Thursday, November 15, 2018

Inkslingers Turned Investigators

This CrimeReads piece has sure been a long time in coming. Way back in April, I dropped the following note onto my Facebook page:
I’m trying to develop a list of mystery/crime/thriller novels that feature journalists and reporters (especially newspaper reporters) as the protagonists/crime solvers. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
That request elicited dozens of responses. So many, in fact, that I resolved to confine myself to writing only about books offering newspaper reporter protagonists. I also had a variety of other assignments standing in the way of my compiling novels along this theme, including last week’s dive into post-World War I mysteries. And in the meantime, other CrimeReads contributors brought forth related stories, including J.G. Heatherton’s selection of novels featuring investigative reporters, and Steven Cooper’s essay about “why investigative reporters become mystery writers.” All of this accounts for the rather lengthy lag time between the birth of my “brilliant” idea and my actually composing the piece I had in mind.

Only this morning has my work, “A Brief History of Reporters in Crime Fiction,” finally been posted in CrimeReads. It features 10 crime and mystery novels starring print journalists, together with one that imagines a newspaper photographer in the sleuthing role. My picks were published as far back as 1939 and as recently as September. Among the authors represented are Martin Edwards, William P. McGivern, Julia Dahl, Les Whitten, and Pete Hamill. Although I settled on reading and then writing about 11 books, and mentioning 19 others at the end of the piece, I culled those from a much longer list of options available. In addition to the suggestions received on Facebook, two online sources helped me get a handle on the scope of the field: The Thrilling Detective Web Site and Stop, You’re Killing Me! With all of this assistance, I tallied up books I hoped to write about, but later had to cut my choices way back in order to finish my research before the year 2030. So many books had to go unexamined—for now, at least:

David Mamet’s Chicago (2018)
Liam McIlvanney’s Where the Dead Men
Val McDermid’s Report for Murder (1987)
Marc Olden’s Kill the Reporter (1978)
Lawrence Meyer’s False Front (1979)
Simon Wood’s Paying the Piper (2007)
Jim Kelly’s The Water Clock (2003)
Steven Brewer’s End Run (2000)
Allen Eskens’ The Shadows We Hide (2018)
James Howard’s Die on Easy Street (1957)
Sarah Ruttan’s Suspicious Circumstances (2007)
Rick Mofina’s If Angels Fall (2000)
Mary Daheim’s The Alpine Advocate (1992)
Vince Kohler’s Rainy North Woods (1990)
Jason Pinter’s Stolen (2008)
Mark Arsenault’s Spiked (2003)
Warren Adler’s The Henderson Equation (1976)
Robert Olen Butler’s Paris in the Dark (2018)
Martyn Waites’ Mary’s Prayer (1997)
Mark Sanderson’s Snow Hill (2010)
Thomas Enger’s Cursed (2017)

A full study of this subject would probably be book-length. But I am pleased with what I was able to accomplish in a much shorter space, for CrimeReads. Click here to read the full article.

READ MORE:The Disappearing Newsroom,” by Wallace Stroby (CrimeReads).


Mathew Paust said...

Don't forget Tony Hillerman's The Fly on the Wall. A classic!

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Excellent, Mathew. I certainly had missed mentioning that novel.