With so many mystery novels to choose from and so many new titles appearing each year, where should the reader start? What are the classics of the genre? Which are the hidden gems? In the most ambitious anthology of its kind yet attempted, the world’s leading mystery writers have come together to champion the greatest mystery novels ever written. In a series of personal essays that often reveal as much about themselves and their work work as they do about the books that they love, more than 120 authors from twenty countries have created a guide that will be indispensable for generations of readers and writers. From Christie to Child and Poe to PD James, from Sherlock Holmes to Hannibal Lecter and Philip Marlowe to Peter Wimsey, BOOKS TO DIE FOR brings together the cream of the mystery world for a feast of reading pleasure, a treasure trove for those new to the genre and those who believe that there is nothing new left to discover. This is the one essential book for every reader who has ever finished a mystery novel and thought . . . I want more!This, of course, is always the period of phoney war. That agonizing time when you’ve done all you can to make a book as good as it can be, when editors and designers have wrought their magic, and the book seems to exist in a kind of limbo between what you hope it is and how the rest of the world will perceive it.
There is nothing more to do but fret and sweat, and try not to obsess over the most minute of details.
Unusually for me at this point in the proceedings, and alongside all the usual traumas, I’m feeling a quiet pride for helping to bring BOOKS TO DIE FOR to this stage. That’s the case even though there’s an added pressure on this occasion, because BTDF isn’t just my book, and won’t simply stand or fall on how my efforts. To a large extent, I think, the book belongs to everyone who contributed to it, and to the crime fiction / mystery community at large, writers and readers alike.
But even while acknowledging that, and accepting that BTDF isn’t perfect - no book is, and I’d imagine that there will be very few well-informed crime / mystery readers who won’t read it and wail, ‘But what about [insert overlooked tome here]?’ - it still feels pretty good to have helped to bring the book this far. It was a fraught experience at times, and a steep learning curve, but it was terrific to be involved in it, and particularly to observe, in John, a writer at the top of his game and how he goes about his business.
Being the generous soul he is, John Connolly won’t tell you that he pretty much shouldered said hefty tome up the hill and over the finish line in a kind of Sisyphus-taunting performance, but he did, and did so in some style too. For my own part, I like to think that I brought a little panache in the way I stood back and watched and admired, and occasionally applauded. It’s also true that Clair Lamb’s input was prodigious, crucial and never less than excellent.
Anyway, as I say, the genie is out of the bottle now and on its way to a bookstore near you. Launch dates for BOOKS TO DIE FOR in South Africa, Dublin and Belfast can be found here, and there’s oodles of information on the book, its contributors and the books and authors they wrote about, here and here. I sincerely hope you enjoy …