Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer Reading - Detective and Mystery Fiction

I don’t think I’ve ever read a detective book in my life.  Not even Nancy Drew! Our book club decided to learn more about mysteries in June, and we read Talking About Detective Fiction, by P.D. James.  Most in the group don't read too much mystery, so we wanted to familiarize ourselves with the genre.

P.D. (Phyllis Dorothy) James included one chapter about four women authors who we might choose from at a later time (our group reads books by or about women).  They were Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham and Ngaio Marsh.  I believe the first three are British and Marsh is from New Zealand.

I suggested that we invite a mutual friend, Eve (pen name, JoAnna Carl), who is a professional mystery writer.  We had a lively discussion about the differences between detective and mystery fiction.  Eve talked about the importance of character and the setting of the story.  She surprised us all by bringing many books from her private library and giving us the chance to borrow some of her favorites.

The book I borrow was in bad condition, with some of the pages about to fall out of the first signature.  So I put some lace around the paperback and went to the library to borrow the same title, only a hardbound copy!  The book I chose was written by Agatha Christie and called The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.   It was written in 1926 and was one of her earliest novels (she began publishing in 1920 with a book called The Mysterious Affair at Styles).  The detective in my story was the famous Hercule Poirot, who has appeared in 33 of Christie's novels and 54 short stories.  I didn’t know that Poirot was Christie’s famous detective (though I was familiar with the name) when I began reading, and thought the doctor in the story was actually an amateur detective.  Was I wrong!

I finished reading the book last week.  And it was so much fun!  Very unlike the other books I usually read...that is to say non-fiction!  I’ve always enjoyed detective movies and television shows (one of my favorite is Monk), but I’ve never gotten into reading detective books.  


Someone in the group recommended reading Agatha Christie’s autobiography, called Come, Tell Me How You Live: An Archaeological Memoir.  I'm going to try and get it out the library.  Looks like it would be interested reading.  







Our book club all agreed to skip the summer months, so I started one of Eve's books that she gave me - The Chocolate Pirate Plot  (from her chocolate mystery series).  In September, we will all get together and meet again.  Title: A Jane Austen Education, by William Deresiewicz.  A man!  It was published this year but is already in paperback .


This post is linked with my friends over at  Inspire Me Monday.  

8 comments:

memoriesforlifescrapbooks said...

I enjoy detective shows, so I bet these books are great :)

Nancy said...

How neat how you all went about it- learning about the genre first & with an author, so cool! Glad to hear you are enjoying it and learning a lot!

pasqueflower said...

I loved Nancy Drew, and I became a huge fan of the PBS series Sherlock, but I haven't actually read many mysteries. You have inspired me!
What fun to meet with a real mystery writer!

Indira said...

I was a mystery and detective fiction buff for a long time. I am glad you started with the Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I read it first when I was 16 when I was getting into reading English language fiction. I was so hooked, I read all of Christie's fiction that year (my college had an excellent collection of her work). I think it was in "Roger Ackroyd" that I first came upon the expression to decribe illegitimate child as "being born from the wrong side of the blanket"!

BeadedTail said...

I loved reading Nancy Drew and also the Hardy Boys when I was a kid! I have read some Agatha Christie books but it's been a very long time ago so maybe I'll reading one again. It was interesting to read about your learning this genre!

Janet Bocciardi said...

Detective and mystery books are my favorite! I loved Nancy Drew, too and couldn't wait to get to the library for a new set within days of getting the last one. A detective series I really enjoy is by Elizabeth George - Inspector Lynley series. PBS Mystery made it into a TV series and you can get those at NetFlix. They're good, but the books are better, as usual.

Judy Nolan said...

I'm so glad your first experience with a mystery book was a good one--my husband LOVES Agatha Christie! When you had your discussion about the difference between detective stories and mysteries, did you also talk about suspense thrillers? I think there's an overlap sometimes.

Kathleen said...

I read and reread all of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries and those were my favorites. When my granddaughter began to read the Nancy Drew books, I read my daughter's collection before I gave them to her. I had never read them before - they were fun. Granddaughter and I like to discuss books ;-)

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