An avid reader for most of my life, I find that my taste is very eclectic. However, as far back as I can remember mystery novels have been just that one step ahead in my heart. Can it be that sense of fair play, or the fact that in most cases the responsible party has to pay? I am not sure of the fascination, but I am told that passion is worldwide. Having my own favorite mystery writers, based on their own thoughts and stories, I have often wondered what it is that guides them. Who were their own mentors and favorite authors?
In Books to Die For, edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke, the mystery is solved (so to speak.) Filled with history and references to the best works of mystery fiction, such as those of Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, John Le Carre, and many others, we not only learn more about these fascinating novels, but we are given the opportunity of that view through the eyes of our favorite authors today.
Each chapter is dedicated to a particular novel, one considered to be exceptional for many reasons, including those that have changed the face of how works are written and accepted by the public. As we delve into each of the books, we find them narrated by one of today’s mystery writers.
What I find fascinating is that not only is the work broken down and deciphered in a way that helps you to understand the thoughts behind the scenes and characters, we are also give the opportunity to know more about the person behind the book. Often that in itself is the great mystery.
Who would not want to know about the life of Poe or Dickens, what is was that drove them and the realities of their lives outside of writing? In some cases writing is the life of the author, but for most they were a very well connected and busy group, with ties to many different types of work. Some were tortured and tormented within their own mind, but each has a fascinating story.