Yes, you’re reading that correctly: with the encouragement of my fellow bloggers, I’ve decided to take the plunge and to make March my own! After all, March Madness isn’t just about basketball, my friends. Sometimes it’s about murder…
This year is the first annual Mystery, Madness, and Mayhem Month, focusing on those amazing books that send chills down our spine and keep us up waaaaay too late at night. My thanks to my incredibly talented brother, David, for the gorgeous, creepy and vintage-y banner, and to my many blogger friends for offering to assist with this venture.
There are great things planned for the month ahead, including blog tours, guest posts, new reviews and even a look back at forgotten classics. We’ll look at chilling mysteries for all ages, how some of us fell into the genre (and never wanted to get out), our favourite authors past and present and even some quirky mystery connections that you might not have considered. Put on your deerstalker, grab your favourite sidekick and start sleuthing – the game’s afoot!
One of my favourite memories while growing up in Southern Ontario involves TV Ontario (our public broadcaster), a man named Elwy Yost and a standing ritual with my father. Every weeknight at 7 pm, Yost would present a show called Magic Shadows, where he would introduce a classic movie in serialized format. When the movie finished early (as it always did), he would include interviews with directors, cast members and crew, and part of a long-running serial such as “The Adventures of Captain Marvel”. On Saturday nights, Yost would present “Saturday Night at the Movies“, a double feature of classic Hollywood movies, usually with a theme. Not only was it a brilliant crash course in movies and film-making, but it also introduced me to genres that I might not have otherwise explored in books.
It was through Elwy Yost and my father that I discovered the joys of Hitchcock. Rear Window, North by Northwest, the Birds, Rope – these movies taught me about suspense in a way that Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys had only begun to develop. I loved Jimmy Stewart in these movies (and frankly, it’s why It’s A Wonderful Life never worked for me until I was an adult), and wanted to see him in more. From the twisted world of Hitchcock to the demented black humour of Arsenic and Old Lace, I discovered that darkness lies in the hearts of men (and women) and that you can’t really trust anyone.
From classic films came the transition to classic literature, and I soon started to work my way through the best crime writers of the age. Agatha Christie remains at the top of my list, and I began with The Mysterious Affair At Styles, the introduction to Hercules Poirot and his ‘little grey cells’. I was insistent that I read them in order, and I managed to stay on track, completing the series with Curtain. I finished the book and wept bitter tears, only to jump back in with the wonderfully charming Thomas Beresford and Prudence Beresford (née Cowley) in The Secret Adversary. I’ll admit to a fondness for Tommy & Tuppence that far outweighs the sensible Miss Marple.
From Christie came Ngaio Marsh, and then PD James, then Ruth Rendell and Elizabeth George and a host of others. Strangely, I didn’t start to read male mystery/thriller writers until much later in my reading life. Ian Rankin, Quintin Jardine (who I had to quit after a major character shift ruined the series for me), Giles Blunt and others soon littered my shelves as I ran through entire series. Now I’m in it for a mix of thriller and cozy writers. Alan Bradley, Louise Penny and Peter James are auto-buys for me, while I still stop by second-hand bookshops for Christie copies to replace the ones I lost in an all-too-tragic basement flood (the tragedy was all mine; I believe my parents were secretly relieved to be rid of them!).
My hope for this month is that you will explore a different avenue, find another author of interest or pick up a book that you might not otherwise have thought of reading. I don’t discriminate in my reading – if you like Camille Lackberg, Gillian Flynn, Val McDermind, Stuart MacBride or Jussi Adler-Olsen, then you are welcome here. If you prefer more cozy authors and books with cats or bakery puns in the title, c’mon in and pull up a chair – there’s room for everyone in this diverse and wonderful genre.