I've always loved crime.
Murder. Larceny. Blackmail. Arson. Kidnapping. Burglary. Serial killings. Extortion. Gang violence. It doesn't matter what sort of crime, I'm up for it.
Luckily, it hasn't landed me in jail yet, but it has given me a love of one of the most popular genres of writing.
The Crime Novel.
Here are seven books that have inspired me to write about crime.
And then there were none.
From the Queen of Crime herself. I remember reading this when I was eleven - it was called something terribly non-PC then. Having finished it, I went back to the beginning and started again. All the clues were there, I just hadn't seen them. Fiendishly well plotted, even for Agatha Christie
The Daughters of Time
Again, something I read when I was young. Beautifully constructed, it made me revisit the history of the period and re-evaluate all that I believed about Richard III. Great title too. I read it again this year. It stands the test of time which is always the sign of a great novel.
The Complete Sherlock Holmes
The series of works that gave rise to the modern crime novel. An eccentric detective, a fumbling sidekick and stories that blew readers away with their sheer brilliance. Every other crime novel is measured against the master.
The Name of the Rose
Every once in a while, a book comes along that shows the crime novel can be far more than a series of gory killings. This has wit, erudition, an understanding of philosophy and, at its heart, a plea for more laughter in the world. Who could ask for more?
The Remorseful Day
A great central character with enough quirks to sink the Titanic. Another sidekick with a love of the Full Monty. Great plots, intriguing stories, palpable intelligence, and the most wonderful sense of place: Oxford in the Eighties.
L A Confidential
I could have chosen any of James Ellroy's books. Once I start them, I can't put them down. They have such a pace, style and sheer pizzazz, that is quintessentially American. Elroy leaves out the bits other authors keep in. I'd love to have those bits.
The Talented Mr Ripley
Vastly underrated, Patricia Highsmith for me is the writer's writer. Beautiful sentences, crisp characterisation and an understanding of human psychology, all go hand in hand to make this a wonderful crime novel. Even better, she created an anti-hero that we could all love. Brilliant.
So those are my choices. I can hear you all shouting now. How could you leave out Mario Puzo, Val McDermid, Stieg Larssen, Peter James, Ellis Peters, Dashiell Hammett, P D James,Thomas Harris, C J Sansom and Stephen King?
Nobody said choosing seven was easy. You have to murder some you love. But that's the job of a crime writer after all.
What would be your most inspirational crime novels?