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Classic best-sellers

Originally published in the Ketchikan Daily News, September 2020; written by Pat Tully


Now that the days are getting shorter, it is time to stock up on books for the winter. The following authors have stood the test of time.


James Herriot is an author I resisted for decades. The adventures of a veterinarian in rural Scotland in the 1930s and 40s did not appeal to me in the least. Then one day I picked up All Creatures Great and Small and was captivated! James Herriot’s characters are engaging, the plots are charming and funny, and you quickly come to care about the residents of this little corner of Scotland—and their animals.


Is mystery more to your taste? In 1887 Arthur Conan Doyle created the quintessential detective, Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Over a century later, movies and TV series continue to be created based on Doyle’s character—I am sure you have your own favorite actor in the role. The stories are little gems. The basic formula? A crime is committed, Holmes solves the mystery by meticulous deduction, and the world is set right again—a welcome thing in a time of so much uncertainty.


Agatha Christie has been a favorite since the publication of her first novel in 1921. The Mysterious Affair at Styles was the first of thirty-seven books featuring Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Christie’s other great detective, Miss Jane Marple, the deceptively dotty old lady who solves most of her cases in the village of St. Mary Mead, began life in The Tuesday Night Club, published in 1927. Christie’s last book, Postern of Fate, was published in 1973, and her novels have never gone out of print.


If you prefer an American mystery, check out Rex Stout. His novels, published between 1934 and 1975, feature Nero Wolfe as the reclusive gourmand / orchid fancier / detective, and Archie Goodwin as the wisecracking assistant who serves as Wolfe’s eyes and ears. Half the fun of each adventure is guessing if and how Archie will lure Wolfe out of his New York brownstone to solve the case. The other half is imagining the taste of the delicious-sounding dishes prepared for Wolfe and Archie by Chef Fritz Brenner.


The Library has these authors’ works in many formats: print, audio and electronic books, plus TV and movie adaptations. Or head to The Plaza this Saturday, October 3 from 10am-2pm for the Friends of the Library Mystery/Thriller book sale. As always in these 2020 Friends sales, children’s books will be available as well. Because of the pandemic the Friends will not be having the big annual book sale, but they will have periodic one-day sales courtesy of The Plaza. The sales will be advertised on the Library’s monthly calendar, our Facebook page, and flyers throughout Ketchikan.


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