Thursday, February 28, 2008

Making a List, Checking It Twice

Late last week, we alerted Rap Sheet readers to the British Telegraph’s attempt at creating a list of “Fifty Crime Writers to Read Before You Die.” The paper’s editors seemed sincere in their struggle to put together a rundown that covered the range of older and newer authors and offerings. But we’ve learned since then that there were some peculiar biases in the way choices were made, and as any knowledgeable reader of the piece could attest, there were any number of surprising exclusions. How could the Telegraph folks have failed to mention Ross Macdonald and Rex Stout, for instance? Or how about James M. Cain, Ross Thomas, Laura Lippman, John Harvey, James Crumley, Val McDermid, Ellery Queen, Ian Rankin, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, Ken Bruen, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Martin Cruz Smith?

But hey, we’re not here to complain. We’re here to help ... and maybe enlighten and entertain as we go along.

Ever since that Telegraph article appeared, we have been thinking that it wouldn’t be a half-bad idea to come up with a must-read list of our own. We won’t limit it falsely to 50 books and authors, but will feature as many names as seems appropriate. However, we will restrict this list to one book per author, so it looks like we’ll finally have to answer the question, “Is Chandler’s The Long Goodbye really better than his Farewell, My Lovely?

In this venture, we are asking for your assistance. What do you think are the crime, mystery, and thriller novels that every fan ought to read before he or she dies? We’d especially like to hear from the many published crime novelists who read The Rap Sheet. But we are also curious to know what books other readers suggest.

All you need to do to participate in this list-making adventure is e-mail the title and author of the book you’re nominating, plus two or three sentences explaining why you think it deserves a place on our list, to And in the subject line, please type “Book List.” I shall gather up all of the responses, consult with my fellow editors here, and report back to you when we’ve completed our winnowing-out process. Oh, and feel free to nominate more than one book, if you so choose.

In the end, we might arrive at our own “Fifty Crime Writers to Read Before You Die.” Or we could settle on 60, or 70, or even more. Whatever seems most representative of the genre’s strengths and diversity. What this boils down to, really, is a selection of books and authors with staying power.

The deadline for submissions to this list is Friday, March 21. *DEADLINE EXTENDED TILL FRIDAY, APRIL 4.*

So put your thinking caps on, check your shelves, and let us know what novels you believe every crime and thriller fan ought to read at least once--new or old, best-selling or obscure; pick any titles you want, so long as the books are available in English.

We look forward to hearing from you soon. Again, send your suggestions to

1 comment:

Xujun said...

Qiu Xiaolong's crime fiction seems hot in UK and US now. I wonder why and I'd like to know your take!