Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Living between the pages

Of all the books you have read over the years, crime novel or otherwise, which book or books created a world and characters that you would like to live yourself? Which character would you want to be?

by Dietrich

I remember the books I loved as a kid, and the images created by Mark Twain, Jack London, Charles Dickens and Rudyard Kipling and other great writers remain in my head. I can still picture myself along the banks of the great grey green greasy Limpopo River, scenes I imagined of Victorian England, and I can still hear Aunt Polly dealing with Tom spinning one his wild tales.

There are so many great authors that kept me reading throughout the years. What kid didn’t want to go along on an adventure with Frank and Joe Hardy? Those early mysteries giving way to the thrillers and spy novels of Ian Fleming, Ken Follett and John Le CarrĂ© and so on. And later on the crime novels of Robert B. Parker, Richard Stark, James Ellroy and Ed McBain.

I still read a lot of crime fiction, and there are so many more worthy novels than there is time to get to them all. Plus I often reread old favorites by George V. Higgins, Charles Willeford and Elmore Leonards. Away from the crime genre, I’ve also been rereading some Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck. I love those books set around Monterey and the Big Sur area, one of my favorite places to be.

I can’t think of a character I’d really want to be in the kind of crime novels that I usually read. They’re often marginals with plenty of baggage with  trouble coming at them from all directions, but they sure are interesting to follow. I really enjoyed the Boone Daniels character created by Don Winslow for his novels The Dawn Patrol and The Gentleman’s Hour. And there’s James Crumley’s main character C.W. Sughrue, ex-army turned private eye, who shows up in The Last Good Kiss, The Mexican Tree Duck, Bordersnakes and The Right Madness. Also Raylan Givens who first appeared in Elmore Leonard’s short story “Fire in the Hole,” and came back in the novels Pronto and Riding the Rap and later still was portrayed by Timothy Olyphant in the FX series Justified

Maybe I wouldn’t dream of being one of these characters, but one thing they all have in common is they’re all entertaining. They’re flawed, they drink too much, get in bad relationships, and most of them ride that fine line between law and order which adds to the fun and to the unpredictability of the stories in which they live.

With Terry, Susan and John Lansing at Copperfield's Books,
Santa Rosa, CA, October 17th.
Photo: Leo Baquero
At a couple of recent book events in California, along with a host of other author friends, I had the good fortune to get together with fellow Criminal Minds authors Catriona, Terry and Susan, and I loved hearing them talk about and read from their latest novels, adding some great new books to my own reading list. I’ve got to find out what happens next in Catriona’s new one Go to my Grave, and I want to get to know Susan’s character Katherine Goff, solving mysteries in the French countryside, and Terry’s Samuel Craddock in the fictional town of Jarrett Creek, Texas.
With Catriona, Kelli Stanley and Mark Coggins at Octopus Literary Lounge,
Oakland, CA, October 19th.
Photo: Andrea Kalteis


Susan C Shea said...

Dietrich, It was so good to meet you while you were on your California Dreaming tour. Thanks for setting up some lively venues. It tickled me to read your shout out to Timothy Olyphant for his Raylan Givens role in "Justified." That series was dark, it was funny, and I who generally don't go in for a lot of violence was hooked from the first episode to the last. Remains among my favorite TV series ever (along with "The Wire" and "Brideshead Revisited...and how's that for diverse picks!)

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Susan. It was great meeting you, too. And The Wire, that's another great series. I haven't checked out Brideshead Revisited yet, but it's on the list.