I took this picture this morning on the way home from the bank. But that is a post for another day. And there is a mystery involved that has yet to be solved.
I should probably begin with Sherlock Holmes. I probably read other mysteries before Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s great creation, but I couldn’t tell you what they were, or who wrote them. And I’ll also admit that my first memory of Sherlock Holmes was Basil Rathbone’s portrayal of him. Those movies are still some of my favorites. But this post is supposed to be about the writing and my reaction to it. I’ll probably write a post or two at sometime about movie and television mysteries.
I own all of the printed Doyle stories about Sherlock, both in paperback and in an omnibus hardback edition. I still pull out one of the books and read a story or two for the pleasure of it.
I also have all of Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe stories in paperback. I think I was in college when I bought my first book of his stories. And again, I occasionally pull out one of those books and read with pleasure something that was written before I could read. Good writing is forever. Think Beowulf if you doubt me.
I just realized that my first two examples are of detectives who are better known, to most people, than their creators are. A large part of that is because there are more than one story available with that character. How many one-shot detectives can you name? I can’t think of any off the top of my head.
Who are some of the other crime solvers whom I’ve read? (OK, I don’t know if it should be “whom” or” that” since I’m writing about fictional characters.) There is Lew Archer, Ross Macdonald’s creation; Nero Wolfe and Archie, created by Rex Stout; and more recently Stig Larsson’s Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander. I like them all, but for different reasons.
I find Lew Archer to be somewhat similar to Phillip Marlowe in that he is a tough guy who thinks about more than the simple case he is working on. He dives in beyond the facts.
Nero Wolfe never seldom leaves his apartment. Kinda quirky, right? I like quirks.
Mikael and Lisbeth aren’t detectives. He is a journalist and she is…well, she is damaged. He does some of the leg work and puts a lot of the puzzle pieces together. She is the muscle and the angel of retribution. It is so sad that Stig Larsson has died. I came to love his writing.
Who else do I like? There is Martin Cruz Smith, James Lee Burke, Craig Johnson, and Bill Moody (mixing jazz with mysteries is bound to pull me in). If I sat here at the keyboard I’m sure that I would have other names popping into my head, but I’ll settle for, “and many, many more.”It seems like I’ll be reading and rereading mysteries for a good long time. Gosh. I just made my day.