Puzzle Doctor, curator of In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, put this up the other day:
Well, you can blame Cleopatra Loves Books for this one…
Apparently My Name In Books was a meme that went around over the summer (and over my head as well – never noticed it) but I thought I’d give it a go – namely spelling out my name in the titles of my favourite books. Now, there’s an obvious problem with a name like The Puzzle Doctor – can you spot it? But nevertheless, I thought it was worth a go. But try as I might, the only thing I could come up with for Z was Zzzz for any of the Brother Cadfael books. But this is a friendly blog, so I couldn’t possibly say that. Instead, I thought I’d do My Blog Name In Books.
It got me thinking; I’m sticking to a self-imposed crime focus on this blog, but it might be nice to acknowledge the SF and others that have played significant roles in my reading life. And so I give you…My Blog Name in Books:
Tiger’s Head, The (1991) by Paul Halter
Easily the most creative of Halter’s impossible crimes so far translated – a man battered to death by a genie from a magic artefact – with a beautifully subtle solution.
Hollow Man, The (1935) by John Dickson Carr
My first Carr, important to me for the stories it has since opened up to me from his pen even though I wasn’t a massive fan of it at first.
Ender’s Game (1985) by Orson Scott Card
Timeless soft SF; moving, thrilling, terrifying and with a staggering, devastating reveal in the final stretch; the movie is doubtless terrible, read the book.
Indigo Slam (1997) by Robert Crais
Crais is one of the few contemporary crime writers I read, and this – his seventh book – was my induction to his wonderful characters. The introduction of Elvis Cole in this novel is one for the ages.
Nine Times Nine (1940) by Anthony Boucher
Boucher’s most famous impossible crime, in which a yellow-cloaked killer ingeniously disappears from a watched room. Easily one of the best amateur sleuths to grace the genre, too.
V for Vendetta (1988) by Alan Moore
My first graphic novel, which would lead to Transmetropolitan, Watchmen, Locke & Key, etc. Possibly a bit heavy-handed, but significant for the stories and format it was a gateway onto.
I, the Jury (1947) by Mickey Spillane
Important for being so bad as to convince me to finally give up on the pulps. Moved onto Agatha Christie and the classics and, well, here we are today. Cheers, Mike!
Sealed Room Murder (1941) by Rupert Penny
Diagrams – five diagrams – are used in the explanation of this impossible stabbing, and plenty of wit and guile evinced before you get to that. Proof that some truly awesome writers are unduly neglected, which is always worth remembering.
Ice Station (1998) by Matthew Reilly
My first experience of Reilly’s over-the-top-of-over-the-top thrillers, not easily forgotten. A book I’m fairly sure I read without blinking.
Bowstring Murders, The (1933) by John Dickson Carr [as, well, Carr Dickson or Carter Dickson]
Carr’s second impossible crime, pointing the way to his marvels to come. Would be on my upcoming list of Carrs to start with, but it (like a lot of his books) is frustratingly out of print.
Lord Edgware Dies (1933) by Agatha Christie
Proof that you don’t need a huge cast for the reveal to come as a surprise. Here it’s one of two women who is the killer, and Christie’s dance of deception is about as good as it gets.
Expanse, The (2011 onwards) by James S. A. Corey
Not a book but rather the overall title of the SF series being written by this duo; intelligent and bold, broad and finely observed, filled with great characters and huge ideas…everything I want in modern SF.
End of Eternity, The (1955) by Isaac Asimov
Received wisdom says you go with Foundation for Asimov, but that series’ message of “Hey, everything will be fine” pales when placed next to this detective-like time travel genius.
Volume Two of the Collected Stories (1954-ish) by Philip K. Dick
Published under the title Second Variety, which has the ‘V’ in the wrong place for my purposes! In my humble and limited experience, the best collection of SF stories in the English language yet published.
Every Dead Thing (1999) by John Connolly
Connolly’s first five nightmarishingly genre-straddling thrillers contain some of the most evocative writing about violence and fear you’ll ever encounter. This got me into crime writing, the rest is history.
Nightingale Gallery, The (1991) by Paul Doherty
The first historical mystery to convince me that decent historical mysteries exist; an impossible poisoning, cleverly set up and resolved. For some reason I’ve never gone back to Doherty. That will change.
To Say Nothing of the Dog (1997) by Connie Willis
A time-travel mystery like no other, as much Christie as Asimov. Hilarious throughout, as much SF as crime as costume drama as pastiche…something for everyone, a book I genuinely cannot conceive anyone disliking (though that will, of course, happen).
Many thanks to Cleopatra and Puzzle Doctor, it’s been a lovely day or so wracking my brain over these. Anyone else fancy trying…?