Ian Rankin, Martina Cole and Peter James on the books that inspired them to become writers


William Shaw

I was talking about it the other day to the author of The Appeal, Janice Hallet. She grew up in a home with no books at all, so it was for her the discovery of Enid Blyton at the local library that plunged her into an imaginary world. In contrast, my childhood home was full of books. For me it was a short leap from Dr. Seuss to Tintin and beyond. But it was Emil and Erich Kästner’s detectives who really did it. I discovered there the unique thrill of tension – the book you dare not put down.

rich death by GW Shaw is now available

Robin Stevens

The book that made me the author I am today is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. When I picked it up, at 12, I thought I knew what detective fiction was – I was used to the guessable little riddles of Enid Blyton’s books, where it was possible to figure out who the criminal was just at their appearance. But Roger Ackroyd broke all those rules. Her murderer is hiding in plain sight, and her solution is so simple and beautiful that it’s almost impossible to spot her on first reading. I remember being overwhelmed with excitement at how cheated I had been. I finally understood what a detective story could be – cozy, heartwarming and real, with a devilish twist to the story – and I knew I had discovered the genre I wanted to spend my whole life thinking about.

The Ministry of Unladylike Activity, the latest book by Robin Stevens Least Female Murder series, released in August 2022

L.J. Ross

I owe my career to MM Kaye. I’ll never forget the first reading of The Far Pavilions 11 years, where his evocative style transported me to India during the last days of the Raj. The experience was completely immersive and compulsive, which I try to emulate for my own readers now.

Hamburga DCI Ryan mystery from LJ Ross, is out now

Louise Phillips

Before thinking of writing a book, I was an avid reader, starting with Enid Blyton as a child. In my early teens, the public library offered more amazing books from A to Z, and it quickly became a place of solace for me, a form of escape from what was sometimes a difficult world, as my enjoyment to read was growing. For me, the first book that sowed the seed to become a writer was Lord of the Flies. I discovered that books were more than stories, they could make you rethink your worldview both socially and culturally, often exploring the darker and lighter aspects of our sometimes fragile humanity.

The hidden game by Louise Phillips is now available

Nadine Matheson

I was obsessed with The Wind in the Willows as a kid, but the book that really got me reading was Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers series. As a young black girl growing up in South East London, the Malory Towers books were the ultimate form of escape. The chances of my parents allowing me to have a midnight feast were non-existent and even though the girls at Malory Towers weren’t like me, I was still able to resonate with their sense of independence, adventure and the rebellion. However, my answer is the opposite of if you asked me about the book that made me want to write. I used to work part-time at Books Etc, now Waterstones, when I was in college, and while I was stocking the shelves with mystery novels, I picked up a copy of American Tabloid by James Ellroy, I read a line and was transfixed – and my next thought was, I want to write like him.

The binding room by Nadine Matheson is released on July 7

Author events are taking place across the UK for NCRM in June, find out more: www.crimereading.com


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