In 2011, The Mystery Bookshelf posted a four-part series entitled 20 Must Read Hard Boiled Classics (hey, I’m late to the party, but OregonMuse just posted it on the world-famous Ace of Spades HQ Book Thread this week).
So of course I decided to turn it into a quiz to find out how many of them I’ve read.
The results are not pretty. I have highlighted the titles of the ones that I have read.
- Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett
- The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
- The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
- Double Indemnity by James M. Cain
- The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
- The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
- I, The Jury by Mickey Spillane
- It’s a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes
- The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
- The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
- Pop. 1280 by Jim Thompson
- The Drowning Pool by Ross MacDonald
- The Chill by Ross MacDonald
- The Deep-Blue Goodbye by John D. MacDonald
- The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley
- Eight Million Ways To Die by Lawrence Block
- When The Sacred Ginmill Closes by Lawrence Block
- Miami Blues by Charles Willeford
- Black Cherry Blues by James Lee Burke
- L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy
40%, If you throw in movies, I would be all the way up to 45% (unless you counted varied renditions of The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye as extra credit).
I am not sure if I have any of the ones I have not read that I do not have on my to-read shelves. I have some James M. Cain–Mildred Pierce, which I started once but did not finish yet–but not the two listed here. I bought a couple of James Lee Burke books last year, but not Black Cherry Blues.
I would like some extra credit for reading the complete works of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Ross MacDonald as well as extensively in John D. MacDonald (all the Travis McGee novels, to which the Deep-Blue Goodbye belongs) and Mickey Spillane.
What would I add to this list? I don’t know that I could right away. Perhaps after some thought, reflection, and perusing of my shelves.
But I don’t have time for that now.
I will maybe keep an eye out for some of these books, but I would expect to find many of these out of print, or at least out of the print that would put them on the cheap bookshelves I haunt.