The authors and books that have inspired me

I loved adventure and mystery novels when I was a child and a teenager and this love of crime fiction, thrillers and mystery novels has continued throughout my adulthood.  In my teens I enjoyed the novels of Leslie Charteris featuring Simon Templar, The Saint, and those written by John Creasey featuring The Baron and Gideon to name only two of his characters. Creasey was a very prolific writer and also the author of Westerns which I went through a phase of reading, including those penned by Zane Grey, an author who locked together character and land so that they were indivisible something that perhaps also took root with me, locking my characters, DI Andy Horton; Art Marvik  and Inspector Ryga in with the sea and the sea with my characters.

Following this I progressed to reading many different crime writers and I particularly loved and still love and read the Golden Age of Crime novels, those set from say 1930 to 1960 many of which I am delighted to say have been reprinted for the first time by the British Library in their Classic Crime Series.

I find it very difficult to read crime novels by my contemporaries because I'm always afraid that I'll come across a plot that I've used or am thinking of using.  This isn't surprising because there are very few actual plots - thirty six I believe which break down into sub plots.  So they have all been done before but the things that make them different are of course the characters, the setting and a writers style. I tend to stick with crime writers of the past.

My favourites include mystery novels by John Bude featuring Inspector Meredith, Freeman Wills Crofts, E.C. R.Lorac and George Bellair. If you like mystery novels these are well worth a try. 

Blood upon the Snow by Hilda Lawrence is another very atmospheric crime novel which I have re-read many times. Published in 1946 it's a sinister story with an atmosphere that contains extraordinary power and suspense and keeps you guessing to the end. You can actually feel and taste the cold and you shiver in the snow as you read how private detective Mark East is summoned to a lonely house in the hills in Bear River, USA to protect a frightened lonely old man. Here he meets the occupants of the house and a series of accidents culminate in a fatal one. Sadly Hilda Lawrence only wrote four novels and I will continue to browse the second hand book shops for the other three I do not yet have.

There are many more great crime writers from the Golden Age of Crime I could name who have inspired me, and still do, but I cannot close without mentioning one of my favourites, the hugely prolific, Georges Simenon particularly his Maigret novels, which are also being reprinted.  You just can't keep a good crime writer down!

With Simenon I love the atmospheric writing, the quick dialogue and the fact that you often follow the story through Maigret’s eyes.  Simenon can conjure up the mood and the atmosphere in one simple short sentence and plunge you right into Maigret’s world.  I also like to count the number of alcoholic drinks Maigret consumes in a day, it makes me feel far less guilty at taking that glass or two of wine in the evening!

These classic crime novels never date and continue to provide enjoyment to me and many others.


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