At one point I almost got blood on my copy of Books To Die For, but after chastising myself I came to the conclusion it would have been really very appropriate. Maybe I’ll smear a few drops on later for the sheer excitement of it.
It’s most unusual to read all of a ‘reference book’ and I admit I haven’t got there quite yet, but I would have if I could have. I am simply saving some for later, because it’s one of these pleasurable reads you want to last. Preferably forever.
Declan Burke and John Connolly (two of those nice Irish boys I like so much) have worked on a real must-have book for crime lovers and others, who are thinking of entering the world of crime. They, and over a hundred of their crime writing peers, have got together to write essays – admirably short ones, at that – on the ‘greatest mystery novels ever written’ and it is wonderful beyond words.
The contents pages read like a Who’s Who, and I have been dipping in and out, trying to decide whether to pick essays about people I like, or by people I like, or about books I know and love. Or just go for the odd ones where I’ve never heard of either the novelist or the essay writing fan.
I have done all of these, and it’s been immensely satisfying, and I could go on and on. I’m quite pleased with myself for having such good taste, and it’s enlightening to see who I share it with. It’s also tremendously good to find that some of these successful writers are putting forward surprising suggestions. Liza Marklund was inspired by a Nancy Drew book, and I admire her for daring to say so.
If you are missing tags of all participating authors, let me remind you that the list would run into hundreds. Admittedly, some are both recommenders and recommended, and John and Declan get more than one essay each, but this book has one long list of the cream of crime.
You could always get the book. It’s even got its own website. You can read more on there. And you can hear some authors talk about their choices. If you play your cards right, you can also go and hear Declan and John talk about the book at various events.
Me, I’ll go back to checking out which ones I’ve read, and which ones I must read. As if I actually needed a longer must list than the one I already had. But it’s crime. Lovely crime. Recommended by the best. And because much of it is old, I reckon I can spread it out, find a book every now and then.