Via a Book Riot post, but generated by looking at the most popular mysteries on Goodreads.
Okay, I’m mildly interested. Given this is a popularity contest, I’ll start by guessing that at least five titles will be by Agatha Christie. First, everyone has heard of her. Second, bookstores always carry some of her titles. Third, some of her books got made into well-known movies. Given all that, her name has to come up a bunch when you just look at most popular mysteries.
I have to admit that I have never been a Christie fan, though of course I’ve read a couple of hers and I saw Ten Little Indians once, I think.
Besides Christie, I don’t know whom I expect. I know what some of my favorites are — Gaudy Night, obviously — and I know who I think was a great mystery author — Rex Stout — but I don’t know who I expect to find on a Goodreads list.
Let’s take a look:
1 and 2: Agatha Christie, as expected. Murder at the Vicarage and The Mysterious Affair at Styles, neither of which I’ve read.
3: Oh ho, the third entry is a Sookie Stackhouse novel! Well, that is not a mystery. I mean, of course it’s a mystery, but it’s a paranormal. Most paranormals are also mysteries, but I think it’s kind of cheating to include paranormals and UF and other things on a list of top mysteries.
4: Here’s one I’ve read: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. Actually, I listened to it in audio form.
This time set in 1950, our heroine is an aspiring chemist with an inquisitive mind who is intrigued by a series of seemingly unconnected events (a dead bird, a postage stamp, and a dead man in a cucumber patch). While I would probably back away from the bizarre turn of events, young Flavia de Luce is appalled and delighted. If you’re looking for a bit of history mixed with a plucky female protagonist then this series may be right up your alley.
Yes, well. I liked this book, but not that much. I liked Flavia, but not that much. I never did go on to the next book in the series.
5: Still Life by Louise Penny. I’ve read this one and liked it quite a bit. Setting is very important to me in mysteries. Penny delivers a wonderful setting, lyrically drawn. Her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is just okay for me though. I’ve read several of Penny’s books and might well go back to the series.
Okay, that’s the top five. Let me see how many of the others I’ve read . . . The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I read that one and liked it a lot. Gone Girl, no, ugh, I read a review of this one at The Book Smugglers and it turned me right off the book. Definitely don’t ever plan to read it. Rebecca by DuMaurier, wow, that’s a classic. Sure, I’ve read that one and seen the movie both.
Oh, here’s a true crime section. Yes, I’ve read In Cold Blood. That’s actually my favorite one on this list. The slow reconstruction of the crime was so interesting.
Okay, that’s it. I’ve read five of the books listed here. That’s 25%, more than I would have expected. Missing:
Dorothy Sayers, Rex Stout. Gosh, look, Arthur Conan Doyle is missing, that’s actually shocking now that I think of it. PD James! She’s far from my favorite, given a tendency to create a sympathetic character and then make that person the murderer, but she’s so well known and popular, I’m a little surprised. Lots of really popular authors are missing from this list. Sue Grafton.
Let me see, who would I pick for a personal top twenty? Well, a personal top five, just off the top of my head
Dorothy Sayers — Gaudy Night
Rex Stout — overall list of titles
Ellis Peters — the Brother Cadfael stories, which for a change I liked better on the BBC than as novels
Dorothy Dunnett — the Dolly mysteries
Beverly Connor — both her series of forensic anthropology mysteries. I freely acknowledge these are not as well written on the sentence level as any of the above, but I love them.
Who are your favorite mystery authors? Did the Book Riot list pick any?