CLASSIC 'MUST READ' CRIME FICTION

THE MALTESE FALCON

DASHIELL HAMMETT

 

Dashiell Hammett is one of the founding fathers of Detective fiction.

In the Maltese Falcon (1930) we are introduced to Sam Spade - the blonde satan with his own code of ethics -the private eye that kick-started the hard-boiled movement.

Character is revealed through dialogue, the prose is sharp and there is a masterful misdirection of focus. 'When a man's partner is killed, he's supposed to do something about it.'

RED DRAGON

THOMAS HARRIS

 

Sexual hunger; demonic violence; sinister logic - the lethal components of a deadly formula driving a psychopath in the grip of  delusion. He's a boastful killer who sends the police tormenting notes; a tortured, torturing monster who finds ultimate pleasure in viciously murdering happy families, and calls himself The Red Dragon. The Red Dragon (1981) also introduced readers to Dr Hannibal Lecter, the highly capable psychiatrist and monstrous sociopath.

THE MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES

ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE

 

Eleven of the best and most popular Sherlock Holmes tales. Including: 'Silver Blaze' concerning the curious incident of the dog in the night-time, 'The Greek Interpreter' with Holmes' even more formidable brother Mycroft, a couple of pre-watson stories and 'The Final Problem' the detective's notorious confrontation with Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls  which ended in their death - or did it?

 

THE LONG GOOD-BYE
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN

PATRICIA HIGHSMITH

 

Strangers on a Train, (1950) is Patricia Highsmith's first psychological thriller. The novel is the inspiration for Alfred Hitchcock's classic film of the same name.

Highsmith revels in eliciting the unsettling psychological forces that lurk beneath the surface of everyday contemporary life.

It's a delicious game of cat-and-mouse as Guy tries desperately to beat Bruno at his own game in a novel as much about character as it is about plot.

RAYMOND CHANDLER

 

Chandler himself, in a letter to a friend, called The Long Good-Bye (1953) 'my best book'. It's certainly his most autobiographical novel.

Terry Lennox has a problem, his millionaire wife is dead and he needs to get out of LA fast. So he turns to his only friend in the world: Philip Marlowe, Private Investigator. Marlowe finds himself drawn into a sordid crowd of adulterers and alcoholics in a hard post-war Los Angeles.

THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE

JAMES M. CAIN

 

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934) caused a scandal with its explosive mix of violence and sex, and immediately became a bestseller. The torrid story of Frank Chambers, the amoral drifter, Cora, the sullen and brooding wife, and her husband Nick.

Taut, real and earthy, this book gave birth to true American noir.   

WILKIE COLLINS

 

Widely regarded as the precursor of the modern mystery and suspense novels, The Moonstone (1868) tells of the events surrounding the disappearance of a mysterious (and cursed) yellow diamond. T. S. Eliot called it 'the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels'. It contains a number of ideas which became common tropes of the genre.

THE MOONSTONE

JIM THOMPSON

 

In The Killer Inside Me (1952) Jim Thompson goes where few novelists have dared to go, giving us a pitch-black glimpse into the mind of the American Serial Killer in the novel that will forever be known as the master performance of one of the greatest crime novelists of all time.

 

THE KILLER INSIDE ME
THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE

GEORGE V. HIGGINS

 

The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1970) set a standard for authentically gritty crime fiction that has never been bettered.

When small-time gunrunner Eddie Coyle is convicted on a felony, he's looking at three years in the pen - that is, unless he sells out one of his big-fish clients to the DA. But which of the many hoods, gunmen and executioners he calls his friends should he send up river? 

THE DAUGHTER OF TIME

JOSEPHINE TEY

 

Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, recuperating from a broken leg, becomes fascinated with a contemporary portrait of Richard III that bears no resemblance to the 'wicked uncle' of history. Could such a sensitive, noble face actually belong to one of the world's most heinous villains - a venomous hunchback who may have killed his brother's children to make his crown secure? Or could Richard have been the victim, turned into a monster by history?
 

AGATHA CHRISTIE

 

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1927) is the best of the Poirot novels and possibly the best of all Christie’s books. The plot device angered many readers at the time but it’s a final reveal that has influenced countless stories since.

The narrator, Dr. Sheppard, and his know-it-all sister (the precursor of Miss Marple, according to Christie), and, of course, the redoubtable Hercule Poirot are at the centre of this classic who-dunnit.

THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD
THE CHILL

ROSS MACDONALD

 

Private detective Lew Archer investigates for Alex Kincaid, a young man claiming that his new bride, Dolly, has gone missing. Snapped by a hotel photographer on the day of their wedding, the beautiful girl vanished only hours after and Alex has heard nothing since. But when Archer begins digging, he finds evidence that links Dolly to brutal murders that span two decades, and a terrible secret.

In this byzantine and compelling tale, Ross Macdonald explores the darkest experiences that can bind a family together - and tear it apart.

ROGUE MALE

GEOFFREY HOUSEHOLD

 

in Rogue Male (1939) an Englishman plans an assassination but he is foiled and falls into the hands of ruthless and inventive torturers. They devise for him an ingenious and diplomatic death but, for once, they bungle the job and he escapes. But England provides no safety from his pursuers - and the Rogue Male must strip away all the trappings of status and civilization as the hunter becomes a hunted animal.

IN COLD BLOOD

TRUEMAN CAPOTE

 

In Cold Blood (1965) is a work of faction.

In the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues. 

Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy.

 

HARPER LEE

 

Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the thirties after a black man is charged with the rape of a white girl. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of Lawyer Atticus Finch's struggle for justice.

THE 39 STEPS

JOHN BUCHAN

 

When Richard Hannay is warned of an assassination plot that has the potential to take Britain into a war, and then a few days later discovers the murdered body of the American that warned him in his flat, he becomes a prime suspect. A classic 'man-on-the-run' thriller from the father of the British spy novel.

‘I snapped the switch, but there was nobody there. Then I saw something in the far corner which made me drop my cigar and fall into a cold sweat.’

 

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD