Monday, June 10, 2013

Murder Most Classic

Charlie Harris from the New York Times-bestselling "Cat in the Stacks" series by Miranda James

I enjoy my volunteer shifts at Athena Public Library. I spent my career as a public librarian, and it had tremendous rewards. But I have to say not dealing with the public forty hours a week, or with the
powers that be that decide library budgets, is quite a refreshing change. I get to do things I like to do when I'm volunteering, and that's fun.

Recently one of the book clubs (women in their thirties and forties, mostly) that meets at the library periodically asked me to join them to talk about mysteries. They know I'm a huge fan of the genre, and they wanted me to talk about some of my favorites, especially older mysteries they might not have heard of. So I put together a list of classics I thought they should know about. In case you're curious, here's my list of titles published before 1950.

#1. The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham -- hands-down my favorite mystery novel of all time, and Allingham is probably my favorite mystery writer as well. (I'm cheating a little with this one, since it was published in 1952.)

The rest are in no particular order:

The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers
Death of a Peer by Ngaio Marsh
Murders in Volume 2 by Elizabeth Daly
Some Buried Caesar by Rex Stout
Fear and Miss Betony by Dorothy Bowers
The Rising of the Moon by Gladys Mitchell
Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie (and yes I know it was published after 1950 but it was written during World War II)
More Work for the Undertaker by Margery Allingham
Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
The Beast Must Die by Nicholas Blake
The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin
Relative to Poison by E.C.R. Lorac
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley
The House Without a Key by Earl Derr Biggers

I could have listed many more, because I love the mysteries from this time period. The ladies in the book club were a bit overwhelmed, I think, but they were jotting down names and titles the moment I mentioned them. I wonder if any of them will discover they enjoy these classics as much as they enjoy contemporary mysteries?


  1. Thanks for that list! I have heard of most of those authors, but then I used to work in a book store. Thanks for reminding me about them!

  2. How about John Dickson Carr (AKA Carter Dickson), master of the locked room mysteries? I loved his detectives Dr. Gideon Fell and Henri Bencoulin.

  3. In all reverence I say Heaven bless the Whodunit, the soothing balm on the wound, the cooling hand on the brow, the opiate of the people. (And don't forget Ellery Queen.)

  4. Mary Roberts Rinehart was recently a "featured author" for the Cozy Mysteries group at Goodreads. She actually started writing/publishing before Christie and Sayers, and people in the group all seemed to enjoy the selections they read, ncluding: The Bat, The Circular Staircase, The Man in Lower Ten, and The Window at the White Cat.

  5. Fabulous thank you!! I have read some of these and adding the others to my reading list.

  6. I love the older books, they keep you in the dark alot more then the new ones do.

    i also like the news ones to.