Last Updated on March 14, 2014
I’ve noticed an interesting trend recently whereby people are going back to reading classic mystery novels and searching out classic mystery writers and their works. It is strange, as with all the many novels published each year, you’d think that readers would want to devour the latest “and greatest”. Yet, here are those folks who go back to the classic for one reason or another.
A friend told me the other day that it’s because she feels that many modern writers just “don’t get it”. It’s as if they don’t know how to write real good mystery, like Agatha Christie used to do with her Hercules Poirot series, or Arthur Conan Doyle with his Sherlock Holmes series, or maybe Dorothy L. Sayers with her Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries.
There is just something to reading a good classic murder mystery with its almost vintage flair that many modern writers can’t bring to the table.
Also the modern writing style is very different – first of all, unless you’re reading cozy mysteries, the novels are now much more explicit and full of gore. Take for example the current CSI style books, the forensic murder mysteries, the details can be really gross if one is not used to them. Long gone are the innocence and decency of the old books, which are less full of foul language and expletives. And even the old darker books (say gothic mysteries), they still had something elementally and profoundly different from the gothic books of today that have more supernatural (say vampire and werewolf) themes than the older types.
Personally I love both. I’m always looking for the latest and greatest, while I always comb the antiquarian book stores for classic murder mystery novels that I might have missed reading while growing up (I was reading books regularly since the age of 8, always with a major focus on mysteries, suspense and thriller type novels).
If you’re in search of classic murder mysteries, here are a few books that might not have crossed your path now (I won’t link to the usual classics already mentioned above because if you haven’t read the books by these authors already, you’re not a real mystery buff!.
How about the Dr. Gideon Fell books by John Dickinson Carr?
Or the books by Gladys Mitchell especially her Mrs. Bradley series?
Or the popular Roderick Alleyn mysteries by Ngaio Marsh?
A few other noteworthy mentions are Patricia Wentworth, Josephine Tey, Wilkie Collins, Georgette Heyer, Rex Stout, Margery Allingham, P.D. James, John Buchan, Mary Roberts Rinehart, G.K. Chesterton and a few others, in fact too many to mention here.