The best books that combine mystery and suspense into something magical and inspiring

Ron Base Author Of Scandal at the Savoy: A Priscilla Tempest Mystery, Book 2
By Ron Base

Who am I?

As readers may have gathered from the five books I’ve chosen, my childhood obsessions and passions have had an immense influence on my later writing life. Somewhat to my surprise, I must say. I’ve been a newspaper reporter, magazine writer, movie critic, and have written screenplays. But returning to novels, first with the Sanibel Sunset Detective series and lately with Death at the Savoy and Scandal at the Savoy, I am, in effect, reliving my childhood, using it to write these books. What a joy to be looking back as I move forward—and you always keep the plot moving forward!

I wrote...

Scandal at the Savoy: A Priscilla Tempest Mystery, Book 2

By Ron Base, Prudence Emery,

Book cover of Scandal at the Savoy: A Priscilla Tempest Mystery, Book 2

What is my book about?

The rich and famous are converging on the iconic Savoy Hotel in swinging ’60s London. All is as it should be—until the murder of a showgirl threatens to scandalize the hotel.

The list of suspects includes Priscilla Tempest, the trouble-prone Canadian head of the Savoy press office. Clearing her name would be easy enough, if only she hadn’t spent the night of the murder with a certain beguiling Canadian prime minister. Blackmailed by a Scotland Yard detective, wooed by a notorious gangster, and hounded by the press, Priscilla must use wit and resourcefulness to survive the treacherous upper echelons of London society and find a killer. This is the thrilling sequel to Death at the Savoy¸ described by Publishers Weekly as “light, frothy…perfect escapist fare.”

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The books I picked & why

The Big Sleep

By Raymond Chandler,

Book cover of The Big Sleep

Why did I love this book?

Chandler’s novel, first published in 1939, is a touchstone for anyone writing detective fiction.

Never mind that private detective Philip Marlowe never actually solves anything.

In addition to the famously unsolved murder that Chandler brushed off when told about it, there are plot holes you could drive a Buick Roadmaster through, and prose occasionally edged in purple. Never mind its shortcomings, The Big Sleep overall remains intoxicatingly hard-boiled, a much-imitated classic of the genre.

I have gone back to it many times since I first read it, seeing its flaws but loving its tough-as-nails sensibility. It played an important part in setting me on the road to writing not only the Priscilla Tempest novels but also the Sanibel Sunset Detective mysteries.

Like everyone else who writes this stuff, I owe Chandler a lot.

By Raymond Chandler,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked The Big Sleep as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Raymond Chandler's first three novels, published here in one volume, established his reputation as an unsurpassed master of hard-boiled detective fiction.

The Big Sleep, Chandler's first novel, introduces Philip Marlowe, a private detective inhabiting the seamy side of Los Angeles in the 1930s, as he takes on a case involving a paralysed California millionaire, two psychotic daughters, blackmail and murder.

In Farewell, My Lovely, Marlowe deals with the gambling circuit, a murder he stumbles upon, and three very beautiful but potentially deadly women.

In The High Window, Marlowe searches the California underworld for a priceless gold coin and finds himself…

Dr. No

By Ian Fleming,

Book cover of Dr. No

Why did I love this book?

Dr. No was the sixth James Bond novel Fleming wrote but it was the first one I was finally able to read in paperback when I was about twelve years old.

It transfixed me. I had never read anything quite like it, transporting a boy trapped in small-town Ontario into a wider world of sophistication, sex, and violence.

I devoured the other Bond adventures as fast as I could get my hands on them. If any books made me hunger for faraway glamorous places, it was the Bond novels.

If you can’t imagine the influence Fleming’s worldly writing had on me, you have only to read one of the Priscilla Tempest mysteries.

By Ian Fleming,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dr. No as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dispatched by M to investigate the mysterious disappearance of MI6’s Jamaica station chief, Bond was expecting a holiday in the sun. But when he discovers a deadly centipede placed in his hotel room, the vacation is over.

On this island, all suspicious activity leads inexorably to Dr. Julius No, a reclusive megalomaniac with steel pincers for hands. To find out what the good doctor is hiding, 007 must enlist the aid of local fisherman Quarrel and alluring beachcomber Honeychile Rider. Together they will combat a local legend the natives call “the Dragon,” before Bond alone must face the most punishing…

Book cover of Someone is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe

Why did I love this book?

When Prudence Emery and I set out to collaborate on our first mystery novel, we searched around for inspiration.

I found it rereading Someone Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe. Published in 1976, it cleverly dealt with food and the murder of—you guessed it—Europe’s great chefs. But what most appealed to me was its entertaining mix of humor, sex, and suspense.

The perfect recipe, Prudence and I decided, for our mysteries—with a little Charade and To Catch a Thief thrown in for good measure. 

By Nan Lyons, Ivan Lyons,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Someone is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After arriving in London to create a special dessert for the queen, New York's leading food expert is suspected by Scotland Yard of killing off Europe's master chefs

Book cover of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold

Why did I love this book?

Le Carré’s third novel was a huge bestseller and forever influenced anyone setting out to write novels of espionage and suspense.

Me included. I took particular pleasure in Le Carré over the long years, returning continually to an author I started with as a child and continued to read as the two of us aged.

Sometimes he was brilliant (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Honorable Schoolboy) and occasionally he was overblown (The Constant Gardener). But no matter what he wrote, I was always his faithful follower.

When he died in 2020 at the age of 89, I felt I had lost a lifelong literary pal.

He provided me with a trenchant piece of storytelling advice that I have used many times: A cat on a mat is not a story. But a cat on a dog’s mat, that is the beginning of a story.

By John le Carré,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked The Spy Who Came in From the Cold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Our Kind of Traitor; and The Night Manager, now a television series starring Tom Hiddleston.

The 50th-anniversary edition of the bestselling novel that launched John le Carre's career worldwide

In the shadow of the newly erected Berlin Wall, Alec Leamas watches as his last agent is shot dead by East German sentries. For Leamas, the head of Berlin Station, the Cold War is over. As he faces the prospect of retirement or worse-a desk job-Control offers him a unique opportunity for revenge. Assuming the guise of an embittered…

Extreme Danger

By Franklin W. Dixon,

Book cover of Extreme Danger

Why did I love this book?

Torn between the Hardy Boys novels and Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer mysteries, I’ve reluctantly gone with the Hardy Boys.

Both authors (although there were many pseudonymous writers of the Hardy Boys series) taught a fledging writer invaluable lessons about keeping the story moving forward while leaving the reader hanging from the edge of a cliff at the end of each chapter.

What I adored about Joe and Frank Hardy was the freedom they had as teenagers. They never seemed to have to go to high school, they drove their own car, they were never short of money, and they solved mysteries that their detective father never could.

My kind of guys!

By Franklin W. Dixon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Extreme Danger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


MISSION: To find the mastermind behind a possible attack at the Big Air Games.
LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA.
POTENTIAL VICTIMS: Top extreme athletes in the country. Thousands of spectators.
SUSPECTS: There may be a group of extremists working together. There may be just one.

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