What was the first crime novel you ever read? AFTER Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys that is, when you were an adult!

I'm thinking too. And I realize that I mainly read horror until fairly recently! When I was a young teen I used to grab hold of my parent's Alfred Hitchcock Monthly Magazine. I loved it! But as for novels--I think the first crime novels I read were by Lawrence Sanders. Come on, tell me--so it'll refresh my memory!

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so true. there was so much talent there. they were amazing. and their brother Bramwell was talented too, but he drank himself to death and died fairly young. his destiny was tragic. I believe in destiny and fate. but believing in it is scary.
It was Sherlock Holmes for me, about the age of 10. (Not Holmes, me.)
Then, I found Mickey Spillane. This was the 50s, and he was a sensation in every way.
"I, the Jury" may have warped me permanently.
My modern (1975 to now) reading began with Raymond Chandler after seeing "The Big Sleep" with Bogart.
And, I was hooked by reading T. Jefferson Parker, "Laguna Heat," and Charles Willeford, "New Hope for the Dead."
That is the single most irresistible title I can think of, except "Naked Pictures of Scarlet Johansson."
ooh you devil! a scarlet fan, eh?
About Spillane, couldn't agree with you more. I came to him late--too late, actually, I was too busy reading horror. But then I got into reading crime fiction and that' all I read now.
I think in the Big sleep, I understood it better from the novel than from the film. I'm reading a collectionof great short stories now. one ofwhich is by Chandler. I guess he's really my favorite writer. If I could go into a time capsule or better yet stay inside one of his novels I'd live there forever! I'd be Marlowe's gal friday and general assistant. I'd be there to hear about his cases and try to help (any way I could)!
I'll have to check out your other recommendations. Sherlock is fun to read, too--but I'm so into hardboiled.
Thank you Ed! I bet you saw Black Dahlia. I read the book but was disappointed with the film. with the exception of Miss Johansson of course! thanks for your reply!
I started reading crime fiction because I loved horror fiction...ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS: anthologies, ghost-edited by Robert Arthur and then Harold Q. Masur, offered a gratifyingly eclectic mix of suspense, mystery, horror, sf, some whimsical fantasy (with a dark edge) and some work that was included solely for its gallows humor. They were almost as good as the best pure-horror anthologies I'd find, and it was a long series, many editions of which were still being re-issued then by Dell in paperback (usually cut in half). So, the first adult cf novel I read was probably one of the short novels included in some of the AHP volumes (not to be confused with the best-of ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE volumes also published by Dell--which wree also good, but tended to be less eclectic--nor the juvenile AH AND THE THREE INVESTIGATORS novels). I loved the opening of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, but always have found it easy to put down...still haven't finished it, 35 years later.
Yes, I remember coming to Hitch early on as well. it was a great intro to the world of crime fiction. and the twist at the end was always great. Lamb to the Slaughter was probably my favorite. About a very angry pregnant wife, a huge leg of frozen lamb, a cruel police officer husband and some hungry workmates (nudge, nudge) it was fab! btw, I know what you mean about the Hound, etc. I loved the opening--it was one of the best openings ever--but the thrills weren't too consistent, although in its time it was probably a real shocker. Thanks Todd
Do you refer to the tv series here, Carole? I was referring to the the books that were issued in part to cash in on Hitchcock's ongoing fame (though the first anthology attributed to him was issued well before the tv series, and one of the literary anthologies was AHP: STORIES THEY WOULDN'T LET ME DO ON TV. I think "Lamb to the Slaughter" might've been one of those stories, a Roald Dahl story I think, but I could check that. Several of the stories collected in that one were eventually adapted for the tv series as it went on.)
I know I saw Lamb to the slaughter on tv, but I also did read it. (I'm sure I did, but you never know about the old gray cells short circuiting on occasion--which is possible)--but it was also the Hitchcock Montly Mag that I lliked--and paperbacks to that came out.
One story I know I read, that I'll never forget (can't remember the title) was about this man and woman. He's just met her and he's very taken with her shall we say and they go back to her place, and they get into the old sack--which is across the room (well across) from the light switch, and she just reaches over and turns out the light! woah! that shook me up for years, Todd!
I devoured the Hardy Boys and The Three Investigators. Actually, truth be told, I enjoyed T3I better than the Hardys. Even as a youngster, I realized the Hardys were structured stories and I liked to compare notes on how Frank and Joe's ages and hair color were introduced.

After the Hardys I sank my teeth into SF: Clarke, Star Trek (yeah, yeah, I know), Alan Dean Foster. Searching for a college to attend, I read my first Stephen King book, Pet Semetary. What a book to start with, huh?

TV-wise, I always loved PI shows, cop shows, lawyer shows. Loved watching Perry Mason late at night, Murder, She Wrote, Ironside, Miami Vice, etc. Movie-wise, I love almost all murder/mystery/crime movies. Always have.

Book-wise, I'm a late comer. The one book that really started my craze for crime literature was Mystic River. I heard Dennis Lehane on NPR and listened to him describe how he wanted to write an epic story covering generations. That sounded good to me. I bought it. The prologue was heart-wrenching. And the first chapter had a great opening sentence. Here it is:

Brendan Harris loved Katie Marcus like crazy, loved her like movie love, with an orchestra booming through his blood and flooding his ears.

Lehane hooked me good. I discovered his five previous PI novels. Then, I discovered George Pelecanos. Throw away the key, man. I'll stay behind bars as long as you feed me this stuff. Pelecanos's characters talked and lived a life so unlike mine, I felt like a voyeur. And I savored every last letter.


This was in 2001. I started compiling lists of authors and books I Needed To Know: Elmore Leonard, Hammett, Chandler, Cain, MacDonald, The Friends of Eddie Coyle. The next author to kick in my teeth was Ken Bruen. I read The Guards and thought I haven't read anything better. It's still up there in that Big List in the Sky of Great Books. Soon, thereafter, Hard Case Crime started publishing their books. Man, I was in heaven. And those covers! Among my favorites there are Little Girl Lost, Plunder of the Sun, Branded Woman, and Dead Street. I just finished reading my first Allan Guthrie book, Hard Case Crime's Kiss Her Goodbye. Next up: Cristina Faust's Money Shot.
Wow, what a great answer! I was riveted to Nancy Drew being a little girl child. I was a huge fan of the original Twilight Zone. I used to hop down the streets with my friends and we'd say things like "Now, we're about to go into the Twlight Zone, ready?" and there we were! I loved your quote from Mystic River. I have to read it. I did enjoy the film though, very much. You certainly named some authors I love. And wait a min! Hard Case Crime, are you kidding? I am addicted! I am writing something and have in mind the most lurid cover in the world! I loved Little Girl Lost and Branded Woman. I have to read Faust's and Guthrie's as well. I think it's fantastic that they are publishing books like that again, old and new. Books that people had to search through second hand book shops and attics to be able to read some of the earlier ones. And as for the new ones by new authors, it's great! why shouldn't a much loved style of writing be developed and redeveloped and shaped and added to and adapted for a brand new audience? it's so good.
btw, thanks so much for you reply. ps. I got into Stephen King right away--with Salem's Lot, I think it was. And as for pet cemetary or however he spelled it--! It shook me up like a lot! I mean it, too!
:) My first of King's was The Stand, it's always been my favorite. And then of course I began drifting through all of them. I'm like you, Pet Semetary was very eerie feeling...and I can remember one of my sons' having nightmares after watching Christine. He was younger (teens) but it bothered him a lot...maybe because when you're a male teenager, that car is life, and for the car to become your enemy was your worst nightmare!;):)
I know what you mean. Christine was pretty scary. I think Salem's Lot scared me the most. I mean (i still remember) Danny Glick floating outside his brother's window. I mean woah! I think I checked around under the bed after that (and I was over twenty)! holy tamales!
Scott, reading your post was somewhat like reading one of the author's you listed:) Especially the part where you said,"Throw away the key, man. I'll stay behind bars as long as you feed me this stuff. Pelecanos's characters talked and lived a life so unlike mine, I felt like a voyeur. And I savored every last letter." Excellent!

And thank you for refreshing me about Dennis Lehane...I've read him and love him. Probably a lot of others that it would take a nudge to remember ...I tend to remember the titles rather than all the author's unless it's one I've read for years. I haven't got a clue what "disorder" that would be labeled under...sigh...I do the same thing with music.

I loved the opening line you quoted from Mystic River...I've seen the movie, but haven't read the book, but this makes me want to order it as soon as I log off:)

Like Carole said, this is an excellent post...and your own style is just as excellent. Tell us you write too!:) If not, you need to!:)

L.

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