Friday, December 02, 2016

Six top classic mysteries

Charles Finch is a graduate of Yale and Oxford. He is the author of the Charles Lenox mysteries. His first novel, A Beautiful Blue Death, was nominated for an Agatha Award and was named one of Library Journal's Best Books of 2007, one of only five mystery novels on the list. His first contemporary novel, The Last Enchantments, was published in 2015.

In 2014, for USA Today, he tagged six classic mysteries every fan should read, including:
The Moving Target by Ross Macdonald (1949)

At some invisible moment in the middle of the 20th century, America wrestled the mystery novel away from the Brits. Conan Doyle, Margery Allingham and Christie gave way to the tougher, wisecracking style of Dashiell Hammett and Chester Himes. As Raymond Chandler said, it was their job to "get murder away from the upper classes."

For my money, the best book in that hard-boiled, sun-soaked California style is The Moving Target. What's amazing about it is how the crime Lew Archer is hired to solve – the disappearance of an oil magnate – is obscured by a whole multitude of unrelated crimes. In Archer's line of work, everyone's guilty of something, even if it's not the something you're chasing. That fits the weary post-war worldview of the genre whose dispassionate detectives, like Archer, Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe knew that solving one mystery only meant uncovering a few new ones. We love them because they kept trying anyway.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue