On the trail of sleuths – favorite fiction detectives
I grew up with Briar Rabbit, Bambi, and the Princesses. Animation whetted my imagination. My father could not drag me from movie theater until the last credit rolled off the screen, always at the end back then. I saw Roman numerals. They were the things we were learning in third grade so I learned how to decode them. I still remember….
About the same time I noticed in the credits names of writers, I figured out that the words based on meant that there was a book out there as well. I started searching for names of authors and titles. I carried this habit over to my television watching as well. I started with authors like Joel Chandler Harris, Anderson, Grimm. I moved on to illustrated comics, Thorne Smith, Damon Runyon. Those guys were really funny. Too bad so few authors can be that and still be original. The next step was the classics like Dumas, Wells, the Brontes. And somewhere along the way I started reading mystery stories.
First I grabbed my father’s paperbacks. Their covers were sensational to say the least. My mother did not approve, but Daddy prevailed. I could read whatever I wanted. Probably a sound decision since we all know the axiom about forbidden fruit. All I really wanted to know and all I then understood was who done it.
When I found anything in print I liked,I immediately looked inside it for a list of other books by that author. In time I outgrew Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys (Stratemeyer Syndication) and moved on to Perry Mason (Gardner), Hercule Poirot (Christie), Rabbi Small (Kemelman), Father Koesler (Kienzle), Archy McNally (Sanders), Mac and Annabel Smith (Truman), Alex Delaware (Jonathan Kellerman), Peter Decker (Faye Kellerman), Kay Scarpetta (Cornwall), and Lincoln Rhyme (Deaver).
Some critics rave about the men and women on my reading list while others pan their technical skills. As the song goes, “It really don’t matter to me.” I read what I enjoy for the sheer fun of it. My personal selections are not text books meant to be studied. They are recreational reading plain and simple. Some say what you read shows who you are. Others say it is a form of vicarious expression. Me, I say that it taught me a lot any way you take it.