In Search of Agatha Christie

A brief departure from my reviewing, but I thought I’d share a disappointment today. I had two two-hour train journeys today and with my usual preparedness, only took one book to read, which was finished on the first journey.

So, with some time before my meeting, I went the bookshop (OK, WHSmith’s) in Leeds station and, despite a sizeable fiction section, could find nothing that appealed to me. Nothing by Dame Agatha, which astounded me, and in my perusal, all of the crime and “mystery” books seemed to be either the twist-laden thriller á la Deaver or Coben or the messy serial killer nonsense á la Gerritsen or Slaughter.

Is there really a lack of a market for the entrail-free mystery novel? I appeal to my readers out there – who, of the current writers of crime fiction, should I be reading? Remember, I’m looking for well-plotted, fairly clued mysteries that don’t involve excessive amounts of blood and gore. I’m looking for a mystery that keeps me thinking while I’m reading. I’m looking for a murderer that isn’t simply picked at random out of a list of the characters when the writer gets to the end of the book.

Of the thriller writers, I do enjoy Jeffrey Deaver and, it may surprise you, Lee Child, both of whom can pull off some impressive surprises, plot-wise, but who out there at the moment is writing the great mystery novel? Over to you.


  1. I would heartily recommend Peter Lovesey who is still producing well-writter and cleverly plotted thrillers after nearly 40 years – his contemporary-set Peter Diamond series has taken over from the Victorian Inspector Cribb novels as his mainstay and are really strong fair play novels. It is best, but not necessary, to begin with THE LAST DETECTIVE (not to be confused with the Leslie Thomas DANGEROUS DAVIES, THE LAST DETECTIVE series which was turned into a rather TV show with Peter Davison) – the second in the series is a bit weaker than the others but it is an excellent series of novels overall – I also reccomend BLOOD HOUNDS from his non-series books (and it won the Silver Dagger). Ben Elton’s DEAD FEAMOUS, a murder set in a surveilled Big Brother style TV programme is pretty ingenious , as is Dexter Dias’ POWER OF ATTORNEY.


    • I think I’ve got a Lovesey knocking around somewhere on the shelf – it might be Bloodhounds, but I’ll give it a look. Dead Famous is good, but I found the killer a bit of a cheat to be honest. Haven’t heard of Dias, so I’ll look him up as well. Thanks for the tips.


    • You’ll be pleased to know that I won a lot on eBay consisting for four Lovesey books including The False Inspector Dew and Bloodhounds (also The Reaper and The Summons). Looking forward to these turning up and joining the “to read” pile, which is gaining books faster than I can read them at the moment – Rim of the Pit is on it’s way, too.


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