What Got You Hooked on a Life of Crime, Rebecca Bradley?

RebeccaBradleyTime to introduce the founding member of our online crime book club to you, the ever-busy and delightful Rebecca Bradley.  If you haven’t yet discovered Rebecca’s goldmine of a blog – a fun blend of book reviews, interviews, writerly news and really interesting video links – then please be sure to visit and say Hi. Rebecca is a writer herself, as well as an omnivorous reader. You can also find out more about the Crime Fiction Book Club on her site, a virtual book club which meets on the third Wednesday of every month via Google Hangouts. I always enjoy exchanging views with Rebecca about the latest crime novels we have both read, and I hope you will enjoy finding out more about her reading preferences.

How did you get hooked on crime fiction?

I started reading from a young age. Like many, I loved Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven books and the sleuthing of the kids to solve whatever mystery had come their way. I then progressed to Nancy Drew and was in awe of her independence. My next stop was Agatha Christie. It seemed like a natural progression and I haven’t stopped reading crime fiction since.

Are there any particular types of crime fiction or subgenres that you prefer to read and why?

I tend to like series and am pretty anal about starting at the beginning of the series. For instance, when I was recommended Patricia Cornwell’s Scarpetta books, she was already nine books in, but I started with the first book ‘Postmortem’. The reason for this is I like to follow the character arcs. Characters keep me glued to books and to series. Outside of series, I like police procedurals. They can be UK, US, or the more currently popular Scandinavian books. Location doesn’t matter as long as the story is good and I’m invested in the characters.

What is the most memorable book you’ve read recently?

That’s easy. Cry Baby by David Jackson. It’s a brilliant US based series book with a New York Detective called Callum Doyle. Jackson writes brilliantly, with humour and with a real and deep understanding of people, which is capable of touching you when he really needs to.

I did answer that question based on the fact that we are discussing crime fiction. I do read outside the genre and have recently read some great books that have also stuck with me. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion and Wonder by R. J. Palacio. I know you said only one book, but… these are one book – from different genres!

If you had to choose only one series or only one author to take with you to a deserted island, whom would you choose?

Only one? Did you see my last answer?! OK, it would be Karin Slaughter. Her books are so character driven I love them and just can’t wait for the next one to find out what is happening to them. It’s like waiting for your favourite TV series to air again. And she’s not gentle with them either. Just because they’re a part of the series, nothing is out of bounds.

KindleRBWhat are you looking forward to reading in the near future?

Ha! I have nearly 300 books on my Kindle and my bookshelves are nearly bending in the middle with the weight. There are so many books that I am desperate to read, I just wish I could read faster. I am looking forward to reading The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths though. It’s the second in a series, of which I read the first one at Christmas time last year. It’s something different for me. It’s not police procedural as the protagonist is not a police officer but an archaeologist. Nowadays I spend so much time trying new-to-me writers that I don’t spend the time I’d like to with series any more.

Outside your criminal reading pursuits, what author/series/book/genre do you find yourself regularly recommending to your friends?

I am becoming more and more interested in the YA genre. I initially thought it was for kids and had some negative preconceptions about it until I read one, and then another and found I loved it. YA can fit any genre that a writer wants to write in, and the books I’ve read have covered some pretty heavy topics, but have done it brilliantly well and have usually had me in tears at some point. And this brings us around the characters again. It’s a belief in the characters that draws me in and has me sobbing and I think YA can do that really well.

I generally think we should read as widely as we can. Try new things. Experiment with our reading habits. I’ve been surprised this past year with what I’ve read and what I’ve enjoyed. It’s all about the reading. Just love the reading.

Wise and beautiful words, Rebecca, thank you very much indeed for sharing your reading passions with us! Over the next few weeks, every fortnight or so, I look forward to chatting to other great readers and bloggers about their criminally good reading pursuits.

51 thoughts on “What Got You Hooked on a Life of Crime, Rebecca Bradley?”

  1. Brilliant piece from a blogger that I love to visit. Another crime fiction lover who started with Enid Blyton :-) I like Elly Griffiths too with her archeologist Ruth Galloway.

    1. Of course Enid Blyton – a rite of passage…
      Sometimes I fear my children will not be crime fiction fans, as they only read 1-2 Famous Five or Five Find-Outers and Dog books. Where did I go wrong?

      1. Marina, my youngest is a really strong reader which thrills me, but – he loves fantasy! He’s read nearly a;; the Rick Riordan books and he couldn’t finish Artemis Fowl. I’m doomed….

    2. Thank you! It seems many of us did start with the wonderful Ms Blyton :) And since writing this for Marina, I was so reminded I wanted to read the next Ruth Galloway, I picked it up Saturday and finished it last night! :)

      1. Oh, good, glad it reminded you what to read next… as if you didn’t have enough on your list already. And yes, my eldest is into fantasy as well, while my younger is into humour (David Walliams and the like). Ah well…

      1. Ha, yes, and macaroons! Not growing up in the UK, I had no idea what either of these two vital ingredients were, but wanted them desperately…

    1. Isn’t it fun to discover such similarities? Although I do love Rebecca’s comment about the importance of experimenting with our reading, being willing to try something new.

      1. I was quite surprised Marina – could it be the early English schooling that pointed me in the direction of The Famous Five etc which then led to Agatha Christie – or was that just what was available at the time?

        I too agree with Rebecca that we need to experiment with our genres and authors.

  2. What a great interview! Thank you, Marina Sofia, interviewing one of my favourite bloggers.

    Rebecca – I know just what you mean about wanting to follow series from the beginning. I’m like that, too. I really do think it gives one such a good sense of character development and that’s very important to me. And you should see how many TBR books there are on my Kindle….*sigh*

    1. I’ve started so many series in the ‘wrong spot’ (i.e. with whichever book I managed to find at the library), that it doesn’t bother me so much now. Although, once I do read the random book and want to commit the entire series, then I do prefer to go back to the start and read them in order. But the entry point can be anywhere. And, to be fair, some of the first books in a crime series are a bit too much ‘set-up and telling’, so if I’d read them first, I might have been put off.

    2. It’s funny isn’t it? No matter how many books we know we have waiting to be read Margot, the minute we see another, it’s like a shiny new toy, we just have to have it and the TBR pile has grown again :)

  3. I am so with you, Rebecca, about starting at the beginning of a series. In Kay Scarpetta’s case, if you’d started on the ninth book, you might have stopped reading her and missed the amazing stuffed she turned out at the beginning. (IMHO–she got away from crime and mystery and into emotions and feelings too deeply in her later books)

    1. You are so right, Jacqui. Sometimes in later books in a series the author seems to lose a bit of momentum or be too much interested in exploring other (side) issues. But then there is always the possibility of the next one being a return to top form!

      1. I agree Jacqui, but you’re right Marina about why we keep reading the series if it’s gone a little ‘off’ for us, it’s that fear we are going to miss a great book next time and that would be awful.

    1. So nice of you to stop by, Debi. Nancy Drew seems to strike a chord with many of us (female) readers, but I wonder how many remember Trixie Belden? I was rather fond of her as well.

    2. And there’s always those little snippets of information dropped in of past books isn’t there Debi and it does niggle! Karin Slaughter is great! The first book of hers is Blindsighted. Let me know what you think :)

  4. I’m a big fan of Elly Griffiths too, it’s worth reading your way through the sequence because the personal life of Ruth, the forensic archaeologist, builds up as you go along. I know what you mean about needing to start at the beginning. Great post, I’m glad I found two new blogs today!

    1. Delighted you found us, too! Ruth Galloway has quite a few fans, and there is a great sense of history, local atmosphere and family in that series.

  5. Great interview, both! Looks like most of us followed the same path from Blyton to Christie and then onwards. I agree with the idea of experimenting with our reading – it can mean some disappointments, but also some delightful surprises.

    1. Like Lauren Beukes said: writers and readers both should be allowed to be promiscuous – have long-term affairs and one-night stands, constant partners and short flares of passion.

    1. I have to admit I’m a coward. I did count how many books I had unread on my tablet and bookshelves at the end of 2013… and promised to buy no more until I’d finished them. But I did not live up to my New Year’s Resolution, so now it’s probably nearly double…

    1. You’re very welcome, glad you enjoyed it. I like the fact that although we all love crime fiction, we also have lots of other things we enjoy reading.

  6. Speaking of Enid Blyton, for some reason the first Mallory Towers book I ever read was the Upper Fourth at Mallory Towers (the week before my seventh birthday!), and it has made me a fellow starting-series-at-the-beginning obsessive!

    1. Gosh, you started early with Mallory Towers – I think I was about 9 when I read them and of course dreamt of going to boarding school. Then, when I was about 10-11, a friend of mine did go to boarding school and told me: ‘It’s really nothing like St. Clare’s and Mallory Towers.’

  7. Marina and Rebecca, thank you both for the interview. You echoed my thoughts on YA fiction that can be read by young and old. Like Rebecca, I read across genres. The only drawback in hopping through categories of books, as I do, is that you don’t do justice to any. I guess what’s important is books are being read.

    1. I don’t think that hopping across genres means you don’t do justice to any. Sometimes a fresh eye is needed rather than a genre-jaded one :-)

    2. I am finding I get reading tired if I stick in one genre for too many books in a row now, so I do the books I read better justice by hopping. And I’m really enjoying myself :)

  8. Thank you Marina for a great interview. I really enjoyed answering these questions and it’s been interesting reading the comments afterwards as well. Familiar roads traveled by many.

    Thank you again. x

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