Wednesday, April 30, 2008

First Adult Crime Fiction

The Rap Sheet tags a conversation over at Crimespace: What was the first adult crime story/book/author you read?

I devoured the Hardy Boys and The Three Investigators. Actually, truth be told, I enjoyed T3I better than the Hardys. Even as a youngster, I realized the Hardys were structured stories and I liked to compare notes on how Frank and Joe's ages and hair color were introduced.

After the Hardys I sank my teeth into SF: Clarke, Star Trek (yeah, yeah, I know), Alan Dean Foster. Searching for a college to attend, I read my first Stephen King book, Pet Semetary. What a book to start with, huh?

TV-wise, I always loved PI shows, cop shows, lawyer shows. Loved watching Perry Mason late at night, Murder, She Wrote, Ironside, Miami Vice, etc. Movie-wise, I love almost all murder/mystery/crime movies. Always have.

Book-wise, I'm a late comer. The one book that really started my craze for crime literature was Mystic River. I heard Dennis Lehane on NPR and listened to him describe how he wanted to write an epic story covering generations. That sounded good to me. I bought it. The prologue was heart-wrenching. And the first chapter had a great opening sentence. Here it is:

Brendan Harris loved Katie Marcus like crazy, loved her like movie love, with an orchestra booming through his blood and flooding his ears.

Lehane hooked me good. I discovered his five previous PI novels. Then, I discovered George Pelecanos. Throw away the key, man. I'll stay behind bars as long as you feed me this stuff. Pelecanos's characters talked and lived a life so unlike mine, I felt like a voyeur. And I savored every last letter.

This was in 2001. I started compiling lists of authors and books I Needed To Know: Elmore Leonard, Hammett, Chandler, Cain, MacDonald, The Friends of Eddie Coyle. The next author to kick in my teeth was Ken Bruen. I read The Guards and thought I haven't read anything better. It's still up there in that Big List in the Sky of Great Books. Soon, thereafter, Hard Case Crime started publishing their books. Man, I was in heaven. And those covers! Among my favorites there are Little Girl Lost, Plunder of the Sun, Branded Woman, and Dead Street. I just finished reading my first Allan Guthrie book, Hard Case Crime's Kiss Her Goodbye. (Review forthcoming). Next up: Cristina Faust's Money Shot.

So, what were you're introductions into the fabulous world of Crime Fiction?

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