Science fiction? Romance? Crime? Action and Adventure? Autobiographies? Which one do you prefer?
After struggling through the first few pages of a Jojo Moyes novel, it wasn’t long before it was covered in a thin layer of white dust on my bedside table. I realised that I am just not a romance novel person. Maybe twice a year? Cause let’s face it, sometimes one does need a break from one’s usual genre.. And Jojo Moyes would then be my first choice for that “scenery change”. But the time was obviously not right yet! In my twenties I was obviously more of a romantic. I loved Danielle Steel, Nora Roberts, Lesley Pearse, Ena Murray, Maretha Maartens. Jackie Collins for glamour and glitz and Jodi Picoult was for something a bit more controversial and serious. These were the novels where young girls’ dreams started. And yes, of course I could see my 20-something year old self running off into the sunset with a hunky doctor or a wealthy entrepreneur. Driving a red Ferrari, owning a holiday home on the French Riviera, summer months living in a Hyde Park apartment, dinners with celeb chefs and famous photographers, going to exclusive night clubs with famous popstars and, at the same time, being a magazine columnist wearing designer jeans with brightly coloured Manolo Blahnik heels. Ahhhh, how I got transported from my bedroom in my parents’ house to the streets of New York, Paris and London.
So which authors’ books fill my bookcase these days? James Patterson and the Women’s Murder Club series. Four friends regularly meet up to talk about a murder or two being investigated. They share clues and discuss theories while dining and drinking Marguerita’s at their favourite Mexican restaurant. The stories about their personal lives and challenges, makes it feel like you could easily be the fifth friend sitting at their table at Susie’s in San Francisco.
Peter James’ series featuring main character DS Roy Grace, takes place in the seaside town of Brighton. His life is certainly not boring and while solving murders, he continuously ponders the disappearance of his wife Sandy. As the series progresses, you find out that she ran away when she found out that she was pregnant. But Roy does not know this….
I find that my favourite female crime novelists are a lot more explanatory and surprisingly graphic than their male counterparts. Karin Slaughter pulls no punches. Her website states “stories that get under your skin.” And that is not an understatement. The murders are brutal, chilling, disturbing. To such a point that I sometimes have to catch a breather after a hectic chapter, just to slow down my heart rate! Martina Cole writes about the gangs that rule the East End of London. She lets many “f-bombs” drop, writes about child molestation, affairs, betrayal, paedophiles and prostitution. Ruth Rendell, Chris Carter, Michael Connelly, Jo Nesbo, Tony Park, Chris Karsten, Wilbur Smith, Michael Robotham. The list can go on forever.
My latest read is a true life story, which shockingly (and sad) reads like a novel.
“If you are reading this, then I am dead.”
A confession to a murder in the form of a letter, found under a carpet in a house in Kenilworth, Johannesburg. A cold case re-opened after 12 years – lies, abduction, excavations, secret recordings, private investigators, handwriting experts, missing files. The biggest challenge however was that this was to become a murder trial without a body. The author takes the reader on a journey into the real world. Where getting hold of DNA is not as simple as it seems on CSI. Where people continue to lie or conveniently forget the names of roads or forget that they were actually friends with certain characters significant to the trial. Where investigators work tirelessly at the risk of their personal relationships. Where vital evidence like paper hospital records were destroyed years ago and possible eye witnesses just cannot remember what happened over a decade ago on a busy road where white men tried to bundle a black woman into a car. Where there are no tearful confessions or revelations. Where family members eventually get closure, but never find out why an ordinary woman, called Betty Ketani, a cook at a popular Rosebank restaurant, was murdered. The book is called Cold Case confession, by journalist Alex Eliseev. In my opinion, a must read on any “crime reader’s” wishlist.
What is it that attracts us to certain genres? And what does this say about us? What does my fancy for crime novels say about me? I did some research because I was really hoping that my love for crime novels doesn’t mean I am some undercover crazy psychopath. One article summed it up quite nicely and at least confirmed that I was still, well, normal. Not many of us have the inclination to be a policeman, serial killer, drug lord or gangster, but we are intrigued by these people and novels take us to the core of these people’s lives. Due to the accessibility of social media, we are exposed to stories of kidnappings, murders and terrorism on a constant basis. But we rarely know the intricate details of these stories and crime writers fill the gaps for us. And fortunately, in most of these novels, the bad guy is caught by Karma eventually. Whether he/she dies at the hands of a policeman’s gun, being strangled by a rival, buried alive or just goes to jail, the satisfactory ending leaves us with a feeling of hope and that justice has been served.
Because let’s face it – “…the danger and thrill of the chase is undeniably ‘cool’.” (quote)