Mysteries for non-mystery readers

Image of snobby face courtesy of emtionaltoothpaste via FlickrOh, I would never read a mystery!” If you love crime fiction, you almost certainly have at least one of these in your life. They don’t mean to be snobs or anything, but mysteries? Um, no thanks. Life’s too short, they’ll say, to waste it on such frivolities. In the library, they don’t even know where the mystery section is. They prefer literature to fiction – the classics, or the titles selected by their book group. Their bookbags groan with  the dense complexities of My Name is Red, by Nobel prize-winning Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk; A.S. Byatt’s erudite Booker prize-winning Possession; Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, an unassailable classic of the highest order.

Never mind that the three titles mentioned above are murder mystery, romantic suspense, and legal thriller, respectively. Chances are your highbrow friend has read a lot of crime fiction, and they just don’t know it. Are they familiar with such suspense masterpieces as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment or Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold? Will the own Find Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov in the Seattle Public Library catalogto having read Faulkner’s gripping legal thriller Intruder in the Dust? Perhaps they’re a fan of gritty crime noir such as Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy, or Frank Norris’ McTeague. Or maybe they prefer detective fiction, such as Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy, Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, or Graham Swift’s The Light of Day.

Check out this list of crime fiction for people too snobbish to read crime fiction, and then let us know what we’ve missed. And consider trying out some mysteries in your book group as well.

2 thoughts on “Mysteries for non-mystery readers”

  1. Good point, Theo. I was on the fence about including literary writers taking genre fiction for a spin in a purist way, partly out of resentment for the sometimes attitude: “oh, crime novels, psht – sure – I can do one of those.” Often they don’t do it nearly as well as writers who’ve embraced the genre. Still – yes – “Inherent Vice” by Pynchon, “Noir” by Robert Coover, “Nobody Move” by Denis Johnson, “Night Train” by Martin Amis…

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