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Old 03-01-2011, 02:36 PM
Lunar Saltlick is offline
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 816
Originally Posted by Frank View Post
All the Scudder books are worth reading, and there are only one or two that are not worth re-reading. His burglar books are also worth reading if you can stand humor in your mysteries.

Donald Westlake and Richard Stark.

P. D. James.

Dick Francis is light reading, but very enjoyable light reading.
Donald Westlake had a prodigious but uneven output. Writing as Richard Stark, he produced by far his best work. As I'm sure Frank knows, Stark's original Parker series, written from the late fifties to early seventies, aren't really mysteries -- they're crime novels, featuring a highly amoral thief named Parker. Parker isn't cute. Parker isn't a thief with a heart of gold. He doesn't cook or read poetry. Parker steals money, and if you get in his way, he kills you. End of story. It's the tightest, leanest series of crime novels ever produced, each one clocking in at about 160 pages, except for the final one, Butcher's Moon, which went over 300. Westlake/Stark took up the Parker cudgel again in the late 90s and produced about 7 more novels, but they weren't as good as the original ones. For one thing, in the new series, Parker works with frills! C'mon! That's not the Parker I knew and loved.

Anyway, Westlake passed away a couple years ago, so his output has ended. I also liked some of the novels he wrote under his own name, including The Axe, a chilling tale of how one desperate man gets his dream job.

I'm also a big P. D. James fan, and John Le Carré.

Don't know if anyone has mentioned Robert Goddard. He's often overlooked in these threads. I particularly liked Borrowed Time and In Pale Battalions, though neither one is usually held up as a shining example of his work. Some of his other novels get a tad cutsie for me -- such as Sea Change.

The grand-daddy of mystery books, is, however, The Chronicle of Battle Abbey. It's an actual historical document composed over the course of 300 years by monks in Battle Abbey scheming to avoid paying taxes to any lord. They get away with it for a few centuries, but ultimately, the king's court rules against them in a climactic finish that'll have you gripping the edge of your straw chair and raising your tankard of ale to your lips in a stupor.

Anyway, Méchant Monsieur Moutarde, I loved The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, so take my suggestions at your own risk.