Monday, June 12, 2017

TOP TEN TUESDAY | Mysteries That My Father Loved

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for bloggers who like books and lists. It's awesome and is graciously hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  

I was sitting here, merrily making a list of really terrible fathers in literature for this week's TTT when I started feeling a little guilty about it.  This topic was, of course, chosen to coincide with Father's Day here in the U.S., the purpose of which is to honor fathers. That got me started, thinking about my own dad who was pretty awesome and had a huge impact on me as a person.  Then it struck me...why not do a list honoring my dad?

My dad had a lot of passions - baseball, particularly the Baltimore Orioles; Music, mostly classical, jazz and country; good beer; National Public Radio and Television; the law and social justice, he was a law professor and specialized in juvenile justice issues and he was a lifelong Democrat.  He was also a big reader and while he enjoyed a good bit of non-fiction and more scholarly reading, during our two weeks at the beach every year you never saw him without a fun Mystery novel in his hand.  I thought I would feature on this list some of his favorite mystery writers/series/books. If you are a fan of the BBC Mystery series, you will notice that a number of these made an appearance there and he was also a great devotee of those programs.  I myself have read a few of these, not all, but I will try to give a general synopsis of each.  


1. Ruth Rendell (also Barbara Vine)

I have not read any of these, much to my chagrin. Ruth Rendell wrote a series of more standard British mysteries set in Sussex that featured an Inspector Wexford as well as some psychological thrillers under the pseudonym Barbara Vine.  My dad especially liked the Barbara Vine books. 

2. Dick Francis

I have not read any of these either but Dick Francis was a British Jockey and wrote a series of mysteries that centered around horses and horse racing.

3. Martha Grimes - Richard Jury Mysteries

Martha Grimes is an American who wrote British mysteries featuring Inspector Richard Jury and his aristocratic and scholarly friend Melrose Plant.  Each of the books has a colorful name that is also the name of pub.  For example the first is The Man With a Load of Mischief.  I've read the first two in this series and while they are a little dated (first one published in 1981) they are fun, relatively cozy British mysteries.

4. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

This is a cool little book that features a Scotland Yard Inspector who is laid up in the hospital and decides to tackle the mother of all cold cases - Who actually killed the Princes in the tower during Richard III's reign?  This was one of my dad's favorite books and he practically made me read it as a teenager.  I'd like to re-read sometime.

5. P.D. James - Inspector Dalgliesh Series

I am sorry to say I've never read anything by P.D. James but my dad absolutely loved her.  She's another British writer, writing British mysteries featuring police detective Adam Dalgliesh.  She also wrote a couple of books about a female PI, Cordelia Gray.  I definitely need to read Ms. James someday!

6. Ellis Peters - Brother Cadfael Mysteries

Ellis Peters is another British writer (are you seeing a trend?:) who sets her books in Medieval England.  She includes a lot of history in her books and her protagonist is a monk called Brother Cadfael.  I've read a number of the books in this series and they are wonderful. 

7. Ian Rankin - Inspector Rebus Series

Ian Rankin's books are a little less cozy and he sets his mysteries on the mean streets of Edinburgh Scotland.  His books are more hard-boiled.  I think I've read the first book in this series?

8. Walter Mosley - Easy Rawlins Series

Finally, a book set in the U.S.!  Ezekiel 'Easy' Rawlins is an African American PI in the 1940s and 1950s in Los Angeles.  I've not read any of these.

9. John Mortimer  - Rumpole of the Bailey

This series was a special favorite of my dad's since it features a protagonist who is a lawyer.  My dad even got a shirt for my mom that says "She Who Must be Obeyed" which is how Rumpole refers to his wife.  I have not read any of these but would like to someday.

10. John LeCarre

This is a little bit of a departure as LeCarre's books would probably be shelved as spy thrillers.  However, for a period, my dad was obsessed with these books and I'm pretty sure read them all.  The most famous book, which has been adapted for the screen at least twice is Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and they are focused on the British Secret Service.

Sadly, my dad passed away from cancer in 2008 and I still miss him all the time. One of the last presents I gave him was a book, an audio version of The Known World by Edward P. Jones. Despite feeling terrible and the chemo and such he was making a two + hour drive each week to teach a class at his Alma Mater.  As the semester went on, the drive became harder and I thought the audio book would help him stay focused and keep his mind occupied. He told me that the book was great.  I wish I could have discussed it more with him.  

Anyway, Happy Father's Day, Dad. Love and miss you so much.

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