Top Tens

Lists of ‘ten faves’ are fun, and not to be taken too seriously. Here are a few of my top 10s, based on – and so limited by – my own reading. Of course, it’s all very subjective. If you have favourites that aren’t mentioned, let me know and I’ll enjoy searching them out.

10 fascinating books about crime fiction

The recent publication of Barry Forshaw’s ‘The Rough Guide to Crime Fiction’ shows that there is a continuing appetite for information about the genre. Barry is also the editor of a forthcoming Harcourt Encyclopaedia which should contain a mass of up-to-date information. I’ve contributed to that, as well as to the books edited by Herbert and Pedersen in the list below.

1. Julian Symons – ‘Bloody Murder’
2. Rosemary Herbert (ed.) – ‘The Oxford Companion to Crime & Mystery Writing’
3. Robert Adey – ‘Locked Room Murders’
4. Howard Haycraft – ‘Murder for Pleasure’
5. Howard Haycraft – ‘The Art of the Mystery Story’
6. John Cooper and Barry Pike – ‘Detective Fiction: the Collector’s Guide’
7. Erik Routley – ‘The Puritan Pleasures of the Detective Story’
8. Jay P. Pederson – ‘The St James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers’
9. Michael Dibdin (ed.) – ‘The Picador Guide to Crime Fiction’
10. Mike Ashley – ‘The Mammoth Encyclopaedia of Modern Crime Fiction’

Symons’ book is an enduring masterpiece of literary criticism in the field of popular fiction. You may disagree with his judgments – no matter: he welcomed ‘reasoned contradiction’. Bob Adey’s niche book is sheer, unadulterated pleasure for fans of the impossible crime.

10 unjustly neglected Golden Age writers

Yes, I know, it all depends on what you mean by ‘unjustly’ and ‘neglected’ – and ‘Golden Age’ come to that, but here goes…

1. Henry Wade
2. Philip Macdonald
3. Dorothy Bowers
4. Rupert Penny
5. Anthony Boucher 
6. Roger East
7. J.J.Connington
8. E.C.R. Lorac
9. J.C.Masterman
10. Harry Stephen Keeler

It is good to see that Bowers’ five novels have been republished by Rue Morgue Press, while Ramble House have just produced new versions of two of Rupert Penny’s astonishingly rare books.

Top 10 crime films

This really is a tricky one. How to limit the choice to ten? How to rank them? It really is a lottery. Yet at least there is no doubt about my personal number 1.

1. ‘Body Heat’
2. ‘The Long Good Friday’
3. ‘Vertigo’
4. ‘Get Carter’
5. ‘Double Indemnity’
6. ‘The Usual Suspects’
7. ‘The Big Clock’
8. ‘North by North West’
9. ‘Les Diaboliques’
10. ‘The Italian Job’

Best re-make? No contest this time. My vote goes to ‘No Way Out’, which adds an ingenious extra twist to the story of ‘The Big Clock.’

Top 10 British tv detectives

1. Jim Taggart
2. Inspector Morse
3. Hercule Poirot 
4. Jane Marple 
5. Eddie Shoestring
6. DCI Charles Barlow (from ‘Z Cars’ and ‘Softly, Softly’)
7. Fitz (from ‘Cracker’)
8. Frank Marker (‘from ‘Public Eye’)
9. Andy Dalziel
10. Reg Wexford

In recent years my tv viewing has been cut to a minimum, due to other commitments, hence the absence of more recent television cops such as Rebus, Tony Hill and co. I love the books in which they appear, but haven’t had much time to catch up with their small screen incarnations.