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Tue, 30 Jun 2009 00:21
Adventure, mystery and heroes have always fascinated and thrilled Pauline Rowson. That and her love of the sea has led her to create a completely new genre of crime fiction -- the marine mystery. Her family of tough South Welsh miners and her fire-fighting husband and his Portsmouth watch, have all been influential in creating brave earthy characters like the ruggedly seductive detective, Inspector Andy Horton whose patch is Portsmouth CID, and who were the inspiration behind Pauline's fast-paced, controversial thriller, In Cold Daylight.
"What are my top ten favourite books? Blimey, where do I start? I have so many favourites, some of which are sadly no longer in print, but many, I am pleased to say, are very much alive and kicking. Here is a tiny fragment of them."
A Clubbable Woman by Reginald Hill
I first discovered Reginald Hill in 1979. My husband bought me this book when I was ill and boy am I grateful for that illness. A Clubbable Woman was Hill's first crime novel to introduce the ill-matched pair of Dalziel and Pascoe. This book is shorter than Hill's later ones but it remains one of my favourites, along with many of his early crime and thriller novels.
Sight Unseen by Robert Goddard
Goddard was recommended to me by a client when I was running my marketing company and now I can't get enough of him -- Goddard that is not the former client. Sight Unseen, like all Goddard novels, is fast-paced, action-packed and full of amazing twists.
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
A classic, hilarious, off-the-wall and enduringly entertaining book. This novel was recommended to me by a former boss who was a bit of a maverick himself. The fact that he had never read a book in his life except this one, and sang its praises whenever he could, made me extremely curious to know what was so special about it and why he kept saying, "I saw something nasty in the woodshed."
Green for Danger by Christianna Brand
I am a huge fan of the golden age of crime novels. I discovered this book through watching the film adaptation of it starring the marvellous Alastair Sim who played Inspector Cockrill. The book was first published in 1945 and is set in London's war time blitz. A patient is murdered and the theatre staff are all suspected. Soon the whole hospital seethes with mystery. It's packed with clues, red herrings and marvellous characters and I defy you to guess whodunit and how.
I love quotations and dipping into this wonderful book not only provides a writer with ideas for plots, titles, characters even, but gives hours of amusing and thought-provoking entertainment. It contains memorable quotes from politicians and poets, actors and advertisers, with some great slogans of the past and a section on famous misquotes: "Crisis? What crisis?"
The Yellow Dog by Georges Simenon
I'm back in the golden age of crime for which I make no apology. First published in 1931, this Penguin Red Classic was reissued in 2006 and despite the progress of the years Simenon still weaves his magic, for me at least. His sentences are razor sharp, and his descriptions are so moulded into the narrative that you don't read them you feel them. The Yellow Dog is an eerie murder story set against the atmospheric backdrop of a French harbour.
South Riding by Winifred Holtby
Written in 1936 and posthumously published after her tragic death at the age of thirty-seven from kidney disease this is deemed to be her greatest work. Set in the 1930s, it has a strong cast of characters full of ideals, hopes, ambitions and jealousies. It tells of their tragedies and joys, and highlights the poverty and the social injustices of 1930s England.
Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson
Not everyone is grateful to their A level English reading list, but I am for introducing me to this novel so evocative of a lost era. Flora Thompson's autobiographical volumes, Lark Rise, Over to Candleford, and Candleford Green were reissued in this one volume in 1945 two years before she died. It is a thoughtful, precise and endearing record of country life at the end of the nineteenth century. A picture of a fast dissolving England, beautifully told and very moving.
Bright Day by J.B. Priestley
This is one of Priestley's shorter novels. First published in 1946 it's about a disillusioned Hollywood scriptwriter who, while struggling to find inspiration in a Cornish Hotel, meets a former acquaintance there. The encounter takes him back to the days of his youth before the First World War. As with all Priestley novels the characters are larger than life and the narrative engrossing.
A Killing Frost by R.D. Wingfield
And finally, another detective novel. The late R.D. Wingfield is reputed not to have liked the television adaptation of his Frost novels starring David Jason, and although he said he had nothing against Jason playing Frost, he just wasn't his Frost, but I think he was perfick! This is his sixth and last Frost novel and like the others it is coarse, fast-moving, full of black humour and lots of scene changes. Reading Wingfield is like watching an episode of The Bill only much, much better.
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