Snow Daze: A Reading List

Another stretch of little posting — and this time I can blame it on the weather. Classes were cancelled time and again over the past week; more snow led to endless digging; Tara and I tried to ward off cabin fever — and while this might have provided more time to sit down and catch up on blogging, I have to admit that curling up with a nice laptop just didn’t provide the same sense of warmth as curling up with a good book.

I did get some writing done — forging ahead on that new project, making good on the new year’s resolution — but also spent some time in the world of classic mysteries, finishing up Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White (stupendous!), delving again into The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Irene Adler isn’t quite the same person in “A Scandal in Bohemia” as she is in the movie, of course), and pushing through the rest of Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks (a review supposedly due soon at AARP).

I also recently found a couple of old checklists on the best crime novels of all time, one compiled two decades ago by the Crime Writers’ Association (British) and a second by the Mystery Writers of America from the mid-1990s. Scanning over the U.S. list, I was embarrassed to see that I’d only read a little over a third of the titles there! Finishing The Woman in White helped edge me up another notch, but the good news is that there’s plenty of treasures out there still to discover. The MWA list — with 101 titles because of a tie — is below in case you want to check it out for yourself.

1. Arthur Conan Doyle: The Complete Sherlock Holmes (1887-1927)

2. Dashiell Hammett: The Maltese Falcon (1930)

3. Edgar Allan Poe: Tales of Mystery and Imagination (1852)

4. Josephine Tey: The Daughter of Time (1951)

5. Scott Turow: Presumed Innocent (1987)

6. John le Carré: The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (1963)

7. Wilkie Collins: The Moonstone (1868)

8. Raymond Chandler: The Big Sleep (1939)

9. Daphne du Maurier: Rebecca (1938)

10. Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None (1939)

11. Robert Traver: Anatomy of a Murder (1958)

12. Agatha Christie: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)

13. Raymond Chandler: The Long Goodbye (1953)

14. James M. Cain: The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934)

15. Mario Puzo: The Godfather (1969)

16. Thomas Harris: The Silence of the Lambs (1988)

17. Eric Ambler: A Coffin for Dimitrios (1939)

18. Dorothy L. Sayers: Gaudy Night (1935)

19. Agatha Christie: Witness for the Prosecution (1948)

20. Frederick Forsyth: The Day of the Jackal (1971)

21. Raymond Chandler: Farewell My Lovely (1940)

22. John Buchan: The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915)

23. Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose (1980)

24. Fyodor Dostoevski: Crime and Punishment (1866)

25. Ken Follett: Eye of the Needle (1978)

26. John Mortimer: Rumpole of the Bailey (1978)

27. Thomas Harris: Red Dragon (1981)

28. Dorothy L. Sayers: The Nine Tailors (1934)

29. Gregory Mcdonald: Fletch (1974)

30. John Le Carré: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974)

31. Dashiell Hammett: The Thin Man (1934)

32. Wilkie Collins: The Woman in White (1860)

33. E. C. Bentley: Trent’s Last Case (1913)

34. James M. Cain: Double Indemnity (1943)

35. Martin Cruz Smith: Gorky Park (1981)

36. Dorothy L. Sayers: Strong Poison (1930)

37. Tony Hillerman: Dance Hall of the Dead (1973)

38. Donald E. Westlake: The Hot Rock (1970)

39. Dashiell Hammett: Red Harvest (1929)

40. Mary Roberts Rinehart: The Circular Staircase (1908)

41. Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express (1934)

42. John Grisham: The Firm (1991)

43. Len Deighton: The IPCRESS File (1962)

44. Vera Caspary: Laura (1942)

45. Mickey Spillane: I, the Jury (1947)

46. Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö: The Laughing Policeman (1968)

47. Donald E. Westlake: Bank Shot (1972)

48. Graham Greene: The Third Man (1950)

49. Jim Thompson: The Killer Inside Me (1952)

50. Mary Higgins Clark: Where Are the Children? (1975)

51. Sue Grafton: “A” is for Alibi (1982)

52. Lawrence Sanders: The First Deadly Sin (1973)

53. Tony Hillerman: A Thief of Time (1989)

54. Truman Capote: In Cold Blood (1966)

55. Geoffrey Household: Rogue Male (1939)

56. Dorothy L. Sayers: Murder Must Advertise (1933)

57. G. K. Chesterton: The Innocence of Father Brown (1911)

58. John le Carré: Smiley’s People (1979)

59. Raymond Chandler: The Lady in the Lake (1943)

60. Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)

61. Graham Greene: Our Man in Havana (1958)

62. Charles Dickens: The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870)

63. Peter Lovesey: Wobble to Death (1970)

64. W. Somerset Maugham: Ashenden (1928)

65. Nicholas Meyer: The Seven Per-Cent Solution (1974)

66. Rex Stout: The Doorbell Rang (1965)

67. Elmore Leonard: Stick (1983)

68. John le Carré: The Little Drummer Girl (1983)

69. Graham Greene: Brighton Rock (1938)

70. Bram Stoker: Dracula (1897)

71. Patricia Highsmith: The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955)

72. Edmund Crispin: The Moving Toyshop (1946)

73. John Grisham: A Time to Kill (1989)

74. Hillary Waugh: Last Seen Wearing… (1952)

75. W. R. Burnett: Little Caesar (1929)

76. George V. Higgins: The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1972)

77. Dorothy L. Sayers: Clouds of Witness (1927)

78. Ian Fleming: From Russia, with Love (1957)

79. Margaret Millar: Beast in View (1955)

80. Michael Gilbert: Smallbone Deceased (1950)

81. Josephine Tey: The Franchise Affair (1948)

82. Elizabeth Peters: Crocodile on the Sandbank (1975)

83. P. D. James: Shroud for a Nightingale (1971)

84. Tom Clancy: The Hunt for Red October (1984)

85. Ross Thomas: Chinaman’s Chance (1978)

86. Joseph Conrad: The Secret Agent (1907)

87. John D. MacDonald: The Dreadful Lemon Sky (1975)

88. Dashiell Hammett: The Glass Key (1931)

89. Ruth Rendell: Judgement in Stone (1977)

90. Josephine Tey: Brat Farrar (1950)

91. Ross Macdonald: The Chill (1963)

92. Walter Mosley: Devil in a Blue Dress (1990)

93. Joseph Wambaugh: The Choirboys (1975)

94. Donald E. Westlake: God Save the Mark (1967)

95. Craig Rice: Home Sweet Homicide (1944)

96. John Dickson Carr: The Three Coffins (1935)

97. Richard Condon: Prizzi’s Honor (1982)

98. James McClure: The Steam Pig (1974)

99. Jack Finney: Time and Again (1970)

100. Ellis Peters: A Morbid Taste for Bones (1977) and Ira Levin: Rosemary’s Baby (1967) (tie)

Wikipedia has both lists here, but they’d skipped several titles at the beginning of the MWA list and the external links from the page were bad, so I had to fix. (I think I caught all the problems with the page, but….)

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