We have just been lazing around today. Pool. Sunbed. Read. Pool. Sunbed. Read. And before you know it, the whole day has drifted by.
Back at the Oxfam charity shop where I work, the book section is dominated by two categories - Fiction and Crime Fiction + Thrillers. Now I have read many books in my life - lots and lots of good quality fiction but mostly I have turned my nose up at crime fiction. It just does not appeal to me.
And yet when I am upstairs in the Oxfam shop sorting out book donations, I find myself handling lots of crime fiction - Lee Child, Val McDermid, Michael Connelly, Ruth Rendell, Steig Larsson, Jamers Patterson, Jo Nesbo etcetera. They are all tremendously successful writers if success is indeed measured in volume of book sales.
Before coming on this little holiday, I decided I would bring a work of crime fiction with me and to read it as a kind of experiment - testing myself. From the Oxfam shelves, I picked a book entitled "Sirens" by a new British crime writer called Joseph Knox.
Set in Manchester, the novel focuses upon underworld activity and at its heart there is a young detective called Aidan Waits. He inhabits a kind of grey zone between the law and the criminal fraternity.
He drinks heavily, he takes drugs, he mixes with thugs, bent coppers and low life losers. Yet in spite of this, with his brilliant mind he is able to make sense of complexity and solve drug-related deaths like a modern day Sherlock Holmes without the deerstalker or the pipe.
Detective Waits gets beaten up, he bleeds, he vomits, he stays out all night. I guess he is some kind of anti-hero but in the end he ensures that evil is punished and good triumphs.
I will say this about "Sirens" - it was very easy to read. You just kept turning the pages and your cerebrum was not even slightly challenged.
But in the end I thought it was pure balderdash. I didn't care about Aidan Waits or the people he mixed with. They were like cut-out figures in a child's scrapbook. And I found the portrait of seedy crime-ridden Manchester most unpleasant and unfaithful. It is not the Manchester I know. Interestingly, there wasn't one mention of Manchester City Football Club or Manchester United or Lancashire cricket or Eccles Cakes or the Pennine hills that rise to the east of the city or The Peterloo Massacre or John Cooper Clarke. It was a fanciful much-edited version of Manchester that was conceived in Joseph Knox's financially-driven imaginings.
In short, this "novel" - if you can rightfully call it that - consolidated my suspicion that crime fiction is utter tosh. There are much better subjects for writers to explore even if those topics do not promise the same probability of financial reward. I won't be reading another crime novel any time soon. Why should I? To me crime and the detection of it are very tiny parts of everyday life. I find it annoying that TV, film and publishing industries are demonstrably quite obsessed with such a minor topic.