I may have mentioned that I am on the judging panel for the Dagger in the Library, an award given by the Crime Writers Association, It is getting a bit more demanding now. There were 70 writers nominated who were eligible so I had started dipping into the ones I didn't know. However now we have the longlist of 17 writers and I have to read at least one book by each of them before 27 May. There are a few I have read all their books, others I have read at least 1, but a handful I haven't read at all.
It has been interesting to read so many novels in one genre in succession. There are a lot of similarities in the structure of the novels which is inevitable because police procedure novels will follow the police procedures. In the less interesting books there are great similarities between the protaganists as well which is unfortunate, because there is a limit to how many angst ridden- single/divorced because of the job - workaholics you can maintain an interest in. However there are also lots of differences, even among the modern policemen. Kate Atkinson had a lovely character in Jackson Brodie, but it is hard to compare him with the historical detectives or the non police ones.
It is an award given for a body of work, so it has to be sustained over more than one novel, and some of the authors like Kate Atkinson and Morag Joss write outside the crime genre as well as within it. What is also interesting is the number of authors on the list whom I have never read before, some of whom have been real finds and others I would prefer to have left on a dusty shelf.
The judging lunch is in London in May and then the award dinner - to which I get an invitation - is in mid July, and which will be quite exciting. I've never been to anything so impressive as that is likely to be before, so I am quite thrilled really.
I used to read a lot of science fiction, and write reviews in the British Science Fiction Association magazines, so it is a bit different to focus in a critical way on crime novels instead of sf, and to ponder on the similarities and differences between them.
I do have a lot of reading to do though!