Wednesday, October 18, 2006

With thanks to Agatha Christie

I have always enjoyed reading fiction. When I was a child I read anything and everything: Emily Rodda, Colin Thiele, Walt Disney comics, the Penny Pollard series by Robin Klein, Lewis Carroll, Rumer Godden, Frances Hodgson Burnett, E. B. White, Bill Peet, Louisa May Alcott, Eleanor Porter, Lee Falk's The Phantom comics... I can still remember my all-time favourites: Something Special by Emily Rodda, The Doll's House and also The Diddakoi by Rumer Godden, Jodie's Journey by Colin Thiele, Charlotte's Web by E. B. White, Lord of the Flies by William Golding and The Little Princess by Burnett (I re-read this one constantly and ended up in tears every time... I always had a soft spot for orphan stories!). I started to gravitate towards mysteries and adventures, with Enid Blyton's Adventure and Galliano's Circus series being top favourites. Then I graduated to Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys...

When I was 11 years old I found a tattered paperback copy of a Mrs Pollifax spy/mystery novel by Dorothy Gilman in my mother's bookcase, and read it until the cover actually fell apart. Then, when I was 12, I discovered Agatha Christie and I was hooked, a mystery reader for life!

But there are only 80-odd Christies, and once you've read each one a few times even a die-hard fan needs something else for those in-between-Christies periods. I discovered the Bony series by Arthur Upfield, and then Patricia Wentworth, who remains in my Top 5 Favourite Authors list. In no particular order I've discovered, read and enjoyed: Charity Lee Blackstock, Helen McCloy, Margaret Millar, Charlotte Jay, Minette Walters, Mignon G. Eberhart, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Thomas Harris, Pamela Branch, Edmund Crispin...

The list grows weekly with each visit to a second hand book store, op shop, garage sale or eBay site. There's just something about an as-yet-unread paperback mystery novel that makes the world a better place for me.

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