Careful scrutiny of my patent CWA-o-meterTM will reveal that in August 2013 I finally reached the halfway point in my goal to read the CWA’s top 100 crime novels. I chose a solid classic to get me over the wire – Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley.
Paula Gosling’s A Running Duck (Fair Game in US editions) is interesting in the freshness it brings to the Vietnam-vet-turned-cop story.
Cyril Hare’s Tragedy at Law is a 1939-set mystery in which somebody is attempting to kill the circuit Judge Barber. It is strong on atmosphere and has a strong cast of characters.
I also managed a bit of non-CWA reading: Rob Kitchin’s Stiffed is an amiable screwball noir story in which the luckless Tadhg Maguire (pronounced Taig, Tad to his enemies), an Irish guy living in small-town USA, tries his best to get rid of two corpses and several sets of gangsters.
Pick of the month? Ripley (although I was quite surprised how many people don’t like it quite as much as I do).
Rich – Ripley is definitely not one of those novels people feel neutral about reading. From my experience, they either like it…or don’t.
Yes, I was quite surprised. I’d always assumed everybody who had read it would like it.
Ripley is such a classic – and Patricia Highsmith is such a consistently excellent writer, it’s a shame she is only known for Ripley (and usually only the first volume) and that her books are not that easy to find anymore in libraries. Perhaps it’s a fashion thing. Interestingly, though, when you ask the current crop of top crime fiction writers who has inspired them, most of them will mention Patricia Highsmith.
I like that you are reading through the CWA 100, partly because I would like to do the same thing but don’t know if I can get organized enough to do that. I have read about 30 of them for sure, some others I probably read years ago, but if I don’t remember, then it doesn’t count.
I have read no books by Highsmith but I should and will. I just read a piece by Peter Lovesey citing her as an influence, specifically Strangers on a Train. He notes that On the Edge is “more than a nod” to that book.
I calculate I should have finished all 102 (they snuck in a trilogy) by May 2015, so you’re probably close enough to catch up 😉
Ripley and Strangers on a Train seem to be the best Highsmiths. I’d recommend both.