From my early blogging days I have often commented on reviews and blog posts with remarks along the lines of “Oh I need to re-read that one” and in fairness to myself sometimes I even managed to do this. However in the main I have to admit that I have usually gone on my merry way, lured off the path of re-reading good intentions by some new to me title or author. So a little while ago I decided to make a list of some of the crime fiction novels, (mostly pre 1960), I wanted to revisit… and of course days later I had forgotten and nearly lost the list in question. In some ways this post is more for my own sake than my readers, a blog post is a bit harder to lose than a piece of paper. I’m not sure how fast I will get through this list, but I’d like to be optimistic and aim for 2 books a month. My next review up on the blog is from this list so at least I will be starting with the right intentions. I can definitely see me changing my mind over which titles to re-read and in the case of some well-known authors some outside advice would appreciated. I have gone for books I remember enjoying a lot and/or can’t remember too much about, so I am interested to see whether my opinions of the books have changed. But without further ado here is my list…
Boris Akunin – Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog (2000)
This is a trilogy I have warmly enthused about for ages. I’ve written about the series sleuth, Sister Pelagia in CADs magazine and even on the blog a few weeks ago, yet in fact I have never reviewed any of the books on the blog, so I would like to correct this omission.
James Anderson – The Affair of the Blood-Stained Egg Cosy (1975)
This was another trilogy I devoured pre-blog and was brought back to my attention by Brad, who recently championed Anderson’s skill in lovingly parodying golden age detective fiction. As with the Akunin I am starting with the first in the series.
John L Apostolou and Martin Greenberg (ed.) – Murder in Japan (1987)
This is a collection of 14 short stories by Japanese mystery writers. Definitely one of the books that my memory is woollier on, so a good one to return to. Writers in the collection include: Edogawa Rampo, Naoya Shiga, Junichiro Tanizaki and Haruto Ko.
George Baxt – The Affair at Royalties (1971)
Baxt is well known for his mysteries involving famous people, such as Alfred Hitchcock. Not seen a lot of enthusiasm for his work though and to be fair this is the only one of his that I have tried, but I remember really loving this one, so am keen to give him a re-visit.
Nicholas Blake – Thou Shell of Death (1936), There’s Trouble Brewing (1937), The Beast Must Die (1938), The Smiler with the Knife (1939)
Having read all of the Nigel Strangeways series I’ve felt the strongest ones were the first 6ish books, in terms of his plotting, (which is much more creative and experimental), and in terms of how the series sleuths appears; Nigel is never the same after his wife dies. I have already reviewed the first in the series, A Question of Proof (1935). I might add a couple more Blakes to the list later on but felt four was probably enough to be going on with.
Christianna Brand – London Particular (1952)
This is not a novel I remember much about, short of all the fog involved. Also an apt re-read as JJ at The Invisible Event will be doing one of his popular full on spoiler blog posts on this story in July.
Agatha Christie – The Man in the Brown Suit (1924), Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? (1934), Three Act Tragedy (1935), N or M? (1941), Crooked House (1949), A Murder is Announced (1950), Ordeal by Innocence (1958), Cat Among the Pigeons (1959), Nemesis (1971).
I’ve re-read quite a few of her titles already, but there’s always more isn’t there? Again my choices are a mixture of ones I can’t remember too much about, ones I loved when I read them the first time round and ones which have been recently massacred adapted *cough* Ordeal by Innocence *cough*. Like Blake, Christie will be another author I’ll probably keep adding to.
Edmund Crispin – The Case of the Gilded Fly (1944), Holy Disorders (1945), Swan Song (1947), Love Lies Bleeding (1948), Buried for Pleasure (1948)
Another writer like Blake, in that his first 6 books are his best and they are all ones I really enjoyed, yet strangely not ones I can remember much about. Victims, killers are mostly a blur. To date I have only reviewed one Crispin book on the blog, The Moving Toyshop (1946), so it will be good to revisit the world of Gervase Fen.
J. Jefferson Farjeon – Mystery in White (1938)
Perhaps one for saving nearer to Christmas time, but out of all of the Farjeons I have read, this is one of my favourites, with its successful fusion of thriller and detective fiction.
Cyril Hare – Suicide Excepted (1939)
I’ve reviewed quite a few Hare novels on the blog, completing all of Hare’s output earlier this year, with Death is No Sportsman (1936). But Suicide Excepted was my first encounter with this author and in my opinion is one of his best books. Ideally suited for readers new to Hare and vintage mystery fiction, but I am hoping it still holds some treats for the re-reader.
Georgette Heyer – The Unfinished Clue (1934)
I wasn’t really sure which titles to choose for Heyer. I’ve only reviewed, A Blunt Instrument (1938), on the blog, so had quite a few options to pick from. In the end I selected this one based on my Goodread ratings, but it would be great to hear other people’s selections.
Ngaio Marsh – Surfeit of Lampreys (1941), Scales of Justice (1955)
Marsh was someone I blogged about a few times when I first started my blog, but I did soon come to the conclusion that Marsh was perhaps not the best writer for me, so I have been a bit more circumspect about reviewing her books in more recent times. However, out of all the Marsh novels I have read, these two are the ones which did not disappoint. I realise one of these is quite a controversial choice, but I suppose that’ll give the re-read an added zest.
Gladys Mitchell – Speedy Death (1929)
Mitchell is another author I have read quite a few books of, but to be honest is someone who has rarely knocked my reader’s socks off. She comes up with unusual settings and premises, but her plotting is mostly too muddled for my liking. Of course the title I have selected, her first mystery novel, is one of the exceptions I believe and has always stuck in my head as quite an unorthodox and challenging opening novel to a series.
Raymond Postgate – Verdict of Twelve (1940)
I read this one a few years ago and in my opinion is Postgate’s best mystery novel; an opinion which has been backed by reading his two other stories, Somebody at the Door (1943) and The Ledger is Kept (1953). I can remember the ending to this one, but my hazy memories lead me to believe this is a book which can be enjoyed for the journey as well as for the destination.
Dorothy L. Sayers – Clouds of Witness (1926), Unnatural Death (1927)
A bit like with Heyer, I wasn’t too sure which titles to pick for Sayers. I’ve already reviewed Murder Must Advertise (1933), Gaudy Night (1935) and Busman’s Honeymoon (1937), so I decided to look at some of Sayers’ earlier novels. The only two I don’t think I would readily consider re-reading are Five Red Herrings (1931) and The Nine Tailors (1934) (more controversy). But again, as with Heyer, I would be interested to hear other’s people’s thoughts on which Sayers to re-read.
Josephine Tey – A Shilling for Candles (1936), To Love and Be Wise (1950)
It wasn’t too tricky to decide on which titles to re-read for Tey. Both of these novels are ones I can’t really remember anything about and as for the others, they tend to be ones I can remember too well. I can’t remember much about The Man in the Queue (1929) but I’ve never felt it was a strong effort by Tey and I have already reviewed The Singing Sands (1952) on the blog… and before you ask Brad, ‘No I’m not going to re-read Miss Pym Disposes’ (1946). Don’t think it would have a positive effect on my blood pressure… Oh Miss Pym *shudders*
Jill Paton Walsh – Thrones, Dominations (1998)
One thing I definitely picked up on when I first came onto the blogging scene was the divisive opinions on Walsh’s Sayers’ continuation novels. Personally I found them a mixed bag, but mostly enjoyed them, which is unusual for me as I am not prone to liking continuation works. It might have been that I binge read Sayers first before finding the Walsh books. Opinions may change if I try to read them closer together.
Ethel Lina White – The Lady Vanishes (1936)
With White being a tricky author to get a hold of, (aside from her two most well-known stories), I have decided to re-read arguably her most famous novel, The Lady Vanishes a.k.a. The Wheel Spins. One thought which has stuck with me is the sense that the BBC adaptation of the story actually gave the original plot a much stronger ending. Scandalous I know! Even more scandalous is that I have never watched the Hitchcock adaptation. I may well try and remedy this at some point to work in conjunction with my re-reading of this book. We shall see.
So there is the current list, how much it will mutate or be completed I do not know, but hopefully I will get a few more deserving books re-read at long last. Thoughts always appreciated and it would great to hear other people’s ideas on re-reading and which books/authors they are most keen to return to.
*Credit definitely has to be given to Bev at My Reader’s Block for the first part of my blog post title, as she has a reading challenge with this very apt name.