Guest Author

Listicle of Sherri L. Smith’s Favorite Whodunits

Sherri L. Smith has a new book coming out next week, a YA thriller called Pasadena. To celebrate the release we have the author over with a list of her favorite whodunits.


Listicle of Sherri L. Smith’s Favorite Whodunits

I grew up on a steady diet of Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden and other sleuthing books from the yard sale piles we scrounged on weekends when I was a kid. On the weekends, I could be found watching the dreamy Basil Rathbone and stolid Nigel Bruce solving crime in Sherlock Holmes TV matinees. When was older, I devoured Conan Doyle’s words for myself, and moved on to reading true crime accounts for fun. (Not a healthy pastime for anyone but an author, I think). Everyone should read Doyle and a bit of Carolyn Keene, in my opinion. But those books don’t appear on this list because you should have read them already! Instead, here are eight stories from the page and the silver screen that I think are delightful. If you don’t already know and love them, I hope you will soon!

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin


This book turned my ten year old brain inside out. Purple waves! Purple waves! It’s about a game. A bunch of people are set to inherit a fortune if they can solve a puzzle left by an eccentric millionaire. It’s an amazing romp, a scary thriller, an awesome adventure, and a great read.

Dead Again


This Kenneth Branagh/Emma Thompson movie is simply fun to watch. Half modern (1991) day color, half black-and-white flashback, it’s got some great scenes, fantastic lines, and solid performances, especially from Derek Jacobi. My favorite moment? Branagh trembling as he puts an anklet on Thompson’s gam. Tender and adorable.

The Usual Suspects


“Who is Keyser Söze?” That’s all I’ve got to say about that.

Miss Fisher


Phryne Fisher Mysteries by Kerry Greenwood – A new passion of mine, these are fun, quick reads. I confess I can’t always solve the crime, but that’s because I’m too busy swimming in the world of Phryne Fisher, detective, noble woman, 1920s party girl. They are too much fun! From the gorgeous clothes to the sumptuous meals, and flirtations galore. There’s also a supernatural element that adds a hint of spice to 1920s Australia. What a way to travel!



I haven’t seen this in a really, really long time, but there is a scene with a bathtub that I can still see clear as day. Watch for it! We screened this in French class in high school, and I ran home and told my mom about it. I told my dad about it. He said, “Yeah, that’s like that other movie where…” But I didn’t listen because… Whatever, Dad. I just saw the greatest, most shocking thing ever, and you don’t even know. So. Yeah. This is the mystery that made me a full-fledged teenager.

Rear Window

Rear Window

Rear Window, is a classic whodunit. One of the most amazing parts? It tells you everything you need to know in the first few minutes (just like a guy will). You just have to be paying attention (also, just like with a guy).

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (film noir directed by John Huston)

Maltese Falcon

This list would not be complete without some actual film noir to round it out. That’s a tough one, as there are several great ones, many of them based on novels. The Maltese Falcon is a classic and, like so many movies, it’s different from the book that inspired it. So read the awesome Dashiell Hammett, then watch the awesome Humphrey Bogart and see what you think. In my mind, it’s a win-win.

Sunset Boulevard


When it comes to film noir, my husband is the expert in the family, so I’m giving him a guest spot on this one. He recommends Sunset Boulevard, and I have to agree. This tale of an aging starlet in an old mansion has been referenced so many times, you really should see the source material for itself.



Sherri L. Smith is the author of several award-winning novels for young adults, including the critically acclaimed Flygirl and Orleans, and the best-selling middle grade historical fantasy, The Toymaker’s Apprentice. She lives in the shadow of the City of Angels, with her face turned toward the sun. This is her first journey into noir.

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