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Quiz: Can You Identify These Opening Lines of Classic Mystery and Crime Novels?

Quiz: Can You Identify These Opening Lines of Classic Mystery and Crime Novels?

We find ourselves (again) the middle of the week; I ask you, how does this keep happening? We must stop meeting this way.

It’s time for something fun, to move the time along.

Like the quiz that came before it, this one is part quiz, part trivia. Under “questions” I have listed many famous opening lines from crime, mystery, and thriller novels. And you have to guess which book each line comes from.

I call these “classic” books. They aren’t all necessarily old, but they are definitely some of the better-known, well-respected books in their genre.

The answer key is way down at the bottom. As you take the quiz, I’d write down your answers next to the corresponding questions’ numbers (on a sheet of paper or in your notes app) and then grade yourself in one swoop when you’re done, so that you’re not constantly scrolling down and up again as you go, thereby risking seeing some of the other answers.

If you can get the author/character but can’t get the name of the exact book, then give yourself half a point.

Here we go!



1. “The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.”

2. “It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.”

3. “It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills.”

4. “I was surprised to see a white man walk into Joppy’s bar.”

5. “My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.”

6. ” I was leaning against the bar in a speakeasy on Fifty-second Street, waiting for Nora to finish her Christmas shopping, when a girl got up from the table where she had been sitting with three other people and came over to me.”

7. “This is the story of what a Woman’s patience can endure, and what a Man’s resolution can achieve.”

8. “Mrs. Ferrars died on the night of the 16th–17th September—a Thursday.”

9. “Between the silver ribbon of morning and the green glittering ribbon of sea, the boat touched Harwich and let loose a swarm of folk like flies, among whom the man we must follow was by no means conspicuous—nor wished to be.”

10. “When I think of my wife, I always think of the back of her head.”

11. “James Bond, with two double bourbons inside him, sat in the final departure lounge of Miami airport and thought about death.”

12. “In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army.”

13. “Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.”

14. “It is cold at six-forty in the morning on a March day in Paris, and seems even colder when a man is about to be executed by firing squad.”

15. “When the phone rang, Parker was in the garage, killing a man.”

16. “I sent one boy to the gaschamber at Huntsville.”

17. “We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody dropped the girl off the bridge.

18. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

19. “Theodore is in the ground.”

20. “The American handed Leamas another cup of coffee and said, ‘Why don’t you go back and sleep? We can ring you if he shows up.’

21. “Harriet Vane sat at her writing-table and stared out into Mecklenburg Square.”

22. “The train tore along with an angry, irregular rhythm.”

23. “Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write.”

24. “On August 16, 1968, I was handed a book written by a certain Abbé Vallet, Le Manuscrit de Dom Adson de Melk, traduit en français d’après l’édition de Dom J. Mabillon (Aux Presses de l’Abbaye de la Source, Paris, 1842).”

25. “Grant lay on his high white cot and stared at the ceiling.”











Answers down below.








Keep scrolling!








Answer Key:

1. Donna Tartt, The Secret History

2. Paul Auster, City of Glass, The New York Trilogy

3. Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

4. Walter Mosley, Devil in a Blue Dress

5. Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones

6. Dashiell Hammett, The Thin Man

7. Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White

8. Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

9. G.K. Chesterton, “The Blue Cross,” The Innocence of Father Brown

10. Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl

11. Ian Fleming, Goldfinger

12. Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet

13. Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin

14. Frederick Forsyth, The Day of the Jackal

15. Donald E. Westlake, Firebreak

16. Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men

17. John D. MacDonald, Darker than Amber

18. Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca

19. Caleb Carr, The Alienist

20. John Le Carré, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

21. Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night

22. Patricia Highsmith, Strangers on a Train

23. Ruth Rendell, A Judgement in Stone

24. Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose

25. Josephine Tey, The Daughter of Time