[hr]Whether it’s the intrigue of intent, the mystery of whodunit or the adrenalin rush caused by suspense and horror, crime readers are consuming books at such a rate, it’s the most popular genre in international publishing.[hr]
True crime, fiction, suspense and mystery are keeping readers engaged and authors in employment. So, it’s no wonder readers enjoy gathering at book clubs to discuss their passion.
One such group, the Crime and Mystery Book Club in Brisbane is made up of all women, mainly retired. They gather regularly at their local library to discuss a book of the month and often find conversation can take a varied and interesting path.
Member Suzanne Mulligan says the group has been meeting for at least 10 years and she joined in 2006.
“I have always been interested in the crime and mystery genre from an early age,” Suzanne says. “I enjoyed reading Enid Blyton and Famous Five books when I was young.”
For Suzanne, being part of the Crime and Mystery Book Club inspires her to read books she would not otherwise have known about. “I like to widen my reading field. “I also like the social aspect of being with a group of like-minded people.
“The books chosen are mainly murder whodunits, true crime, mystery, psychological thrillers – anything that fits our criteria for crime and mystery. “We try to have a variety of authors to broaden our range,” she adds.
“Members have a few favourite authors such as Mark Mills, James Lee Burke, Henning Mankel, and Michael Connelly. “I’ve read and enjoyed Katherine Howell, Kerry Greenwood, Janette Turner Hospital, Peter Temple, Gabrielle Lord, Kate Morton and Malla Nunn. “My personal favourite is Jo Nesbo.”
Suzanne believes Australian authors compare very favourably with overseas writers and believes a good book keeps the reader guessing, has suspense, is well-developed with believable characters (and not too many as to confuse), a believable story, good writing, and a twist at the end.
Suzanne shares her favourite recent reads as part of the Crime and Mystery Book Club.[hr]
I very much enjoyed Dead Famous by Ben Elton which was one of our crime books of the month. The stage is set (literally) for a very unusual murder inside a ‘Big Brother’ type house which in this story is called House Arrest. There are 10 housemates who are competing with each other for a large cash prize and trying to get along at the same time. The murder takes place on day 27 and is witnessed by an international audience, yet the police are baffled as to the murderer’s identity. There are some wonderful characters in this story – the competitors themselves, the producer who manipulates the program by using selective editing to ensure some are seen in a poor light. She treats her staff appallingly using very colourful language – be warned as some readers may find the language and some scenes offensive. Inspector Coleridge who investigates the murder is the complete opposite, very conservative and is appalled that he and his team have to trawl through every frame of film of this ridiculous show to search for clues to the murderer.
A great sendup of reality TV shows. 4.5/5
The Racketeer by John Grisham is a story about Malcolm Bannister who has already served five years in an American Federal prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Malcolm is a lawyer (or was before he was imprisoned) and carefully constructs an intricate plan to win his freedom. On the ‘outside’ the FBI is trying to find the murderer of a Federal Court judge and they’re having little success. While in prison Malcolm has helped out many prisoners with their appeals and has sometimes been successful, therefore gaining a good reputation within the prison. He has had plenty of time to plot his revenge and it gradually all comes together, but the reader is constantly wondering if he will get away with it. The story is highly incredible and the reader will need to suspend belief and go along for the ride.
It has many twists and turns and the reader won’t be sure how it ends till the end. 4/5
Before I Go To Sleep
In Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson, which is about a woman with a particular kind of amnesia, Christine wakes every day and doesn’t know who she is, who is in her life (who is that strange man sleeping beside her?). Each day her patient husband Ben explains that she had an accident 20 years earlier which has caused her unusual amnesia. He has a scrap book with photographs to remind her who she is and who he is. He goes off to work each day and leaves her to her own devices. She begins seeing a new doctor who encourages her to keep a journal (and hides it from her husband). Each morning her doctor phones her on a mobile phone he’s given her to remind her where her journal is. So she learns anew any information she had learned in the previous days and continues to add to her journal. Her doctor feels that this process will help in her recovery. She continues to keep the journal hidden until after some time she proposes to tell her husband about it. Then the mystery deepens and the reader is gradually aware that all is not what it seems and we come to the climax of the story.
Highly recommended. 5/5