What’s In a (Mystery) Name?

Let’s be honest: most mystery novels do not come with “Wow! Holy heck!” titles.

You know what I mean: A title so punchy, you find yourself buying the book before you know what the plot is about, or which sub-genre the book explores. We’ve all done that. But honestly: we don’t do that every week. Hell, we probably don’t do that every year.

The great and venerable Walter Mosley just released an e-book titled ALL I DID WAS SHOOT MY MAN. There you go; perfect example. Show of hands – who wouldn’t pick that up off the shelf? (OK, “e-shelf….”)

In 1991, Northwest author Earl Emerson released HELP WANTED, ORPHANS PREFERRED. Boom. What a great title. I picked that one up without ever reading the back-cover blurb. In this case, I chose well. Hell of a book.

Raymond Chandler’s THE BIG SLEEP. Poetry in three words.

Meg Gardiner’s THE NIGHTMARE THIEF. Snagged it off the shelf en passant to the cashier. Wasn’t disappointed.

I’m stupid to post this publically (all right, I’m stupid for many, many other reasons…) but I always wanted to write a mystery titled WHO PUT THE ‘LAUGHTER’ IN ‘SLAUGHTER?’” I just haven’t found the right story yet. If you steal it, I will hunt you down like the dog you are.

Your turn: nominees for greatest, punchiest mystery titles of all time. Ready? Go!

About danahaynes

Dana Haynes is the author of ICE COLD KILL (2013), BREAKING POINT (2011) and CRASHERS (2010) from Minotaur and St. Martin's Press.

Posted on February 10, 2012, in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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