Most influential crime novel of the decade?

I was under the impression that this decade has only just started. However, Gumshoe Carl on Crimespace points out that it is actually nearly 7.5 years old, and asks what is the "Most Influential Crime/Mystery Novel This Decade?" (so far).

Good question. Most influential, note, not "best". Jude Hardin says The DaVinci Code, because it "spawned a slew of copycats, the same way Silence of the Lambs did in the 90s."  Dave White agrees, but adds LA Requiem, by Robert Crais. Good, yes, but "influential"? And does it stand out from others in the series? LC Fraser also agrees, but says Silence of the Grave (Arnauldur Indridason) is her favourite. I’d have to agree that this is an excellent book, but "influential" in the "stand-out" sense?

Paul Sammans breaks out and suggests Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham. I didn’t like that much, it is well written but too sadistically gruesome, and cannot see that it is/was an "influential" book, it is good but deriviative — but it is certainly better than DVC, in common with most other books.  Gumshoe Carl then comes clean and says his choice is The Guards by Ken Bruen. KB is a, perhaps the, leading-light author of Crimespace, but I’ve never read him (sorry, Jenny D! I keep meaning to, though).

A few more suggestions: Karen from AustCrime suggests Peter Temple’s  The Broken Shore; whereas Thomas Bauderet goes for Marc Behm’s Eye of the Beholder (I can’t agree with that one, as I’ve never heard of it, so it can’t be that influential — at least I’ve heard of all of the others even if I haven’t read them all). Jack Bludis selects Mystic River by Dennis Lehane — I liked that one, and several people agree with the choice, though again I would not agree with the "most influential" tag. David Magyna chooses Every Secret Thing by Laura Lippman, which as regular readers know I think cheats, so I wouldn’t count that.

So there you have it. "Most influential crime novel of the decade" so far is, according to Crimespace voting, one of DaVinci Code, Mystic River, The Broken Shore or The Guards. Any advance? Although one should not lose sight of the current UK bestseller, Richard and Judy pick and recommendation of Uriah/Norm, Jeb Rubenfeld’s The Anatomy of Murder, I think The Tenderness of Wolves (Stef Penney) will sneak up on them all as a late winner. 

11 thoughts on “Most influential crime novel of the decade?

  1. You can call me a pedant, but I have to ask – influential in what sense?
    If it means something original that causes others to jump on the band wagon and write more of the same, with readers tripping over themselves to read more based on the same theme, then I’d have to go with the DVC.
    If it means influential in that it changes perception in real life, I’d have to think long and hard.
    If it means influential in that other writers are inspired to write about not “what they know”, the old caveat, but “what they can research effectively”, then Stef Penney’s in for more than a penny. (Sorry, bad pun there!)
    I think “influential” is a bit subjective, as is “best” of course. I think a good question to ask is what blew your socks off because it was so original and/or fresh, and not more of same old, same old, regurgitated with new characters and settings?

  2. I must read The Broken Shore if it is in the top 4 crimespace choices!
    But do they mean influential good , or just Da Vinci influential?
    In my opinion Mystic River was far superior to the Guards, which I didn’t like at all, but I would not call it an influential book. I continue to be surprised at Jed Rubenfeld’s continued success, but Freud would probably come up with a reason.
    The last really influential crime novel was probably written by Conan Doyle.

  3. In response to crimefic and sock removing fiction, I’d go with Fred Vargas! Her style is so different and her characters so quirky and you read it with a smile on your face. Thank goodness I have one left to tide me over to next year when presumably the next one will be out in January.)

  4. Thanks to Karen for that gentle reminder.
    I love something that seems new and fresh and original. I read my first Vargas this year and that ticked all the boxes.
    It was not fast paced in the frenetic style we might expect of others, but the tension was a taught string that led to turning the pages and finding out what happened.
    The “finding out what happened” element was a bit like Harlen Coben novels, post Bolitar – Oh come on, it’s not really possible, is it?
    Like Coben, Vargas did it, but in another style, with so many strong characters to push the boat along.
    Where Coben is “in your face” from the start – this is plot above all and you’ve no time to think about it – Vargas defines “quirky” and makes the most of her characters, above plot.
    Coben struck a chord once, now, so has Vargas for me.
    But er, not sure this is “influential”, yet again…

  5. I’ve only read one Vargas so I need to read more.
    Agree that Coben (post Bolitar) is a great read, but I feel the denouments are always a slight let-down. I also feel, though he is excellent, that he is not truly “original” in the sense that you mean by the socks, CrimeFic.
    Maybe the first Jack Reacher book broke a bit of a mould? Not sure, as I don’t read that “James Bond/Robert Ludlum” genre, usually.
    It is quite a poser!
    I suppose I mentioned Penney, in retrospect, because she seems to have broken out of the “genre” straightjacket, as perhaps could be said of DVC (despite its many faults, it certainly had/has broad appeal). Harry Potter is influential in the same sense, or certainly was at the start (so many imitators now) — tryly original and appealing across a broad range of readers. For example, I had no intention of reading them up until about book 4, as “I did not read children’s books”.
    “Northern Lights” by Philip Pullman is another “socks” book in my opinion, though the other two in the trilogy nowhere near lived up to it.

  6. I meant Coben, in only the premise that he started a short non-series, and a very successful one at that, with a start question that suggested the impossible. His start point was “Oh, my wife has been dead for years, I know for sure, but I just got an email from her and it’s definitely her.”
    POTENTIAL SPOILER HERE
    Vargas introduced an antagonist that was simply too old to do the deed, along the time frames suggested. But she got round it. And with all the wonderful things that happened before, I could overlook anything to reach that denouement.
    http://itsacrime.typepad.com/its_a_crime_or_a_mystery/2007/01/fred_vargas_was.html
    Please give it a try.

  7. I definitely shall, CrimeFic — have got three Vargas books on the pile! And as you and Karen are both strongly pro, I shall definitely have to get cracking on them, with such a double whammy of a recommendation.

  8. By the way, Norm/Uriah, I cannot in any sense disagree with your final comment.
    But the challenge that started the Crimespace discussion was “this decade”.

  9. At the time, I thought Coben’s ‘Tell No One’ was absolutely fabulous. The fact that he keeps repeating the same style of book has diminished his achievement in my eyes (perversely).

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