Books to die for, p.1
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       Books to Die For, p.1
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           John Connolly
Books to Die For


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  CONTENTS

  INTRODUCTION

  1841: Edgar Allan Poe, The Dupin Tales

  J. WALLIS MARTIN

  1853: Charles Dickens, Bleak House

  SARA PARETSKY

  1859: Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

  RITA MAE BROWN

  1867: Metta Fuller Victor, The Dead Letter

  KARIN SLAUGHTER

  1868: Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone

  ANDREW TAYLOR

  1892: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

  LINDA BARNES

  1902: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles

  CAROL O’CONNELL

  1928: Liam O’Flaherty, The Assassin

  DECLAN BURKE

  1929: Erskine Caldwell, The Bastard

  ALLAN GUTHRIE

  1930: Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon

  MARK BILLINGHAM

  1931: Dashiell Hammett, The Glass Key

  DAVID PEACE

  1932: Dorothy L. Sayers, Have His Carcase

  REBECCA CHANCE

  1932: Leslie Charteris, The Holy Terror (aka The Saint v. Scotland Yard)

  DAVID DOWNING

  1933: Paul Cain, Fast One

  CHUCK HOGAN

  1934: James M. Cain, The Postman Always Rings Twice

  JOSEPH FINDER

  1934: Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express (aka Murder on the Calais Coach)

  KELLI STANLEY

  1938: Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

  MINETTE WALTERS

  1938: Graham Greene, Brighton Rock

  PETER JAMES

  1938: Rex Stout, Too Many Cooks

  ARLENE HUNT

  1939: Geoffrey Household, Rogue Male

  CHARLAINE HARRIS

  1940: Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely

  JOE R. LANSDALE

  1941: Patrick Hamilton, Hangover Square

  LAURA WILSON

  1942: James M. Cain, Love’s Lovely Counterfeit

  LAURA LIPPMAN

  1943: Léo Malet, 120, Rue de la Gare

  CARA BLACK

  1946: Edmund Crispin, The Moving Toyshop

  RUTH DUDLEY EDWARDS

  1947: Dorothy B. Hughes, In a Lonely Place

  MEGAN ABBOTT

  1947: Georges Simenon, Act of Passion (Lettre à mon juge)

  JOHN BANVILLE

  1947: Mickey Spillane, I, the Jury

  MAX ALLAN COLLINS

  1948: Carolyn Keene, The Ghost of Blackwood Hall

  LIZA MARKLUND

  1948: Josephine Tey, The Franchise Affair

  LOUISE PENNY

  1949: Raymond Chandler, The Little Sister

  MICHAEL CONNELLY

  1949: Josephine Tey, Brat Farrar

  MARGARET MARON

  1950: Patricia Highsmith, Strangers on a Train

  ADRIAN MCKINTY

  1952: Margery Allingham, The Tiger in the Smoke

  PHIL RICKMAN

  1953: Elliott Chaze, Black Wings Has My Angel (aka One for the Money)

  BILL PRONZINI

  1953: William P. McGivern, The Big Heat

  EDDIE MULLER

  1958: John D. MacDonald, The Executioners (aka Cape Fear)

  JEFFERY DEAVER

  1958: Friedrich Dürrenmatt, The Pledge

  ELISABETTA BUCCIARELLI

  1960: Clarence Cooper Jr., The Scene

  GARY PHILLIPS

  1960: Margaret Millar, A Stranger in My Grave

  DECLAN HUGHES

  1960: Harry Whittington, A Night for Screaming

  BILL CRIDER

  1960: Charles Willeford, The Woman Chaser

  SCOTT PHILLIPS

  1962: Eric Ambler, The Light of Day (aka Topkapi)

  M. C. BEATON

  1962: P. D. James, Cover Her Face

  DEBORAH CROMBIE

  1962: Kenneth Orvis, The Damned and the Destroyed

  LEE CHILD

  1962: Richard Stark, The Hunter (aka Point Blank and Payback)

  F. PAUL WILSON

  1963: Nicolas Freeling, Gun Before Butter (aka Question of Loyalty)

  JASON GOODWIN

  1963: John le Carré, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

  ÉLMER MENDOZA

  1963: Ed McBain, Ten Plus One

  DEON MEYER

  1964: Ross Macdonald, The Chill

  JOHN CONNOLLY

  1964: Jim Thompson, Pop. 1280

  JO NESBØ

  1965: Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, Roseanna

  QIU XIAOLONG

  1966: Truman Capote, In Cold Blood

  JOSEPH WAMBAUGH

  1967: Agatha Christie, Endless Night

  LAUREN HENDERSON

  1968: Peter Dickinson, Skin Deep (aka The Glass-Sided Ants’ Nest)

  LAURIE R. KING

  1969: Ross Macdonald, The Goodbye Look

  LINWOOD BARCLAY

  1970: Joseph Hansen, Fadeout

  MARCIA MULLER

  1970: George V. Higgins, The Friends of Eddie Coyle

  ELMORE LEONARD

  1971: James McClure, The Steam Pig

  MIKE NICOL

  1973: Tony Hillerman, Dance Hall of the Dead

  WILLIAM KENT KRUEGER

  1974: Donald Goines, Daddy Cool

  KEN BRUEN

  1975: James Crumley, The Wrong Case

  DAVID CORBETT

  1975: Colin Dexter, Last Bus to Woodstock

  PAUL CHARLES

  1976: Jean-Patrick Manchette, 3 to Kill (Le petit bleu de la côte ouest)

  JAMES SALLIS

  1976: Mary Stewart, Touch Not the Cat

  M. J. ROSE

  1976: Newton Thornburg, Cutter and Bone

  GEORGE PELECANOS

  1976: Trevanian, The Main

  JOHN MCFETRIDGE

  1977: Edward Bunker, The Animal Factory

  JENS LAPIDUS

  1977: John Gregory Dunne, True Confessions

  S. J. ROZAN

  1977: Ruth Rendell, A Judgement in Stone

  PETER ROBINSON

  1978: James Crumley, The Last Good Kiss

  DENNIS LEHANE

  1979: Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, Southern Seas (Los mares del sur)

  LEONARDO PADURA

  1980: Andreu Martín, Prótesis (Prosthesis)

  CRISTINA FALLARÁS

  1981: Robert B. Parker, Early Autumn

  COLIN BATEMAN

  1981: Martin Cruz Smith, Gorky Park

  JEAN-CHRISTOPHE GRANGÉ

  1982: Sue Grafton, A Is for Alibi

  MEG GARDINER

  1982: Stephen King, Different Seasons

  PAUL CLEAVE

  1982: Sara Paretsky, Indemnity Only

  DREDA SAY MITCHELL

  1983: Elmore Leonard, LaBrava

  JAMES W. HALL

  1984: Kem Nunn, Tapping the Source

  DENISE HAMILTON

  1987: Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

  CHRISTOPHER BROOKMYRE

  1988: Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs

  KATHY REICHS

  1988: Sara Paretsky, Toxic Shock (aka Blood Shot)

  N. J. COOPER

  1990: A. S. Byatt, Possession

  ERIN HART

  1990: Patricia Cornwell, Postmortem

  KATHRYN FOX

  1990: Derek Raymond, I Was Dora Suarez

/>   IAN RANKIN

  1991: Lawrence Block, A Dance at the Slaughterhouse

  ALISON GAYLIN

  1992: Michael Connelly, The Black Echo

  JOHN CONNOLLY

  1992: Peter Høeg, Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow (aka Smilla’s Sense of Snow)

  MICHAEL ROBOTHAM

  1992: Philip Kerr, A Philosophical Investigation

  PAUL JOHNSTON

  1992: Margaret Maron, Bootlegger’s Daughter

  JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING

  1992: Richard Price, Clockers

  GAR ANTHONY HAYWOOD

  1992: James Sallis, The Long-Legged Fly

  SARA GRAN

  1992: Donna Tartt, The Secret History

  TANA FRENCH

  1993: Jill McGown, Murder . . . Now and Then

  SOPHIE HANNAH

  1993: Scott Smith, A Simple Plan

  MICHAEL KORYTA

  1994: Peter Ackroyd, Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem (aka The Trial of Elizabeth Cree)

  BARBARA NADEL

  1994: Caleb Carr, The Alienist

  REGGIE NADELSON

  1994: Henning Mankell, The Man Who Smiled

  ANN CLEEVES

  1995: James Ellroy, American Tabloid

  STUART NEVILLE

  1996: George Pelecanos, The Big Blowdown

  DECLAN BURKE

  1997: Suzanne Berne, A Crime in the Neighborhood

  THOMAS H. COOK

  1997: Natsuo Kirino, Out (Auto)

  DIANE WEI LIANG

  1997: Walter Mosley, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned

  MARTYN WAITES

  1997: Ian Rankin, Black and Blue

  BRIAN MCGILLOWAY

  1997: Donald E. Westlake, The Ax

  LISA LUTZ

  1998: Cara Black, Murder in the Marais

  YRSA SIGURDARDÓTTIR

  1998: Reginald Hill, On Beulah Height

  VAL MCDERMID

  1998: Daniel Woodrell, Tomato Red

  REED FARREL COLEMAN

  1999: J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace

  MARGIE ORFORD

  1999: Robert Wilson, A Small Death in Lisbon

  SHANE MALONEY

  2000: David Peace, Nineteen Seventy-Four

  EOIN MCNAMEE

  2000: Scott Phillips, The Ice Harvest

  EOIN COLFER

  2001: Harlan Coben, Tell No One

  SEBASTIAN FITZEK

  2001: Dennis Lehane, Mystic River

  CHRIS MOONEY

  2005: Peter Temple, The Broken Shore

  JOHN HARVEY

  2007: Gil Adamson, The Outlander

  C. J. CARVER

  2007: James Lee Burke, The Tin Roof Blowdown

  KATHERINE HOWELL

  2007: Laura Lippman, What the Dead Know

  BILL LOEHFELM

  2007: Perihan Mağden, Escape

  MEHMET MURAT SOMER

  2008: Mark Gimenez, The Perk

  ANNE PERRY

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  ABOUT JOHN CONOLLY and DECLAN BURKE

  CREDITS

  INDEX OF CONTRIBUTING AND SUBJECT AUTHORS

  INTRODUCTION

  Why does the mystery novel enjoy such enduring appeal? There is no simple answer. It has a distinctive capacity for subtle social commentary, a concern with the disparity between law and justice, and a passion for order, however compromised. Even in the vision of the darkest of mystery writers, it provides us with a glimpse of the world as it might be, a world in which good men and women do not stand idly by and allow the worst aspects of human nature to triumph without opposition. It can touch upon all these facets while still entertaining the reader—and its provision of entertainment is not the least of its many qualities.

  But the mystery novel has always prized character over plot, which may come as some surprise to its detractors. True, this is not a universal tenet: there are degrees to which mysteries occupy themselves with the identity of the criminal, as opposed to, say, the complexities of human motivation. Some, such as the classic puzzle mystery, tend toward the former; others are more concerned with the latter. But the mystery form understands that plot comes out of character, and not just that: it believes that the great mystery is character.

  If we take the view that fiction is an attempt to find the universal in the specific, to take individual human experiences and try to come to some understanding of our common nature through them, then the question at the heart of all novels can be expressed quite simply as: Why? Why do we do the things that we do? It is asked in Bleak House just as it is asked in The Maltese Falcon. It haunts The Pledge as it does The Chill. But the mystery novel, perhaps more than any other, not only asks this question; it attempts to suggest an answer to it as well.

  But where to start? There are so many books from which to choose, even for the knowledgeable reader who has already taken to swimming in mystery’s dark waters, and huge numbers of new titles appear on our bookshelves each week. It is hard enough to keep up with authors who are alive, but those who are deceased are at risk of being forgotten entirely. There are many treasures to be found, and their burial should not be permitted, even if there are some among these authors who might have been surprised to find themselves remembered at all, for they were not writing for the ages.

  And so, quite simply, we decided to give mystery writers from around the world the opportunity to enthuse about their favorite novel, and in doing so we hoped to come up with a selection of books that was, if not definitive (which would be a foolish and impossible aim), then heartfelt, and flawless in its inclusions if not its omissions. After all, the creation of any anthology such as this is inevitably accompanied by howls of anguish from those whose first instinct is always to seek out what is absent rather than applaud what is present. (We could probably have given the book the alternative title But What About . . . ?)

  With that in mind, let’s tackle just one such elephant in this particular room. It’s Raymond Chandler, as is so often the case when mystery fiction is under discussion. The Big Sleep is the Chandler novel frequently cited as the greatest mystery ever written, often by those who haven’t read very much at all in the genre. In fact, so ingrained has this idea become that The Big Sleep is a novel beloved even of people who have never read it, or who have seen only the 1946 movie based upon it. Fond though we are of The Big Sleep—for there is much in it of which to be fond, and much to admire—there’s a strong case to be made that not only is it not the greatest mystery ever written, it’s not even the greatest mystery Chandler ever wrote.

  The Big Sleep is not the subject of an essay in this volume, but if not The Big Sleep, then what? Well, two of Chandler’s novels are discussed here. The appearance of one, Farewell, My Lovely, could probably have been anticipated, but the second, The Little Sister, is slightly more unexpected. When we were discussing this project with Joe R. Lansdale, who writes here on Farewell, My Lovely, we all agreed, with the misplaced confidence of those who are convinced that they can get the army to Moscow before winter sets in, that Michael Connelly would pick The Long Goodbye, as his affection for it was widely known (although that affection, as you’ll see when you read his essay, is tied up with Robert Altman’s 1973 film adaptation of the novel). While The Long Goodbye does get a glowing mention in Connelly’s essay, he chose instead to focus on The Little Sister, because that book is more personal to him.

  Which brings us to the main thinking behind this anthology. This is not a pollster’s assembly of novels, compiled with calculators and spreadsheets. Neither is it a potentially exhausting litany of titles that winds back to the dawn of fiction, chiding the reader for his or her presumed ignorance in the manner of a compulsory reading list handed out in a bad school at the start of summer to cast a pall over its students’ vacation time. What we sought from each of the contributors to this volume was passionate advocacy: we wanted them to pick one novel, just one, that they would place in the canon. If you found our contributors in a bar some evening, and the talk turned (as it almost i
nevitably would) to favorite novels, it would be the single book that each writer would press upon you, the book that, if there was time and the stores were still open, they would leave the bar in order to purchase for you, so they could be confident they had done all in their power to make you read it.

  If nothing else, that should explain the omission of any title that, even now, might prove to be a source of aggravation to you, the reader—and, in the great scheme of things, we’d hazard there are fewer than might be expected, and certainly few neglected writers, although, inevitably, there are those, too, or else this book would be too heavy to lift. There is greatness in all of the novels under discussion in this volume, but, equally, there is huge affection and respect for them on the part of their advocates.

  This brings us to the second purpose of this book. Because of the personal nature of the attachment that the contributors have to their chosen books, you will, in many cases, learn something about the contributor as well as the subject, and not a little about the art and craft of writing along the way. Thus, we have Joseph Wambaugh, as a young cop-turned-writer, finding himself in the extraordinary position of discussing a work in progress with Truman Capote; Linwood Barclay, then only an aspiring novelist, sharing a meal with Ross Macdonald, a meal that arises out of one of the simplest and yet most intimate of reader-writer connections, the fan letter; and Ian Rankin encountering the extraordinary figure of Derek Raymond in a London bookstore. More important, as all writers are the products of those who went before them, those whom we love the most tend to influence us the most, whether stylistically, philosophically, or morally (for, as someone once noted, all mystery writers are secret moralists). If a writer whose work you love is featured in this book as the subject of an essay, then there’s a very good chance that you’ll also enjoy the work of the essayist, too. Similarly, if one of your favorite writers has chosen to write, in turn, on a beloved writer of his or her own, then you’re probably going to learn a great deal about how that contributor’s writing came to be formed, as well as being introduced to the novelist at least partly responsible for that act of formation.

  While this volume is obviously ideal for dipping into when you have a quiet moment, enabling you to read an essay or two before moving on, there is also a pleasure to be had from the slow accumulation of its details. Reading through the book chronologically, as we have done during the editing process, patterns begin to emerge, some anticipated, some less so. There is, of course, the importance of the great Californian crime writers—Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, and James M. Cain—to the generations of writers who have followed them and, indeed, to one another: so Macdonald’s detective, Lew Archer, takes his name in part from Sam Spade’s murdered partner in The Maltese Falcon, while Chandler builds on Hammett, and then Macdonald builds on Chandler but also finds himself being disparaged by the older author behind his back, adding a further layer of complication to their relationship. But the writer who had the greatest number of advocates was not any of these men: it was the Scottish author Josephine Tey, who is a figure of huge significance to a high number of the female contributors to this book.

 
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