Here on the Reader Spot, I share the bookish love of our avid book reviewers. From young adult to historical romance, chick-lit to a murder mystery, they know what they like, and they’re happy to share. Whether you are a reader looking for a new book, or a writer wondering what your reader wants, I hope you find this series enjoyable.
Next up to the Reader Spot is author, Peter Bartram. Find his website HERE.
What genre do you enjoy reading?
I’ve always been a great crime and thriller fan. It all started when I was 14 and came across a copy of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes in a second-hand bookshop. I was hooked from the first page. (Incidentally, the first story in that book is Silver Blaze which contains the famous passage about “the curious incident” of the “dog in the night-time”.)
Do you have a favourite author in this genre?
Once I’d been hooked by Conan Doyle (I also enjoyed his Professor Challenger books), I moved on to other thriller greats such as Alistair MacLean, Desmond Bagley and Victor Canning. Today, I’ll never pass up the chance to read anything by Peter Lovesey (especially his Diamond series) and Simon Brett (check out the Fethering mysteries). And for sheer ingenuity I love Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series. Who’d have thought of the idea of making an 11-year girl (who just happens to be a chemistry savant) the protagonist in a mystery novel – and making it work?
How do you prefer to read your books?
I still enjoy the feel of a solid book (hardback or paperback) in my hands. But I have a kindle and frequently read books on it. The kindle is great for long journeys. I recently used it while travelling by train from London to Vienna!
Where do you purchase your books?
In the past decade, hundreds of independent bookshops have closed. I think that’s a great shame – so I always try to buy books for independents whenever I can. As an author, I find that independents can be tremendously supportive. (A big thank you here to City Books, the best indie bookshop in Brighton!) But, sometimes, if I’m sourcing a hard-to-find book, I’ll hunt it down online.
Where do you find out about the books you read?
Reviews, both in newspapers such as The Guardian, or online play a big role. But I keep my eyes open for new releases online. And I spend a fair amount of time trawling library shelves looking for new authors. Never underestimate the power of serendipity when looking for something to read.
Do you have a budget when buying books? Do you stick to it if you do?
Generally, I have a book token! Friends and relations know my interests so they’re never stuck for a present idea at Christmas or birthdays. How much will I spend? It depends. I might spy a bargain for 50p on a charity shop shelve, but I’ve also paid £45 for a specialised book I particularly wanted to read.
Do you write a review when you’ve finished reading? If so, where do you post this?
I have written reviews on Goodreads. But I’m now in a tough regime where I have to write a 90,000-word novel plus a 30,000-word novella every year – and do all my regular work as a journalist. (That mainly involves writing in-depth investigative type features on economics and finance.) So the time to write book reviews is limited.
What do you look for in a book?
Reading a book without a central character who you can identify with and believe in is like eating fish and chips without salt and vinegar. Among my earlier reading experiences, I enjoyed several 18th century novels built around picaresque characters – such as Tom Jones, Moll Flanders or Fanny Hill. I learnt a lot from reading them about how to make a character with dubious moral values and rascally ways likeable. It’s something I’ve tried to achieve with the central character, crime reporter Colin Crampton, in my Crampton of the Chronicle series. He’ll stoop to any low trick to get a story for his paper – but his scams always serve the higher purpose of seeking justice for someone who can’t get it themselves.
Where do you like to read?
I read for about two hours a day – usually last thing at night in bed!
What social media platforms are you active on?
If you are an avid reader and would like to be included in this feature, then please use the ‘say hello’ page to send me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.