What Got You Hooked on Crime, Crime Thriller Girl?

CrimeThrillerGirlIf you haven’t yet discovered the wonderful blog of Crime Thriller Girl, you are in for a treat.  She not only provides you with thoughtful reviews of the latest crime fiction releases, she also does author interviews and is fully up-to-date with any crime festivals or other literary events. She seemed like an obvious candidate for my ‘Life of Crime’ series, so I hope you enjoy the revelations about her reading passions as much as I did.

How did you get hooked on crime fiction?

As a kid I loved reading the Famous Five, and later Sherlock Holmes – usually read by torchlight under the covers when I was staying at my grandparents’ house, as they had a wonderful bookcase packed full of mystery books which I loved browsing through. The Hound of the Baskervilles was (and still is) my favourite Sherlock book, and I guess you could say Sherlock is how I first got hooked into the genre. I can still remember the image on the cover of the first copy of Hound of the Baskervilles I read – a terrifyingly huge hound with a green glow around it. I don’t think I slept for a week!

As a teenager I was addicted to old re-runs of Columbo and The Saint, and read John Grisham’s legal thrillers at a rapid pace. Then I discovered the novels of the great, late Michael Crichton, and read every one of them – what a master of creative story-telling he was! I think it’s from reading his books that my love of thrillers was born.

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

I love a great action thriller. Something fast-paced, with lots of twists and an emotional hook thrown in always grabs my attention. There are some fantastic series in the subgenre – Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Zoe Sharp’s Charlie Fox, and Jeff Abbott’s Sam Capra to name a few.

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

Gosh, that’s a tough one, there’ve been so many! But, sticking true to my love of thrillers, there are two debuts I’ve read recently that are really stunning: ‘The Killing Season’ by Mason Cross, which is the first book in his Carter Blake series about a mysterious American gun for hire, and ‘The Distance’ by Helen Giltrow – the first book in her Charlotte Alton series set in the UK with a wonderfully strong female lead who navigates skilfully on both sides of the law.

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

I’d have to say Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. It has everything I love about thrillers. Besides, each book is set in a different location and sees Reacher face a different kind of problem, so even if it’s the only set of books I have on the island, I’ll still have quite a lot of variety!

That said, if my rucksack was big enough, I’d also sneak in the Charlie Fox series by Zoe Sharp, and the Tom Thorne series by Mark Billingham onto the island! Both are awesome.

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

I’m really looking forward to reading Steve Mosby’s new book ‘The Nightmare Place’, which has just been released. Also Jessie Keane’s new novel  ‘Lawless’, that’s coming out later this month, and the new thriller from Simon Kernick ‘Stay Alive’, which is already out and about which I’ve heard great things.

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

To be honest, I mainly read crime and thrillers. Outside of the genre, I’ve read everything by Stephen Fry and would recommend all his books, they’re brilliant. Aside from that, it’s whatever might catch my eye when I’m browsing in a bookstore. Oh, and I suppose perhaps I should admit my guilty pleasure – Jilly Cooper – I’ve been a fan of hers since I sneaked a read of my Mum’s copy of ‘Riders’ back when I was a teenager!

Well, well, Jilly Cooper – who’d have thought that of a hardened thriller fan! There’s nothing like a little variety after all. Thank you very much for sharing your reading pleasures with us, Crime Thriller Girl, and enjoy yourself at Theakston’s Crime Festival in Harrogate later this week!

For previous replies in this series about reading passions, see here.  And if you would like to participate in the series, please let me know either in comments below or on Twitter.

 

September Reads

As I had feared, my August output of reading and writing was completely unsustainable. September brought a marked drop in all of the following:

 

  • temperature
  • time for writing
  • ability to post anything coherent on this blog
  • finishing any books

So here are the six I did manage to read, with links if they have been reviewed in greater detail elsewhere.

 

Crack in the Wall1) Claudia Piñeiro: A Crack in the Wall.

Is it possible to write a compelling book about a real crack in a concrete wall? This is exactly what Argentinian writer Claudia Piñeiro sets out to do in this unconventional crime novel, brimming with corruption, life, passion and disappointment. Of course, the cracks will prove to be metaphorical ones too: in business partnerships, marriages, personal life and in Buenos Aires society just before the economic crisis.

 

2) Zoë  Sharp: The Blood Whisperer

Teaching newbie thriller writers a thing or two about plotting and feisty females, this is a new venture for author Zoë Sharp: a standalone thriller about forensics expert Kelly Jacks, who has been wrongly convicted of manslaughter, served her prison sentence and is now working as a crime scene cleaner.  Her past threatens to catch up with her, however, when she suspects foul play at the latest crime scene.

 

3) Bernard Besson: The Greenland Breach

Join me on the 4th of November, when I will be reviewing this book as part of a blog tour, and also offering one reader the chance to win an e-book. An ecological thriller, is all I am going to say at this moment in time!

 

English: Håkan Nesser på Bokmässan i Göteborg 2011
English: Håkan Nesser på Bokmässan i Göteborg 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4) Håkan Nesser: The Mind’s Eye

I had read later novels featuring Van Veeteren, but I had somehow missed this first one, so it was a delight to see how the grumpy cynicism of the Chief Inspector is evident from the start. I have always situated Maardam in the Netherlands (must be that Dutch-sounding Van name, too), but of course the country itself remains nameless and generic. Interesting also to see that arm’s length quality already present even in this early book: there is something deliberately neutral, almost cold about Nesser, very different from the emotionally wrenching novels of Karin Fossum, for instance.

 

5) Cormac McCarthy: The Road

I’d deliberately avoided reading this book, because it seemed to be such a bleak, uncompromising subject matter. But when I finally succumbed to it, I found it quite different from what I expected. Sure, the ash-strewn landscape of the apocalypse features heavily here and there is very little joy in the book. In fact, nothing much happens at all in the book – it is all about what has happened, what may happen or what is about to happen. Humans are stripped bare of all humanity, there is a patient piling on of horrible detail after horrible detail… and yet, ultimately, I found it uplifting, how the strong bond of love between father and son can keep both of them safe and whole, at least spiritually, if not always physically. It is the triumph of the spirit in the face of calamity.

 

Cover of "A Circle of Quiet"
Cover of A Circle of Quiet

6) Madeleine L’Engle: A Circle of Quiet

 

A book to dip into now and then, whenever you find your writerly soul in need of inspiration or gentle understanding. She describes the challenges of combining family life and writing perfectly. One to treasure for a long time.