When I started reading and collecting books in my early teens, I started with children’s books with the likes of Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boy and The Three Investigators.  All of which Armada (paperback) books (children’s imprint of William Collins & Sons publishing group) here in the UK was printing at the time.

But as I was devouring them quicker than they were printing them, I went onto the hardback copies published by Collins.  There were more books available in these series, but they were published in the USA and not available to us here in the UK, due to territorial restrictions (International Copyright Law), and unless I could manage to get over the ‘Pond’ to purchase them, I would have to wait until Collins got the publishing rights before I could get some more.

Even they dried up at the rate that I was reading them.  So I needed to find something else that would grab my interest to read and keep me sated.

Then I discovered Patricia Wentworth’s Miss Silver mysteries, and it opened up a whole new world of what our American cousins call ‘Cozy’ mysteries…a lighter, more gentle adult mystery…in the same vein as the ‘Golden Age of Crime’ classics such as Christie, Sayers, Allingham and Marsh.

But just as I discovered the ‘cozy’ mysteries, the UK publishers decide en masse to discontinue publishing them, as according to them…there wasn’t a market for them anymore in the UK, and readers wanted books with more grit, blood, guts and gore, to sink their teeth into.

That is fine, if that’s what you like to read.  And each to there own.

But there were many readers, myself included who were not enthralled with this new darker genre that was flooding the book market, and wished that the publishers had retained at least in a small amount some of the ‘cozy’ mysteries.

Instead they wiped the genre out completely within a few years, to the point that people under the age of 40 (for the most part) have never heard or read any of these classic mystery authors, except when they are made into tv series or films.

But did the cozy genre die out here in the UK?

Yes, in the sense of the buying public of generations to come.  Because what can not be seen, can not be brought.

And No…not for my generation and older.

Who back in the 80’s, we had to go looking back through past authors and publications to satisfy us, or travel to the USA.  Who at the time, still had a ‘cozy’ publication market with publishers such as Pocket Books, Jove, Avon and the new up-and-coming Berkley Books (who later were to retitle the brand to Berkley Prime Crime) an imprint from Penguin USA.

Which by the way, Penguin Books started out in the UK in the 1930’s, but Penguin UK was one of the top publishers to discontinue ‘cozy’ mysteries here in the UK…go figure!

In 1981, I made my first trip to the USA with my parents (I was 17), and my first visit to a mall was mind blowing!  Unfortunately where as I roamed around at home quite freely on my own, over there my mum decided that I needed to be kept close at hand.  So I only managed 15 minutes in a bookstore (thought I had died and gone to heaven!) before being pulled out…empty handed!

Fortunately, both my aunt and her mother-in-law May, worked at the largest department store within the mall.  And with a little persuading, I managed to get permission to go with her to work, have lunch with them both and spend the day wandering around the mall…parent free!  To top it off, the department store they worked for had a book department (which they got discount off in-store)…so I spent a pleasant day book shopping, drinking coffee and reading in the department stores coffee shop…for me, the best day of the holiday, except for Disney Land, of course! 😀

PS…California is bloody hot!  Especially for someone who isn’t used to that type of heat.  Walking out of an air conditioned area, made you feel like the chicken being shoved into the oven…cooked alive in your own skin!  Probably why I prefer the East Coast USA, more than the West!

With only limited funds, I still came home with about 20 books! lol

One thought on “A reader’s journey…in the beginning

  1. I started with Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven books which were more adventure books than mystery in some ways, Then I moved on to Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Agatha Christie. Today I read a mixture of cozy, soft boiled, police procedural and classic. I have been greatly enjoying the re-release of many of the Golden Age books.

    Liked by 1 person

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