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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For a more modern "mystery as literature" book, I'd recommend THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION by Michael Chabon.
Strange. I found that unreadable.
Of course, we haven't really asked how you'll be approaching this, Jon. Will it be, 'here are some mystery novels that are just as good as literary novels,' or will it be, 'here are the conventions done really well to make for great mystery novels?'
My approach would be the same as my approach to Shakespeare, Whitman or Dante--that these books are important cultural artifacts as well as works of art (and/or artifice) crafted and made by writers who were both products of and in conversation with their culture(s).

I've been considering Eco's "The Name of the Rose" as a historical offering--any thoughts?
I enjoyed THE NAME OF THE ROSE much more the first time I read it than I did the second, when the occasional obtuseness of the language bothered me more; not sure why. It's certainly a good counterpoint to the writing style most of the books will have, and an excellent mystery.
Firewall, by Henning Mankell
The Long-Legged Fly, by James Sallis
Lonely Hearts, by John Harvey
The Last Coyote, Michael Connelly
The Fabulous Clipjoint, by Frederic Brown
Caught Stealing, by Charlie Huston

What these books have in common is a societal outsider's perspective.
For variety, you could use I, The Jury by Mickey Spillane. I'm aware that his writing is by no means the most clever or subtle, but it would be good to show mystery literature can also be violent and full of raw energy. In my opinion, Spillane represents the sentiments of the postwar world better than any other crime writer and he offers a savage view of humankind that will never be out of date. Anyway, that's my thought. I also really like the examples you have discussed already.
That's a good point. Spillane might offend someone. That never occurred to me. I always remember how much many other writers hate Spillane for his sometimes sloppy writing (so many loose ends and occasional confusions), but I forget that people are actually offended by the violence and sexual content of his books. You'd think in a world where you can watch an actual autopsy on youtube, this stuff wouldn't matter anymore. Anyway, good point.
There's no PC screening in my classes--I teach books I like, period. That said, I'm not a big Spillane fan, but he's interesting if you think of him as the poster child of the hard-boiled school.
You should probably include some Chester Himes as well.
On my list was "The Long-Legged Fly," the first of several short novels written by James Sallis about a black sometimes detective in New Orleans. Ironically, Sallis also wrote a biography of Chester Himes!
On my earlier list, I included "Caught Stealing," the first of three short novels by Charlie Huston about an enormously likable guy in his early twenties who does progressivly worse things. Because the book is third person from the character's point of view, the reader's liking of the character tends to make the reader minimize the badness of the character's actions. All in good fun.


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