Reading the Detectives discussion

52 views
General chat > Who are your favourite 'lost' authors?

Comments Showing 1-50 of 73 (73 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

message 1: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8318 comments Mod
This thread is inspired by a discussion in Moonlight Reader's 'Story of Classic Crime' individual challenge thread, where we have been talking about 'lost' authors.

Do you think any of the rediscovered authors who have come back into print in the last few years, thanks to British Library Crime Classics etc, are up there with Christie and Sayers?! Are there any where you are now keen to read everything they have written?


message 2: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8318 comments Mod
To answer my own question, my favourites out of the 'lost' authors I've tried so far are as follows.

Ianthe Jerrold, who sadly only wrote very few detective stories - her first couple reminded me a bit of Margery Allingham, with a jokey detective called John Christmas.

J.S. Fletcher - a lot of his books are available free online, and he has an enjoyable slightly roundabout, humorous writing style.

These are the couple who immediately spring to mind, but I'm sure there are more!


message 3: by Jill (new)

Jill (dogbotsmum) | 1810 comments J.S.Fletcher was the one that immediately sprung to my mind. Only having discovered him from this book club


message 4: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9305 comments Mod
There have been an embarrassment of riches lately and it is a great time to be a GA crime fan. I recall going to specialist crime bookshops years ago and they had nothing beyond Christie, Sayers, et al. Now it is wonderful to see so many authors being re-discovered. I do think there has been a reaction against a lot of modern crime being too violent (although I do enjoy both modern and GA crime fiction), with readers enjoying the puzzle of a mystery without all the gore.


message 5: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 2495 comments Mod
Two that I found, due to Goodreads, are Delano Ames and Edmund Crispin.

Ames' characters are a detecting couple, perhaps in the spirit of the Thin Man series (I've never read those and don't know which came first). A small press started republishing his books a few years ago but I haven't followed up to see how they are doing.


message 6: by Rosina (new)

Rosina (rosinarowantree) | 630 comments Susan wrote: "There have been an embarrassment of riches lately and it is a great time to be a GA crime fan. I recall going to specialist crime bookshops years ago and they had nothing beyond Christie, Sayers, e..."

I'm not sure if it's 'without the gore'. For me, I prefer the older type of detective fiction, disliking the recent trend of dwelling on the torture and sexual abuse of women.

I used to be fond of Ellery Queen, and Rex Stout. Not sure if they are forgotten.


message 7: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9305 comments Mod
Yes, sadly there is that too, Rosina. Certainly, I think that GA crime has a different reading experience to offer.


message 8: by Abigail (last edited Oct 07, 2017 09:43AM) (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 704 comments I wouldn't say Ellery Queen or Rex Stout was lost: there were TV series based on their books in the 1970s.

I wish Jocelyn Davey would come back into vogue. Have to confess I haven’t looked into the British Library Crime Classics series.


message 9: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9305 comments Mod
I haven't read those, Abigail. There are a few Jocelyn Davey second hand books on Amazon, but no descriptions of what they are about. I see the author had a series - Ambrose Asher. What a great name for a character. Plus, it is interesting to see that Jocelyn Davey was a pen name for Chaim Raphael, a scholar and a former Oxford don. So many Oxford dons seem to write crime novels as a side line!


message 10: by Carolien (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) | 435 comments Mine would be E. Phillips Oppenheim.


message 11: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 704 comments Yes, Susan, I confess I have a weakness for whodunits written by dons—Michael Innes being my favorite. Davey is pretty uneven, but if you want to sample his work, go for A Treasury Alarm.


message 12: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8318 comments Mod
Carolien wrote: "Mine would be E. Phillips Oppenheim."

I've only read one book by Oppenheim so far, Prodigals of Monte Carlo. I enjoyed it - not really a mystery, but a sort of romantic adventure. Which titles by him would you recommend, Carolien?


message 13: by Carolien (last edited Oct 07, 2017 10:53PM) (new)

Carolien (carolien_s) | 435 comments Judy, try The Cinema Murder which is more of a mystery than the espionage/thrillers which he also wrote.

The other author which may also qualify for this is Anna Katharine Green, an American author who wrote murder mysteries from 1880 onwards.


message 14: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (bookwormhannah) | 40 comments I second E. Phillips Oppenheim and Anna Katharine Green. Louis Tracy is another big favorite of mine.


message 15: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8318 comments Mod
Thanks for suggesting The Cinema Murder, Carolien - the Goodreads description of the plot has me intrigued!


message 16: by Shera (new)

Shera (goodreadscomShera) | 12 comments I return to Catherine Aird when I need to lighten my spirits a little. (The Stately Home Murder) is a good place to start, I also find John Dickson Carr and Michael Innes are forgotten by many people/


message 17: by Sandy (last edited Oct 08, 2017 08:24AM) (new)

Sandy | 2495 comments Mod
Shera wrote: "I return to Catherine Aird when I need to lighten my spirits a little. (The Stately Home Murder) is a good place to start, I also find John Dickson Carr and Michael Innes are forgotten by many people/"

I enjoyed Catherine Aird when I read her a couple of years ago. I need to get back to some of the authors that I've only sampled. I've been introduced to so many so quickly through this group that I have a hard time keeping them straight!


message 18: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9305 comments Mod
We read Michael Innes as both a group read, and a buddy read, Shera.


message 19: by Gary (last edited Oct 08, 2017 01:35PM) (new)

Gary Sundell | 258 comments John Creasey, who wrote nearly 600 books, not all mysteries, under several pen names. Gideon of Scotland Yard anyone?
Elizabeth Linnington, aka Dell Shannon, the Queen of the Police Procedural.
Sadly, I think Ed McBain, The King of the Police Procedural, is becoming a lost author as is Erle Stanley Gardner. Try finding the Lam and Cool series. The American Bar Association has rescued the Perry Mason series, once a staple of book store mystery shelves. One of the few things I agree with the ABA about. Too bad they have over-priced them.


message 20: by Shera (new)

Shera (goodreadscomShera) | 12 comments Susan wrote: "We read Michael Innes as both a group read, and a buddy read, Shera."


I know, remember. I was thinking about mystery readers in general, not just our group


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 591 comments I believe Georgette Heyer would be a "lost" writer as far as mysteries go,if it wasn't for the phenomenal success of her Georgian & Regency Romances.

At the time, they sold far less well than her romances - which is why she stopped writing them.(the detective stories)


message 22: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 592 comments Judy wrote: "Carolien wrote: "Mine would be E. Phillips Oppenheim."

I've only read one book by Oppenheim so far, Prodigals of Monte Carlo. I enjoyed it - not really a mystery, but..."


I recommend his The Great Impersonation, though it is more of a espionage story than a mystery.


message 23: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 592 comments Jill wrote: "J.S.Fletcher was the one that immediately sprung to my mind. Only having discovered him from this book club"

Fletcher and R. Austin Freeman were the authors that sprang to my mind but Anna Katherine Green is another that I discovered through public domain ebooks.


message 24: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9305 comments Mod
I have downloaded quite a few that I haven't got to yet - Annie Haynes, etc. If I ever get time to read outside of reading group or review books, I may find out what they are like!


message 25: by Rory (last edited Oct 09, 2017 12:48AM) (new)

Rory (thefauxpoe) | 7 comments I love the British Library Crime Classics, they have some great books and authors. I've read Mystery in White & The Notting Hill Mystery - billed as the first detective novel.

Other general authors that I have been meaning to read and consider "lost" include Vera Caspary, Margaret Millar and Dorothy B. Hughes. A few of their books have been printed by The Feminist Press and also the Library of America.

I also agree with most of the suggestions above.


message 26: by Annabel (new)

Annabel Frazer | 301 comments This is a really great question! I've read a few 'lost' GA authors lately and in many cases, been disappointed. Anthony Berkeley's Poisoned Chocolates Case and AA Milne's Red House Mystery, both classics at the time, left me absolutely cold - they seemed all puzzle and no character or setting. I feel that Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers rightfully deserve their position of far greater fame as I find most of their novels thoroughly entertaining as rereads, even though I know all the solutions.

However, I have found two authors I like - John Dickson Carr and Erle Stanley Gardner. (Do I need to stick to authors with a middle name??) I have read a couple of each and enjoyed them (the lack of violence and non-aggression of the male detective in ESG and the Gothic feel and locked room puzzles of JDC). I intend to read more of both but they're hard to find as old paperbacks.

My own 'lost' author in the sense of one I've championed all along is Patricia Wentworth. Her novels are much less intellectually rigorous than many of the other writers I've mentioned, but I find them very enjoyable to (re)read, admittedly in the slightly guilty way that lots of people enjoy Georgette Heyer. Like most other GA authors, Wentworth has been mostly out of print for years although she's easier to find in old paperbacks, perhaps because she was British. I think her stories would make a great retro TV series, and unlike with Agatha Christie, I wouldn't object if they changed some of the plots, as some of them could definitely do with improvement.


message 27: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1271 comments I don't consider Erle Stanley Gardner as lost. And I found John Dickson Carr a number of years ago. I have a number of Gardner's books on my kindle. I have been reading him off and on for 20-30 years, more off than on. But Kindle has enabled me to obtain many of his books, along with Carr's and Ellery Queen's.

My "lost" author is Arthur B. Reeve, writer of the Craig Kennedy books - the scientific detective. He has a sidekick who writes for a New York newspaper. I am currently reading The Silent Bullet and previously read The Film Mystery - involving murder on a movie set.

I have also been reading the Dr. Thorndyke books by R. Austin Freeman. I came across him by accident and recalled how Sayers kept referring to Dr. Thorndyke in her books.


message 28: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8318 comments Mod
A lot of names to explore here! It seems from the comments in this thread so far as if there are degrees of "lostness".

There are some writers who had been more or less completely forgotten until they were recently rediscovered, but there are also others who were still known names but had largely gone out of print, so fans had to scour secondhand bookshops to find their books.

Now it is much easier to find books by so many writers, but, with such an embarrassment of riches, the problem is deciding who to try next!


message 29: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8318 comments Mod
Gary wrote: "John Creasey, who wrote nearly 600 books, not all mysteries, under several pen names. Gideon of Scotland Yard anyone?.."

I haven't read anything by John Creasey, but I have seen a good old 1958 police procedural film about Gideon of Scotland Yard (Gideon's Day) directed by John Ford and starring Jack Hawkins. I hadn't realised this was adapted from a book.


message 30: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8318 comments Mod
I suspect Erle Stanley Gardner wasn't lost in the US but possibly fell into that category more in the UK, where the Perry Mason mysteries weren't so well known - although I get the impression they are better known now. I keep meaning to try his books.


message 31: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1271 comments Judy wrote: "I suspect Erle Stanley Gardner wasn't lost in the US but possibly fell into that category more in the UK, where the Perry Mason mysteries weren't so well known - although I get the impression they ..."

I think he may have bee kept popular here because of the two TV series which are still available on various TV channels.


message 32: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9305 comments Mod
I was listening to an old Guardian Books Podcast yesterday and it featured Ann Cleeves. She was talking about crime novels, obviously, and wondered aloud who could have predicted that the British Library Crime Classics 'many not very good and out of print for years,' could have become best sellers. I was interested in this as there has been much talk like this on crime book podcasts I have listened to, as though modern crime writers are somewhat astonished at this success. I also wondered who benefits from the sales? Presumably the relatives of the authors get something (I hope), while the publishers have all the joys of a successful sale and no author to deal with?


message 33: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8318 comments Mod
I should think it would usually be the family if they can be traced, Susan. Some of the older titles are public domain, if the author died more than 70 years ago in the UK, so some of these books are very cheap with no copyright to pay and I can see it might be frustrating to current authors... but this is no reflection on the books’ quality!


message 34: by Gary (new)

Gary Sundell | 258 comments Jan C wrote: "Judy wrote: "I suspect Erle Stanley Gardner wasn't lost in the US but possibly fell into that category more in the UK, where the Perry Mason mysteries weren't so well known - although I get the imp..."

The books are pretty much out of print, especially the ones he wrote as A.A. Fair. I think about 4 or 5 out of the over 20 books are in print. If it weren't for the recent efforts of Otto Penzler's Mysterious Press the Ellery Queen books would be OOP in the US.


message 35: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Brantly | 16 comments Monica Dickens is on my list, and Rumer Godden...


message 36: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9305 comments Mod
I loved Rumer Godden's books as a child, Lisa. I must read her books for adults.


message 37: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8318 comments Mod
I also used to love Rumer Godden, Lisa and Susan - she was once going to come and give a talk to a book group I used to belong to but sadly was ill and couldn't make it. I would have loved to have met her.

We're getting away from detective stories now, but there are also many other wonderful authors who have been lost and then found again in recent years, as a result of publishers like Persephone. Noel Streatfeild is another I loved as a child who has adult books which have come back into print now.


message 38: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 704 comments Those of you mentioning “lost” authors you love who are not necessarily writers of crime fiction: there is a lovely group on Goodreads called Retro Reads where some of these authors are being read and discussed. Maybe drop by!


message 39: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (bookwormhannah) | 40 comments I'll have to check out the Retro Reads group, Abigail! I started an old-books group about a year and a half ago that's for older authors...Vintage Gems. It's been a lot of fun. :) It's for good books up to the 1950s that are wholesome, clean stories.


message 40: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 704 comments Vintage Gems sounds like a lot of fun, Hannah! Do you read novels by Emilie Loring by any chance?


message 41: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (bookwormhannah) | 40 comments Nobody has added Emilie Loring. Thus far we have done monthly group challenges rather than specific group reads, so last month was mysteries and this month is covers in fall colors.


message 42: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8318 comments Mod
It seems as if there is a big interest in lost and rediscovered authors in general, as well as the detective ones - I'm currently reading an Elizabeth Goudge book with Retro Reads (The White Witch) but am not sure if she was ever out of print?

She is another author I remember from childhood, when I used to love The Little White Horse - it seems that many of my old favourite children's authors also wrote for adults and quite a few have come back into print in recent years thanks to small publishers and Kindle etc.


message 43: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9305 comments Mod
Kindle has given a great lease of life to old authors. I wish someone would re-print Malcolm Saville's books.


message 44: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8318 comments Mod
Maybe DSP or a similar press could resurrect some favourite children’s books from the past- if it hasn’t already happened, I’m not sure as my kids are grownup!


Jay-me (Janet)  | 164 comments Susan wrote: "Kindle has given a great lease of life to old authors. I wish someone would re-print Malcolm Saville's books."

I read those - thanks to my brother who was a fan, and, to the best of my knowledge, still has the paperback books. He wrote to the author and received a reply - whether he still has that letter I don't know.

My friend and I discovered that we had both read the Chalet School series and between us have an almost complete collection - the only missing ones seem to be ones that are out of print. Unfortunately some of the ones we have are abridged editions


Going back to the mysteries, someone mentioned John Creasey. I borrowed some from my friend and enjoyed them, but have never found any more to read


message 46: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8318 comments Mod
Jay-me (Janet) wrote: "My friend and I discovered that we had both read the Chalet School series and between us have an almost complete collection ..."

I loved the Chalet School as a child and the books really inspired my imagination, with all the Swiss and Austrian landscapes... encouraging me to learn German (and French but I didn't get on quite so well with that!)

I recently read an article about author Elinor M Brent-Dyer, who actually ran a school herself - I wonder if the books would still appeal to me as an adult?


message 47: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 8318 comments Mod
I haven't read any books by John Creasey as yet, Jay-me, but a number of his books are now on Kindle in the UK.

There is a John Creasey newsletter and people signing up receive a free book from his Department Z series (I'm not sure which title)... the address to sign up is http://www.johncreaseybooks.com/

I also noticed that one of his Department Z books, The Death Miser, is currently 99p on Kindle in the UK (don't know if this is the same one being given away with the newsletter) and quite a few of his books are on Kindle Unlimited.


message 48: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1271 comments I read Creasey's Toff series - when I can find them, usually at used book sales. I do have a Department Z book on Kindle but haven't read it yet.


message 49: by Gary (new)

Gary Sundell | 258 comments I guess I got spoiled by hitting my reading years in the late 60s, I was born in 1954...I read Treasure Island at age 9 or 10. So when I went to a book store in the 1970s I was dazzled by shelves full of Christie, Sayers, Gardner, Creasey, Stout, Queen, McBain, Shannon, not to mention Maxwell Grant and Kenneth Robson (The Shadow and Doc Savage). Books were 50, 60, 75 and outrageously 95 cents back then.


message 50: by Susan (new)

Susan | 9305 comments Mod
Jay-me, I think Malcolm Saville wrote to all his young readers. He even sent me a book once, that was out of print. I would love to have his books on kindle. You never know, they may appear eventually.


« previous 1
back to top