KB Walker is an American married to an Englishman, living high up on the moors of Yorkshire. Her memoir, A Life Less Lost, was published in 2009. She has work in several anthologies and her debut novel, Once Removed, came out, as an eBook, earlier this year. It will be available in paperback on 21st September.
By Kim Walker
Mike Stafford, a reviewer for Bookgeeks, has written an excellent post for this blog on what he looks for when writing a review of a crime novel. Here are the thoughts of an ordinary reader of the genre.
In common with millions of people, I love to read crime novels, from the Agatha Christie’s of my childhood to an international array of authors today. The list of brilliant crime fiction writers is extensive ~ thank goodness! Books in this genre tend to be fast paced and difficult to put down so I need a large supply.
What is it about crime that draws me back into murky worlds time and again? There’s probably something about being able to be frightened and explore darkness in safety but I don’t like to read horror so that can’t be the only reason. I think it’s more to do with the puzzles. Unraveling the clues, discovering motivations and the pursuit of justice, good triumphing over evil even if it doesn’t always work out that way.
In any story in almost any genre characters matter, too. The very best crime fiction characters are complex and multi-layered. From Michael Connelly’s ordinary Harry Bosch to Stieg Larsson’s extreme Lisbeth Salander and including all the quirky ones in between like Anne Cleeves’ Vera and McCall Smith’s Precious Romotswe, I don’t require perfect heroes or heroines but they do have to have a strong sense of right.
And I’m nosy. I don’t just want to see the lead character at work; I want to know about his/her personal life, as well. The tension between the two often fires the pace.
The “bad guys” also need to be interesting. A flat villain is too obvious and spoils the puzzle. There’s a curiosity, too, about what turns an innocent infant into an evil adult.
The setting is often more important in crime fiction than other genres. I suspect that is one reason for the current success of Nordic crime. The extremes of darkness, temperature and weather are almost another character in these tales, ratcheting up the challenges.
Greedy, I want maximum value from my time spent reading so adore books which teach me new things. CJ Sansom takes me into life in the 1500s and the intrigues of the Tudor throne in his Matthew Shardlake series. I’ve learned some fascinating things in James Thompson’s Finnish crime stories. And Clive Cussler is currently filling my head with information about early South American civilizations and modern research of the ocean floor.
With so many demands on a crime writer, it’s a wonder anyone takes it on but I’m very glad they do! Have I missed anything? Why do you like crime?
Suspecting self-harm, newly qualified teacher, Abriella Garside, risks everything for a troubled pupil. An incident with a craft knife and unexplained injuries are not enough to secure help for the girl. Unsure whether Beth is being bullied or has problems at home, Abby tries to win her trust and the two begin a friendship. But has the teacher gone too far?
In the midst of Abby’s own complicated life, Beth disappears. Rumour and suspicion ignite, fanned into an inferno with Abby at its heart.
Two lives hang in the balance.
It comes out in paperback on 21st September, with a brand new cover!
For more information about KB Walker, her books and other “things reading and writing” you can find Kim on her Blog, Nuts and Crisps.