Let's Talk Books

My Life of Crime

Or, to be exact, my life of crime reading, which began about 3-4 years ago. Up until then, I would say I read a mixed bag and cross section of genre. And, up until I left the Print & Publishing world about ten years ago, was probably reading close to 70% SF and speculative fiction. I say speculative because at one point, I moved from almost exclusively reading SF through most of my teen years, to reading some fantasy, a little paranormal, and some supernatural. I never really took to horror, in the same way I strongly dislike ‘horror’ movies. It always boils down to violence, and I’m just not interest.

Which makes it all the more odd that I eventually wandered into reading crime fiction. But then again, crime fiction is an umbrella term I think we all use to cover quite a cross section of tropes that fit neatly, and some not so neatly, under that umbrella.

We’re all familiar with the whodunnit, courtroom drama, murder-mystery, suspense, cozy mysteries, police procedurals, detective stories, and, of late, forensics and psychological thrillers, which, yes, I also include under the umbrella. The latter are usually quite different to the modern thriller which, these days, tends to be about someone from an alphabet organisation (CIA/NSA/MI6/FBI), running around the planet trying to stop international criminals, terrorists, or organised crime and the like.

I don’t remember exactly which book started it all, that kind of recall escapes me these days. I just know that I picked up several more titles all considered ‘crime fiction,’ one of those was a Louise Penny novel from her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache stories: Bury Your Dead. It just happened to be on the shelf and caught my eye, and I saw it was set here, in Québec. Even if the setting is fictional, a lot of the story was set here, in Québec City, my home. How could I not read it?

And from there on in, I was hooked. Hooked on Louise Penny, the fictional village of Three Pines, and more, crime fiction at large.

If you haven’t read any Louise Penny, may I humbly suggest you do, but don’t start as I did, with what I think is book six. Start with book one, Still Life, and work your way through. The character development in this series is excellent, and unlike any other series I’ve ever read.

And you? What recommendations do you have for me.


  1. I couldn’t agree more about Louise Penny, Alex. Her Armand Gamache series is very well- written, with strong characters and story arcs, in my opinion.

    Your reading journey is really interesting. I always enjoy learning about how people’s reading tastes develop. I’ve never been a real SF reader, myself, although I’ve dipped my proverbial toe in. I think it’s fascinating that we all have different reading backgrounds.

    • La Blonde says

      Isn’t it just, Margot. When I discovered her books I was delighted. It’s not often we find her calibre of writing, and how consistent she’s been over such a lengthy series. In which the stories and characters go from strength to strength.

      I have a signed copy of Glass Houses in HB in my TBR, a birthday gift from earlier this year. I’m looking forward to the read.

      Yes, like you, I love to find out what people like to read, and how they came to reading. What we read as youngster transforms through out our teenage years, and beyond.

      As for me? We were big SF readers in our house, and big readers in general. What I call classic SF is so different to what they churn out today. So I don’t really read within that genre anymore. Bigger is definitely not better, as far as I’m concerned!

  2. Kenny Harrison says

    I’ve come across Louise Penny several times, so now I must add her to my list of authors to read. I’m a huge fan of Val McDermid and proudly display several signed copies of her “Dr. Tony Hill” novels on my shelves. She’s Scottish, what can I say? I find her writing brilliant, and you might enjoy her work, Alexandra.

    • La Blonde says

      Indeed, Kenny, you should give Louise Penny a go, as I’m sure you’ll thoroughly enjoy her style of crime fiction.

      And yes, I’ve read Val too. Though I must admit, nothing recent. So if you have, give me a recommendation. It’s been a while.

      I have a tendency to go into my local store and pick up a couple of books on the “Just Arrived” shelves, which means I probably miss out on the before and after books. I also tend to buy only HB (on sale) or Trade paperback, as I can no longer read the tiny type in a regular paperback.

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