Mystery is my favourite genre of literature. Which is why the novel I am working on is a murder mystery. (I write what I like!) I got my hands on my mom’s copy of The Hidden Staircase – the second Nancy Drew mystery – when I was 5 or 6. I was hooked! My wish lists for birthdays and holidays consisted of Nancy Drew books. I bought as many as I could afford from the book sales at school. I’m talking about the yellow-spined hardcover books – not these new fangled paperbacks! One Christmas I hit the jackpot! I received a parcel that included about 6 new Nancy Drews. I was in heaven! I read Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Hardy Boys, Encyclopedia Brown, Dana Girls – all the young adult mysteries I could get my hands on. I read other stuff – mostly science fiction and fantasy – but, mysteries were still my favourite. Then, one day, I picked up my mom’s copy of A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton. I might have read some ‘grown-up’ mysteries before that one, but I really remember my first Kinsey Millhone story. She was a strong woman – flawed in all kinds of ways – yet smart, independent, tough, funny, and just enough like me for me to want to be her.
I have since read dozens of mysteries – some of them great, some of them good, some that made me wonder how they got published. Still, I love them. I’m reading stuff from the 1920s and 1930s to get a feel for the era – the language, the culture, what was acceptable in literature. I found Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man a little hard to follow actually. A little too much dialogue and not enough description for my liking. However, it is a good study in 1930s mystery. I am interested to read Red Harvest and The Dain Curse – two novels whose main character is the Continental Op, a character with no other name. I will move on to Raymond Chandler and others soon. Though on some level I think I have the hardboiled style well engrained in my mind as it is my favourite.
I’m looking forward to my summer as I plan to do as much mystery reading and writing as possible!