Suspense and thriller readers – where are you?

Hades Candice FoxOn Tuesday book bloggers from around Australia attended a “National Book Bloggers Forum” at the offices of Random House Australia (RHA) in North Sydney.

Digital gurus, editors and the RHA publicity team all pitched in. We were given insights about Search Engine Optimisation and how to use Google Analytics to drive relevant traffic to our blogs. We were told about up-and-coming titles and given a goodie bag full of books. Authors including Judy Nunn, Sneh Roy and Bruce McCabe spoke about their books and writing process. Throughout the day, Twitter was awash with the hashtag #NBBF14. In the breaks, and over a generous lunch, names, cards, twitter handles and blog URLs were swapped among participants.

I was especially interested in the pitches for thrillers, including Bruce McCabe’s debut Skinjob (in the goodie bag, so more of that another time) and Candice Fox’s forthcoming follow up to Hades, Eden.

Eden – no cover available – was introduced by publisher Beverley Cousins. Cousins pitched Fox as an “Australian Gillian Flynn”. I’m not convinced of that. Cousins was once editor for the Nicci French writing duo – from memory, she worked on Secret Smile, one of the creepiest of the NF books. To me, that’s a closer fit with Fox and Hades. (If you’ve read my reviews of Hades, Flynn’s Gone Girl, and my discussion of Nicci French’s writing,  you’ll know what I mean.) Maybe Eden will be different.

In the open forum at the end, I asked whether there were any other bloggers who review crime and suspense novels. Only one person put up her hand, Debbish from Debbishdotcom. Most of the others, I think, specialise in YA and teen fiction, although I did come across a “vlogger” who reads classics, and there were at least two who specialise in nonfiction.

So where are all the crime fiction readers/bloggers? Maybe they all live in Melbourne?

And, while we’re at it, where were all the men? There were only two men among 35+ bloggers, a gender imbalance that caused Bruce McCabe to comment, “Who are the real readers out there? Spend one minute in this room and you’ll know.”

Do you read crime, thrillers and/or suspense fiction?

Bruce McCabe addresses National Book Bloggers Forum 2014

Bruce McCabe addresses National Book Bloggers Forum 2014 – photo courtesy of Dymmocks Books

 

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26 Comments

  1. I read crime, suspense and thrillers! I just couldn’t put my hand up because I was in Perth.

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  2. Ah yes… love my crime fiction. I was saying to someone there I think it’s because I started young – on Famous Five, Secret Seven, Trixie Belden etc… 🙂

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    • Me, too. Not so much Secret Seven, but Famous Five, Five Founder-Outers, Trixie Belden, Alfred Hitchcock Investigates series, Nancy Drew, before I graduated to Agatha Christie and Simenon in my early teens.

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  3. Geoffrey McGeachin’s latest is due out soon, St Kilda’s Blues, as is Nicole Trope’s, Secret in Silence, Greg Baron’s, Lethal Sky, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, Deadly Suspicion by Karen M Davis, Currawong Manner by Josephine Pennicott, What Came Before by Anna George, Present Darkness by Malla Nunn and Dawn Barkers Let Her Go and I just posted a review for The Scent of Murder by Felicity Young. There is also Hindsight by Melanie Casey. Subscribe to Random House’s Crime Thriller site to find more http://www.randomhouse.com.au/crime/

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  4. One factor that may have led to the fewness of men at the forum was that it was scheduled on a week day. That would have made participation by quite a few women difficult also.

    I love reading P M Newton, but have been deterred generally from reading crime fiction by reading too many Agatha Christie when I was a young teenager (too superficial) and the salacious nature of some crime fiction (and the covers). I don’t want crime used for entertainment. Crime fiction has a valuable role in exploring the complexity of this social issue, the harm done by crime and looking deeper into humanity itself.

    When is crime a crime? Bruce McCabe’s comments on the use and consequences of technology were interesting and prompted me to persist with his book.

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    • These issues really deserve their own posts! You could be right about men/workday, but some women took time off work because they considered it a priority. That may also reflect women’s greater tendency to do unpaid/volunteer work, I don’t know.

      The point that really interests me, though, is about “using” crime fiction for entertainment. PM Newton and Angela Savage, as you know, have both touched on this because of the way women are treated. I unashamedly love to be entertained by crime/suspense/thriller fiction, but my delight in it also troubles me in some ways (as does my response to romance fiction). I guess I’d go right back to Philip Sidney’s Defence of Poesy on this one, that the aim is both “to teach and delight”. Moralising or philosophising without the page-turning thrill of the narrative makes it all to hard for me.

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  5. I’m a big YA fantasy reader, but I am thoroughly looking forward to reading Hades and Eden. I’m trying to break out of my reading rut. As much as I love my favourite genre, I really need to break out and try reading something different.
    That being said, Skinjob is at the very top of my TBR pile!

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    • Thanks for dropping by, Bec. I’ll look forward to your reviews. If you do review Fox’s books, it would be great to add them to the AWW challenge. And I’d be interested to hear if you know any YA Aussie suspense authors. Have you read Rebecca James’ Beautiful Malice? She’s one Aussie suspense writer who writes crossover YA/Adult.

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  6. annabelsmith

     /  May 27, 2014

    I almost never read crime, mostly because I am a bit of a sissy and hate to read about murders, especially if they include sexual violence against women, which they often seem to. Like Yvonne, I find the idea of crime as entertainment disturbing. I occasionally read a suspense/thriller if I’m looking for a super page-turner and/or I’ve heard heaps about it. I recently read max Barry’s Lexicon which won the Aurealis (Australian Sci-fi) award. It was a ripping suspense novel, very intelligent – I would highly recommend it. I also recently read Patrick Somerville’s This Bright River which was as twisty and exciting as Gone Girl but much smarter and more plausible. He’s a US writer though and it sounds like you’re looking for recommendations closer to home.

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    • Thanks for commenting, Annabel, and the recommendations. You’re right, Aussie authors are my preferred option, preferably women. But I’m also looking to find more of the Aussie crime/suspense fiction reading community. It’s such a popular genre for readers, but there don’t appear to be many dedicated book bloggers in the genre. Maybe there are more challenges reviewing crime fiction? (Danger of spoilers with such plot-drive books, perhaps.)

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  7. I tussle with the idea of crime and violence as escape too, like Annabel. I can handle realistic grimness and misery but not escapist … There’s a fine line here I know but in my head I know what I mean! Peter Temple’s a The broken shore is an example of the former. It dealt with real issues in rural Australia, particularly to do with indigenous – nonindigenous relationships but reading crime as a genre over and over doesn’t do it for me. I’m inconsistent though as I do watch crime TV.

    Oh, and how I would have loved to have been there.

    Any SEO tricks? I read all about it but some things I just don’t get and some recommendations seem contradictory. A post on that would be great.

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    • Thanks for commenting WG. It’s tricky, isn’t it? I watch crime TV, too, and the odd movie: recently I’ve been absorbed by The Bridge on SBS. There always seems to be some added element, some point of social interest, in good quality crime fiction/drama. I agree about Peter Temple’s The Broken Shore – and I’d add P M Newton’s books in that category, too. They are far more than “mere” entertainment, but they are also entertaining. As for SEO tips, I’m discussing/experimenting with that on my Lizzy Chandler blog, with another post due up today. So far, it has been more miss than hit.

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      • What are you experimenting with? It probably takes time to build up?

        Yes, we are watching The bridge too. I watch crime more for the relationships and the issues than the crime itself. I often can’t tell you what exactly is going on, though I usually get the gist!

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