Reading Group

Crime Fiction Academy:

Eight More Literary Crime Novels


Led by: David Gordon


Time: 6 - 7:30 pm


Meets: Mondays; Eight sessions


Dates1/23, 2/6, 2/27, 3/6, 3/20, 4/3, 4/17, 5/1

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Gertrude Stein admired Dashiell Hammett and Hemingway liked to read Simenon after a long day sharpening his own sentences. Auden was addicted to mysteries and Faulkner liked Nero Wolfe. Raymond Chandler worked to infuse hardboiled realism with lyricism and Ross MacDonald was a classics scholar: Despite the hard lines sometimes drawn between “genre” and “literary” fiction, and the seeming gap between high and low brows, leather-bound volumes and pulp paperbacks, since the days of Poe, crime fiction has always been a vehicle for creative expression, drawing from other styles and inspiring other forms. In this course we will examine eight novels which succeed brilliantly both as thrilling tales of crime and punishment, and as works of highly individual literary art, by authors who themselves cross, or perhaps even erase, the lines around genre fiction, taking up this classic form and making it their own:


The Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers

Maigret in Montmartre  by Georges Simenon

The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

Real Cool Killers by Chester Himes

Ripley’s Game by Patricia Highsmith

The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson

The Seventh by Richard Stark

The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo


David Gordon was born in New York City. He attended Sarah Lawrence College and holds an MA in English and Comparative Literature and an MFA in Writing, both from Columbia University. His first novel, The Serialist, was a Finalist for and Edgar Award and the winner of the VCU/Cabell First Novelist Award. It was also the only foreign novel to win three major awards in Japan, where it was made into a major motion picture. His second novel Mystery Girl was selected as a favorite in the New Yorker and he published a collection of short stories, White Tiger on Snow Mountain, last fall. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Paris Review and Fence, among other publications and has also been translated into French, German, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Chinese and Korean. He is a Visiting Professor at Pratt Institute and a former leader of the Proust Society’s Advance Reading Group here at the Center.