I grew up devouring all the books I could. Nancy Drew was my “bestie” although that only lasted for the first part of the first modern spin-off. The originals are so much better! For a birthday present an uncle got me the complete set of all Sherlock Holmes books (unfortunately infested by bed bugs years later and now in a land fill…’nother story). I love it when people clue me in to a decent book. So this is my public service for the day. I’m going to share some of my favorite authors with you, why I like them, and whether or not there’s a tv series (and if I like it). I will post such links as I can find below if you’d like to see for yourself. Enjoy!
In no particular order,
Nancy Drew. Written by the same (male, the Carolyn Keene name is a pseudonym) author as the Hardy Boys series, this is the quintessential girl sleuth that has thrilled children for decades. I have some of the original series for my children, and I enjoy re-reading them. Sure, the action is non-stop with little character development (a flaw the Hardy Boys books share), but the stories are intriguing and the cultural notes are always fun. I found the spin-offs to be either lacking, or as a Christian parent, concerning. Nancy turns into quite the worldly character. I prefer the original series. I’ve never looked for any film adaptations, as the only one I found (a Hardy Boys/ Nancy Drew mix) was extremely lacking.
Sherlock Holmes. Yes, Arthur Conan Doyle had some very weird spiritist leanings, but who didn’t in his day? Apparently seances were the norm, so I don’t blame him too much – his generation was starving for true spirituality. His characters have been analyzed so much it’s ridiculous. I’m just going to say, I enjoyed all the various stories. The recent British film/miniseries starring Cumberbatch and Freeman (I love both of them and love them in this role), “Sherlock” is a brilliant modern retake on the classic characters. However, it is most assuredly rated R for content in my opinion. I have watched some of the older television adaptions of the stories, and Basil Rathborne’s Sherlock is classic.
Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Agatha Christie truly is a dame of mystery fiction. She seems to have been fascinated by what made people tick. These two main characters are both likable and similar to each other (everyone’s always gathered into a room for the final denouement). However, some of her stories are very dark. I am still disturbed by a film adaptation of “Appointment with Death,” which I heartily do NOT recommend, graphic portrayals of vicious child abuse included (which were not in the original story anyways). That said, I adore David Suchet’s Poirot and we watch some Poirot as movie “comfort food” at least once a year. As for Miss Marple, it’s a total toss-up for me on Joan Hickson or Geraldine McEwan. They are both brilliant.
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. I think the series is getting a little long-toothed but authors need to make a living somehow and Alexander McCall Smith is no different. I really enjoy his lady detective of “traditional build” and enjoy the gentle and genteel nature of the books. The HBO series was actually filmed in Botswana and I think it’s probably the best film adaptation of a book I’ve seen in a long time. I truly hope they make a season 2 some day!
The Nursery Crime Division. Jasper Fforde has a unique and dark sense of humor, and it’s no clearer than in his two Nursery Crimes books. I also like his Thursday Next literary detection series and his young adult magic series (Last Dragonslayer). No film versions yet as far as I know. Always an enjoyable read, although you have to be literary in some way to get a lot of his jokes.
Lord Peter Wimsey. Dorothy Sayers had an amazing mind and used it in so many ways. She was a classical scholar, translating Dante’s Inferno; she brought Classical Education and the Trivium back into the public eye; and she wrote exceptional and whimsical (the name is no mistake) mystery novels. I adore her. I found her books, dusty, on the bottom of a library shelf and count that the best find of my reading career so far. Reading her is almost educational. She is also the first Christian author I’ve mentioned. I stopped reading non-Christian authors for a while as I found their writings very dark; I’ve added some back in but reading a Christian author is always like a breath of fresh air in a way. I know my emotions won’t be jerked around and black won’t be made to seem white. I like the tv adaptations with Petherbridge although I think he went a tad far in the effeminate area, something he probably couldn’t help with his slight stature; the Lord Peter of the books is more of a restrained violence hiding under constant whimsey than an effeminate incapable of action. I haven’t seen any other movies to compare.
Flavia de Luce. This young girl with a passion for poisons is such an unlikely heroine, and yet she is so oddly likeable. Alan Bradley really hits it out of the park with this series. Every new book usually has 50 other people waiting for it to come up at the library, so it usually takes me a while to read the latest! No films yet, and I’m not sure they would make for good tv as so much that is interesting is internal. I’m not sure if he’s a Christian, although he is certainly familiar with church attendance and that makes for some fun observations.
(and I’m waiting for more! Make a recommendation in the comments!)
The First Nancy Drew book at Amazon: The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew, Book 1)
The modern Sherlock series: Sherlock: Season 1
Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock: Sherlock Holmes & The Woman In Green
Joan Hickson’s Miss Marple: Miss Marple: The Complete Collection
Geraldine McEwan’s Miss Marple: Agatha Christie’s Marple: Geraldine McEwan Collection
No. 1 Ladies’ tv series: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency: Season 1
Nursery Crimes: The Big Over Easy: A Nursery Crime
Last Dragonslayer book 1: The Last Dragonslayer: The Chronicles of Kazam, Book 1
Thursday Next: Lost in a Good Book (A Thursday Next Novel)
Flavia’s first appearance: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie: A Flavia de Luce Mystery