In today’s marketing influenced world, authors tend to be categorized in one segment or another—mystery/thriller, romance, literary, etc. But in reality, most writers try a variety of forms, and people who are not strictly writers also like to try their hand at writing a mystery. The list below is filled with famous people better known for their non-mystery exploits, but who wrote mystery.
Yes, before there was Pooh Bear, there was murder. Alan Alexander Milne's mystery novel, The Red House Mystery, published in 1922 before he created the famous bear of very little brain, received critical acclaim. Rumor has it that he decided to delve into the world of children's fiction because it was a better market, much as many authors are doing today after the success of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. Milne also wrote a parody on Sherlock Holmes, “The Rape of the Sherlock” that appeared in Vanity Fair.
Faulkner won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949, but before that he was one of a team of writers that worked on the classic screen adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, staring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. He also wrote other screenplays. His thriller novel, Sanctuary, hit the bestseller list and was also made into a movie.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Most well known for writing The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald's first published work was a murder mystery, “The Mystery of the Raymond Mortage.” It was written when Fitzgerald was 13 years old and published in the publication of the St. Paul Academy.
Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain
Twain, best known for creating Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, but did you know Huck and Tom solved a murder and collected $2000 in Tom Sawyer, Detective? Twain was also the first writer use fingerprints in his short story, The Thumbprint and What Became of It. So when you think of it CSI owes it’s literary roots to Mark Twain.
Steve Allen, host of the Tonight Show before Jay Leno and Johnny Carson, got his start in radio. He was an excellent piano player and composer (he composed more than 14,000 songs). In addition to publishing books of non-fiction and poetry, he published ten mystery novels, including the Talk Show Murders and Murder on the Glitter Box. (Today personality Al Roker has also written a book more recently called the Talk Show Murders.)
Not only can Oliver Twist be considered a mystery, but also Bleak House has a mystery and a detective, as does Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. Charles Dickens also wrote short stories that classify as mysteries, including “The Detective Police” and “On Duty with Inspector Field.” There is a much more detailed account of Dickens’ mysterious writings here.
Vidal is better known for his literary novels, including Myra Breckenridge, and his social and political essays, but he published three detective novels in the 1950s under the pseudonym, Edgar Box. The Box novels include: Death in the Fifth Position, Death Before Bedtime and Death Likes it Hot.
Humorist Dave Barry, who also co-writes the Peter and the Star Catchers children's books for Disney with Ridley Pearson, wrote the novel Big Trouble (also made into a movie starring Tim Allen.) He's also written several other novels for adults in addition to his nonfiction humor tomes.
Marcia C. Clark
Best known as the head prosecutor in the infamous O.J. Simpson case, Marcia C. Clark has now published two mystery novels: Guilt by Association and Guilt by Degrees.
It seems that writing murder, loves company.