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“Party Favor”


The list of mysteries continues. Over Christmas break at my dinner gathering, I asked my guests to write their favorite mystery on a piece of paper and drop into the bowl. The result was a great list of mysteries that I have either not heard of or have yet to read. Used bookstores are the great places to find these mysteries. In addition to the ones I wrote down above:

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith (First published 1950)
In her first novel published in 1950, Patricia Highsmith introduced the character of a subtle, murderous, sociopath who lives unsuspected for years. Highsmith’s psycho-thriller was the source of a famous Alfred Hitchcock film in 1953. The book is one of the great classics of psychological crime fiction.

The Drowning Pool by Ross Macdonald (First published in 1950)
Hard-boiled novel noir filled with sex, blackmail, deceit and murder. This is the second novel in Macdonald’s Lew Archer series. Complex plot, combined with psychological depth, in economic prose.

The Lake of Darkness by Ruth Rendell (First published in 1976)
Martin Urban, a quiet bachelor, wins a large fortune at the football pools. As he decides to share his newfound wealth with those in need the disaster begins to unfold. The seemingly normal benefactors of Martin’s altruistic impulses are vicious nut cases. His good intentions become fatally distorted. One of Rendell’s best novels.

A Dark-adapted Eye by Barbara Vine (First published 1987)
Ruth Rendell, writing as Barbara Vine, tells a gripping tale of family madness that keeps you guessing till the end.

Ruth Rendell, Patricia Highsmith are new authors to me, despite the fact that their books always stare at me at the bookstore.


3 Responses

  1. Strangers on a Train is a good mystery. Patricia Highsmith also wrote the Talented Mr. Ripley series and The Price of Salt (an LGBT classic) under the pseudonym Claire Morgan.

    I’m still a fan of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. especially The Hound of the Baskervilles.

    • Strangers on a Train is totally terrifying to me. That horrible fear that if one person knows one thing about you and they can haunt you with it forever…I even taught this book at an all women’s college to scare them a little 🙂

  2. Love The Circular Staircase. If you read it, you need to read The Bat, also by Mary Roberts Rinehart. It’s the novelization of the play, which was based off of The Circular Staircase.

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