RSS
Chelsea Cain's six favorite detective stories
The best-selling author recommends sleuth books by Raymond Chandler and Jonathan Kellerman, among others
 
Mystery writer Chelsea Cain says her fascination with the macabre stems from the pet cemetery she created as a child for her and neighborhood kids' dead pets.
Mystery writer Chelsea Cain says her fascination with the macabre stems from the pet cemetery she created as a child for her and neighborhood kids' dead pets.
Laura Domela

The Mystery of the Glowing Eye by Carolyn Keene (Grosset & Dunlap, $7). A helicopter crashes in Nancy Drew’s yard. There are no passengers, only a note from her “special friend,” Ned Nickerson (he’s totally her boyfriend). It reads: “Beware of the Cyclops. Ned.” Ned’s been kidnapped! Nancy has to rescue him! This is my favorite Nancy Drew book of all time. I still have the copy I checked out from a library in 1982.

Trouble Is My Business by Raymond Chandler (Vintage, $14). All the stories in this collection are great, but “Red Wind” is my favorite. It’s hard-boiled and romantic, which is hard to pull off. The story originally featured another detective, but when Chandler compiled this book, he changed the protagonist to his mainstay P.I., Philip Marlowe.

The Green Ripper by John D. MacDonald (Fawcett, $8). MacDonald wrote 21 novels about Travis McGee, a private investigator who lived on a boat called The Busted Flush, which he had won in a card game. This is No. 18. And McGee isn’t happy about his dead girlfriend.

Looking for Rachel Wallace by Robert B. Parker (Dell, $8). This is one of Robert Parker’s early Spenser books. Published in 1987, it has a “radical lesbian feminist” subplot that’s now a little dated. But Parker’s gifts for dialogue, character, and pacing make this book crackle.

When the Bough Breaks by Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine, $8). Okay. Kellerman’s Alex Delaware is a child psychologist, not a detective. But his friend Milo is a detective, and Alex detects like crazy himself. This 1985 book kicked off a long-running series of Delaware novels, the latest of which, Mystery, is just out. Delaware is haunted and brilliant and obsessed. He had me at haunted.

The Mermaids Singing by Val McDermid (Minotaur, $8). This 1995 novel, set in the fictional English town of Bradfield, is the first of six books about criminal psychologist Tony Hill and Detective Inspector Carol Jordan. It is utterly compelling and über-perverted, and I mean that in the best possible way. Plus, it’s British. So automatically kind of fancy.

Chelsea Cain is the author of The Night Season, the latest addition to her best-selling series about Portland, Ore., detective Archie Sheridan

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week