First Offences

Inspired by Maxine‘s comment on my review of A Kiss Before Dying, I’d
like to ask all my visitors one question:

What inspired you to love crime fiction? Was it one particular author, a TV show or film?

My answer: The 1989/1990 TV series Campion, with Peter Davison as Albert Campion, Brian Glover as Magersfontein Lugg, and Lysette Anthony as Lady Amanda Fitton.

If you’re familiar with the Campion novels, you’ll know that part of their interest is the hazy origins of Campion himself. Like every second sleuth from the 20s/30s he is aristocratic, but his origins are never entirely clear. I think it was probably that mystery that captured my interest rather than the televised stories themselves. I’m still more interested in character than plot.

I still own a number of the 1980s Penguin editions  that came out at the time. I think Sweet Danger was probably the first I bought. Has my love for Campion stories persisted? I’ll be reviewing The Tiger in the Smoke as part of my CWA Top 100 challenge, so you’ll find out then.

I did rewatch some of the TV shows recently and found them a bit dated.

So, feel free to share…


12 Responses to First Offences

  1. Maxine says:

    I was a Sherlock Holmes addict in primary school. My favourite was The Dancing Men- I loved those little stick-person codes! I read a lot of books from that point to this, probably including “crime fiction” but not thinking of it as such (I don’t think fiction books were really categorised much in those days, apart from possibly SF). The authors I read who consciously made me want to read more crime, when I was around 15, were Celia Fremlin, Hillary Waugh (both in those yellow Gollancz editions from the library – I was addicted to both), Ruth Rendell (again from library) and Dashiell Hammett (from my Dad’s green penguin collection!). I also remember liking the Perry Mason books when I was pretty young, which started an interest in legal dramas.


  2. westwoodrich says:

    I’ve just remembered Enid Blyton (I was a Secret Seven man, rather than the Famous Five) and Emil and the Detectives. Maybe I was a crime fiction fan before I even knew it.


  3. Maxine says:

    Oh yes, I liked her too, or at least the 7 and 5 books and the “…of adventure” series but not much else of hers – and Emil and the Detectives (plus, have to admit, Lottie and Lisa, from which they made the film The Parent Trap). But once you start thinking about it, much childhood reading could be said to be nascently crime-fiction oriented, eg I loved all those Roger Lancelyn Greens – Robin Hood, Arthur, etc; greek/trojan myths; Rosemary Sutcliff; Coral Island etc.


  4. gaskella says:

    Hi. Although I read a lot of Agatha Christie as a teenager, I was a serious Science Fiction addict first and foremost, then. I discovered crime properly when I read Raymond Chandler, and was hooked from the first evocative paragraph of ‘The Big Sleep’. These days I read widely across many genres, and crime is part of that, be it treating myself to a golden age or noir novel, or a modern serial killer one.


    • westwoodrich says:

      Hi Annabel. I like science fiction too, and spent most of my teens reading all the Michael Moorcocks I could find.

      I like that you’ve given your daughter a page on your blog. I might do that for the Minor Offences when they’re a bit older.


  5. I also have the penguin editions of these books and loved the show – though Davision and Glover were a great double-act and were perfect at capturing the light and dark side of the stories. Also, just to let you know that I nominated you for a WordPress Family Award – thanks for all the fine blog post Rich, much enjoyed!


  6. Col says:

    I think it would have been late 80’s from memory – I was into horror – King and Koontz and Barker and Campbell and one day saw a book with a blurb by Stephen King on it for an Elmore Leonard book, either The Hunted or 52-Pick Up and I was hooked ever since. I think 25 years on, I’m still more into US crime fiction than that set anywhere else.


  7. Pingback: Philip Youngman Carter: Mr Campion’s Farthing | Past Offences

  8. Pingback: Mike Ripley: Mr Campion’s Farewell | Past Offences Classic Crime Fiction

  9. threeoutside says:

    Hi – just found this place via In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, and I’m excited to start delving into the blog! I’m a bit taken aback that your question is one I’ve never asked myself! I think I really got hooked in 1969 when the French prof of my then-brand-new-husband handed me “Whose Body?” I had read all the Holmes canon of course, and many of the Christie books, but when I met Dorothy Sayers, I was a goner. For the next 25 years, mysteries were almost ALL I read!


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