's "In Cold Blood" etc. etc. It has inspired me to go back and read some of the earlier writers that I'd skipped (like Dashiell Hammett).
Oct 08, 2013 Jenny rated it liked it
Current mystery authors write about their favorite mystery books providing an overview of the Genre. Only books available in English are included and the majority of the authors and books are American or British. To me the older selections were more interesting than the contemporary ones and it was interesting to see which books inspired which authors.
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John Connolly was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1968 and has, at various points in his life, worked as a journalist, a barman, a local government official, a waiter and a dogsbody at Harrods department store in London. He studied English in Trinity College, Dublin and journalism at Dublin City University, subsequently spending five years working as a freelance journalist for The Irish Times newspaper ...more
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