Not many people know this, but this half of Hobeck was not a reader of crime, thrillers, mystery or suspense before we embarked on this Hobeck journey just over a year ago. I didn't dislike the crime fiction genre. Not at all (it would be madness to start a publishing business in a disliked genre). I just didn't read crime books. I was indifferent to the need to find out who did it.
I had read some Sherlock Holmes as child, and the odd Agatha Christie, and the Famous Five has a warm place in my heart, and they were crime books, of sorts. Besides that, my reading feet for most of my adult life thus far had firmly stood in the literary fiction flower bed.
As a child my reading oeuvre was much broader than as it has been an adult. I read all sorts: ghost stories, horror, romance, saga, drama, action, Rupert the Bear, the Beano and boys adventure. I also devoured Little Women and What Katy Did. As a teenager I read my fair share of the classics such as the Bronte sisters, D. H. Lawrence, Thomas Hardy, Jackie Collins and Catherine Cookson. I also gobbled up the likes of The Shining, Flowers in the Attic and Lace (I particular remember burying my head in A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford and The Thorne Birds by Colleen McCullough).
As I matured, left home and started to work to earn money, I didn't really consider crime to be a genre for me. As I got older, my reading tastes narrowed and I tended to stick to 'clever' or 'quirky' literature such as offerings by the likes of Kate Atkinson, Ali Smith, Haruki Murakami and Scarlett Thomas. I would sometimes dabble in 'cozy' chic and lad lit such as Helen Fleming, Nick Hornby and Lisa Jewell but generally I stuck with the more odd-ball side of what was on offer on the table in the Waterstone's in Oxford where I lived at the time.
Then, fast forward a bit, and we started Hobeck and I had to read crime. I read it, of course, with a fully open mind. Indifference lends itself to an open mind. It didn't take me long to learn to love crime. What have I been missing all these years?
I suddenly had no choice but to read crime novels and I found the experience not only pleasurable as ‘work’ but I also found myself reading other publishers’ crime and thriller novels for my own entertainment (Harriet Tyce, you are in my top ten of favourite authors now and The Chain gave me the shivers). I confess that I used to have this rather blinkered idea that the crime fiction genre encompassed just either wannabe Agatha Christie writealikes or boy books full of gratuitous gore and police banter. How wrong I was. The ‘crime fiction’ genre stretches far, far beyond this very narrow view I had. It includes humour, pathos, emotion, grit, darkness and light, psychology, philosophy, beauty as well as the expected action, adventure, gore and afternoon tea with the vicar (who turns out to be the murderer).
I urge anyone reading this who might say ‘crime isn’t for me’ to give it a go next month as June, as it happens is Crime Reading Month. If you can read one crime book in June then, that will make me happy. Please give it a try. Find the love I found. Find something you think you might like and see where it takes you. You might surprise yourself, like I did, and find that within that genre some great writers with great stories to tell reside. Trust me, I know at fifteen of them for they have signed up with Hobeck.
I have decided for myself that I will read exclusively crime and thrillers for the whole of June. I won’t read anything else - no quirky fiction that doesn't include a death and no romance. I want to broaden my crime and thriller repartee even further. I might even select something I wouldn’t normally pick up. That is the way to discover new genres and new writers.
If you have any suggestions for me, let me know! My fingers are on the Amazon search bar as I type.