Thursday, April 16, 2015

Favorite Genre Fiction

My colleagues and I travel for work, so we trade genre authors the way gamblers trade betting tips. "Did you see there's a new Arnaldur IndriĆ°ason out?" we'll say. Or, "Don't bother with the new Clancy unless you're desperate." As a public service, here's my genre fiction hall of fame.

Top Drawer

James M. Cain, Mildred Pierce

Raymond Chandler, The Lady in the Lake and The Long Goodbye

Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose

James Ellroy, The Cold Six Thousand

Alan Furst, Kingdom of Shadows and Dark Voyage

Joe Gores, Cases

P.D. James, The Lighthouse

Philip Kerr, Berlin Noir

Imre Kertesz, Detective Story

Elmore Leonard, When the Ladies Come Out to Dance (short stories) and Tishomingo Blues (short stories). (Not sure which of his novels to start with.)

Michael Malone, Uncivil Seasons, Time's Witness, and First Lady

Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall (haven't read the second novel yet)

George Simenon, the Maigret mysteries; try A Maigret Trio for a start.

Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island

J.R.R. Tolkein, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings


James Lee Burke, certain of the Dave Robichaux novels; try The Tin Roof Blowdown for a start.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles (novella) and certain of the short stories

Michael Connelly, certain of the Harry Bosch novels; here are the first three.

Jonathan Lethem, Gun, With Occasional Music

John Mortimer, The Best of Rumpole

Joyce Carol Oates, Mysteries of Winterthurn

Robert Parker, certain of the Spenser novels

Louise Penny, certain of the Inspector Gamache novels 

Derek Raymond, How the Dead Live

Jacqueline Winspear, Maisie Dobbs

Next time you're on a plane, any of these books will give you a couple of hours' escape. Many are so good that you might find yourself rereading them at home. A few would qualify as literature. Note, some are pretty hard-boiled and not all are appropriate for the faint of heart.

One other general note: A good way to identify candidate novels is to look at prestigious awards such as the Edgar. Previous winners of the Edgar award are listed here on Wikipedia.

There's a lot more out there, and I'll update this list from time to time. Feel free to add other greats in the comments. If you do, be very selective—home runs only! Your travel-weary friends will appreciate it.

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