Kaggsy’s confession that she had never read Patricia Highsmith made me think about some of the classic crime writers that I still haven’t got around to. Here is a rundown of my top five to-be-read authors.

No_Wind_of_BlameRegency Ducked
Georgette Heyer’s period novels are probably not my immaculate bone china cup of tea, but I haven’t even read any of her 12 straightforward mysteries.





1952 Book Club Edition

Best Missed Series of the Century
The 33 novels and 40 novellas in the Nero Wolfe series were voted best mystery series at Bouchercon 2000 (which still sounds futuristic). Now I’m not 100% sure about missing Rex Stout, as I have half a recollection of having one on my shelves, but it can’t have been a memorable one. And for some reason you don’t find many Stouts in UK second-hand bookshops (or new bookshops for that matter).



Perjured_ParrotThe Case of the Prolific Proser
Erle Stanley Gardner wrote 82 works (f I’ve counted correctly) in the Perry Mason series between 1933 and 1973, plus loads of other titles. Statistically it is vanishingly unlikely that I haven’t read a single one, but that’s the Case.





Pietr the LatvianPipe down at the back
I don’t feel bad about missing Georges Simenon – I said to myself years ago that I’d save Maigret for a rainy day, and luckily one hasn’t arrived yet.






The_Ivory_GrinMissed Millar
Ross Macdonald (husband of Margaret Millar) published Lew Archer novels between 1949-1976, and is credited with bringing greater psychological depth to the hardboiled genre. I’m looking out for The Zebra-Striped Hearse.





So go on, who have you missed? And are there any of these you’d give a miss?


About pastoffences

Past Offences exists to review classic crime and mystery books, with ‘classic’ meaning books originally published before 1987.
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40 Responses to Missed-eries

  1. Well, I’ve managed one Ross MacDonald – pretty good, too. On the other hand, started both a Stout and a Gardner but didn’t get on with them.

    My missed classics – Margery Allingham is the one that springs to mind immediately. No Chandler or Hammett either, but I can’t see that happening any time soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, you absolutely have to read all of these, with maybe the exception of Heyer (tried a few, found them a trifle on the dull side). I will put my hand up and admit to not having read EC Bentley, HC Bailey, Val McDiermid, Delano Ames, Jo Nesbo and many, many others …


  3. realthog says:

    I’ve read stuff by all of these authors, quite a lot in the case of Macdonald and Gardner, just a couple apiece for the others. To judge by my own experience, I’d be in no rush if I were you to plunge headlong into Heyer’s mysteries; they’re so routine you can quite often see the number through the number through the paint.

    Gardner’s a guilty pleasure for me. You know how sometimes you’re in the mood for a Hallmark Channel-type TV movie rather than anything more demanding? Well, that’s the way I approach Gardner: mediocre, but there are times when mediocre’s just what’s wanted. And they’re short.


  4. Bev Hankins says:

    I just started reading Gardner in the last couple years–I had a real aversion to Perry Mason based on early encounters with the TV series. And much prefer Simenon’s short stories to the longer works.

    As for my “missed-eries”: I’ve never read Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald, John Rhode, H.C. Bailey, Anthony Abbott, E W Hornung…among others.


  5. crimeworm says:

    I do like Ross MacDonald! I wouldn’t miss him.out. I have that very Simenon but not read it, but I have some very well-read friends who raved about them. Bonus – if they’re not great, they’re not v long…! I’ve missed out too many to mention! And Jo Nesbo was mentioned – am I the only one who thinks he’s a tad over-rated and in need of a better editor? I think I’ll go to the library this week, see if I can track down some oldie but goodies. Charity shops are all last couple of years Richard and Judy picks now!


    • westwoodrich says:

      I’ve almost given up on my local charity shops, I never see anything I want these days. There’s a great Amnesty bookshop in Cambridge but I rarely get there.


  6. kaggsysbookishramblings says:

    Wow! No Maigret! I read a lot of Stout at one time and enjoyed them, but they tend to all merge into one. Maigret I love however. As for further confessions? I adore Dashiel Hammett but I’ve never read any Chandler…


  7. neer says:

    I have read only one mystery by Heyer. Am in no hurry to read another one of her’s.

    Haven’t read anything by Margaret Millar, Peter Lovesey, Edgar Wallace, Jo Nesbo, Delano Ames.. it goes on and on….


  8. I could have a whole blog about missed-eries. Not just a blog post but an entire blog. Oodles of these authors and many more that I’ve never read. Or not yet anyway. Keep up the monthly challenges and I’ll get to them eventually 🙂


  9. heavenali says:

    I have never read Patricia Highsmith either, nor Raymond Chandler nor Georges Simenon. Too m any books *sigh*


  10. patrickmurtha says:

    I’ve read at least one book by three of your five listed authors, and intend to get started on Gardner soon. (There are plenty of other key writers I haven’t read at all, crime novelists and literary novelists both, but I’m picking up the pace as I settle into my late middle age.)

    I think that Rex Stout, Ross Macdonald, and Georges Simenon are all sensational writers. I’m reading the Nero Wolfe series in order, and have now completed the first eight novels (up through “Where There’s a Will”). I love every word of them. The Maury Chaikin / Timothy Hutton television series was terrific, too – I’ve seen every episode. In one of my fantasy lives, I want to be Archie Goodwin.

    I’ve read around in Macdonald, but not in order, so I recently read the first Lew Archer novel, “The Moving Target,” to kick off a Macdonald project.

    With Simenon, I’ve not read any of the Maigrets yet, shame on me!, but I have read one of his romans durs, “Dirty Snow,” and was knocked out by it.


  11. John says:

    From the above list I’ve read at least one book by all. Stout I’ve only read three or four. Still not a big fan unlike the rest of the world. Simenon I’ve read three but just like Patrick none of them was a Maigret novel. My second try with Georgette Heyer was DEATH IN THE STOCKS. Way too arch in its humor and I was turned off. I couldn’t get through it. I’m interested in reading more Perry Mason books (so far only three), more of Simenon and definitely more Macdonald whose only book I’ve read so far was THE CHILL. I know Lew Archer from TV and the movies better than the books.

    Writers I still haven’t read include these:
    US: Phoebe Atwood Taylor (though I’ve read one book under her “Alice Tilton” pen name), Frances Crane, the Lockridges, Leslie Ford/David Frome, Brett Halliday, Hugh Pentecost/H Judson Phillips

    UK: Margery Allingham, Henry Wade, H. C. MacNiele (Sapper), Anthony Gilbert, Joyce Porter


    • dfordoom says:

      I’d rate Henry Wade as one of the very greatest of the golden age mystery writers.

      As for Allingham, you haven’t missed much. One of the wildly overrated Crime Queens. Better than Sayers but still not really worth the effort.


  12. realthog says:

    John’s mention of Sapper reminded me of something I was wondering about last night. So far no one’s mentioned Leslie Charteris’s The Saint series. Does anyone ever read those any more? (I read a few in my youth, but have had no temptation to so since.)

    Hm. Francis Durbridge/Paul Temple, anyone?


    • westwoodrich says:

      I’ve sampled the Saint, but he wasn’t for me (same with Bulldog Drummond). But there might be a new TV series in the offing so you can probably expect a resurgence of interest – https://pastoffences.wordpress.com/2015/02/26/enter-the-saint-again/


    • Yes, to both Leslie Charteris and Francis Durbridge. I have to admit I listen to audio books more than I eye read these days. Both of these come as BBC radio dramas as well. Terrific stuff.


    • John says:

      The one Simon Templar book I read I thought was fantastic. I had planned to read a slew of them afterwards but of course got sidetracked with other writers and other projects. In THE AVENGING SAINT (aka KNIGHT TEMPLAR) I could see the beginnings of James Bond and all the other super hero/super spy/secret agent macho hero/what have you books that followed in his wake. So many crazy stunts, so much over-the-top heroics and derring do. Pretty cheeky stuff overall. Plus, the one I read was written when Charteris was only 23 which might explain the cartoon like adventure sequences.


  13. richmonde says:

    Never mind the others, read some Maigret! But don’t start with Peter the Latvian (his first). The early ones are more violent. Best are ones (like the one I’m reading) where Maigret ends up having dinner with the owners of a seedy night-club and one of the strippers, while the prop’s wife spills the beans about the murder victim. Maigret at Picratt’s (Maigret and the Strangled Stripper). Simenon writes as people speak, and Maigret takes us to places we’re never likely to to visit.


  14. tracybham says:

    I have read at least one or two books by the authors on your list. Rex Stout is my favorite author and I am one of those who rereads them over and over. I am trying to think of some authors (that I want to read) that I have not yet read. I am sure that there are many. I enjoyed this post and all the comments.


  15. Juxtabook says:

    Georgette Heyer is an odd one when it comes to mysteries. Her mysteries are carried often by the characterisation and romance elements and I guess would disappoint those wanting a pure crime book (the crime and detection is often not that good). However her period romances often contain a very good mystery element. Maybe because all you expect from these is the romance then the mystery seems quite good. I’d try these first actually. The Toll-Gate is a good one.

    My favourite of her actual crime works is Detection Unlimited followed by Behold, Here’s Poison and They Found Him Dead.


  16. I think Erle Stanley Gardener might be my gap, and some of the lesser-known 30s ones. I have read exactly one book by a LOT of authors, in my younger days I was a great one for trying anything once…


  17. Keishon says:

    If you give Heyer a go, I’d recommend Envious Casca. Her mysteries are not really hard to solve but it’s her characters who make the book fun. That might not sound like a good case to read it. At any rate, I’ve debated over reading Ross MacDonald but other readers have encouraged me to try him. I have a few titles of Georges Simenon but haven’t felt pulled to read any. I struggled with Chandler til I found Farewell, My Lovely. I think I’ve read the big ones except for Stout and Gardner. I think that top CWA 100 list hits on all of them. No James Hadley Chase though on there, though, for obvious reasons.


  18. dfordoom says:

    I’ve only read one Georgette Heyer mystery, Death in the Stocks. It wasn’t too bad. She’s better than her dismal reputation would suggest. Not great, but OK.

    The early Nero Wolfe mysteries are wonderful.

    As for Gardner – you must start reading him immediately!


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