Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Books to Die For edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke

First Lines: Why does the mystery novel enjoy such enduring appeal? There is no simple answer.

The title says it all: 119 authors from 20 countries share the one mystery that is the most important one they've read. With this many authors represented, there's a wide range of books being shared, and one of the joys of reading a book like this is agreeing-- or disagreeing-- with each author's choice. 

Each essay also tells us a bit about the author writing it, and as I read, I also found myself learning not only about the authors and the books chosen, but about the history and evolution of crime fiction as well. Books to Die For is a feast on many levels.

For me, this wasn't a book that I started reading at page one and worked my way steadily through to the end. No, I had two lines of attack. One was to find my favorite authors to see what their favorite books were. Louise Penny? Josephine Tey's The Franchise Affair. Deborah Crombie? P.D. James' Cover Her Face. Ann Cleeves? Henning Mankell's The Man Who Smiled. And the list goes on. 

My second line of attack was to find one of my favorite books to see which author recommended it above all others. Peter Temple's The Broken Shore? John Harvey. Charles Dickens' Bleak House? Sara Paretsky. And so it goes. The reasoning behind each choice was often fascinating and illuminating. 

One thing that I can guarantee about reading this book is that your own reading lists will expand. I was intrigued by authors and books I'd never heard of as well as by lesser known books by authors I was very familiar with. Read Books to Die For at your own peril for you will be consumed by the hunt for more mysteries to read!

Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels
Edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke
eISBN: 9781451696585
Atria Books © 2012
eBook, 560 pages

Rating: A
Source: Purchased from Amazon. 


  1. I've added this book to my wishlist - thanks, Cathy - I hadn't heard of it before.

  2. You can't go wrong with a resource like this, Cathy. Glad you featured it here!

  3. I've taken a gander through this one. Such a good resource and fun to dip in and out of. I agree that you don't read it from start to finish in the usual manner. The fun is reading a little here and a little there. I did exactly the same as you, Cathy, checked to see what my favorite authors liked and checked to see who liked some of my favorite books. Great minds you know? LOL

    1. Yes, they have a tendency to think alike! LOL

  4. I realised I'd got an AmazonUS gift token going spare... so I've ordered it. Love these book rec/essays type books.

  5. This looks like a terrific resource. Thanks for writing about it. And, yes, I'd
    love to know what my favorite authors chose as their favorite books.

    I'll see if the library has it, and then guard my credit card from overuse when
    I read this book.

  6. I like the sound of this one, and can imagine all the reading it will lead you to. I think I need this one.

    1. Ah, the need for a book! That's a feeling I know very well! :-)


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