Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Daddy's girl... by Cathy Ace

Question: Father’s Day is June 16th – so there’s time for you to recommend some crime-themed reading that could be a useful gift idea for dads of different ages, and with different interests…and allow those reading the blog to order it, and get it in time to wrap it!

Answer: Here’s a photo (from 2002) of my dad, and my husband...who’s a father too.

My dad died more than a dozen years ago. His death was what made me realize that mortality is a “real thing”, and gave me the kick up the backside I needed to get on with writing fiction. I’d had nine marketing textbooks published, and I’d also had a short fiction story published in 1988, which was then republished in an anthology for the O level/GCSE English Language syllabus in the UK (the exams everyone takes at 16 years of age) and was produced for BBC Radio 4. 

Dad almost burst with pride when it aired, and his death made me determined to get some fiction books onto bookshelves in Mum’s local library so she could be the happiest, most boastful mum in Swansea. (I can tell you she is!)
Mum at Swansea library, having spotted one of my books on the shelf

Dad enjoyed reading, though not as much as he enjoyed watching TV. He did, however, have a small collection of books which fascinated me when I was a child – largely because they were on shelves so high I couldn’t reach them. I finally discovered they were books by Ian Fleming and Alistair MacLean, which – when I eventually read them – engaged and entranced me. 

My dad was pretty traditional in his tastes, enjoyed a good yarn, and seemed fascinated by tales set during World War Two, and the Cold War period. If only I had the chance nowadays, I’d be encouraging him to read Len Deighton’s Bernard Samson and Harry Palmer books…though I suspect he’d have already read them. They are some of my favourite books. 

As for newer publications? The Slough House books by Mick Herron are excellent – featuring jaded, washed-up spies (the “Slow Horses”) and complex, delightful plots - and is a series I believe he’d relish. 

I’m also pretty sure he’d have been thrilled to know that I now belong to a collective of crime writers all of whom have Welsh crime as their focus. Crime Cymru's authors turn out some excellent books across as wide a range of crime fiction (and non-fiction) as any reader could hope, so I'd lead him to the website (click here) let him browse what the authors have to say about their work, then order him whatever took his fancy. 

As for encouraging a dad who's pretty set in his ways to "try something new" (my dad, in other words)? Well, I'd try to get him to read Sue Grafton's alphabet series featuring Kinsey Millhone. I think the books have enough action in them to allow someone used to such things to be carried along, and the plots are twisty enough for most readers. They are not cosy, they feature a female lead character who's realistic enough to engage both male and female readers, and I think he might enjoy them. 

For my husband? He reads widely, and our tastes match up pretty well – which is useful when sharing a Kindle account, though we diverge at certain points too.

I know I could buy him any of Lee Child's Jack Reacher books and he'd be happy to read them (though I'd have to check which ones he's already read!). He hasn’t yet followed me into Icelandic Noir territory, but I know he’ll enjoy it when he does. Yrsa  Sigurðardóttir and Ragnar Jonasson are the two authors I’ll recommend to him most highly, starting with Yrsa’s Thora Gudmundsdottir books, and quickly moving to her Children’s House series. 

I have also recently introduced him to Martina Cole’s books – which he can hardly read fast enough…success!

As I said, he's an eclectic reader, so it's no surprise to me that he “not so secretly” enjoys MC Beaton’s Agatha Raisin TV series, so I think he’d also enjoy those books. Luckily, there are LOTS of them! 

Even if, like me, your dad is no longer around to be treated royally on Fathers' Day, it doesn't mean you can't give him some thought. I just hope you've been fortunate enough to have good father-figures in your life so that you want to celebrate fatherhood. 

A bit of blatant self-promotion now...please consider reading my books? You can find out all about my traditional series, my cozier series, my collections of short and long stories and my most recent psychological suspense by clicking here.


Frank Zafiro said...

Nice tribute to your dad and his taste, Cathy! It made me feel a bit wistful, though I'm fortunate enough to still have my own dad around. But your post was a reminder to treasure those times!

Cathy Ace said...

Thanks, Frank. I felt wistful writing it, and treasuring the time we have with loved ones is something I think we can all do better at...Mum's still with us, so that's a good thing!