As the author of a mystery series, folks often ask me which mysteries are my favorites. Hard question. I’ve read mysteries my entire life and still do. But the following three stand out as my all-time favorite books.
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902), a Sherlock Holmes novella by Arthur Conan Doyle, tops the list of best detective stories ever written. This richly atmospheric story set on the grim moors of Devonshire features a legendary curse about a blood-chilling hound-like beast about to strike the new heir to Baskerville Hall.
A Long Line of Dead Men (1996) by Lawrence Block, the Mystery Writers of America’s 1994 Grand Master, is the twelfth Matthew Scudder novel. Someone in a secret and exclusive male dinner club notices that members are dying at a higher rate than expected. Aside from the original plot and the gritty New York City setting, Matthew Scudder’s flawed character evolves throughout the series as he wrestles with his alcoholism and searches for a moral compass.
The spellbinding ending of Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1927), fourth in her series of Hercule Poirot investigations, still thrills me even though I read it more than fifty years ago. Unlike Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Block’s Matthew Scudder, Christie’s characters are cardboard, but no one does tricky, multilayered puzzles better. When you’ve read the book, you’ll understand why the climax continues to generate controversy among cozy- mystery fans.
Ask me another day and I might have chosen others, such as Ruth Rendell’s Shake Hands Forever. But none of my favorites—except my own Miriam bat Isaac Mystery Series set in Roman Alexandria—is an historical mystery novel, not even Hound because it’s set during Doyle’s own time. After you’ve read at least one of my three or four favorites, I recommend you read the books in the Miriam bat Isaac Series. Just go to http://www.junetrop.com and click on the Home Page.