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Inside the Author’s Bookshelf: Rex Burns

Our favorite mystery and thriller writers share the books that have stuck with them through the years.


We asked Rex Burns, Edgar-winning author of the gritty Gabe Wagner detective series, to discuss the books that inspire him to write. He responded with a set of gems so superb they belong on everyone’s must-read list.

Scan Rex’s personal library, then meet the man behind the mysteries in an excellent author video, courtesy of Mysterious Press.

Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

Finn is a textbook in prose style, new for its time. The use of dialect, the unobtrusive but precise selection of language deserves every writers’ close attention.

Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert

Bovary is a psychological and sociological study in character formation. Every time I read it, I learn more about the subtleties of human yearnings.

The Short Stories of W. Somerset Maugham, by W. Somerset Maugham

Maugham’s short stories compress novelistic themes into short story length. He is a master of quick character sketches and the precise but evocative phrase that captures the essence of a setting.

The Collected Works of Sarah Orne Jewett, by Sarah Orne Jewett

Jewett’s perception of character and sensitivity to setting bring out the subsurface meaning and feeling of a place that can easily be missed by the casual observer.

Ulysses, by James Joyce

Ulysses cannot be absorbed in only one reading. The more often one reads it, the more one discovers in it. It is a massive construction that generates awe.

Courtesy of Open Road Media