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amner 20th Jan 2004 12:18

Crime stuff
Book Club Associates have conducted a survey among readers to discover their favourite crime novels of all time, and their top detectives. Amazingly, Patricia Cornwell's forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta took top place among the sleuths. Here are the full lists:

Top crime novels:
1. Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle — 18%
2. Post-Mortem by Patricia Cornwell — 12%
3. Point of Origin by Patricia Cornwell — 9%
4. Death du Jour by Kathy Reichs — 7%
5. Red Dragon by Thomas Harris — 5%
6. The Dark by James Herbert — 5%
7. The Bone Collector by Jeffery Deaver — 4%
8. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie - 4%
9. Along Came a Spider by James Patterson — 4%
10. Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth — 3%

Top characters:
1. Kay Scarpetta (Patricia Cornwell) — 23%
2. Alex Cross (James Patterson) — 22%
3. Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle) — 16%
4. Inspector Morse (Colin Dexter) — 14%
5. Temperance Brennan (Kathy Reichs) — 6%
6. Harry Bosch (Michael Connolly) — 5%
7. Miss Marple (Agatha Christie) — 2%
8. Rebus (Ian Rankin) — 1%
9. Poirot (Agatha Christie) — 1%
10. Inspector Linley (Elizabeth George) 1%

...anyone above Holmes, really?!

bakunin_the_cat 20th Jan 2004 14:01

What no Chandler?!

Also I know Rankin's good at keeping you turining pages, even if he does tend to advertise who the evildoer is, in 60 foot neon (reading Knots & Crosses now as it happens) but I wouldn't say Rebus is particularly original. Cynical, emotionally disfunctional divorcee, living alone, smokes too much, drinks too much, dislikes authority, prepared to bend the rules to get his man, ultimately a good copper. Sound like anybody else you know?

amner 20th Jan 2004 14:41

It's certainly a narrow field isn't it? Take Holmes out of there and you've got some very 'safe' writers indeed. No Chandler as you say, no Derek Raymond, no James Ellroy, no Peace, no Reg Hill even.

And I'd argue that both A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four are better than THotB.

John Self 20th Jan 2004 14:42

If the poll was carried out by Book Club Associates among their own members then it's no surprise that the most populist of popular crime wins. Aren't they the people who offer you an Editor's Choice every month and provide horrible paperback editions which combine the worst aspects of hardbacks - unwieldy size - with the worst aspects of paperbacks - non-durable covers? Pah - bibliophobes!

m. 20th Jan 2004 14:44

There is no Peter Wimsey... :(

amner 20th Jan 2004 14:52


Originally Posted by John Self
horrible paperback editions which combine the worst aspects of hardbacks - unwieldy size - with the worst aspects of paperbacks - non-durable covers?

Them's the fellas. Or worse, 'club edition' hardbacks, tiny version hardcovers that look like you've gone for the abridged edition.

Anyway, looking at that list again, and I'm appalled by the inclusion of Patricia Cornwell. Has anyone ever read her books? They're suicide-inducingly poor. I've only tried two; one in error, and the other to check that things surely couldn't have been that bad.

The recent advert, sorry, documentary, tied in with her Jack the Ripper book just crackled with self-regard (it's secondary title is Jack the Ripper - Case Closed fercryingoutloud!). Unwatchable woman, unreadable books.

Norman Clature 20th Jan 2004 15:08

Re: Crime stuff

Originally Posted by amner
6. The Dark by James Herbert — 5%



pandop 21st Jan 2004 13:12

I'm afraid they're all a bit modern in their setting for my taste .... the only modern ones I can stand to read are Touch of Frost and Dalziel and Pascoe.


Lucoid 21st Jan 2004 14:43

I haven't read any crime fiction since my early teens when I think I got through a couple of Agatha Christies and a few Dick Franceses before getting fed up with the format and giving up on the genre for good. Perhaps now I should look to broadening the scope and picking a few from these lists. I guess, having not read any Conan Doyle (apart from possibly THOTB many moons ago, thoguh the memory is unclear), I should go for any Sherlock Holmes for starters. What else would you lot of experts recommend to me?

amner 21st Jan 2004 14:58

Depends on what you want, Lucoid. I find Holmes pretty hard to beat, but I'd attempt the short stories first (Adventures of and Memoirs of, for preference). If you want gritty and hard-boiled, try Chandler (The Long Goodbye is a great start there).

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