So, I'm teaching a "Mystery As Lit" course next semester. What books should I use?

I'm going with Mosley's "Devil In A Blue Dress" for sure. Also something by Chandler, but which one? They're all so great, but is one particularly iconic or complex? I'd like to teach one of van de Wetering's books, and probably an Agatha Christie. So I still need three or four more. Any suggestions/thoughts would be most helpful. Diversity/variety is a big plus.

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Good to see you back on the forum, Jon.

How about James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice?
How broad is "mystery" in this case? Are you looking for whodunnit's or just any kind of crime fiction?

All She Was Worth by Miyuki Miyabe is good. It's foreign, yet doesn't feel foreign. It's about figuring out someone's identity.

The Ruined Map by Kobo Abe is about identity and is more surreal (haven't actually read it yet, so I can't say much else about it)

On Paole by Akira Yoshimura is the best crime novel I've ever read. Not strictly a "mystery" so I don't know if it's what you're looking for, but it's about a man released from prison on parole after 15 years and his attempt to readjust to a world that has continued without him.

Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra, though it might be too long (900 pages) for a class

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Sanctuary by William Faulkner
The Long Goodbye by Chandler is a personal favourite.
I've only read The Little Sister, The High Window, and Farewell My Lovely, but the latter has the best metaphors and best plot IMO. (I'm going through Chandler deliberately slowly as it'll be a sad day when I run out of new ones.)
Sjowall and Wahloo; Henning Mankell; Colin Dexter; R.D.Wingfield; Ruth Rendell. (P.D.James is a fine stylist, but I don't think her plots and her protagonist are quite strong enough.) Certainly agree on Van de Wetering.
I expect I'm forgetting a lot of people.

Glad to see you back!
Yes, is it strictly "mystery" with clues and a detective solving the case and all that, or is it a more general "crime fiction?"

If it's more general you might want to include Elmore Leonard's Swag, a real turning point in crime fiction, or George V. Higgins' The Friends of Eddie Coyle. Of course, for many people, those two would be more "Lit as Crime Fiction," so they might not work.
For Agatha Christie I would go with either, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Murder on the Orient Express or the Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Along side Christie their are also other authors such as Dorothy L Sayers and Margery Alingham. From Raymond Chandler I would either go with The Big Sleep, Farewell my Lovely or the Long Goodbye. Don't forget that you also have Dashiell Hammett and James M Cain.

I would also suggest that you also need to consider whether you are going to start from scratch and look at the early years (Sherlock Holmes etc, Golden Age etc) and move on to noir until you get to contemporary stuff as this I think will have a bearing in the books that you should be using.

ON BEULAH HEIGHT by Reginald Hill. Hill knows how to use the English language and the contrasting characters are always a delight.
Ooh, that Woolrich was a sick puppy. You can just tell by his work.
I second James Lee Burke if you want to include some new stuff.
The Maltese Falcon, of course. And maybe something very early such as Hound of the Baskervilles.

Gorky Park if thrillers count, or the Spy Who Came in from the Cold, or Silence of the Lambs.

And something fairly new too, no? I'm trying to think of the best mystery I've read in the last five years, and maybe it's The Lincoln Lawyer. Mighty entertaining, though not iconic, but plenty complex.
I think you'll like "The Twisted Thing," by Mickey Spillane.


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