Books! Books! Books!
Do non-readers ever truly understand readers? I suspect not. Last night we happy few were ensconced in Heffers, one of the nation’s most delightful bookshops, talking about the crime genre.
But newly returned from Cambridge, my head is still filled with Harry Potter. I did not personally enjoy the two volumes I read but I understand what a wonderful service JK Rowling has done for children everywhere. The Potter images are created largely by the films, and now the ridiculously pretty streets of Cambridge are coloured by those images, for better or worse. Cambridge means bookshops, cloisters, bicycles, the Cam and less of a noticeable divide between new and old – you’d have to be blind not to see the divisions in Oxford, although Oxford has the Ashmolean, for which I can forgive anything.
It’s also book season, when the most books get published. I’m already into Philip Pullman’s ‘The Secret Commonwealth’, technically the fifth His Dark Materials volume, which grows away from childhood things to darker territory. I can also recommend the books of my fellow authors in Cambridge, Kate Rhodes for her terrifically evocative Scilly Isles-set thrillers, Nicola Upson’s smoothly pleasurable and gently subversive Josephine Tey mysteries, and Barry Forshaw’s Crime Fiction: A Reader’s Guide, which leads the reader through the confusion crime novels and points out the gems. I’m also on Oscar de Muriel’s fourth outing for Frey and McGray, Loch of the Dead, a series of clever puzzlers that keep getting better.
Having now received my author copies of ‘England’s Finest’, featuring twelve new missing cases from the files of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, next week I’ll be giving away 12 signed copies – one for every case – by leaving clues on Twitter. They will, I’m afraid, all be in central London, purely for logistical reasons, but I’ll make sure they’re fairly distributed. Keep watching, happy reading and remember: being alone with a book always beats being in a crowd without one.