Not a fine mystery read or a good mystery read.  I’d like you to recommend me a great one.  A couple of guidelines:

1. As much as I respect the classics, I’d prefer to read something set in our contemporary world.  Well, contemporary-ish.  I’ll pass on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Allen Poe but welcome anything in the Patricia Highsmith vein.

2. Nothing too noirish.  Dashiell Hammet, Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane – all terrific writers, but not my cup of tea.

3. No espionage (John le Carre), police procedurals (Ed McBain), cozies (Agatha Christie), legal/medicals, romantic suspense (Mary Higgins Clark), or anything that is part of an ongoing series involving a recurring investigator.  I’m on the fence re: mixed genres.  Yes to a whodunit set on an isolated space station but no to mysteries in which our inquiring protagonist is a vacationing housewife, precocious kid, or a surprisingly wry barnyard animal.

4. Something well-plotted yet pleasantly unpredictable with no annoying contrivances or conveniences (Hey, it turns out Sheila’s great-aunt’s long lost child is really Maureen who just happened to have been working at the estate as a fountain cleaner when Lord Waddlington was murdered!).

5. Something that starts off strong, engages the reader throughout, and pays off with a satisfying conclusion.  I’ve read quite a few novels that manage two out of three, starting strong and engaging the reader throughout, only to deliver a letdown of an ending (ie. In one case, the reason the mystery was so baffling was because the actual murderer wasn’t introduced until the last thirty pages and, oh yeah, two killers acted independently but just so happened to murder people in the same house on the same night).

6. Something with interesting and believable characters.  I don’t care what the protagonist’s schtick is.  If he’s not interesting, I lose interest and stop reading.

According to the Mystery Writers of America, these are the Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time.  Agree?  Disagree?  Let’s hear from you. Especially if you’d like to recommend something on this list that meets the aforementioned guidelines:

1. The Complete Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle (Included in this are The Hound of the Baskervilles, A Study in Scarlet, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Sign of Four, each of which garned a lot of votes on its own.)
2. The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett
3. Tales of Mystery and Imagination, by Edgar Allen Poe (Includes “The Gold Bug” and “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” which also received a lot of individual votes.)
4. The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey
5. Presumed Innocent, by Scott Turow
6. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John le Carré
7. The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins
8. The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler
9. Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier
10. And Then There Were None (aka Ten Little Indians or Ten Little Niggers), by Agatha Christie
11. Anatomy of a Murder, by Robert Traver
12. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie
13. The Long Goodbye, by Raymond Chandler
14. The Postman Always Rings Twice, by James M Cain
15. The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
16. The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris
17. A Coffin for Dimitrios, by Eric Ambler
18. Gaudy Night, by Dorothy L Sayers
19. Witness for the Prosecution, by Agatha Christie
20. The Day of the Jackal, by Frederick Forsyth
21. Farewell, My Lovely, by Raymond Chandler
22. The Thirty-Nine Steps, by John Buchan
23. The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco
24. Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
25. Eye of the Needle, by Ken Follett
26. Rumpole of the Bailey, by John Mortimer
27. Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris
28. The Nine Tailors, by Dorothy L Sayers
29. Fletch, by Gregory Mcdonald
30. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, by John le Carré
31. The Thin Man, by Dashiell Hammett
32. The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins
33. Trent’s Last Case, by E C Bentley
34. Double Indemnity, by James M Cain
35. Gorky Park, by Martin Cruz Smith
36. Strong Poison, by Dorothy L Sayers
37. Dance Hall of the Dead, by Tony Hillerman
38. The Hot Rock, by Donald E Westlake
39. Red Harvest, by Dashiell Hammett
40. The Circular Staircase, by Mary Roberts Rinehart
41. Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie
42. The Firm, by John Grisham
43. The Ipcress File, by Len Deighton
44. Laura, by Vera Caspary
45. I, the Jury, by Mickey Spillane
46. The Laughing Policeman, by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö
47. Bank Shot, by Donald E Westlake
48. The Third Man, by Graham Greene
49. The Killer Inside Me, by Jim Thompson
50. Where Are the Children?, by Mary Higgins Clark
51. “A” Is for Alibi, by Sue Grafton
52. The First Deadly Sin, by Lawrence Sanders
53. A Thief of Time, by Tony Hillerman
54. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote
55. Rogue Male, by Geoffrey Household
56. Murder Must Advertise, by Dorothy L Sayers
57. The Innocence of Father Brown, by G K Chesterton
58. Smiley’s People, by John le Carré
59. The Lady in the Lake, by Raymond Chandler
60. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
61. Our Man in Havana, by Graham Greene
62. The Mystery of Edwin Drood, by Charles Dickens
63. Wobble to Death, by Peter Lovesey
64. Ashenden, by W Somerset Maugham
65. The Seven Per-Cent Solution, by Nicholas Meyer
66. The Doorbell Rang, by Rex Stout
67. Stick, by Elmore Leonard
68. The Little Drummer Girl, by John le Carré
69. Brighton Rock, by Graham Greene
70. Dracula, by Bram Stoker
71. The Talented Mr Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith
72. The Moving Toyshop, by Edmund Crispin
73. A Time to Kill, by John Grisham
74. Last Seen Wearing, by Hillary Waugh
75. Little Caesar, by W R Burnett
76. The Friends of Eddie Coyle, by John V Higgins
77. Clouds of Witness, by Dorothy L Sayers
78. From Russia, with Love, by Ian Fleming
79. Beast in View, by Margaret Millar
80. Smallbone Deceased, by Michael Gilbert
81. The Franchise Affair, by Josephine Tey
82. Crocodile on the Sandbank, by Elizabeth Peters
83. Shroud for a Nightingale, by P D James
84. The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy
85. Chinaman’s Chance, by Ross Thomas
86. The Secret Agent, by Joseph Conrad
87. The Dreadful Lemon Sky, by John D MacDonald
88. The Glass Key, by Dashiell Hammett
89. Judgment in Stone, by Ruth Rendell
90. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
91. The Chill, by Ross Macdonald
92. Devil in a Blue Dress, by Walter Mosley
93. The Choirboys, by Joseph Wambaugh
94. God Save the Mark, by Donald E Westlake
95. Home Sweet Homicide, by Craig Rice
96. The Three Coffins (aka The Hollow Man), by John Dickson Carr
97. Prizzi’s Honor, by Richard Condon
98. The Steam Pig, by James McClure
99. Time and Again, by Jack Finney
100. A Morbid Taste for Bones, by Ellis Peters, tied with Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin

Our trip down Atlantis memory lane continues with –


Well, this one was a first – an episode that picks up NOT when we last left off but BEFORE we last left off, introducing a scene involving the wraith that we didn’t see during the attack on the Asuran home world.  It was not only unique in our playing with the narrative timeline, but also an uncharacteristic “cutting to the bad guys”, something we generally avoided on the show.  This scene was also notable for providing one of the highlights for that season’s blooper year when one of the wraith trips and almost falls flat on his face as he brings in the ZPM’s.

This episode was written and produced by Stargate veteran Alan McCullough who, after Stargate: Atlantis wrapped production, moved on to Sanctuary and Lost Girl.  When the time came, I was very sorry to see him (and Martin Gero) go.

Writer/Co-Executive Producer Alan McCullough

One of the standout moments in this episode was the destruction of the wraith cloning facility.  Our VFX department excelled at wholesale destruction:.

Art Department concept drawing of the wraith facility.
And the onscreen version compliments of our VFX department.

On the other hand, kudos to our Special Effects and Make up departments on the grotesque wraith drone birthing scene.  Yech.  It’s no wonder they all wear those masks.

Teyla’s pregnancy becomes an issue for Sheppard – and I believe rightly so.  Still, his decision to allow her to come along on the mission pays off when she ends up assuming control of the wraith queen to win their freedom.  Sure, it’s easy to say it was the right choice in retrospect but if you were leading the team, would you have allowed Teyla to tag along?

58 thoughts on “September 18, 2012: Recommend me a great mystery read! Days of Stargate Atlantis Past! Spoils of War!

  1. You’re too friggin’ picky!!

    Personally, I’m a Christie fan, but no use recommending any of her books.

    I will say that The Woman in White is HIGHLY recommended by Special Agent Aloysius Pendergast’s creators, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I would recommend their books, but Pendergast is a recurring character, soooo…

    As far as that list goes, I’ve seen most of those in film form, and love just about all of them. Watching movies is sooo much easier than reading the books. 😉


  2. ” or a surprisingly wry barnyard animal.”
    Darn, I was going to recommend Freddy and the Bean Home News.

    How about The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon? The writing is gorgeous.

  3. Lawrence Block is my favorite mystery writer. His Bernie Rhodenbarr mystery novels are a lot of fun and don’t take themselves too seriously, and has a lot of snappy dialogue. Bernie is a master cat burglar and used bookstore owner just trying to make it through his day. I’d highly recommend The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams as a starting point, even though it’s somewhat in the middle of the series.

    His Matthew Scudder series about an alcoholic ex-cop turned private eye is also excellent, but much darker.

    Block has been writing for over 50 years and has a ton of stuff out there, some good, some not so good, but you can go wrong with either Bernie or Matt Scudder.

    Good top 100 list too. I’ve read probably 40 of those titles and can’t argue with any of them.

  4. That Mystery list looks okay to me. You should start at 100 and work your way to number one. That’l keep you busy. When I was a kid, I would read any Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. They were great.

    Agree with all your points on Spoils of War. First time I saw it, the Wraith Facility destruction surprised the heck out of me. I thought that was awesome! Why did those newborn drones have to wear masks? Alan McCullough was a great writer for SGA. He had a lot of really good episodes. Now Gero, on the other hand…no one died after he left. So….. 😉

    @ Tam Dixon – I see you are suffering from Spong Bob Spare Pants Syndrome. You watch something so much, you begin to loathe it. Not Taylor Lautner’s fault. 🙂

  5. Hey Joe! Despite your Christie prohibition, I would still recommend “Murder on the Orient Express” if you haven’t read it and have somehow managed to not have already heard what happens. It’s simply a classic of the genre, and timelessly brilliant.

    I’m not sure if I was in Sheppard’s place that I would have allowed Teyla to come – that being said, I would have to acknowledge that she is a valuable member of the team, not to mention having the right to make her own choice about how she wants to deal with the situation.

  6. So very happy to see all the Dorothy Sayers books & at least one Rex Stout & Elizabeth Peters! Her books tend to have recurring characters but she also used to write single mysteries as Barbara Michaels. Some of those early works are really great.

  7. Mystery novels- two thumbs up (three if I were Honey Boo Boo Child’s new niece) for “Hunt for Red October”, “Dance Hall of the Dead”, and “Fletch”.

  8. From the list, Elizabeth Peters and Ellis Peters are both wonderful but violate rule 1 (pre-WWI Egypt and medieval England respectively) and rule 3’s recurring investigator (Amelia Peabody and Brother Cadfael). Clearly whoever wrote this list is on crack for failing to include any Robert B. Parker. The Spenser books are interesting and engaging while still being fun but obviously it violates the recurring character rule. If you are willing to bend a bit the novels are almost entirely self-contained. I read them in the order that the audio books showed up in my local used bookstore and never felt lost.

    That no recurring investigator rule is going to bite you in the butt because that’s pretty much how the entire genre makes any money.

  9. I also recommend Lee Child’s ‘Reacher’ novels. Not Shakespeare, but good ‘brain candy’.

  10. The special effects in all the StarGates were really awesome. Just as the writing, costumes, cameras and everything else were also awesome. I’m rewatching Earth: Final Conflict now and when that’s done I think I’ll start with SG1 again. Hoping by the time I get finished with SG1, then Atlantis and finally Universe, MGM will release some news about another StarGate series, movie, mini-series… or whatever. 🙂

    This is just a bit ironic: 🙂

    And this is, gross to me:

    I also can’t believe that people actually paid 20,000 yen ($240AU) for a portion. Raise your hand if you’d also pay for such a “portion”. What kind of wine would go with such a dish? 🙂

  11. Carlos Ruiz Zafron’s The Shadow of the Wind. It’s part mystery, part magical realism, and beautifully written. It’s set post wwII (maybe wwI) Barcelona. When I read it last summer I couldn’t put it down. It’s a dense read-not a quick beach read.

  12. @Joe on Mysteries:

    How about:

    Maybe not the “classic” mystery…more of a mystery/thriller. I liked the technical aspects. Don’t read it if you’re a nervous flyer 😉

    @Tam Dixon on the Loveless Cafe:

    We went there last night and I loved it! I’ll write up a complete account later on the weekend, but for now, here are a couple of takeaways:

    I loved the blackberry preserves! Just like grandma made! I ended up buying two jars from the giftshop to take home.

    The turnip and liquor greens (just a name I was told), and the fried green tomatoes were good sides (although I did ask for a little vinegar for my greens 😉 )

    Thanks again for the recommendation! We’ll be coming back next year.

  13. Altered Carbon is a cyberpunk detective novel. Since the protagonist, Takeshi Kovacs, appears in later novels, I wonder if that nixes it on the no ongoing series criterion. I like reading about him because I can’t always figure out if he’s following his envoy training or he’s allowing a bit of a spaz nature to seep out under a guise of intentional strategies to get to the meat of things by “soaking up the local culture” and “making it personal”.

    I’m 75% of the way through it and I’m sure he’ll win, but worried about what he’s capable of in accomplishing that. That worry is part of the curiosity that’s been set up so far, but I also keep stalling in the reading for being afraid what’s about to go down will be too violent for my fragile little psyche. It’ll be a while before I get through it because of that and my usual frequent reading interruptions and slow reading.

    He’s the example I bring up when people tell me Twilight is great because they can see themselves as Belle. I say that’s not what I’m reading for, this guy Takeshi Kovacs is nothing like me, but I like discovering what he’s going to do. If he were like me, I’d already know that.

  14. Some of those on the list I would not consider “mystery” but I have read about 20 of those on the list– surprising since I don’t particularly care for mysteries. I am a horse fan, so I read most of Dick Francis books, then got bored (though I do recommend Blood Sport).
    John Saul’s Second Child is excellent.

  15. I’ll throw out a recommend for “Of Tangible Ghosts” by L.E Modesitt, JR. It’s set in an alternate history of our own world. Steam powered cars are the norm. Oh and ghosts are real and not an unusual encounter. As are zombies. But not the typical “BRAINS!!” type zombie. Johan Eschbach is the main character. He’s a professor of Economics in a sleepy little town. But is that all he is or was?

  16. Ooh! Ooh! If you are willing to read a mixed genre, I just read a fantastic sci-fi mystery that I recommend very highly: Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey. Okay, it is the first book in a trilogy, but it was an extremely satisfying read so please don’t let the trilogy bit cause you not to read it. Pick it up now. And the rest of you, too. Heck, you are fans of Atlantis and Universe – this is your kind of book!

    The Alienist by Caleb Carr. Mystery, horror, set in the early 1900’s in New York. I believe it fits all the criteria. MIght appeal to you.

    Relic is the first collaboration by Lee and Child (mentioned by das) and features Agent Pendergast, but would work as a stand-alone. I found it pretty darn engrossing.

    Your no recurring investigator has removed almost every other book in my library from consideration, but if you relent, I recommend Dorothy Sayers. Murder Must Advertise has a recurring investigator, but is also good as a stand-alone novel.

    I’ve read a lot of the books on that list and can’t quibble.

    You may need to bend that “no recurring investigator” rule if you want any more recommendations. You can get back to us later.

  17. From the list, I would recommend “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Off list, I’ll have to think about it to come up with one that doesn’t violate a rule or two.

  18. No….on Teyla. Didn’t seem like a good choice. My husband made me help him lay sod in our front yard when I was 8 months pregnant. The neighbors had hard feelings toward him for quite awhile after that. I did end up having the baby the next day. Looking back….bad choice on his part.

  19. I’ve been fond of Lee Goldberg’s work ever since I watch the Adrian Monk series. Monk is so like McKay, the two could be brothers. And Goldberg has had a similar career to you since he wrote for Baywatch and then some of the Monk episodes. Anyway, I recommend this: It’s actually pretty funny for a mystery.

    Have you ever tried Mochi? Gee, those Japanese have more ways to serve rice, then we do ,chicken. It looks interesting.

  20. G’day Joe

    @ DP – I am reading Altered Carbon at the moment as well. I am only a quarter of the way through the book. Not the sort I usually read but was given to me so I am having a crack at it.

    Joe – only remember reading The Hunt for Red October from the list. Oh well. Seen most of the movies 🙂

  21. I *have* the 2-Large-HEAVY-Volume set from the 70s of the “ANNOTATED SHERLOCK HOLMES” – *EVERYTHING* is in THERE!! — Can’t remember thoughif it’s the 1st or 2nd edition…IT’s buried in a cupboard at the moment. Got IT decades ago!

    Anyhoo, Love Hammett!! Such a fast addictive read. The “CADFAEL” series is great. And, Clancy is always good. The “original” CHARLIE CHAN series [Earl Derr Biggers] – if you can find copies! – are also enjoyable and a great historical study of Honolulu a century ago!

    However, my “recommendation” choice…

    ANGEL OF VENGEANCE by Trevor O. Munson
    Titan Books

    Do not judge IT by ITS Cover!! — Although under the “Horror” section, IT *should* be under “MYSTERY/DETECTIVE”! A quick-quirky-read, with a couple of surprises. Very Hammett-esque… And, I believe IT’s also available on Kindle..

    TRY IT!! – On Halloween would be good! 😀

  22. Not much of a mystery reader myself. The closest I’ve probably come would be Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams. One of my most favourite books of all time.

    I guess The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds could also be called a mystery novel but probably falls into the “Police Procedural” pile.

  23. Two great mystery books:
    Velocity by Dean Koontz
    The Black Echo by Michael Connelly (this is part of the Harry Bosch saga, but it is a stand alone book that doesn’t need information from the other books.)

  24. From the list, I think “Woman in White” (Wilkie Collins) is the best there is, but it is a gothic novel and so does not satisfy your criteria. However, you might like to read it sometime!
    “The Little Drummer Girl” (Le Carre) is set in the late 20th C. Although it has spies, terrorists etc it’s not bogged down with lots of politics and is a very satisfying read.

    My own pick for a great mystery, and not on the list, is “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Gah, such a fab story. Set in mid 20th century Spain and concerning the world of antique and rare books, the characters are top notch. Also, I can recommend the prequel, “The Angel’s Game.”

  25. Regarding part of Rule # 3: 3. No espionage …or anything that is part of an ongoing series involving a recurring investigator. …

    Keeping that in mind, you should know that Tony Hillerman’s novels (37. Dance Hall of the Dead and 53. A Thief of Time) are wonderful, however, they are part of an ongoing series involving Navajo policemen Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn in New Mexico.

    They are a very interesting blend of Navajo culture (old and new), interacting with “white man’s laws” with a dash of the supernatural (Navajo magic).

    By the way, SGU’s Lou Diamond Phillips portrayed Jim Chee in “The Dark Wind,” another Tony Hillerman novel.

    Also, 87. The Dreadful Lemon Sky, by John D MacDonald, is a series of novels, starring Travis McGee, who lives on a boat (The Busted Flush) in Florida, and works as a private investigator. Travis McGee is written somewhat like Clive Cussler writes his Dirk Pitt novels, sort of roguish.

    I would really recommend 27, Red Dragon, by Thomas Harris. It’s sort of a prequel for ‘Silence of the Lambs.’ The original movie made from Red Dragon, Manhunter (directed by Michael Mann and starring William Petersen) is an AWESOME flick (one of my favorites), and the novel itself is intense. And disturbing. And really good.

    Have you read Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files? Again, it involves an ongoing series, but I love this series of books. A wizard in Chicago who also doubles as a private investigator. Snarky humor, clever plots, with Dresden backed up by an intuitive house-cat (and later on, a protective dog) – marvelous.

    I like reading Sue Grafton’s novels, but they’re set in the 1980”s. Her protagonist is a divorced woman, ex-policewoman, living in So. California, working as a private investigator. Similar to Agatha Christie mysteries, in that everyone she runs into during the course of the novel somehow end up connected to each other at the end of the novel.

    A similar veined author, Sara Paretsky, writes the VI Warshawski series (one of which was made into a movie starring Kathleen Turner), also has as her main protagonist a divorced woman (whose late father was a policeman), working as a private investigator in Chicago.

    You can’t go wrong with To Kill a Mockingbird. Lovely novel (and superb film). The “The Daughter of Time,” by Josephine Tey – I read that years ago – it was interesting, I thought to me as I love history, but if you were looking for a mystery novel, this one would be lower on the list of recommendations.

    And finally (thank goodness), 67. Stick, by Elmore Leonard – you can’t go wrong with Elmore Leonard. On both his contemporary novels and his westerns. I like how his novels just stop. You don’t get everything all tied up in a neat red bow in the last chapter. Sometime you’re left to wonder – well, what will happen next?

  26. Not a big mystery fan, though I read the odd novel now and then. And have sampled most of the big name authors in the genre. The only offering that comes to mind is Caves of Steel, by Asimov. Murder mystery with a sci fi setting. Technically the characters are recurring, albeit only in 1 sequel, and it’s hard to say how engaging you find the characters. Been years since I’ve read it, so I can’t really remember. Still, Asimov was one who played by the rules. Make sure the readers have the clues, along with the requisite red herrings, so they have a chance to guess the criminal before the big reveal.
    Spoils of War was great. First thing that came to mind is “why the heck didn’t our heroes think of that”. This was their last chance for a decent chance of getting hold of some ZPMs. Second thought was, why the hell didn’t our heroes keep an eye out to make sure the Wraith didn’t do something sneaky?
    And it was interesting to see how the Ancients, or rather Lanteans, were defeated. Shear overwhelming numbers. Though just another point of how far the Lanteans had degraded from the original stock. Surely they had to have wondered where all the Wraith were coming from? And ironic that they provided the means to their own destruction with the ZPMs.
    As for Teyla, no, she should not have been allowed to go. It’s one thing when her teammates look on her as someone who pulls her weight. With the pregnancy, she becomes someone they must protect, which is a huge change in team dynamics. Still, it worked out well, and certainly gave us a hint of something special about her child. Very solid episode all round.
    Thanks for the daily posts as always, and isn’t it about time for more doggie pics and/or videos?

  27. We will be watching your “currently reading” list to see what you decide to pick up next.

    On “Spoils of War”, once again I’m going from memory, but I thought the Wraith birthing scene was pretty cool. It also lead to some very interesting discussion on Wraith biology and culture. Nice effects overall. Taking Teyla? since she was fit and willing to go: yes. Her pregnancy did not incapacitate her (she wasn’t too close to term, if I remember correctly) so why should it affect the decision of whether or not she should go on the mission?

  28. Dag nabbit, a post on mystery books, and I’m pretzled with pain. Gah… Ironically, am flat on my back in bed reading books, since It takes more than a day for it to scram.

    Joe, your criteria are so narrow… are you researching for a project? 🙂

    One suggestion:

    From Das & Sparrow_hawk,
    The Cabinet of Curiosities, by Preston & Child
    Stands alone as a tightly written, absorbing, detailed, full-on Horror mystery. And when the seeker is as creepy and elusive as the sought, whew. It would make the perfect horror film, or personal reading for the week of Halloween. 0_0!

    Currently reading another one of Iris Johansen’s mysteries, per rec. by Anne Teldy, our honorary blog librarian. (How are you today, Anne?) The other book’s story line included a search and rescue dog. Some of my fave books are mysteries with dogs as realistic, central protagonists, but not cutesy characters.

  29. Joe,

    Let me echo David’s recommendation of Lawrence Block. Start with “Eight Million Ways to Die.” The Matthew Scudder character is a series character, but that novel stands on its own very well. I actually consider it one of the great books of American literature, and it’s a great read.

  30. I’m impressed that you have a list! I’ve read so many books, they kind of get lost. I probably should have kept a list also. When it comes to making lists, my ADD cancels out my OCD. 😉 There are a handful of authors whose books I will buy without any foreknowledge of plot/subject and one is Robert K. Tanenbaum. I’ve never been disappointed in Tanenbaum’s books.

    JeffW: I’m glad you liked Loveless! Are you putting a review on this blog or on your own? I have a friend in Nashville that would love to read your thoughts about her favorite restaurant. 🙂 I’ve read Airframe and liked it. But to be honest, it’s hard to find a Michael Crichton book that’s not good. My he R. I. P. 🙁

    Spoils of War: Very good show! The emerging Wraith reminded me of the Orcs being created in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. So the Wraith thought to get the zpm’s but Rodney didn’t? 🙄 Anyway……Yes, I think Sheppard had a right to know about the pregnancy. Teyla’s job was very physical and put in her in danger. I’ve only had one pregnancy and people did treat me differently. It used to bug me also because I wanted to be treated like everyone else. At eight months, if I was in any line, the other people would let me in front. The bag boys at the grocery insisted on taking out my bags. On the elevator, all the men would give each other “The Look”. I hated the look….
    BTW, Sheppard did NOT seem jealous at all about Teyla’s pregnancy. Big clue about any romantic feelings people keep injecting between the two.

    David Kirby: Thanks, I’ll look up Lawrence Block.

    Ponytail: I can still watch SpongeBob but Shark boy did me in. For some reason, my son loved that movie. I will NEVER understand why…..

    Don’t torture Cookie Mr. M.!

  31. “Sure, it’s easy to say it was the right choice in retrospect but if you were leading the team, would you have allowed Teyla to tag along?”

    If it was up to me, no way! Then again, my daughter’s decided to go to London on October 15th (work-related conference) when she’ll be 7 months along. Oy.

  32. For a fun easy read, try Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. It does have an ongoing investigator, but it is a quick pleasurable read that gives a glimpse into African daily life with a mystery to be solved. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a mystery novel that hasn’t had an obvious solution well before the ending…..

  33. @for the love of Beckett: Thanks for bringing that one up! I had forgotten about Cabinet of Curiosities. Actually, Still Life with Crows is a pretty good Preston & Child stand alone, too.

  34. I also recommend Preston & Child books, you can’t put them down. And again bending your rule about recurring detectives, I love Donna Leon and her inspector Brunetti; all the books are set in Venice, Italy, and are great.

  35. How about ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ trilogy by Stieg Larsson or any by Stuart McBride or Henning Mankell. I always think it’s difficult to nominate books for someone else especially was so much criteria : P

  36. Thanks for the birthday wishes, JeffW! Sounds like I’m just going to miss you guys (you and I think, baterista9, are going to be there) in Vancouver again – I’m going to be there for a couple of days the end of September, but am flying out again on Oct. 1st. Drat!

  37. Different people have different abilities when pregnant. I wouldn’t presume for Teyla on that. I know someone who’s stronger and more focused and more energetic when pregnant. Me, the extra flexibility a person gets when pregnant interacts with my pre-existing flexibility superpowers to make it take more work just to keep my bones together. I’d be a definite liability due to my complications from pregnancy, but I won’t call pregnancy itself more a liability than the extra life involved. Other people have complications from various conditions, too, and you don’t always call the condition itself a liability.

    (But don’t tell me I’d be less of a fighter. I’ve done my share of it and my brain was never more focused than when I almost had to deal with a loose pitbull while heavily pregnant and carrying a toddler. Canine anatomy and positioning information flashed across my vision like a scene out of Terminator and I was damn ready to deal with it.)

    Sheppard should also have the right to decide how many lives he’s willing to put on the line. The number ups the risks and could affect his decisions.

    Would I have allowed her to tag along? Probably not, but if she had something to contribute (“tagging along” implies she doesn’t), it’s not so straightforward a question. I wouldn’t be putting any lives on the line unless it were important enough to justify some risk. If her contribution would be more significant than a replacement, I’d consider it.

  38. Ok Joe. I’ve got something that fits the bill:

    1. It’s contemporary – 90s setting at least – there are cell phones
    2. Not noir-ish at all – more moorish (Scotland for part of it) 😉
    3. It’s standalone and the protagonist paints golf scenes
    4. No contrivances – other than unique characters
    5. Don’t want to give too much away, but it fits your bill with: torture, murder, electronic embezzlement, hidden treasure, government activists, annoying relatives, etc.
    6. I find it believable even though I personally couldn’t live without an internet connection much less a cell phone, I expect that others could live without such modern conveniences.

    The book is To the Hilt by Dick Francis. I’m currently down to one physical copy and a digital copy as I keep picking up used copies and handing them out to people who ask me for a good book to read.

  39. For pure brain-twisty fun, try “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. For some deep-thinky-thoughts, try “Defending Jacob” by William Landay. But the best one I’ve read in a long time is “In the Woods” by Tana French. Just unexpected in every way.

    As a dog lover, have you checked out the Chet and Bernie mysteries by Spencer Quinn? Bernie is a private eye and Chet is his dog. They are told from Chet’s POV. The first one is “Dog On It.” Quinn has nailed dog behavior while telling a good mystery.

    If you decide to delve into historical, try “The Silver Pigs” by Lindsey Davis. If you take the protagonist out of his setting (Ancient Rome – I know, but give it a try) he’s written like a modern day detective.

    For solid writing in a procedural type book, “The Poet” by Michael Connelly is chilling.

    As to the list, “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a must read. “The Godfather” is excellent. I had a hard time getting into “Gaudy Night,” but once I did, it was very enjoyable. It’s been many years since I read “Where are the Children?” but it’s terrifying. “The Firm” is good, and the ending is different from the movie. “A Time to Kill” is the best book Grisham has written. “The Hunt for Red October” is also a fine book, but watch out for all the technical detail at the beginning. (I think Clancy’s best is “Sum of All Fears” which bears almost no resemblance to the movie.) “Crocodile on the Sandback” is also quite good, but it and “Gaudy Night” are set over 100 years ago.

  40. I’m going to make a suggestion entirely out of the mainstream. The Spice and Wolf light novels, which the anime is based off are actually very good and very well done, the story and characters are likable and theres like 17 of them around, only 7 localised into English, each one is over 200 pages long. The artwork on the front of each book is kinda cool.

  41. Meant to say only 7 have been localised into English so far. If you’ve seen the anime of this, it only covers the first 3 books, there’s like 14 more to go afterwards.

  42. From the list you provided, two books stuck out. The Talented Mr Ripley and Rebecca.

    Mr Riley was a detailed, and very thorough look into the mind of a completely amoral man who did whatever it took to get the life he wanted. It was chilling. Rebecca on the other hand, while equally classy, gave one impression of all the players that was completely smashed into pieces by the end of the book. It also had a touch of romance, which is never a bad thing!

    As for a recommendation, I would suggest anything by Lynda La Plante. Lynda wrote Prime Suspect. She specialises in complex, damaged characters and endings you don’t expect. If you want a specific read try Bella Mafia. But be prepared to be disturbed!

  43. @Tam Dixon on the Loveless Cafe:

    I’ll be posting it on my blog; that way I can embed pictures.

    The internet access here is very spotty (too many visitors here for the conference overwhelming the cell towers), so I’ll probably put the post together this weekend once we get back to Illinois. I’ll post a link here on Joe’s blog once it’s up.


    Sorry to see we’ll miss each other. Maybe a rain-check? So far I’ve been visiting Vancouver every other month (on business), but that is likely to slow down around Thanksgiving and Christmas, so after this trip, I don’t know if I’ll be back again until maybe sometime in early 2013. My next trips are around the midwest (last week of September and the middle of October) and then Canterbury (UK) and Milan Italy in early November.

    Now I have to head back to the company booth for an evening exhibitors reception; this is my longest day at the navigation conference.

  44. sorry, no recommendations that meet your guidelines.
    i have read two books on that list; from russia with love & crocodile on the sand bank. never thought of from russia with love as a mystery before.

  45. Not sure these really fit into what your looking for, but I really enjoyed the Greg Mandel Series by Peter F. Hamilton. It’s more industrial espionage than murder mystery, but there is some murdering going on. There are three books in the series but they all stand alone, really.

  46. In all things pregnancy related, let the woman decide. Or life will be miserable for all. As far as mysteries go, the mystery of my life is not on your list, but I’ll forgive you since I haven’t written it yet.

  47. Sure I would have let Teyla come along, I would have never taken her off the team in the first place. I’m an Army brat of BOTH parents in the Army and both have served during wartime. And if anyone has any medical qualms, we have a family friend whose been a friend for twenty years now and she’s a bronco rider. Her doctor said that she was fine to keep doing what she’s doing up until her seventh month because it’s not as though she’s doing something new, her body is used to doing the bronco riding so things should be fine for her. I thought the whole reason Sheppard booted Teyla from the team was primarily because of his being pissed that he knew he definitely wasn’t the baby’s father and throwing a tantrum about it, and secondarily because he had a typical male panicking over the poor weak woman attitude about pregnancy. Teyla could kick anyone’s butt with a pair of sticks and a bellydancing outfit, I don’t think a baby bump was going to effect her swing any. Come on Battlefield Momma!

  48. @JimFromJersey:
    “Hey, Amanda is joining the cast of Supernatural as a recurring character! Yay!”

    This is great news, Thanks a lot Jim for this update. 🙂

  49. One recommendation sticks out in my brain that meets all of your criteria: Warren Ellis’ Crooked Little Vein. Set in the modern day, less noir and more travelogue of a warped rendition of America’s underbelly, doesn’t fit any of the spy, cop, cozy, legal, medical, or romance genres, a done-in-one story whose characters are effectively born and killed in one book, a heavily layered plot, a hook-in-the-mouth plot beginning to end, and characters you’ll remember days after the last page.

  50. I devourer anything by James Rollins.. I havent read a bad one of his books ever and I’ve read over a dozen… One of the publishers even had a special on the E versions of many of them recently … 3.99 a book

  51. Little behind the curve here, but I loved Kate Aktinson – Case Histories and the subsequent books starring English P.I. Jackson Brodie.

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