03 May 2020

20 to Go

The Rule of Four (novel)
Experts suggest the COVID-19 coronavirus took root in the US sooner than believed, possibly as early as January. Personally, I believe it infected state and federal executive branches much, much earlier.

I’ve been astonished to learn of deep-seated efforts to fire Dr Anthony Fauci. Thus explaineth the lovely Haboob:
Far left and right conspiracy theorists reach remarkably similar conclusions. Both insist Dr Fauci masterminded a Clinton Foundation-funded Deep State effort to develop a virus fabricated in a Wuhan lab. Their profit motive was to make lots of money selling the world a co-developed vaccine, but the virus got away from the Chinese. Parting from the left’s hypothesis, the ultra-right maintains that the greatest intellect the White House has ever known leapt into action, averting an Obama-driven disaster in which tens of victims might have perished were it not for this great man who saved the planet. Or something like that.
We don’t do politics or low crimes and misdemeanors, just death and destruction. It takes great writing to top the tales coming out of national and state capitals. Gathered here are twenty exquisite murder mysteries, some new, some classics, some unusual, many recommended by others (thanks Sharon), most lengthy for that immersive read.

As viruses simmer in the summer cauldron, enjoy reading in a cool arbor bower.

The Cartel Don Winslow
Cult X Fuminori Nakamura
The Eighth Girl Maxine Mei-Fung Chung
The Historian Elizabeth Kostova
The Honourable Schoolboy John le Carré
L.A. Confidential James Ellroy
The Last Tourist Olen Steinhauer
The Luminaries Eleanor Catton
The Man Who Loved Dogs Leonardo Paduro
The Name of the Rose Umberto Eco
Natchez Burning Greg Isles
The Rule of Four Caldwell & Thomason
The Secret History Donna Tartt
Shantaram Gregory David Roberts
Six Four Hideo Yokoyama
Three Hours in Paris Cara Black
What’s Left of Me is Yours Stephanie Scott
The Witch Elm Tana French
2666 Roberto Bolaño
and the novel that started it all…
A Study in Scarlet Arthur Conan Doyle

What are your favorites?


  1. Great column, Leigh. My favorites from YOUR list are The Rule of Four, The Name of the Rose, Natchez Burning, and L.A. Confidential. I'm also pleased that two of the authors on your list (Greg Iles and Donna Tartt) are Mississippi writers. I think humidity and kudzu does something to the brain . . .

    Enjoyed this. Thanks!

  2. Ditto what John said, Leigh. And glad to see two of my faves on your list: Name of the Rose and L.A. Confidential. I'd add the other 3 books in Ellroy's L.A. Quartet more good ones: The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere and White Jazz.

  3. I'd have to add Wilkie Collins' "The Woman in White" - long, immersive, complex, and spooky.

  4. The Honourable Schoolboy, really? Surely the least of the Karla trilogy.

  5. John, your favorites pretty much match mine. I got so deeply involved with The Rule of Four, I feared the outcome, but it really paid off.

    Paul, I was surprised to have heard some time ago that Eco had considered rewriting the Rose because people found it too hard to read. Granted I read it when it came out and I had much less experience. Perhaps the prose had problems, but all I recall how much I enjoyed the story.

    Eve, that actually crossed my mind. I read it in middle school and The Woman in White and The Moonstone enchanted me.

    Rob, that came from an outside recommendation (in the links) because of its sheer size. I personally lean toward The Night Manager.


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