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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Lifetime of Crime

While I am working my way through the crime section (I am currently two thirds of the way through the second book Under Your Skin) it's worth looking back on the crime writers I have read a lot of in the past.

When I started reading adult books I read a lot of Agatha Christie, almost 20 books I think, before I got bored of the repetitive nature of her novels. She was one of those writers who found a formula and churned out dozens of very similar books. A lot of readers are quite happy to be have a similar tale retold again and again. I tend to be a bit more demanding and want something more original after the first few books. Consequently it's quite rare for me to have read anyone's complete output.

An author who I discovered at the age of 15, and is normally classed as a crime writer (although you could argue the case that she doesn't belong there at all) is Patricia Highsmith. I have enjoyed all her books, even the ones with fairly weak plots (and there are a few) and I still read them today 30 years on. If you haven't read a book for 20 years it's almost like reading it again so I try and read a Highsmith book every year in the order they were written. I have tried to find similar authors to her over the years, but never really been successful. I have read her influences, supposedly Poe, Henry James and Dostoevsky. I have read counterparts of Highsmith like Eric Ambler and Graham Greene, but none of them have really hit the spot like Highsmith did. If anyone knows of any writers similar to Patricia Highsmith then please let me know! Or maybe I'll discover the next Patricia Highsmith on my way round the library!

The only other crime writer that I have read in large numbers in Ruth Rendell (aka Barbara Vine). A few of her books are very good, but there are too many mediocre ones and I have stopped reading her altogether, although I have managed to rack up about 20 Rendell books in the 30 years I have been reading adult books for.

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