When did you begin to read crime fiction?

Recently Kerrie wrote about when she began to read crime fiction which made me think about my own story. Although I didn’t think of them as crime fiction at the time, I began to enjoy crime fiction whilst reading Enid Blyton’s books. Later on my interest in crime fiction came through TV programmes, watching Raymond Burr as Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason, and in Ironside, Rupert Davies as Simenon’s Maigret, and Leslie Charteris’s The Saint.

I don’t remember when I first read Agatha Christie, but as a teenager I devoured as many of her books that the library had in no time at all. Then I had a huge gap when I didn’t read any crime fiction – I was reading historical fiction mainly and classics. At that time I didn’t own half as many books as I do now and most of my reading came from the library and I can’t remember much of what I read. I started to do Open University courses partly to focus my reading and crime fiction just dropped out of my life. Later on I read John Grisham’s books until they all merged into one in my head and I stopped reading crime fiction.

Then about 5 years ago I began to read other people’s blogs.  That was when I began again with Agatha Christie and Ian Rankin and then found so many authors I’d never heard of before – like Kate Atkinson, John Baker, Simon Brett, Martin Edwards, Ariana Franklin, and Peter Robinson to mention just a few. Now crime fiction makes up about half of my reading.

This morning I went to Barter Books in Alnwick and remembering the Perry Mason books I looked for some and found a few of the green and white Penguin paperbacks, including The Case of the Substitute Face and The Case of the Lame Canary by Erle Stanley Gardner. I also bought Agatha Christie’s The Man in the Brown Suit and Murder on the Eiffel Tower by Claude Izner, an author I’d never come across before. It looks good, about a woman who collapses and dies on the brand-new Eiffel Tower in 1889, apparently because of a bee-sting. Victor Legris, a young bookseller determines to find out what actually happened.

So, now I’m even more spoilt for choice for my next book to read, especially as I also bought two more books – Margaret Drabble’s debut novel, A Summer Bird Cage and a book I loved when I first read it as a teenager – C P Snow’s The Masters.

10 thoughts on “When did you begin to read crime fiction?

  1. Margaret – Thank you for sharing your story of how you got interested in crime fiction. I find it fascinating that so many people began with stories like Enid Blyton’s and then moved on to writers such as Christie. I’m glad you continue to find new crime fiction authors to savour!

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  2. I hadn’t thought about Enid Blyton as crime fiction, but of course, a lot of it is. As a teenager a friend of my parents lent me her entire collection of Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh books. I’ve never looked back.

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  3. Hi Margaret
    Have been reading your blog for a while through Google reader and enjoy it – your choice of books often matches my own and I too am an avid crime fiction (and thriller) fan. I loved Enid Blyton Famous Five, went on to Agatha Christie in my teens and have just carried on. I read a lot and all genres but crime remains my favourite.
    Regards Jacqui
    PS I was a library assistant for 11 years!

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  4. Hi Margaret, Like you crime fiction dropped out of my reading years ago then last year I discovered the wonderful book blogs. I have since read Carola Dunn, Patricia Wentworth, Agatha Christie and now modern writers Ann Cleeves and Louise Penny, Reginald Hill. I’m thoroughly enjoying them all. Not only crime fiction but authors I’d never heard of consequently my bookshelves are overflowing.

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  5. My mother read crime fiction novels when I was a teenager and I thought they were ridiculous – so superior I was then. Then in the 1980s I had a book review column in a Chicago area newspaper and I tried to include several genres to keep readers interested. That’s when I discovered Robert B. Parker. I read one of his books for the column and I was hooked. I also discovered Sara Paretsky about that time. I’ve been hooked on crime fiction and true crime ever since.

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  6. This is such a happy memory for me! While in 2nd grade, a very cool one-year-older friend said she was reading Nancy Drew mysteries. So then I wanted to read them, too. (My mom had already suggested them, but it took the cool older kid’s recommendation to make me jump, naturally.) “The Mystery at the Ski Jump” was the 1st one I read, and I’ve been a mystery reader ever since. Agatha Christie and beyond…

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