RARA-AVIS: you're HOW old?

From: stephen holden ( sjholden@hotmail.com)
Date: 07 Jan 2000

I'm English, born in 1963. The first crime fiction I remember reading would be American: 'Alfred Hitchcock & the 3 Investigators' (thanks to rara-avians for that info), and the Hardy Boys (though many Enid Blytons were also mysteries of a sort). I soon progressed on to Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle, Buchan, Rider Haggard and Ian Fleming. I started reading 'literature' in a big way when I was 14, but still alternated Naipaul and Forster with Victor Canning and Wilbur Smith. I read American & Commonwealth Studies at university, and went through most of the American biggy novelists. For some strange reason I bypassed Chandler, Hammett et al. I spent a year at UC Davis, and read HRH Keating's 'Whodunnit' which pointed me towards James McClure and Jonathan Gash, but again I had a blindspot when it came to hardboiled writers.

It wasn't until I was stuck on the German island of Fö¨˛ for two months that I discovered them. Before I was marooned a friend in Hamburg lent me Goodis' 'Down There' and anthologies of Chandler, Hammett and Jim Thompson. I was hooked, and when I got back to London I read everything I could find by Joseph Hansen, George V Higgins, Robert B Parker, Estleman, Crumley
(difficult to find), early Ellroy, Leonard, etc.

Nowadays I tend to read about half hardboiled, half other books. Of the former, the majority are American writers because, with the odd exception like John Milne or Ted Lewis, I don't think British writers are very convincing when they try to write hardboiled.

And I'm ever grateful to this list for pointing me towards the likes of Lansdale, Lehane, Stephen Hunter, and back towards Burnett, Browne, and Cain.


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