Here's something we've never done before -- have a little quiz. Below are 15 quotes relating to mystery fiction, and below that is the list of people who said the quotes, though the people listed are not in the same order as the quotes.
Match the quote to a name and see how many you think got right.
(Many of these quotes come from one website I like, though I won't reveal the site because that would make things too easy. And if you play, don't use Google!)
Answers are in small print, with the authors listed in the order that matches the quotes, below the big question mark. And if you're so inclined, let me know how you did.
1) "The crime novel is the great moral literature of
2) "Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle. They
read it to get to the end. If it's a letdown, they won't
buy anymore. The first page sells that book. The last
page sells your next book."
3) "Detective stories have nothing to do with works of art."
4) "The conventional view of mysteries, as explained by
Auden, for example, is as an essentially conservative
genre. A crime disturbs the status quo; we readers
get to enjoy the transgressive thrill, then observe
approvingly as the detective, agent of social order,
sets things right at the end. We finish our coca and
tuck ourselves in, safe and sound….But what this
theory fails to take into account is the next book, the
next murder, and the next. When you line up all
the Poirots, all the Maigrets, all the Lew Archers
and Matt Scudders, what you get is something far
stranger and more familiar: a world where mysterious
destructive forces are constantly erupting and where all
solutions are temporary, slight pauses during which
we take a breath before the next case."
5) "I've been as bad an influence on American literature
as anyone I can think of."
6) "I am talking about the general psychological health
of the species, man. He needs the existence of mysteries.
Not their solution."
7) "There simply must be a corpse in a detective novel,
and the deader the corpse the better."
8) "The criminal is the creative artist; the detective only
9) "I know what kind of things I myself have been irritated
by in detective stories. They are often about one or two
persons, but they don't describe anything in the society
10) "It is ridiculous to set a detective story in New York
City. New York City is itself a detective story."
11) "For neither life nor nature cares if justice is ever done or not."
12) "It's a damn good story. If you have any comments,
write them on the back of a check."
13) "The detective isn't your main character, and neither is
your villain. The main character is the corpse. The detective's
job is to seek justice for the corpse. It's the corpse's story,
first and foremost."
14) "To say that Agatha Christie's characters are cardboard cut-outs is an insult to cardboard cut-outs."
15) "The job of the writer is to take a close and uncomfortable look at the world they inhabit, the world we all inhabit, and the job of the novel is to make the corpse stink."
1) S.S. van Dine
2) Stieg Larrson
3) Agatha Christie
4) Dashiell Hammett
5) John Fowles
6) Mickey Spillane
7) G.K. Chesterton
8) Walter Mosely
9) Jean-Patrick Manchette
10 Ruth Rendell
11) Ross MacDonald
12) David Gordon
13) Earle Stanley Gardner
14) Patricia Highsmith
15) W.H. Auden
1) Jean-Patrick Manchette 2) Mickey Spillane 3) W.H. Auden
4) David Gordon 5) Dashiell Hammett 6) John Fowles 7) S.S. van Dine 8) G.K. Chesterton 9) Stieg Larrson 10) Agatha Christie 11) Patricia Highsmith 12) Earle Stanley Gardner
13) Ross MacDonald 14) Ruth Rendell 15) Walter Moseley