For fun, I’m spending the summer reading vintage mystery novels. From Rex Stout to Agatha Christie, I’ve been investigating classic detectives, locked room mysteries, and wisecracking private eyes.
Since many of these titles are difficult to find, odds are that you’ve missed them in your local retailer—these older books might be “new” to you! But many can be found on Amazon or at your local used bookstore.
On Your Kindle
The Doorbell Rang, by Rex Stout
This 1960s-era detective novel centers on Nero Wolfe, a much-beloved classic detective created by author Rex Stout in the 1930s. Wolfe is an eccentric, agoraphobic gourmet who never leaves his NYC brownstone, preferring his collection of orchids to people.
So it’s up to his wisecracking employee, Archie Goodwin, to do all the legwork of Wolfe’s cases, particularly in this installment, which involves the FBI. When a rich woman with a grudge against J. Edgar Hoover asks Wolfe to intervene in the FBI’s surveillance of her home, Archie is forced to dodge tails, outsmart wiretaps, and investigate whether or not FBI agents were involved in the mysterious death of a muckraking journalist.
On Your Smartphone
The Moving Toyshop Review, by Jesse Kornbluth at HeadButler.com
One book I’m eager to get my hands on is The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin, part of a classic mystery series featuring Gervase Fen, an Oxford professor of literature. Crispin’s work is heavily influenced by literature and poetry, and contains tongue-in-cheek references that remind me of another of my favorite authors, Jasper Fforde. Mystery author P.D. James has called The Moving Toyshop one of the five best mystery novels of all times. Plus, Jesse Kornbluth’s website is a fun resource if you’re interested in books and film.
On a Podcast
Like your classic mysteries atmospheric and creepy? Check out this podcast of spooky radio mysteries that have been transferred to iTunes. This podcast includes segments from CBS Radio Mystery Theater as well as other famous literary adaptations. Check out classic Philo Vance or Edgar Allen Poe stories on your commute.
The Thin Man, by Dashiell Hammett
If you prefer slightly edgier classics, Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man is not to be missed. Hammett’s Nick Charles, although less well known than Sam Spade, is his most charming creation (in fact, this book inspired a series of beloved 1930s films, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy; Johnny Depp has been linked to an upcoming remake).
The sharp and sophisticated Charles, who retired after marrying Nora, an heiress, is unexpectedly pulled into investigating the disappearance of a friend. What happened to missing inventor Clyde Wynant? Has Wynant gone off to work or has one of the rich man’s greedy relatives and associates done something sinister? Join Nick, Nora, and their dog, Asta, as they try to figure out what happened to “the thin man.”