Today, Judith stops by the NOOK Blog to reveal her Top 5 Favorite Fictional Detectives:
Everybody has to start with Sherlock Holmes, surely? My father gave me his 2-volume complete stories when I was about 12, and I never looked back. Detective-stories aren’t about discovering who dunnit, they’re about taming the chaos of the world, and no one does that better than Sherlock. (And that I found a previously unknown source for his unusual first name when researching my Murder book made my inner 12-year-old so proud.)
I was thrilled to discover what I think might be the first female detective in English in a penny-dreadful from 1862 called Ruth the Betrayer, by Edward Ellis. Ruth Trail is ‘a sort of spy we use in the hanky-panky way when a man would be too clumsy,’ and she’s attached to ‘a notorious Secret Intelligence Office.’ Rather wonderfully, the office is so secret it has a brass plaque on the door: ‘Secret Agent,’ it reads. Who could resist?
When I’ve had a really terrible day, what I most want to do is slump on the sofa with a new Janet Evanovich. Stephanie Plum is the way I think a lot of us see ourselves – not competent, but doing our best. That she is fast and funny as well gives me the illusion that if only I could find the right phone booth I could rush in, change my clothes and emerge as – Jersey Girl!
I discovered Sharyn McCrumb because it was impossible for me not to buy a book called Bimbos of the Death Sun. But when I moved on to her novels set in Appalachia, I realized she was more than a great title. It’s not easy to write about ordinary people living ordinary lives and yet make the crime element seem integral, but she manages.
I recently reread Raymond Chandler for the first time since my teens. And wow, how the man could write: I’d completely forgotten. Philip Marlowe is the detective for all us sentimentalists – noble, alone, and damaged. And, like all my favourites, he has a sharp tongue. In real life I’d want to slap him silly, but in a novel…
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