Goldie's Blog

local libraries and crime fiction

12 June, 2011 | By Goldie Alexander

I am totally grateful to my local library. There is no other way I could take out so many books without being able to borrow this freely. I couldn’t afford to buy this many, nor would I have enough book shelves. (Both these problems may change once I decide which ebook reader to buy.) However, borrowing also means I take out what currently is on offer. Or having to wait – sometimes over a year – before a particular book comes my way. eg The Slap. Perhaps I should also admit that I don’t always finish those books I take out. Life is far too short to waste it reading bad fiction!

One of my library’s quirks is the number of vampire books that turn up on its shelves. I’m not a fan of this genre – whether it be for YA or adults- and hope to see all vampires, ghosts and other supernatural forces disappear into some deep dark cavern way, way back in their storeroom, which is where they surely belong.

There are also those novels best described as ‘literary’. In my humble opinion too many are first novels from youngsters with ‘promise’, unfortunately seldom followed up. Many are written in the present tense using short sentences that circle the narrative rather than taking a direct approach! Okay. I’m dumb but sometimes I don’t understand what they’re about unless I read the blurb. They’re almost always far too long. Also, many are imported. These imports are often set in the southern states of the US. My personal bias is to find this setting, character development and dialogue tedious. Others may not agree.

Please… please feel free to comment on this.

Two other genres that make regular appearances on the ‘new book shelves’ are fantasy/science-fiction and CRIME. Thinking about it, what with so many crime novels on offer, this is probably the chief reason I wrote my ‘Grevillea Murder Mystery Trilogy’ (these will shortly appear as ebooks.)

While some crime fiction is overly predictable, others use this genre in innovative ways. When it comes to crime writing, the difference between good and bad shows up very markedly. Also bad editing (think about the last of the ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ which needed severe cutting)

What all this is leading to is this week’s find. Set in a cattle ranching family with an unsolved murder dating back many years, Mary Pickard’s ‘The Scent of Rain and LIghtning’ (what a great title) is captivating. I intend finding more books by her.

If there are others who would like to attempt this genre, the following few hints might help:

• Storyboarding the plot is important to anyone writing detective fiction.

• Your characters talk to each other and to everyone else even remotely involved so there’s lots of dialogue (talking) and action. Above all, your characters have to be interesting!

• Each new speaker should have a new line.

• You have to provide suspects that your detective interviews. These will give the reader lots of red herrings and some clues.

• Make sure there are enough exciting bits where your detectives are prevented by someone apparently powerful or in authority to continue their investigations.

• Before the criminal is brought to justice your detective or his friends might be in a frightening situation or some kind of serious trouble.

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