What Got You Hooked on a Life of Crime Jose Escribano?

Time for another interview with one of my fellow crime lovers. This is the fourth edition of my chats with online friends about their reading passions. José Ignacio is my go-to source for Spanish or Latin American crime fiction, but his blog covers a wide range of crime fiction from all countries. His reviews are in English and Spanish, and you can always count on him for an unvarnished, honest opinion.

How did you get hooked on crime fiction?

If my memory serves me correctly, I began reading crime when I was a child, first Enid Blyton (The Secret Seven) and later on Agatha Christie (Murder in Mesopotamia was one of my favourites). I still keep a wonderful memory of those books.
But later on I stuck to reading what I thought I had to read (mainly classics in a broad sense). In the early 1980s and all the way through the ’90s, I came across Vazquez Montalbán (Pepe Carvalho series), Patricia Highsmith (Ripley) and PD James (Adam Dalgliesh), but I was still reading all other kinds of fiction as well. However, I got definitively hooked on crime fiction thanks to Henning Mankell and his Inspector Kurt Wallander, eight or nine years ago.

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

I like almost all genres and subgenres: mystery fiction, detective novels, hardboiled, thrillers, and the like. But I’m very selective. Given my age I have started to feel that I don’t have that much time ahead to read. Therefore I won’t waste my time reading what I believe I won’t like.

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

I may change my opinion at any time, but right now what springs to mind is William McIlvanney and his Laidlaw Trilogy.

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

Again, this is prone to change, but right now I’m hesitating between Reginald Hill (Dalziel and Pascoe series) and the 87th Precinct by Ed McBain. Would it be possible to take both?

DSCN4503What are you looking forward to reading in the near future?

I have a huge TBR pile. Maybe one by Philip Kerr, Ian Rankin, Fred Vargas, or Leif G W Persson (some of my favourite authors). Besides those, I also have the following waiting for me: Graveland by Alan Glynn, Pilgrim Soul by Gordon Ferris, Brother Kemal by Jakob Arjouni, Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell, Pale Horses by Nate Southard, to name but a few.

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

I have a soft spot for the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian and I always recommend Leo Africanus, a 1986 book by Amin Maalouf.

Thank you so much for sharing your reading passions with us, José Ignacio, and also for being such a great reader and commentator of other people’s blogs. Plus, those are some seriously good-looking and well-organised shelves in the background…

26 thoughts on “What Got You Hooked on a Life of Crime Jose Escribano?”

  1. Marina Sofia – Thank you for hosting one of my favourite bloggers.

    José Ignacio – Thanks for sharing the way you got started reading crime fiction. I can see why you’d want to taking the Dalziel/Pascoe series and the 87th Precinct series with you. Both are excellent.

    1. I thought the choices were also very clever, because there’s quite a lot of books in each series (53 I believe for the 87th precinct, 24 or so for Dalziel & Pascoe). So no danger of running out of reading matter…

  2. Glad to see both Laidlaw and Dalziel get mentions – two of my favourite series also. And very envious of the wall of bookshelves…

  3. I’m kicking myself for not thinking about Dalziel and Pascoe for my desert island reads. A pattern is emerging whereby Enid Blyton appears to be the chief culprit for introducing us all to a life of crime! Great answers Jose Escribano.

  4. Thanks for a very interesting post. I’ve had the first Laidlaw book in my hand in bookshops on more than one occasion, but never made it to the checkout. I shall have to rectify this error very soon!
    Your article also reminds me that I have Winter’s Bone on my ‘to read’ pile. I loved the film; I just to need to find time for the book.

    1. Oh, you have to read the Laidlaw novels. McIllvaney is a poet and it really shows: his use of language is brilliant!
      And I do understand you, how books get lost in our TBR piles. I have so many that are calling me with equally beguiling siren sounds at the moment: what to choose?

      1. Your description of McIllvaney’s language has clinched it for me! I’ve just treated myself to the first Laidlaw by ordering it through Hive.

        1. He is a poet, so that explains his great use of language. I did find the local dialect a bit hard going at times, but it’s not overdone. Hope you enjoy it and let me know what you think!

    1. I know, I am envious too! Sometimes I read his reviews in Spanish without understanding anything, just because I like the way they sound…

  5. How interesting…thank you both for sharing. It is funny how so many of us come to crime fiction via the same two ladies – Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie. I can’t help pondering what the children who DIDN’T start life reading Enid Blyton do now for their reading enjoyment

    I am almost ashamed to admit I have never read any of the Ed McBrain books – or if I have it was so long ago I don’t remember it – every now and again I think about it but there are so many it seems to daunting

    1. Nothing to be ashamed of: there are so many great writers out there that it’s impossible to cover all. And the nice thing about McBain is that they are all pretty self-contained, so it doesn’t matter where you start, even if you normally like to do a series end-to-end.
      I grew up in non-English-speaking countries (although I did go to an English school and so encountered Blyton there). There were some translations of Famous Five into German, but not the other series. However, the German-speaking world had The Three ???, featuring 3 young investigators – the series originated in the States, but was so thoroughly Germanised that it continued long after the original died back in the US.

  6. Great interview. I enjoyed reading it. I’m a big Ed McBain fan too and enjoy some of the same genres you do, Jose. I can’t recall what got me started. It’s a blur. Thing is I love reading it still after I started reading it seriously in 2010. I have the Laidlaw trilogy and hope to read it soon. Thank you both.

    1. Oh, good to find another Ed McBain fan! He really is the father of the police procedural and the strength of the team, isn’t he? Can most heartily recommend Laidlaw – have only read one of them, but intend to read the rest very soon. His son, Liam McIlvanney, is not a bad writer either…

      1. I had absolutely no clue Liam McIlvanney was William McIlvanney’s son, although I’ve been a long-time fan of McIlvanney Sr. (and had the pleasure of meeting him and getting him to sign a ridiculously large pile of his books in 1988 – such a charming man!) I’ve also got a couple of McIlvanney Jr’s books, but came to them without making any connection – I’d just heard they were excellent!

  7. I enjoy José Ignacio’s blog for its variety and he had introduced me to books I have never heard of. It was fun to read about his reading habits and plans.

  8. This is an entertaining series of posts– thanks! And I’ll out myself as having never read Enid Blyton. I think I started with Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew instead 🙂

    1. Great choices! Nancy Drew also seems to crop up quite regularly on our lists. I never realised that the books were written by a variety of authors, rather than by Carolyn Keene.

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