Sunday, January 21st, 2007
11:30 am - It's Cold...  
It is sunny and cold out, which is better than sunny, cold, and frelling windy, as it was yesterday. I spent the entire day at work, so it mostly didn't affect me anyway.

I woke up at around two o'clock Saturday morning to discover the power was out. I grabbed a flashlight, ambled to the office, and took a look out the front window. Sure enough, the whole neighborhood was out. I called the electric company, and a tape recording told me that a pole was down on Rt. 2, but they expected everything to be back on by around 7:30. It's weird. I went back to bed, but I was uneasy, even though under normal circumstances I'd have the lights out anyway. Then five minutes later power was restored, and I was able to turn out the lights and go back to sleep.

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I attended a talk by Alastair Reynolds on space opera at Boskone a couple of years ago, and enjoyed it. I finally got around to reading one of his books, Revelation Space, and wasn't especially whelmed. There is some interesting stuff here, especially in the interweaving of timelines in a universe where interstellar travel takes decades, but mostly it was just "eh." The characters are cardboard, and the only one who is at all likable is the least developed of the bunch. The last third of the book is a total homage/ripoff of 2001, culminating in a deus ex machina of stellar proportions. Most annoying of all is that Reynolds deliberately hides information that all the characters have access to regarding the mystery. Now, mystery writers do this often enough, holding back information from the reader, but they usually confine it to near the end of the book. Here it's not even halfway through the book when much of the plot (pretty near everything except the deus ex machina) is explained to one of the characters by her mysterious benefactor (a person whose identity is clearly obvious a hundred pages before it's finally revealed). The character then shares this knowledge with the rest of the characters, but it's always at the end of a chapter just as they cut away, with all the useful stuff being related off page. This goes on for about three hundred pages. Bozhe moi!

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I saw this list of mysteries over in Linkmeister's blog, and figured it was just crying out to be a meme. The Mystery Writers of America compiled a list of the top 100 Crime Novels of all time, organized into the top ten books in each of ten categories. The ones I've read are bold, the ones I've seen as a movie or TV production are italics, and the ones I've done both are, well, both.

Classics:
1 The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (I've seen a lot of the Brett adaptations, too)
2 Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allen Poe
3 The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
4 The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
5 Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (I read some of this in college, but never finished.)
6 Trent's Last Case by E. Clerihew Bentley
7 The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart
8 The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens
9 The Innocence of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton (Read a couple of the stories in high school)
10 Dracula by Bram Stoker

Suspense:
11 Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
12 Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
13 Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
14 Where Are the Children? by Mary Higgins Clark
15 Laura by Vera Caspary
16 Beast in View by Margaret Millar
17 A Judgement in Stone by Ruth Rendell
18 Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin
19 The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing
20 Brighton Rock by Graham Greene

Hardboiled/Private Eye:
21 The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
22 The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
23 The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (I own the film, too, but I haven't watched it yet.)
24 Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
25 The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett
26 Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
27 I, the Jury by Mickey Spillane
28 A Is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
29 The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler
30 The Doorbell Rang by Rex Stout

Police Procedural:
31 Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman
32 The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjowall
33 Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith
34 A Thief of Time by Tony Hillerman
35 The First Deadly Sin by Lawrence Sanders
36 Last Seen Wearing by Hillary Waugh
37 The Steam Pig by James McCLure
38 The Choirboys by Joseph Wambaugh
39 Shroud for a Nightingale by P.D. James
40 Ice by Ed McBain
41 In the Heat of the Night by John Ball

Espionage/Thriller:
42 The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John Le Carre
43 A Coffin for Dimitrios by Eric Ambler
44 Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett
45 The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
46 Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre (I do have the book, just need to read it.)
47 The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
48 The Ipcress File by Len Deighton
49 Smiley's People by John le Carre
50 Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household
51 The Third Man by Graham Greene

Criminal:
52 The Godfather by Mario Puzo
53 The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
54 Double Indemnity by James M. Cain
55 Little Caesar by W. R. Burnett
56 In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
57 The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins
58 The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
59 Stick by Elmore Leonard
60 The Talented Mr.Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
61 Prizzis Honor by Richard Condon

Cozy/Traditional:
62 And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
63 Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
64 Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers
65 The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers
66 Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers
67 Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
68 Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers
69 Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers
70 The Three Coffins by John Dickson Carr
71 The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie (I may have, and just don't remember.)

Historical
72 The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
73 The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
74 The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer
75 Wobble to Death by Peter Lovesey
76 A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters
77 Time and Again by Jack Finney
78 Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley
79 Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
80 The Devil in Velvet by John Dickson Carr
81 The Chinese Nail Murders by Robert Van Gulik

Humorous:
82 Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald
83 The Hot Rock by Donald E. Westlake
84 Bank Shot by Donald E. Westlake
85 God Save the Mark by Donald E. Westlake
86 Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen
87 Rest You Merry by Charlotte MacLeod
88 Dancing Aztecs by Donald E. Westlake
89 Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn Mccrumb
90 Home Sweet Homicide by Craig Rice
91 The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin

Legal/Courtroom:
92 Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow (I think I have the book, but I've never been tempted to read it.)
93 Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver
94 Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie
95 Rumpole of the Bailey by John Clifford Mortimer
96 The Firm by John Grisham
97 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
98 A Time to Kill by John Grisham
99 The Case of the Velvet Claws by Erle Stanley Gardner (Maybe, I watched a lot of Perry Mason growing up)
100 The Burden of Proof by Scott Turow
101 The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk

It's kind of neat to see the clusters within categories. Apparently I'll watch courtroom dramas, but won't read about them. I also find myself needing to acquire a copy of Bimbos of the Death Sun if for no other reason than the title.
 
 
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deborah gdebg on January 21st, 2007 - 05:08 pm
blink

Rosemary's Baby? Dracula?

I love both books to death - both in my top twenty scary books ever - but a mystery novel? Man, I write mystery/ghost story crossovers, and I'm unbelievably broad in my definition of "mystery novel", but there's no mystery in either books to be solved. They're horror novels. Dracula has the nice touch of late Victorian terror at female sexual freedom, Rosemary's Baby updates that for the 1960s, but what needs solving in Dracula?

Back to blinking. But I'm with you on the categories. I don't know that I'd agree with The Doorbell Rang as the Rex Stout pick - in fact I'm damned sure I wouldn't have chosen that one - but at least he's represented. OTOH, how in hell do they put all that Sayers on the cozy list, and ignore Ngaio Marsh? Where in hell is Margery Allingham's Tiger in the Smoke? No Simenon?

This is why I tend to avoid lists of this sort. I end up thinking they've been put together by the same people who handle nominations for the R&R Hall of Fame...

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DXMachinadxmachina on January 21st, 2007 - 05:28 pm
Yeah, I blinked at Dracula and Rosemary's Baby, too, although with Dracula, anyway, perhaps the writers put it on the classics list more as an influence than a mystery. Also it was the last book in the category, and I wonder if they just couldn't think of anything else, especially with all of Holmes considered as one book.

There's a British version of the list, although they don't sort by category. Neither of the two show up (nor does any of Wolfe), but they make up for it by including The Guns of Navarone, of all things.

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arliss: booksarliss on January 21st, 2007 - 05:57 pm
Ooh! Ganked and posted. Fun!
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the_sherylthe_sheryl on January 21st, 2007 - 07:46 pm
Just a quick comment about Bimbos of The Death Sun. It's set at an SF con, and there's a good bit of snarking at the attendees. It's a bit on the mean-spirited side.

As for the rest of the list, I've read fewer "great" mysteries than I thought...(it doesn't help that there's at least one catagory in that list that I don't read in at all)
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