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Perhaps It Should Be Top 52 Mysteries?

December 13, 1990

Not only did I enjoy Paul Piazza's article "The Top 50 Mysteries--and No Apologies" (Nov. 23), I found it very informative. He had listed books that even I--an avid sleuther--had not yet read.

However, I think that Piazza did neglect two important books, both of which I find worthy for the same reason. Historically, the mystery novel has been long on story and short on character and theme; because of that, many literary types have never considered mysteries anything but pulp.

During the last 10 years, there has been a significant movement toward what I call a "mystery novel," a book that not only has a good, intriguing story, but also has good characterization and place description and even thematic interest.

Two books typical of this movement are Kem Nunn's "Tapping the Source," the story of a brother trying to find his lost sister in the party/surfer atmosphere of Huntington Beach, and James Ellroy's "The Big Nowhere," the fictionalized solution to Los Angeles' Sleepy Lagoon murders of the '40s. The first story is about the search for values in the freewheeling world of the '80s and the second is the story of the impact of greed and corruption.

PETER MELCZER

Beverly Hills

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