Here at Quay Words we think there’s no better gift than a thrilling read for Christmas. Luckily, earlier this year we had some expert advice on crime writing from our June writer-in-residence, Exeter based acclaimed crime writer Martyn Waites.
You can watch Martyn’s fascinating talk on the history of crime fiction here. There were so many good references and recommendations that we decided to collect them in one place and create the perfect crime reads wish list for Christmas. You can click and collect through the links below and pick up these books from your local Exeter Waterstones at the Exeter High Street and Roman Gate branches. If you have a friend or family member who likes to snuggle up with murder and mystery over the holiday season look no further:
Martyn began his talking about early examples of crime fiction, from the very first crime story ‘The Three Apples’ in One Thousand and One Nights to the birth of genre as we now know it in the English from classic authors Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins’ introduction of the eccentric detective and of course Arthur Conan Doyle.
o Various authors (anonymous) – story ‘The Three Apples,’ in One Thousand and One Nights (c.1706 – 1721)
o Edgar Allan Poe – The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841)
o Charles Dickens – Bleak House (1852)
o Wilkie Collins – The Moonstone (1868)
o Arthur Conan Doyle – the Sherlock Holmes series (1887 – 1927)
o Arthur Morrison – the Martin Hewitt stories (1894) and the Horace Dorrington stories (1897)
The Hard-Boiled School
Martyn heads to America where the hard-boiled private eye begins to make an appearance in fiction through pulp magazines with very tight prose. In particular, Martyn recommends Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald.
o Dashiell Hammett – The Return of the Thin Man, The Maltese Falcon and more
o Raymond Chandler – essay, The Simple Art of Murder (1950) and the Philip Marlowe stories (1939 – 1958)
o Ross Macdonald – The Chill (1964)
Martyn recommends the best noir writers in America and UK writing in the 30s, 40s and 50s and exploring crime through the lens of the working class, in African American society, the fatalistic unhappy endings of the time and talented, gritty female authors.
o Chester Himes – If He Hollers Let Him Go (1945)
o Chester Himes – For Love of Imabelle, retitled A Rage in Harlem (1957)
o James Curtis – The Gilt Kid (1936)
o James Curtis – There Ain’t No Justice (1937)
o James Curtis – They Drive By Night (1939)
o Patrick Hamilton – Hangover Square (1941)
o Elizabeth Sanxay Holding – The Blank Wall (1947)
o Vera Caspary – Laura (1943)
o Dorothy B Hughes – In a Lonely Place (1947)
Post-War Crime Fiction
Martyn talks about the booming paperback market in America post-war where prolific writers such as David Goodis, Day Keene, Dolores Hitchens and Patricia Highsmith producing high quality crime-fiction at an incredible rate.
o David Goodis – Cassidy’s Girl (1951)
o Gil Brewer
o Jim Thompson – The Killer Inside Me (1952)
o Jim Thompson – The Grifters (1963)
o Dolores Hitchens
o Patricia Highsmith – Strangers on a Train (1950)
o Patricia Highsmith – The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955 – 1991)
Martyn discusses the book in 80s crime writing that concerned itself with reflecting the world as it is such as James Lee Burke and James Crumley in America and Ian Rankin and John Harvey.
o Ian Rankin – Inspector Rebus novels (1987 to date)
o John Harvey – Inspector Resnick novels (1989 – 2013)
Martyn highlights the work of current crime writers with complex plots and endings, whose plots hold a mirror up to society.
o Denise Mina – The Long Drop (2017)
o Oyinkan Braithwaite – My Sister the Serial Killer (2018)
o Adrian McKinty – The Chain (2019)
o Mick Herron – Joe Country (2019)
o Helen FitzGerald – Worst Case Scenario (2019)
o Abir Mukherjee – Smoke and Ashes (2018)
o Jane Harper – The Lost Man (2018)