24 Feb 2008

50 Mystery Writers (plus 3 More)

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The Telegraph offers a list of 50 detective story authors with a recommended title from each.

Missing from the list? I’d suggest including:

Nicholas Freeling was an Englishman and resident of the Continent, who brought keen intelligence and a serious and humane philosophical perspective to the detective genre. His best work was probably the series of novels revolving around criminal investigations conducted by Dutch Inspector Van der Valk. Most readers felt that Van der Valk’s death in the line of duty —Aupres de ma blonde aka A Long Silence (1972)– was a mistake, and Freeling’s replacement, French detective Henri Castaing, made for less compelling reading.

Read: Love in Amersterdam aka Death in Amsterdam (1962)

Robert van Gulik was a Dutch diplomat and orientalist, who translated an 18th century Chinese detective story about the adventures of a Tang Dynasty Imperial official. Inspired by the original, Gulik proceeded to produce his own series of further adventures of Judge Dee, running to 16 volumes of individual novels and short stories or thereabouts. The Judge Dee mysteries offer a fascinating picture of a distant time and place, viewed specifically from a Confucian perspective.

Read: The Chinese Bell Murders (1958)

And how could they possibly have missed?

John D. McDonald, a Harvard MBA, tried his hand at fiction while serving in WWII, and after his discharge settled down to produce a well-crafted series of hardboiled crime thrillers in the manner of James M. Cain. 1950s paperback racks were filled with McDonald’s pulpy novels, each with its cover featuring a buxom broad in provocative déshabillé. In the early 1960s, McDonald the professional sat down and carefully designed the ultimate series hero, one of the detective genre’s all-time great protagonists, Florida “salvage consultant,” thinking man’s action hero, and rueful philosopher Travis McGee.

Read: The Deep Blue Goodbye (1964)


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