So, given there was an immediate outcry of “What about –?” based on the long-long-long list I mentioned in the previous entry, I thought it would be fun* to ask people who migrate here to name what I’m going to call Quintessential Crime Novels. Not best-ever because I don’t have the reading bona fides to rate books that authoritatively. But I think it is possible to argue that certain books shaped/influenced/changed the genre to a degree that they have certain bragging rights. Or should have!
One example: RED DRAGON. There is a whole slew of novels, including THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, that are derivative of RED DRAGON. I think the same could be said of Patricia Cornwell’s first novel, although I can’t remember the name.
I think I’d make a case for one of Lee Child’s Jack Reachers, but I’m not sure which one just yet. He didn’t invent the lone wolf, but he brought the archetype back at a time when most had retired it and imbued it with an extremely subtle political subtext — so subtle that everyone thinks Reacher is on his side.
Obviously, a James Lee Burke novel deserves a spot — but which one? With Elmore Leonard, I have no hesitation nominating STICK, which strikes me as one of the most perfect books ever written.
In short, imagine you are assembling a reading list for someone very green in crime fiction, but earnestly interested in the whole field. What would you nominate? Why?