>Classic Crime Fiction Curriculum Challenge

Rob, The View from the Blue House, has come up with a new meme:

The Classic Crime Fiction Curriculum Challenge.

Here is Rob´s basic idea:

“I’ve read several hundred crime novels but nearly all of them are from the contemporary period. This is the year I intend to right that by reading some of the crime fiction canon. What I need though is a curriculum – a list of ten must-read crime fiction classics.”

Excellent idea, and here is my own list, based on the principle that you can only recommend what you have read. So my excuses to the rest of the world for this rather biased list; I know I have always favoured British crime fiction.

Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart (1843) – a fine, Gothic short story

Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (1859) – considering how old this one is, it is a great mystery, full of suspense and atmosphere.

Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend (1865) – an all-time favourite of mine. Compelling characters, but I admit that some readers may find it too easy to guess the mystery.

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) – I saw the film when I was far too young (six or seven years, perhaps, hiding behind an armchair), and it scared the daylights out of me for days. The book was not quite as horrible, yet a fine old classic.

Agatha Christie, The Murder at the Vicarage (1930) – the first Miss Marple story where Christie does not quite seem to have made up her mind what kind of person Miss Marple is.

Agatha Christie, Cat Among the Pigeons (1959) – Hercule Poirot can be a bit too smug for me, but I love this story for his interesting sidekick, a young, very observant school girl.

Dorothy L. Sayers, The Nine Tailors (1934) – interesting setting (including a snowstorm) around a huge village church and a team of bell ringers.

P.D. James, Cover Her Face (1962) – the first Adam Dalgliesh story, a closed circle mystery.

Sjöwall & Wahlöö, Roseanna (1966) – fortunately, the first of this series which has inspired so many Scandinavian crime writers comes within the 1970 limit. The first, but also one of the best among them.

Ruth Rendell, Sins of the Fathers (1967) – in my opinion the second Chief Inspector Wexford story is more interesting both with regard to plot and characters than the first.

Should you feel like participating by writing your own list, Rob would be very pleased, and if you should feel like reading some of my recommendations, I would be very pleased.

An addition:
Many years ago I read Rex Stout´s Too Many Cooks (1938) – a tasty American read, Rob!

About Dorte Hummelshøj Jakobsen

I am a Danish teacher. In my spare time I read, write and review crime fiction.
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