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General Archive > Do you like reading Mysteries?

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message 1: by Bionic Jean (last edited May 01, 2014 03:02AM) (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Mystery stories must be one of the most popular genres. Lots of us enjoy a good detective story, or something to get "the little grey cells" working. So here's a place for you to tell us your favourites, recommend one you've just read or just generally chat about them.

What do you like?


message 2: by Bionic Jean (last edited May 01, 2014 06:08AM) (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) I particularly like English mysteries, those often called "cosy". Many would put Agatha Christie at the top of the list, referring to her as as the "Queen of Crime Writing". Those by Dorothy L Sayers are some of the first of this type - and I personally prefer them to Dame Agatha's. I also love the classic works by Wilkie Collins and Arthur Conan Doyle, which were largely responsible for starting off the whole genre. (Though they can hardly be termed "cosy.")

Even so I tend to go more for more recent authors, such as P D James, Ruth Rendell and Colin Dexter. I like those with a bit of psychological insight or focus such as Barbara Vine (pseudonym for Ruth Rendell)'s novels too. Recently I've enjoyed those about the detective Simon Serrailler by Susan Hill - an ongoing series by an author who had previously published many mainstream novels. And I love the additional humour you get in Simon Brett's novels!

This is very subjective - and I haven't even touched on any mysteries from outside England!

(edited to include links)


message 3: by Jenny (last edited May 01, 2014 06:10AM) (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Great thread Jean!

I have to say that until discovering Henning Mankell's Wallender series, I thought I didn't like mysterys much. To this day I am really a Scandinavian girl when it comes to crime fiction, or so I thougth until I ended up checking my respective GR shelf.

I really like political mysteries like Henning Mankell's (not so much the latest ones though), Batya Gur's and Bernhard Jaumann's.
I particularly love when crime-fiction blends into literary fiction like with Friedrich Dürrenmatt and Paulus Hochgatterer and some of Graham Greene's.
I love the quirky novels of Fred Vargas.

OH and almost forgot: love Tana French and some of Elizabeth George and also the great man of espionage John le Carré


message 4: by John (new)

John Frankham (johnfrankham) Jean,

I'll stick with calling the Christie, etc, type of books 'Whodunnits'

I love Allingham, Marsh, Crispen, Innes, but have grown to respect Christie more than I did. Also Sayers is OK. Best of all are the Simenon Maigret series.

And so many brilliant current authors too, of course, including Louise Penny and Fred Vargas, Andrea Camilleri and Donna Leon.

But, I just wanted to second Jenny's mention of Friedrich Durenmatt.

Best of his books is the brilliant 'The Judge and his Hangman', with Inspector Barlach, and also 'The Pledge'.

Rarely mentioned, the blurb on the first says: A strange, ironic story in which genius curdles into madness in the pursuit of a child-murderer - a story which contrives to be as convincing as life itself. and 'a horrific and brilliant study in obsessional psychology - fairly bests the Master Simenon at his own game.'

And all in 143 pages. From 1958. I recommend it.

On the same, psychological, plane, there is Margaret Millar, a Canadian who was married to the crime writer Ross Macdonald.

Her 'A Beast in View', Edgar Allan Poe Award winner scared me no end. 1955, and also short, 158 pages, it's brilliant.

'The voice on the 'phone was quiet, smiling: 'I have a crystal ball. I see you now. Real bright and clear. You've been in an accident. Your forehead is gashed, your mouth is bleeding .....' A cry for help rose inside Miss Clarvoe's throat. Help me, someone! Help me!'

So much to read, so much to re-read!


message 5: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Scandinavian mysteries are so popular now but I've never seen or read any! (Except for Stieg Larsson, but he's a bit different.) Some recommendation for us newbies would be good! Those authors are new to me :)

Oh my word, FRIEDRICH DURRENMATT. I once listened to an adaptation of one of his crime books and it was soooo dark! Really depressing. Perhaps he is always like this?

I quite like John le Carré, but find him a bit of a challenge. He seems so dry and... almost clinical. But I tend to think of him as espionage - spy stories with an element of mystery. I do want to read more Graham Greene, joining in with Gill's challenge :)

Like you Jenny, I particularly enjoy it when a crime novel blends well with literature, or is good in itself, not just as "genre fiction". That's why I enjoy the classics which have a mystery element. And also why I rate Susan Hill so highly. She was an excellent novelist to start with, and its only recently that she's tried her hand at mysteries - and by the way broken all the rules in doing so! Particularly in the first Simon Serrailler, The Various Haunts of Men which made me say, "Wha-a-a-a-at?"

I like some Elizabeth George, but the word on the street is that her recent 2 or 3 have not been so good - a bit sprawling with some people not behaving in character.

It does surprise me that Agatha Christie is still so widely read. Her plots are often complex, but characters and descriptions seem sadly lacking to me. I much prefer dramatisations of these.

Thanks, Jenny :) A new reader said how much she enjoyed mysteries, and quite a few members already read mysteries. Also, two of my friends, who are in a mysteries group, are considering joining AAB, so it seemed right to make a focal point :)


message 6: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) "Whodunnits" is a good term. A sort of sub-genre I suppose.

The Pledge by Friedrich Dürrenmatt is the one I was trying to remember! One of the darkest dramatisations I've ever heard.

Margaret Millar is an unfamiliar name but sounds worth a look to me. And in addition to your Allingham, Marsh, Crispin group I would suggest Nicholas Blake (pseudonym of the poet laureate C Day Lewis, especially The Beast Must Die and The Smiler With the Knife.

Some great names here, and great recommends too, thanks :)


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm a big fan of Scandi mysteries as well. I have started reading The Martin Beck series by Maj Sjowall which I think are a great place to start. I really want to try the Wallender books, my boyfriend loves the TV series

I have to admit I'm more of a thriller reader than cosy mysteries. I like a bit of horrible crime and I really liked the author Peter James who writes a series of thrillers set in and around Brighton where I lived for 6 years. I also like the Rebus books by Ian Rankin as an easy thriller series.

I've never read Agatha Christie...


message 8: by Amber (new)

Amber (amberterminatorofgoodreads) I love Chris Cavender's Pizza lovers mysteries. They are pretty good.


message 9: by Bionic Jean (last edited May 01, 2014 10:07AM) (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) I'll have a look for Maj Sjowall, thanks Heather :) Yes, I enjoyed the Peter James I tried (the first one!) - not for the claustrophobic though!! There's plenty to go at too, since he's still writing and adapting his novels, I hear.

Mystery-suspense I suppose is the term I'd use for some of the authors I enjoy, although a few decades ago even the mildest of them would be termed "thrillers".

I think the American authors such as those by Patricia Cornwell about the pathologist Kay Scarpetta, and the V. I. Warshawki series by Sarah Paretsky are engrossing but a bit too detailed and graphic for my taste.

Amber, which other American authors would you recommend for thrillers/mysteries?


message 10: by Amber (new)

Amber (amberterminatorofgoodreads) Canadian thriller author is Brian Robert Smith for Purifiedis a zombie medical thriller

Ty Patterson is a good author. Read his book The Warriorwhich is pretty good too.

Carol O Connell is good too and Kathy Reichs is good for her Virals YA book series.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I quite enjoy Patricia Cornwall. I'm not particularly bothered by books being graphic but I do tend to prefer the UK based authors to America because I can understand the procedure/law more.

Mark Billingham is another crime thriller/mystery right I have enjoyed reading. He's uk based


message 12: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) I love all these names popping up - some I know, some I don't :)

That's a good point about the procedure/law element. I think that's partly why I don't enjoy the Italian settings such as Donna Leon so much. Also the locations in the US have no resonance for me. Novelists such as Stephen Booth, who creates a great strong sense of place in Yorkshire, or John Penn's Cotswold books are great for making you feel you're right there.

I wonder if readers in other countries also prefer their own familiar settings too. Though I have to say, for all the criticism I have of The Millennium Trilogy, the sense of place was quite good. And the contrast between Sweden and the Caribbean (at the beginning of the second book) was quite pronounced!

Hmm. No, I think if I can tolerate Stieg Larsson, then the graphic element doesn't so much bother me as bore me! Patricia Cornwell's books are very long. If some of the detailed descriptions of corpses, and also the detailed description of what clothes Kay Scarpetta puts on each morning, could both be missed out, it might make for a shorter novel! It just goes on a bit...

P.S. Heather - I wouldn't bother with Dame Agatha if I were you. We've moved on a bit since then; they're OK if you've got the flu I suppose. Other readers are bound to disagree though. It's very subjective.


message 13: by B the BookAddict (last edited May 01, 2014 12:12PM) (new)

B the BookAddict (bthebookaddict) | 8315 comments I used to read Agatha Christie, PD James, Patricia Cornwell et al. But I also loved Lawrence Sanders, author of over 50 mystery novels. Most have recently re-released and readily available.


message 14: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) I can see that quite a lot of my internet time tomorrow is going to be browsing all these names! Don't be surprised if I go quiet for a bit!

(Did someone there just breathe a sigh of relief?) :D


message 15: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 12933 comments Mod
Great thread indeed!
I think I've started reading with mysteries: I've loved Agatha Christie since I was 10 or 12, following Nacy Drew, and from her Ellery Queen.
Now I have discovered the scandinavian school: Stieg Larsson - who died to early!- Mankell, Indridason at alii!
Of course I LOVE Wilkie Collin's The Woman in White and The Moonstone, but I don't like the other overfamous victorian investigator, Sherlock Holmes


message 16: by Catherine (new)

Catherine (catjackson) I don't know if she's been mentioned yet, but Louise Penny writes a wonderful series set in a small town in the province of Quebec. Inspector Gamache is the main character and there are lots of other wonderful characters. She is just coming out with a new one in the series. It is mainly a cozy series, but there are some interesting situations.


message 17: by Shirley (new)

Shirley | 4176 comments I've read quite a few of Agatha Christie's books in the past, but haven't read so many mysteries in recent years - and now I have lots of new to me authors to try!


message 18: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments The recent mysteries that I had read were by Jo Nesbø and Peter Robinson. I enjoyed much Jo Nesbo.

I read once a while crime fiction to relax and to gain few knowledge.

I loved Stieg Larson.


message 19: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) I forgot to mention the Inspector Morse novels by Colin Dexter. I'm reading these in order at the rate of one a month, for a mysteries group some of us are in. This month's turn The Way Through The Woods was a good one; it won the prestigious gold dagger award, an annual award given by the Crime Writers' Association. It was the 10th in a series of 13. (My review is here.)

I think this is the first time I've set out to read such a series in order, although like many others I will read the latest offering by a favourite author. It's made quite a difference! I was disappointed by the first two or three, and only later did I begin to see the developing subtlety and skill of the writer.

Does anyone else read a whole series? Or do you prefer "stand-alone" mysteries? Or reading from a series, but in an ad-hoc way?

I haven't tried Louise Penny yet, thanks Catherine.

Yes, nice to have some suggestions isn't it, Shirley? :)


message 20: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) And another to add to the Scandinavian contingent, thanks Dhanaraj! I wonder if this is becoming a genre all in itself...


message 21: by Charbel (new)

Charbel (charliecosmos) | 2652 comments I know it's been said already, but great thread Jean!
I like Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Stieg Larson, and others that I can't remember at the moment.
I will be reading Wilkie Collins, Jo Nesbo, and others that I can't remember, this year.
I also read modern mysteries, which often are mixed with horror, but I prefer the classics.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

I enjoy reading series in order but as they become longer and longer I'm more likely just to dip in an out of them


message 23: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Another vote for the Scandinavians, then, Charbel! :D

And you saying that, Heather, reminded me of something else. Has anyone noticed that individual books get longer and longer, as a series goes on? If you read a book at the beginning of a series it's often quite short, but if you read say, Caroline Graham or Elizabeth George (just to pick two at random)'s latest, it's be likely to be a chunkster! And the mystery element is often no more absorbing - it's just "filler" :(


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

It's like American sitcoms; too many episodes which lose their quality


message 25: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) And comedies too! The best series is often the second one - particularly in US comedies which are great but then the characters just get too manic... Course there are exceptions :)

I've noticed in British mystery series, which are based on books, such as "Inspector Morse" (Colin Dexter) or "Midsummer Murders" (Caroline Graham) or "Inspector Frost" (R.D. Wingfield), the main character is really "cosied down". If you read the novels he's frequently a foul-mouthed, selfish, thoroughly unlikeable person :D


message 26: by Susan (new)

Susan Barlow Just to add my two bob's worth, I love the Louise Penney Inspector Gamache series. It is unusual for a long mystery series in that the books are getting better and better.

Also love the Kate Atkinson Jackson Brodie series. They just don't come out fast enough for me.


message 27: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Is there a particular flavour to Australian mysteries, do you think Susan? Are there many?


message 28: by Susan (new)

Susan Barlow I don't know of many Australian mysteries to be honest. There are the Kerry Greenwood Phryne Fisher books which are set in early 20th C Ballarat (a country town in Victoria). These are cosies. There is a very good television series based on these books which I highly recommend if it is shown in the UK.


message 29: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Noted, thanks ;)


message 30: by Charbel (new)

Charbel (charliecosmos) | 2652 comments I just thought of a mystery series that I enjoy: The Robert Langdon books by Dan Brown.


message 31: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) How many are there? I've read The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol, but found they were getting a bit samey, although I did find the first one gripping. I was told that earlier ones were a bit pedestrian and not really very well written, but can't say for myself.


message 32: by Charbel (new)

Charbel (charliecosmos) | 2652 comments Jean wrote: "How many are there? I've read The Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol, but found they were getting a bit samey, although I did find the first one gripping. I was told that e..."

There are four books. They do have many similarities, but the new one Inferno is different than the first three.


message 33: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Hang on - I thought there were two before the two I mentioned...


message 34: by Charbel (new)

Charbel (charliecosmos) | 2652 comments No. The Da Vinci Code is the first, then comes Angels and Demons (prequel to the first), then comes the Lost Symbol, and finally Inferno.


message 35: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 12933 comments Mod
Catherine wrote: "I don't know if she's been mentioned yet, but Louise Penny writes a wonderful series set in a small town in the province of Quebec. Inspector Gamache is the main character and there..."

I have to look at it then


message 36: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Ah, a prequel, I see. So what is Digital Fortress, Charbel? Is that not in the Robert Langdon series perhaps?


message 37: by Gill (last edited May 05, 2014 02:23AM) (new)

Gill | 5720 comments Heather wrote: "I quite enjoy Patricia Cornwall. I'm not particularly bothered by books being graphic but I do tend to prefer the UK based authors to America because I can understand the procedure/law more.

Mark..."


Oh yes, I also like Mark Billingham a lot. Probably my favourite is Arnaldur Indriðason. I was recently introduced to Nevada Barr. I 've only read 1 book by her; there are many others in her series and I'm looking forward to working my way through them.

The classiest writer of them all, I think, is Raymond Chandler.


message 38: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments Susan wrote: "I don't know of many Australian mysteries to be honest. There are the Kerry Greenwood Phryne Fisher books which are set in early 20th C Ballarat (a country town in Victoria). These are cosies. Ther..."

I read one of these recently and was rather disappointed. I could imagine it might be better as a TV series, though.


message 39: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Gill - LOL the "classiest" writer being from the so-called "classless" society? To be honest, I've never cared much for Raymond Chandler's books, although I do like the films. Possibly because he's American, so I don't relate as well to the writing.

Three more names too for me to investigate :)

All the talk of American/English mysteries reminds me, where is Leslie? She seems to have disappeared. I would have thought this was right up her street! :D


message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

She said a while back that she was really busy with her course but I'm sure she will find this thread and join in soon


message 41: by Susan (new)

Susan Barlow Gill wrote: "Susan wrote: "I don't know of many Australian mysteries to be honest. There are the Kerry Greenwood Phryne Fisher books which are set in early 20th C Ballarat (a country town in Victoria). These ar..."

Yes Gill, I much prefer the television series. I only read two of the books and found them dull. Oddly the characters are far more enjoyable on the screen!


message 42: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) OK - thanks Heather! When I thought about it she hasn't seemed to have commented elsewhere either.


message 43: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 12933 comments Mod
Jean wrote: "Gill - LOL the "classiest" writer being from the so-called "classless" society? To be honest, I've never cared much for Raymond Chandler's books, although I do like the films. Possibl..."

Neither have I - even the films though!


message 44: by Diane S ☔ (new)

Diane S ☔ Series I enjoy, written by Anthony Eglin, Also Ann Cleeves and Ruth Galloway and of course I also love Louise Penny.


message 45: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Scribbling madly down - but the Ruth Galloway this links to seems to write picture books about fishes, sharks and octopuses... :D


message 46: by Diane S ☔ (new)

Diane S ☔ Sorry Ruth is the character, the author is Elly Griffiths, this is the right one.


message 47: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Oh that is really funny, Diane! :)

Thanks though.

I'm wondering if we should do some mystery readalongs. There are so many authors here I've never heard of, and Goodreads friends' recommendations are far more reliant than publishers' blurbs!


message 48: by Shirley (last edited May 05, 2014 09:48AM) (new)

Shirley | 4176 comments Jean wrote: "Oh that is really funny, Diane! :)

Thanks though.

I'm wondering if we should do some mystery readalongs. There are so many authors here I've never heard of, and Goodreads friends' recommendations..."


That's a good idea, Jean. One thing I am finding though in this thread is that there are so many types of mystery. Some are detective-based, and some are more what I would term "thrillers", and lots of others, including "Rebecca" by Daphne Du Maurier, which involve mystery within the story. What I find is that if you read too much of one particular author, they can become predictable, which I don't like.

I'd definitely be up for some readalongs, as I feel I have some catching up to do in this genre. Maybe we could try a different author/sub genre each time, and see how it goes?


message 49: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Shirley - Yes I too have been trying to mentally "categorise" them. Scandinavian mysteries seem to be one I hadn't thought of! John has called some "whodunnits". I think of some as mystery/suspense.

I suppose I had a "Golden Age" of mysteries in my mind, initially, from which a lot of what you term the sub-genres have spun off. But even earlier is the mystery element in classics, such as Wilkie Collins, and they probably do have their descendants in more contemporary novels such as Daphne du Maurier's.

Also tricky is using the terminology consistently. The novels which would be called "thrillers" 50 years ago or more, seem very tame now and would be called "mysteries". Contemporary thrillers are a very different kettle of fish, aren't they?

In principle it would be nice to have a few rough groups though, I agree, to alternate.

(Will somebody please tell me why I have started to add yet more reading to my theoretical list? I think we are all incorrigible! LOL)


message 50: by Shirley (new)

Shirley | 4176 comments Jean wrote: "Shirley - Yes I too have been trying to mentally "categorise" them. Scandinavian mysteries seem to be one I hadn't thought of! John has called some "whodunnits". I think of some as mystery/suspense..."

Ha ha, I know, I'm the same!!


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