CIS: My classics by Ruth Ware

2 Mins read

Take one hen party containing some women with very different personalities, add in varying degrees of closeness and inclusivity, layer with a few dark secrets, and you have author Ruth Ware’s debut novel In a Dark, Dark Wood which came out earlier this year. The tagline ‘Someone’s getting married, someone’s getting murdered’ eloquently captures the gist of it. Based in London, aside from writing crime fiction, Ruth works in publicity and also writes young adult fiction with the pen name Ruth Warburton. We decided to interrupt her coffee break and ask her what classic crime novels have inspired her the most, and this is what she said…


Strong Poison by Dorothy L Sayers
Lord Peter Wimsey is a bit of a marmite detective with a lot of people (even within Sayers‘ own novels) finding him unbearably foppish and twee. But the steel beneath the exquisitely tailored coat is perfectly matched here with Sayers’ marvellous heroine Harriet Vane, a crime writer accused of murdering her live-in partner, always referred to as her ‘lover’ with an unspoken, defiant toss of the head. Sayers specialises in rather over-clever methods of death, but the draw here is the chemistry between Harriet and Peter – one of fiction’s great couples.
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Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey
Josephine Tey‘s apotheosis is usually held to be The Daughter of Time, which is indeed a great book and one that arguably redefined the detective genre. But I have a soft spot for Brat Farrar, a beautifully plotted story of an affectionate middle-class English family in the 1940s, their comfortable existence threatened by the appearance of the eponymous Brat. Brat is, we know from the outset, an imposter impersonating a long-dead son, carefully coached to insinuate himself into the family and steal their inheritance. But is Brat the only threat to their tranquility?
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A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
Sherlock Holmes is so well known these days that it’s impossible to imagine the literary landscape without his figure. The pleasure here is encountering Holmes as a stranger in the first story Conan Doyle wrote, and the reader gets to know him in parallel with Watson and Conan Doyle. He’s a more nuanced figure than later incarnations (which sometimes reduce him to a sort of detective version of James Bond, entirely invincible and without much human feeling or frailty) and all the better for it.
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The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by John le Carré
I nearly chose a Christie for my last pick, but I’ve already written about her elsewhere. Instead I’m going slightly left-field with a title that’s more often shelved as a spy thriller, but also works as a consummate crime novel. John le Carre’s story centres on Alec Leamas, a burnt out operative who is asked to stay out ‘in the cold’ to undertake one last mission. It’s only in the final pages that the beauty of the structure really unfurls, and it’s the kind of book that bears reading and re-reading to appreciate the intricate inner workings of le Carré’s masterly plot.
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You can read our review of In a Dark, Dark Wood here, and order a copy using the link below. Or, visit her website.

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