Over on The Rap Sheet, they have compiled a list of the 100 best crime novels of the past 100 years. The list has a decidedly British bent, being compiled by H.R.F. “Harry” Keating who dies this week, and Mike Ripley, but it does include a number of American Crime Fiction writers i.e.: Dashiell Hammett, Kenneth Fearing, Raymond Chandler et al. But I was disappointed by the exclusion of some notable titles. For instance, Mickey Spillane’s , I, The Jury which sold 6.5 million copies with the combined total of the 1947 hardcover and the Signet paperback the next year, in the U.S. alone. There are many more I’d have liked to see on this list, even if it is compiled by two British Critics, but it did remind me of some classics that I haven’t read in awhile. Take a look at the list and let me know who you think is missing.
In the summer of 2000, British critics H.R.F. “Harry” Keating and Mike Ripley were commissioned by the London Times newspaper to conduct a survey of the best crime novels (mysteries/spy stories/thrillers) of the 20th century, choosing one per year, 1900-1999. This, said the two critics, couldn’t be done so neatly, but what they would do was select 100 books to represent a century which began with the recall of Sherlock Holmes and ended with the death of Inspector Morse.
In the end, Ripley cheated a bit by nominating 101 titles to include Keating’s own The Perfect Murder from 1964, which modesty had forbidden its author from suggesting.
The survey, with a brief justification for each title, was published in a 16-page supplement to The Times on Saturday, September 30, 2000. The basic list of titles selected is republished here for the first time as a tribute to author and scholar Harry Keating, who died earlier this week at age 84. (Titles and years are as when published in the UK.)