In Association with


Agatha Christie
The Queen of Crime as she's called. I have stuck to (almost) all of her books, even two of her early straight novels,
written under the name Mary Westmacott, when I ran across them, but really never understood why.
She's a real square - a cube, even. Her female characters are exactly the type I try to avoid. That horribly cute couple Tommy and Tuppy!
She's so superstitious, it's embarrassing. Ridiculously intricate ways of murder no thinking chappie would dare resort to.
She doesn't understand the first thing about how cars work but has the temerity of having somebody use them as a murder instrument
(Somebody twisted a nut loose to sabotage the brakes - pray, what nut exactly? You and I know all right, but she only too obviously doesn't have an inkling. There must be, and are, much easier ways.)
Her plots are outrageous; nobody could ever guess who the murderer is. Could literally be anybody.
In a play version of a novel, with hardly any plot-twisting she managed to change the murderer to a completely different character.
Still, there are some books that are really okay, if also outrageous:
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Amazon.usa
Why Didn't They Ask Evans? Amazon.usa
At Bertram's Hotel Amazon.usa
Curtain Amazon.usa

Movies based on her work I enjoy much less.
Who wants to see some fat guy with a fake moustache and a fake Belgian accent play Poirot?
Margareth Rutherford may have her good points as a comedy player, but Miss Marple, she's most definitely not.
The one I liked best is The Mirror Cracked from Side to Side, and that's mainly for the line of Tony Curtis playing a movie producer:
"Hi Vicar, baby!"

Ed McBain
He himself does not call it Mystery, but Police Procedure Novels. Well, that's fine with me. A rose by any name, etc.
You'll find a collection of mistakes by Ed McBain elsewhere on this site (he didn't like it much but he's doing it himself all the time)
but don't compare him with Agatha Christie. McBain is much more interesting, and to me that is because of his social comments.
Not for nothing did Akira Kurosawa base his maybe best movie High and Low on McBain's King's Ransom.

John D. MacDonald
Him, for some reason, I consider to be more an Adventure than a Mystery writer.
But who cares? So, like more of them, he got listed in more than one place.
A good reason for listing him here as well is his book on a famous murder case, No Deadly Drug,
with the help of famous lawyer F. Lee Bailey (who also, extremely thinly disguised, makes his appearance in a Travis McGee book.)
The defense uses a hypnotist to discover repressed memories. As we now know, a very risky procedure, almost entirely discredited,
which has put many innocent people behind bars for years. Like parents for alleged child molestation.
A definite pitfall of the jury-system (pun by all means intended) of justice the USA is so proud of.

Ross MacDonald
No matter if Ed McBain calls him Mangiacabalho, and offers the very valid critical remark that it's all about murders
that have occurred generations ago just to give his detective Lew Archer, almost a double of Chandler's Marlowe,
a chance to unravel the mystery. His plots can get enormously complicated, but as usual, they're not my reason to read him in the first place.
It's his ability to put you in the California scene so you know you're there.

Raymond Chandler
He didn't write much, but what he wrote was just fine. Did you know he was at the same British school as P.G. Wodehouse? Must have been better than The Cage they kept me in for some years.




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