Friday, April 21, 2006

Denny's Mystery Writers Honor Roll

Several weeks ago I posted an entry here about the superb writer of books in the mystery/espionage/thriller genre, Eric Ambler. I was prompted to do so after just re-reading (and immensely enjoying) three of his novels. Like they were with G.K. Chesterton and others who I admire, such books are a staple of my entertainment reading. And, fortunately, because my retention is so low, I can usually experience the same thrills and satisfaction from re-reading great mysteries as I did the first time around!

So, when time permits and I’m in the right mood, I dig through the boxes (because of space limitations, our mysteries are not stored on our library shelves) and unearth the several authors of this genre we find so "tried and true." Now in creating this Mystery Writers Honor Roll I'll admit that I take liberties with the categorization. Purists would insist that novels concentrating on mystery, detectives, espionage, thriller, courtroom, police procedural, contemporary adventure, political action and crime all deserve their own categories. Well, okay; no argument here -- but no compliance either because many of my favorite books cross those categorical lines so much that they obliterate them. For instance, Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason books could easily fit in at least four or five of the above groupings with Eric Ambler, John D. MacDonald, John Buchan and, to a lesser degree, the others are in the same situation.

With this being said then and with my recent hunger for mysteries somewhat satisfied – since my Ambler post I’ve re-read another of his, Light of Day, as well as Dorothy Sayers’ Strong Poison, E.W. Horning’s first collection of Raffles stories called The Amateur Cracksman and Ngaio Marsh’s False Scent – I conclude with my list of favorites. They are all heartily recommended for readers who love the form.

Here in alphabetical order is my personal Mystery Writers Honor Roll:

Eric Ambler

John Buchan

John Dickson Carr (and also those under his pen name Carter Dickson)

Agatha Christie

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Dick Francis

Erle Stanley Gardner (and also those under his pen name A. A. Fair)

Donald Hamilton

E.W. Hornung

Helen MacInnes

Alistair MacLean

John D. MacDonald

Ngaio Marsh

Dorothy Sayers

Josephine Tey