5 Classic Crime Fiction Reads In The Times Of Quarantine
If you are looking for page-turners to find solace in this time, check out these fiendish crime novels
They say an empty mind is the devil’s workshop. But if you have a taste for the fiendish, we recommend you spend your quarantine period reading these five classic crime novels.
And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie
Eight people are mysteriously brought together on an island by an unknown entity. Next, they are killed one by one. The set-up of this famous Agatha Christie novel is as classic as it gets. And yet, the sense of foreboding never leaves you, until the ‘confession’ hits you like a truck. Without it, the story could have been even more chilling.
The Tiger in the Smoke, by Margery Allingham
If a choking sense of claustrophobia is up your alley, there can be few companions better than this book. Margery Allingham was a contemporary of Agatha Christie, and is known for her novels featuring the detective Albert Campion. The frightening charm of The Tiger in the Smoke lies in the absolutely riveting descriptions of post-World War II London. It’s very Dickensian too—the images of smog-filled London reminiscent of Bleak House, and a cast of seedy, deformed, criminal characters harking back to Oliver Twist. And its compelling antagonist, Jack Havoc, is one of the most ruthless you’ll ever encounter in fiction since the times of Dickens’ Bill Sikes. No wonder the book was highly recommended by a certain J. K. Rowling.
The Hollow Man, by John Dickson Carr
Who doesn’t love a locked room murder mystery? While he wasn’t the first, John Dickson Carr was, in many ways, the doyen of this genre, writing over 30 novels based on variations of the locked-room trick. The Hollow Man, also known as The Three Coffins, is perhaps the most famous. It features tricks and elements that would all become staples—deaths in closed chambers, vanishing characters, the tantalizing no-footprint-in-the-snow scenario, prison escapes and impersonations. For aficionados of the locked-room mystery, this is a must-read and possibly one of the best the genre has to offer.
Fair warning: Do not read this after closing the doors and windows of your room.
The Inugami Curse, by Seishi Yokomizo
If you favour stories which feature family feuds, complicated wills, family lineages and histories and good ol’ fashioned vendetta, then this could be one of your best, most-rewarding picks today. Set in post-World War II Japan, the novel portrays a decadent, dying family, where three sisters are trying to outdo and even eliminate each other’s branches. An absolute page-turner, this is very pulpish and Victorian in its sensibility and execution. But that doesn’t take anything away from the bloody secrets and unique characters central to its plot.
The Laughing Policeman, by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
Over the decades, the Scandinavians have mastered the craft of crime fiction. The Scandinavian school, however, owes much to the wife-husband duo of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo who, in ways more than one, laid the foundations of the genre with their Martin Beck series of novels in the 1960s and 1970s. The Laughing Policeman is a case in point. What strikes the unsuspecting reader at the very beginning is the degree of violence in the crime, that too in a public bus, in the backdrop of a country (Sweden) known for its low crime rate. The sensational nature of the crime, however, hides the real motive behind it. It is here that the novel shows all the characteristics we have come to expect from Scandinavian crime novels—cases and secrets going back several years into the past, multiple leads muddling the progress of the case, red herrings, twists and unexpected denouements.