A Public Service Post on Crime Fiction Addiction ;-)

As a public-spirited person I think of it as my obligation to pass along useful information that you may find helpful. For those of us who read and love crime fiction, there is a fine line between enjoying a social crime novel now and again and indulging to the point where it becomes a problem. I’d hate to see any of you in that situation but of course, it’s not always easy to recognise when you may have a problem. So here to help you today are a few signs to watch for. If you show more than two signs in any of these categories, you may be in trouble and it’s important that you be aware of where you’re headed.


You May Be Addicted to Scandinavian Crime Fiction if you are not Scandinavian but…

  • You can spell Reykjavík without having to look it up or copy and paste.

  • You could find your way around Stockholm with no assistance even though you’ve never actually been there.

  • You are just as familiar with names such as Marlaine Delargy, Laurie Thompson and Amy & Ken Knoespel as you are with the names of famous authors.

  • Bonus concern if you know why I included those names 😉

  • You frequently insert symbols such as ø, å, and ä into your review posts.



You May Be Addicted to UK Crime Fiction if you are not from the UK but…

  • You have ever used the term panda car to describe police transportation.

  • You know all of the police ranks and their acronyms from PC through Chief Superintendent.

  • Bonus concern if you catch yourself using the term SOCO.

  • You are thoroughly familiar with all of London’s underground stops and neighbourhoods even though you’ve never actually been there.

  • You can tell just by the dialogue whether a character is from Northumbria, Devonshire, Dorsetshire or the West Midlands. Or anywhere else in the UK for the matter of that.



You May Be Addicted to Canadian Crime Fiction if you are not Canadian but…

  • You know how to pronounce Regina.

  • Abbreviations such as PEI and NWT make perfect sense to you.

  • You know what I mean by “the Yellow Stripes.”

  • Bonus concern if you know where that name comes from.

  • You know the four positions on a curling team and can easily follow the action in a match.



You May Be Addicted to Australian Crime Fiction if you are not Australian but…

  • You get strange looks sometimes because of your use of Australian slang.

  • You really get annoyed at people who think that Sydney and Adelaide are close enough for everyone in those cities to know each other (Thanks for the inspiration, Kerrie!).

  • You could find your way down the Stuart Highway from Alice Springs to Adelaide even though you have never actually been to Australia.

  • Bonus concern if you know how long that journey takes (HINT: It’s not a quick jaunt).

  • You have cultivated at least five or six Australian acquaintances just so they will supply you with books because the books you want to read are not available where you live. At any price.


You May be Addicted to American Crime Fiction if you are not from the US but…

  • You know of at least three Native American sleuths.

  • The name Pickett does not make you think of fences.

  • You can name at least four major crime fiction authors whose novels take place in greater Los Angeles or New York.

  • Bonus concern if you know the neighbourhoods where those novels take place. This is quite serious. 😉

  • You really don’t notice spellings such as realize, favorite, or cozy.


You May Be Addicted to Classic/Golden Age Crime Fiction if…

  • You have ever gotten into a spirited discussion about who the best film and television Poirot is. Erm – it’s David Suchet, OK? ‘Nuff said.

  • You can name at least six authors known for their “locked room/Impossible” mysteries.

  • Your dream gift is John Rhode’s or Christianna Brand’s back catalogue.

  • Bonus concern if you already have them.  😉

  • You feel cheated if a novel does not include a scene where all the suspects are gathered and the sleuth dramatically unmasks the killer.


So there you have it: several signs that you may have an addiction problem. What should you do if you find that you’re an addict? I would rather just be honest about this: sorry, but there is no help for you. You will be hooked for life.  😉


Got any signs you’d like to share?


Happy Weekend, All!


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24 responses to “A Public Service Post on Crime Fiction Addiction ;-)

  1. Yes, I clearly have some of these addictions though I did catch myself mis-spelling Reykjavik the other day so maybe there is hope for me yet! (also the Knoespels are names I don’t recognise so there is some more ignorance- Murray and Nunnally are more in my ballpark I think). Actually , I live in the UK and I am not sure that we do still call them Panda cars! Maybe one of your other commenters (more addicted than I) will know for sure.

    OK, I am off now, poisioinally in poisson.

    • Maxine – ROTFL!! I aboslutely loved your sign-off!! ROTFL again 🙂 – brilliant! And thank you for putting me right about panda cars. I guess for that term it depends on the kind of UK crime fiction – and the era – one reads. And it’s good to know that you aren’t hopelessly addicted (you know, I almost mentioned Murray; maybe it’s as well I didn’t 😉 ).

  2. Haha! Favourite is my biggie for getting confused. My Google Chrome browser highlights it as spelled incorrectly and I’m now starting to think it does look wrong. Now I know why!

    • Rebecca – I’m so glad you enjoyed this. And I had to laugh at your browser’s assumptions about what’s correct and what isn’t. You should tell it that neither favorite nor favourite is correct or incorrect. They are simply variants – on my honour. 😉

  3. Cinette Santangelo

    I hate to admit it – it’s sacrilage in Canada – but I don’t know the first thing about curling. Tried it a time or two but could not get the hang of it. But I am getting deep into our collection of Canadian mystery writers, some of whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, including Gail Bowen!!! Sorry, had a FanGirl moment:-)

    • Cinette – No need for apologies for a FanGirl moment 🙂 – none at all. And I’m sure you’re not the only Canadian who’s not a curling expert… Lucky you to have met Gail Bowen; such a talented author and from what I understand, a lovely person too. I think it’s great that you’re exploring a lot of Canadian crime fiction authors’ work. I should actually do more of that. The trouble is of course that for every excellent book I read, six more pop up that I should read *sigh.*

      • Cinette Santangelo

        Yes, Gail Bowen is a lovely person – so down to earth and personable. I was able to spend most of a day (along with twenty others!) in a workshop she put on in Calgary last June.
        I also made it to When Words Collide 2012, a multi-genre conference in Calgary last weekend, and was lucky enough to have lunch with Kelley Armstrong!!! Another FanGirl moment for me, but alas, writers are my rock stars:-) I was also introduced to the works of Anthony Bidulka, Steven Owad and Susan Calder. Of course, that makes my to-read-pile much taller than me.

        • Cinette – Oh, lucky, lucky you to go to that workshop and to When Words Collide 2012. I hard that was coming up and I am so glad that it was a good experience for you. And I’m a big fan of writers too, so I know what you mean. As to the TBR pile? One of the things I love about my Kindle is that I can remain in deep denial about how many books I still have to read…

  4. I am glad you are calling attention to these disturbing cases of addiction. I have been known to show some of the signs of the classic mystery addict. I would also add to your list – perhaps as a subset of the classic addiction:

    You may be addicted to Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries if…

    You use the word “satisfactory” as your ultimate expression of approval.

    Your weight is rapidly approaching the seventh-of-a-ton mark.

    The word “contact” is never used as a verb in your house.

    You bellow random phrases in Serbo-Croatian when under stress.

    You can tell at a glance the difference between odontoglossum and dendrobium.

    You have an insatiable craving for shad roe.

    With apologies…
    Les Blatt

    • Les – I’m glad you found my exposé useful. I’m here to serve the public interest ;-). Thanks also very much for those signs that you may be addicted to Rex Stout’s series. They are absolutely brilliant :-)! It’s dangerously seductive and it only takes a few mysteries before one’s got a powerful urge to grow orchids. Folks, look this list over carefully and act now if you have these signs!

  5. Margot: Your post was like a challenge for me.

    You May be Addicted to Saskatchewan crime fiction even if you are not from Saskatchewan if ….

    1.) You can pronounce Saskatchewan correctly;

    2.) You know what a bunny hug is;

    3.) You think it is a nice winter day when the high for the day is -15 C (0 F) ;

    4.) You can identify the CCF and the NDP; and,

    5.) Bonus concern if you can explain the difference between them.

    Lastly, I am second on our curling team though I have subbed for the skip when he is away on vacation.

    • Bill – Ah, so you know quite a bit about curling! Your suggestions are brilliant, too – thank you 🙂 – very well done. I see I clearly must do some homework because I only checked a few of the items on your list. Yes, I would say that if my post was a challenge (‘though I certainly didn’t intend it that way) you have more than met it.

  6. Oh, this was fun. I’m apparently not totally addicted to any of the specific categories you mentioned, Margot, but apparently addicted to reading, period. I probably read more crime fiction than any other category, though, so I probably can give you a long list of potential murder weapons (including the huge zucchini I found hidden under the leaves in my garden last week). I should weigh that thing, 😀

    • Pat – Oh, now that is an innovative murder weapon! A zucchini! I think it ranks up there with the murder weapon in Roald Dahl’s Lamb to the Slaughter. You know, I think your ability to give a long list of potential murder weapons demonstrates a serious addiction to reading and writing crime fiction. Of course, if that means you’re addicted, I wonder what it means for me – uh-oh… 😉

  7. kathy d.

    Oh, gosh, I’m definitely addicted to several mysteries set in these locations. And a few more, like Italian crime fiction: Here, questions about gourmet dinners, trattorias, and wine would be relevant.
    When one’s TBR pile comes close to an avalanche regularly, when one has tons to read yet puts more bookd on reserve at the library and when one keeps putting books in the checkout basket at online sellers, it’s definitely addiction. When one keeps scouting online booksellers’ websites to find out when new books are available or are on sale, when one’s ears perk up at the mention of a good mystery a friend mentions, or if one’s eyes widen at reading a positive review or blog post about crime fiction, one is an addict.

    • Kathy – Yes, those are most definitely signs that one’s addicted to crime fiction – I love it! I’m quite certain that one day I will go on my library’s website to request a book and after I sign in, a little warning will flash up: “You have exceeded the safety limits for books.”
      And thanks for mentioning Italian crime fiction. I actually thought about putting that category in the post but there’s only so much space available. So I’m glad that you filled in the gap I left. It is definitely easy to become addicted to it.

  8. kathy d.

    And here’s a healthy addiction. We wouldn’t join 12-step programs for it if some existed, as we don’t want to let go of it. It’s noncaloric (except for snacks which accompany the reading), it’s not unhealthy (except for perhaps the gory ones with lots of body counts or badly written books which cause stress or DNF or lead to a toss against a wall) and it brings pleasure to the reader (except for the awful ones).
    All in all this is a good addiction, the best.

    • Kathy – I have to agree with you there. And let’s face it; life is full of risks. There isn’t a healthy way, ironically enough, to avoid all risk, and except for that ol’ book budget, buying books doesn’t put one at risk beyond that horrible DNF-stress.

  9. A neighbor brought us a zucchini that I thought of immediately when reading Patricia’s comment. Previously I had thought of donating it to the Little League World Series for a bat, but I suppose that might be a little messy. lol Maybe I should just slice it and freeze it to broil like tomato slices later. 🙂

  10. When I worked as a reporter, I went to cover my first inquest. ‘It’s quite complicated’ they said at the office, ‘do your best, but don’t worry if it’s not clear what’s happening, or you don’t really understand – we’ll check your copy for you and straighten it out…’ When I got back and wrote my story they said ‘but this is perfect – no corrections at all.’ And of course the reason was because I had read about SO MANY inquests in golden age UK detective stories – often the books would even include a journalistic report. so I knew all about ‘evidence of indentification was taken’ and ‘police asked for an adjournment’. And some people think time spent reading murder stories is wasted! But I fear it was definitely a sign of addiction…

    • Moira – Oh, I’m afraid you’re quite right. That much skill at writing up inquests is a sure sign of addiction. I’m sorry to say the news is not good… 😉 – That said though, I am quite impressed with your skill at writing and reporting if there were no corrections. See? A Golden Age addiction has its benefits.

  11. I really loved this post, Margot. Very entertaining. And it’s probably the first time it’s struck me that maybe ‘panda car’ isn’t a universally used term!!

    • Martin – Thank you very much for the kind words 🙂 – much appreciated and I’m glad you enjoyed the post. And it’s funny about panda car isn’t it? I like the term very much myself but since it’s not used where I live I must admit I’ve gotten some interesting looks when I use it.

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