I confessed recently that I have an uncontrollable urge to read a mess of detective fiction. I recognize several strong influences, any one of which might boost Mickey Spillane ahead of Henry James on my short-term reading lists. But there are two facts that I need to recognize before I go full-out Peter Whimsey: first, I never have abandoned the fun of mystery stories like I have the tedium of science fiction (look at my reading lists: there’s a mystery or two almost every month), and second, there is so many examples of mystery or detective fiction available and being written every day — so many that no one, let alone I, would ever hope to read them all.
This month I am dedicating my reading to a wide variety of mystery or detective novels, some classics, some contemporary, and even a couple of pincher-hit authors. As I was collecting the list I noticed two things: first, twenty novels is woefully insufficient to cover the genre; and second, so many of the titles I selected were purposely early examples of narratives which developed into series consisting of numerous titles over many years.
Back in the 1980s I was introduced to the Travis McGee series and ate them right up. I also enjoyed Matthew Hope, Jason Bourne, Spenser with an “s” like the English poet, the 87th Precinct, the nameless detective, Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple, Albert Campion, Sherlock Holmes, Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, and several of the spy novels like James Bond, George Smiley, and even Modesty Blaise. I pretty much burned out on the mystery and suspense genres, only reading Georges Simenon on a regular basis for years.