The Crime Readers' Association

What’s the attraction of reading crime thrillers? By Rachel Amphlett

28th February 2019

I think, like many crime thriller authors, my love of the genre started when I was about five years old and started reading the Famous Five series by Enid Blyton.


By the time I was in my very early teens, I was working my way through my Mum’s collection of Dick Francis books and adding to those every birthday and Christmas when I received book tokens in lieu of presents. On top of that, every time my parents stocked up their bookshelves via jumble sales, I’d be devouring the likes of Ed McBain, PD James, and Robert Goddard. By the time I left school, I’d devoured most of the crime fiction section in my secondary school library, including books by Ken Follett, Agatha Christie, and Michael Crichton.


To this day, I’m unable to walk past a second-hand bookshop…


Of course, it wasn’t just books that were influencing me at that time. On television, the likes of The Bill, Moonlighting, LA Law, as well as the Alex Cross films played by Morgan Freeman and based on the books by James Patterson all fell into the melting pot and fuelled my imagination.


So, what’s the attraction to this genre as a reader?


For me, it’s a mixture of entertainment and escapism.


There’s nothing like perusing the shelves in a bookshop or library, spotting a cover or a spine of a book, and then reading the blurb and thinking “I’ve got to read this”.


You know (with a few exceptions) that the villain will be apprehended by the time you reach the last page, the detective will have solved the mystery, and all will be right with the world, but it’s the excitement between the first page in the last and trying to work out who the bad guy is, or how they will be stopped, before the detective does.


I have to admit, although I do like reading (and writing) stand-alone crime thrillers, I do enjoy reading books in a series because you get to know the detective over a period of time. You begin to appreciate what drives them. For instance, take Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series. That character has grown so much since first appearing in The Black Echo, and I think that’s what keeps the series fresh. It’s not just about the investigation of murder in each book, it’s how the main character’s life is changed by the investigation and the world around him.


It’s the same reason why I enjoyed reading all the Val McDermid Tony Hill series, and the Roy Grace series by Peter James – as well as the fact that the stories aren’t just about the main characters, but include a regular supporting cast.


As a crime thriller author, I’m re-reading a lot of the books on my shelves through different eyes these days – I find I’m analysing them more, trying to pinpoint exactly why those stories have endured.


I hope by re-reading the masters, my own writing will continue to grow.


It’s also a great excuse to forget the housework for a while 😉


Read more about Rachel here.

Have you discovered the Kay Hunter British detective murder mysteries yet?


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