Many thanks to Martin Lee for agreeing to do a guest post for my blog!
About the author~ (via Goodreads)
Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.
He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.
Whilst working in Shanghai, he loved walking through the old quarter of that amazing city, developing the idea behind a series of crime novels featuring Inspector Pyotr Danilov, set in 1920s and 30s.
When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, practicing downhill ironing, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.
Seven novels that killed me.
And inspired me.
I’ve always loved crime.
Murder. Larceny. Blackmail. Arson. Kidnapping. Burglary. Serial killings. Extortion. Gang violence. It doesn’t matter what sort of crime, I’m up for it.
Luckily, it hasn’t landed me in jail yet, but it has given me a love of one of the most popular genres of writing.
The Crime Novel.
Here are seven books that inspired me to write about crime.
And then there were none.
From the Queen of Crime herself. I remember reading this when I was eleven. It was called something terribly non-PC then. Having finished it, I went back to the beginning and started over again. All the clues were there, I just hadn’t seen them. Fiendishly well plotted, even for Agatha Christie
The Daughters of Time
Again, something I read when I was young. Beautifully constructed, it made me revisit the history of the period and re-evaluate all that I believed about Richard III. Great title too. I read it again this year. It stands the test of time which is always the sign of a great novel.
The Complete Sherlock Holmes
The series of works that gave rise to the modern crime novel. An eccentric detective, a fumbling sidekick and stories that blew readers away with their sheer brilliance. Every other crime novel is measured against the master.
The Name of the Rose
Every once in a while, a book comes along that shows the crime novel can be far more than a series of gory killings. This has wit, erudition, an understanding of philosophy and, at its heart, a plea for more laughter in the world. Who could ask for more?
The Remorseful Day
A great central character with enough quirks to sink the Titanic. A sidekick with a love of the Full Monty. Great plots, intriguing stories, palpable intelligence, and the most wonderful sense of place: Oxford in the Eighties. Colin Dexter created a cult classic that went on to become some of the finest crime dramas on television.
L A Confidential
I could have chosen any of James Ellroy’s books. Once I start them, I can’t put them down. They have such a pace, style and sheer pizzazz, that is quintessentially American. Ellroy leaves out the bits other authors keep in. I’d love to have those bits.
The Talented Mr Ripley
Vastly underrated, Patricia Highsmith for me was the writer’s writer. Beautiful sentences, crisp characterisation and an understanding of human psychology go hand in hand for a wonderful series of crime novels. Even better, she created an anti-hero that we could all love. Brilliant.
So those are my choices.
I can hear you all shouting and screaming now. How could you leave out Mario Puzo, Val McDermid, Stieg Larssen, Peter James, Ellis Peters, Dashiell Hammett, P D James,Thomas Harris, C J Sansom and Stephen King?
Nobody said choosing seven novels was easy, You have to murder some you love. But that’s the job of a crime writer after all.
What would be your seven most inspirational crime novels?
Massive thanks again to Martin for doing this guest post! 🙂
M J Lee is the author of ‘Death in Shanghai’, the first in the Inspector Danilov series, set in the city in the 1920s from Carina/Harper Collins and available on Amazon. He loves to chat about crime, real or imagined, and can be found at his website, writermjlee.com, Facebook or Twitter under the same handle.