What's your favorite mystery, and where did you get it?

This is a cross-posting from my main blog, but it seemed appropriate to put it up here.

Mystery Bookstore co-owner Valerie Vanaman asked me: "What's the best mystery book you ever read, and did you buy it at The Mystery Bookstore?"

I could never pick just one book as "the best," so here's an opportunity for a list. Even this list might change from one day to another. If these are not my absolute Top Ten Mysteries of All Time, they're favorites I go back to, have owned multiple copies of, and have thrust on unsuspecting friends. Some of them I even bought at The Mystery Bookstore.
What's your favorite mystery novel(s)? Leave them in the comments section.

Ten Favorite Mysteries

James Lee Burke, In the Electric Mist with the Confederate Dead. My favorite Dave Robicheaux novel, though Jolie Blon's Bounce comes close. I think I originally checked this out of the Alexandria Public Library (Ellen Coolidge Burke branch), but bought my own copy later.

Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye. If I had to pick just one as "the best," this would be it. And I did buy it at the store. I'm embarrassed to say that I never read Chandler until I moved to Los Angeles.

John Connolly, The Killing Kind. Again, not necessarily the "best" Charlie Parker novel (that might be The Black Angel or The Unquiet, which I'll discuss tomorrow), but the one that captured my imagination most. I first read an ARC, but bought the US edition in both hardcover and paper (to give away) at the store.

James Crumley, The Last Good Kiss. Tom Ehrenfeld may have given me my copy of this book sometime in the 1980s. It is one of the greatest PI novels, and I think of it as an essential book of the 1970s.

Daphne DuMaurier, Rebecca. Classic in every sense. I checked it out of the Norfolk Academy library in eighth grade, bought the paperback sometime in my twenties, and reread it at least once a year.

Dennis Lehane, Mystic River. An epic American tragedy that also happens to be a mystery. I'm pretty sure I bought my copy at the store.

Laura Lippman, What the Dead Know. The newest book on this list, and I haven't bought it yet; I got an ARC and a copy of the book itself from William Morrow. Many people will be getting this book from me as a gift, so I'll be buying a few copies from the store.

Sharyn McCrumb, She Walks These Hills. The best and saddest of McCrumb's Appalachian mysteries. I think I bought this one in an airport bookstore.

Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night. Another book I first read in middle school, and I still have the battered paperback I bought then.

Josephine Tey, To Love and Be Wise. I cannot find my copy of this book, and wonder if I left it behind in one of my moves -- in which case, I will need to buy another copy (from the store, of course). It's a tossup between this one and Brat Farrar, but no one wrote better about the damage caused by polite lies.

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Comment by Clair Lamb on March 24, 2007 at 8:44pm
I'm embarrassed to say that I still haven't read DOPE -- but I definitely thought about putting DIE A LITTLE on this list. I originally checked DIE A LITTLE out of the Gardiner Public Library, but then picked up a copy at (blush) my local Barnes & Noble. We addicts are not fussy about dealers...
Comment by Steven Torres on March 24, 2007 at 1:52pm
Bought Sara Gran's DOPE and Ken Bruen's THE GUARDS at BLACK ORCHID in NYC. Bought DIE A LITTLE by Megan Abbott at ConMisterio 2 in Austin, TX. Generally, it's the Black Orchid or conferences for me.
Comment by Laura Benedict on March 24, 2007 at 12:21am
Gotta say, I'm with you on Rebecca.

What the Dead Know is, indeed, a very fine book. Pleasantly tense, beautifully paced.
Comment by Eric Christopherson on March 23, 2007 at 7:13pm
By methaphors I mean metaphors :)
Comment by Eric Christopherson on March 23, 2007 at 7:12pm
By methaphors, I mean both metaphors and similes.
Comment by Eric Christopherson on March 23, 2007 at 7:11pm
Forgot to mention, I don't think I've encountered anyone who writes better metaphors than Cruz Smith, and that includes Chandler (who, I admit, wrote funnier ones).
Comment by Eric Christopherson on March 23, 2007 at 7:05pm
I'll go with Havana Bay by Martin Cruz Smith as the single best mystery novel I've ever read. I actually enjoyed it more than Gorky Park (which I consider a thriller, by the way), and that is saying quite a lot.. There are no weaknesses to this book. Every element is done well, characterization (and not just Renko), plot, suspense, etc., all marvelous, but the book's use of history and its rendering of setting are both sublime. If you haven't tried it, do, and taste the baked banana!

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