Sunday, July 19, 2015

I Love British Mysteries--Then and Forever

By Leann

Like many of you, Agatha Christie was my first introduction to British mysteries and I was about ten
when  I started reading her books (with a dictionary right beside me). Little did I know it would become a love affair that would last my entire life. Not only do I adore the puzzle and the character development, but it's the respect for language and setting that means so much to me.

When I took a 5 day workshop taught by Elizabeth George in  the late '90s, she gave a quote I have never forgotten--and I am not sure who to attribute it to, but it went something like this: A good book puts you in the arms of a loving narrative. She went on to
say that if you feel that love from the beginning of the book, you can suspend your disbelief immediately. It doesn't matter what genre, it's just the truth about a good book. British writers do this so well.

The other thing I love is how well British authors weave scenery into the story. The landscape sets the tone for each scene and I try very hard to remember that when I am writing. Perhaps that's why I write about the South even though I am from the North. I truly felt as if I had moved to a foreign country when we left New York for Texas and this helped me realize just how important atmosphere as defined by locale is to the narrative.

There are many more beloved foreign writers in my slew of books now.
I have come to enjoy Scandinavian mysteries almost as much as the UK writers. (And yes, Stieg Larrson's title for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was actually The Man Who Hated Women.) Not that I don't love American writers, too. I have many many favorites and have enjoyed so many books in my life. (I am currently reading Linda Castillo's most recent Amish mystery). I just love to read and no day is complete with reading. And if you don't adore books, then it's my belief you can never become a writer. I think writers absorb stories as if they were athletes working out. I need the workout to strengthen my writing muscle--my brain.

Tell me what authors put you in the arms of a loving narrator. I'd love to know.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

You do, Leann, as well as most of the other cozychicks---sorry, there a few whose books I just can't get into. I also love Dana Stabenow and wish she would finish her Marco Polo granddaughter series so she could resolve the issue of whether Kate and/or Mutt lived in her Kate Shugak series. I love Julia Spencer-Fleming and P.J. Tracy as well as John Lamb and Beverly Conner (both Diane Fallon and Lindsay Chamberlain). Cordella

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Cordella! There are SO many books and so little time!

Anonymous said...

I love British mysteries, too, Leann. I would find it hard to understand anyone who didn't enjoy Agatha Christie. I started reading Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt, while in high school (many years ago). Recently, I read an Agatha Raisin mystery, by M. C. Beaton, and plan to read more.

I'm so glad I started reading cozy mysteries and love your Cats in Trouble series. You weave wonderful, descriptive stories and I always look forward to the next book.

For me, life would not be complete without a book. Now, if I only had more time to read!

Diane LaBrie Leverson said...

As far back as I can remember, I have always loved mysteries. I started with Nancy Drew and then discovered Agatha Christie. I think I have read all of hers but I'm adding them to my Kindle now. I like M.C. Beaton. She is one of my favorites. In my early years, I loved Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart. Of course, I love all the Cozy Chicks. Right now I am reading a Sheila Connolly book that takes place in Ireland. It's the 3rd book in the series. I know she lives in Ma (my home state) but she spins a good story about Ireland and of course her Orchard Series take place in Ma.

Leann Sweeney said...

Thanks Pat. Yes, life would NEVER be complete without a book!

Leann Sweeney said...

I kept all my Agatha Christie paperbacks from when I was young. They aren't in the greatest shape but I want to display them behind glass if we ever get this house together! Nancy and Agatha were such god friends to me, too.

Aurian said...

I've read the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys in Dutch as a young girl, and some Dutch authors as well. And the Mrs. Pollifax series by Dorothy Gillman, The Cat Who, Miss Seeton, those are books I grew up with. My world widened a lot when I discovered that most books were not translated, and I started reading them in English. I have never read Agatha Christy, but I love the tv series of Poirot with David Suchet.

Robert Giddings said...

Paula Gosling is one of my favorite writers. Unfortunately her books are becoming more difficult to find. Similar to Leon Uris, she has the ability to pull you into her community.

Currently my favorite author is Spencer Quinn. Viewing the world through Chet's limited experiences changes ones perspective. Chet is the ultimate optimist. Life is to be enjoyed. He doesn't linger on the negative, and finds great joy in driving with the top down and Slim Jims.

Robert Giddings said...

Paula Gosling is one of my favorite writers. Unfortunately her books are becoming more difficult to find. Similar to Leon Uris, she has the ability to pull you into her community.

Currently my favorite author is Spencer Quinn. Viewing the world through Chet's limited experiences changes ones perspective. Chet is the ultimate optimist. Life is to be enjoyed. He doesn't linger on the negative, and finds great joy in driving with the top down and Slim Jims.

Lynda Turpin said...

I grew up reading Sherlock Homes. I would picture Basil Rathbone when I read.

Heather Webber's Lucy Valentine books introduced me to cozies, and I'm now a devoted cozy fan. I like that they are light reads (which sounds strange when you consider that they're murder mysteries). I especially like books with likeable characters, a dash of romance, and a lot of humor (and, of course, cats). I can honestly say that your Cats in Trouble books are at the very tippy top of my favorites, and the Abby Rose books are in the top 5.

I like most of Julie Garwood's books. They have a lot of humor, and her heroines typically "seem" to need saving, but generally save themselves - and others (much like in cozies). I do wish that she didn't spend quite so much of the narrative on the sex. I don't think it is needed that often and in that much detail. I have a tendency to skip ahead.

I sometimes take a break from cozies and read non-fiction. Some I have enjoyed include Chicken Soup for Cat Lovers. Autobios by Malala Yousafizai (girl who was shot by Taliban for advocating education for girls), Bob Barker, Alan Alda, and Bob Newhart. Bios about Gandhi and Jim Henson. Historical accounts about events like the Titanic and the Holocaust..

Every once in a while I'll read a psychological mystery (although I generally prefer something lighter). One of my favorites is "The Gingerbread Man" by Maggie Shayne. It is disturbing but also a very good read.

As you can tell - books make up a large part of my life......

Lynda Turpin said...

Oops - that post was a lot longer than I thought. :-)

Leann Sweeney said...

You should try them, Aurian! I don't think I'd be a writer today if not for Dame Agatha!

Leann Sweeney said...

That is so great! A writer needs to take readers on an authentic journey!

Leann Sweeney said...

Hey, you love books and I enjoyed reading your reply. I read Sherlock and I also read everything Edgar Allen Poe wrote. Loved a bit of the dark side!