Welcome back to My Mystery Summer. In Part I, I reported on some of my own summer reading and viewing and shared some lists of books and DVDs that we put together for our Mystery Summer program at the Mid-Manhattan Library. The previous post included some historical mysteries, Italian and other international mysteries, and international and British crime dramas. This time we have lists of classic mystery films and film noir, mysteries set in New York City, mystery shorts from our Story-time for Grown-ups program, teen mysteries, "bookish" mysteries, true crime, and mysteries from NYPL's online book discussion group, The Reader's Den. And don't forget to tell us about your favorite mystery reading or viewing at the end of this post.
As part of our Mystery Summer program, we offered a hugely popular Film Noir series on Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons. (Kudos to Thomas and Karen for curating the program!) There was not a seat to be had at most of the screenings, which began on May 30th with John Huston’s seminal 1941 film, The Maltese Falcon, and concluded on August 29th with Richard Fleischner’s classic B-movie, Narrow Margin, made in 1952. I was excited about this program because it featured some of my all time favorite movies, like Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard and Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious as well as a few I'd always meant to see, like Nicholas Ray's In a Lonely Place. If you couldn’t make it to the film screenings, we’ve got some great suggestions for DVDs to check out on our Film Noir 101, Noir B-Movies and NYC Film Noir lists. You can also borrow the American Film Institute’s Top Ten Mystery Films from NYPL.
Not only do we have suggestions for suspenseful films set in New York, we’ve also made a list of mysteries set in the New York of the past, present and future. As a fan of mysteries with lots of historical detail, I love Caleb Carr’s serial killer thriller The Alienist, set in New York at the end of the 19th century. I’ve been meaning to check out Victoria Thompson’s popular “Gaslight” series set in the same period for a while, but the first novel, Murder on Astor Place is still on my For Later shelf along with another series on our New York, New York, It’s a Mysterious Town list. Henry Chang’s Detective Jack Yu series set in contemporary Chinatown has won praise for conveying a strong sense of place and a complex portrait of the community, so much so that one reviewer noted that Chinatown itself is a character in the novels. If a fantastical or futuristic New York is more to your taste than current or historical reality, you might like to try J. D. Robb’s "In Death" series, featuring prosecutor Eve Dallas and set in New York circa 2058, or F. Paul Wilson’s Repairman Jack series, a mystery /science fiction hybrid in which an underground mercenary battles supernatural forces in NYC. There are also plenty of more traditional mysteries on the list, such as Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct procedurals and the adventures of Rex Stout’s private investigator Nero Wolfe.
Several New York mysteries were on the the Mixed Bag: Story Time for Grown-ups program this summer, together with other urban noir and a few classic tales. Lois read several stories from the Manhattan Noir anthologies, as well as short mysteries set in other cities included in the Akashic Books international "Noir" series. Classic sleuths Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown were also on the program. If you missed these lovely readings, you can still catch up with the stories in print, or in some cases, electronically, with this list, Story Time for Grown-ups Short Mysteries.
Well, my list of fall, winter and spring reading is rapidly growing. I don't read a lot of young adult fiction, but there are some interesting and varied titles on our Mystery Summer: Teen Mysteries list. I’ve been meaning to read one of them, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon, for years but didn’t get to it this summer. So, this puzzler featuring a teen sleuth coping with autism also remains on my For Later shelf. Did you love The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte or Possession by A. S, Byatt? Our list of Bookish Mysteries includes novels with plots centered on books, manuscripts or libraries and should appeal to readers who enjoy some philosophical inquiry in their thrillers and whodunnits. Perfect winter reading, I'd say!
And so are the titles on our Top True Crime lists, print version and eBook version. I remember not being able to put down The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson’s tale of serial murder at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, winner of the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime in 2004. It’s a work of non-fiction that reads like the most compelling of thrillers yet imparts a great deal of historical information and insight. I just placed a hold on the 2012 winner, Candice Millard’s Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of A President, which promises to be another gripping and informative read. Recent winners and nominees as well as classic Edgar winners, such as Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and Helter Skelter, Vincent Bugliosi's account of the Manson murders, are included on these lists.
We’ve also had several months of mystery in the Reader’s Den, NYPL's online book discussion forum, where it’s never too late to participate. Chime in on Stephen King’s 11/22/63, posted in June, G. K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday, posted in July, or Dashiell Hammett’sThe Maltese Falcon, posted in August. I’ve just been rereading Jasper Fforde’s very funny mystery/fantasy crossover The Eyre Affair in preparation for the September Reader’s Den. There are plenty of other engaging mysteries from previous Reader's Den discussions to check out as well. For a classic mystery, try The House of Silk, the new Sherlock Holmes written by Anthony Horowitz, the January 2012 selection. If you're looking for something more offbeat, Tim Davys's allegorical noir, Amberville, discussed in June 2010, might fit the bill. These books, along with other suspensful reads, are included on the list, Mystery in the NYPL Reader's Den.
Mystery Summer is just about over, but we hope that you'll find some interesting suggestions for fall, winter and spring mystery reading and viewing on our lists. We realize that these lists barely make a dent in the wealth of mystery reading available, so it would be great to have your help. What have you been reading this summer? Do you have any mysteries to recommend? Who are some of your favorite authors? What mystery reading lists would you like to see? We’d love to know!