Books on the Bus

Cover of Anthony Horow.itz novel The Word is Murder
Crime on the commute

I noted in the last blog post that I was listening to The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz (read by Roy Kinnear) on my commute. My daily dose of audio book listening has become a travel fixture since December, after I followed a colleague’s suggestion to give them a try. As I said before, I have been using the handy little mp3 editions from the library. The audio book listening has been a useful tool in adapting to an unaccustomed bus/train commute; one that started in the unforgiving winter months, which certainly didn’t add a cheer factor to the tedious bus wrangling. I may have mentioned once or twice here, my penchant for crime fiction, so I keep an eye out for new (or indeed, old) ideas that appear in audio format. It is entirely possible, that having discovered the joys of audio books, I will increase my intake of crime novels considerably. Would that be such a bad thing? Don’t answer that one.

Crime has certainly become the genre of choice for my travelling books over the last couple of months. I have however, tried a couple of other ideas. For instance, I have long taken an interest in Bertie Pollock’s daily trials in Alexander McCall Smith’s Scotland Street books, so I tried one out as a commuting book.  Alas, it was too easy going, calm and philosphical to suit my journey to work. Maybe it would have suited my homeward trip better? Perhaps I should try a touch of crime in the morning and catch up on Scotland Street on the homeward ride.  Having said that, the rush hour frustrations of the evening commute might be better suited to the distractions of a juicy crime novel… It’s a work in progress, as they say. I also ventured to listen to Helen MacDonald’s Vesper Flights a few weeks ago, but for me it didn’t work as a bus book. That is a book that I will return to in print form as I think it is really one to be savoured at leisure, making notes of anything I want to follow up on.

Cover of the Christopher Fowler Bryant & May story, The Burning Man.
London crime

Of course, maybe the detective audio fiction urge will prove to be just a winter thing. Fragrant spring mornings and sultry summer evenings may well encourage quite different listening habits. Let’s wait and see, shall we? For now, I am generally pursuing a criminal course each morning and evening, which has led to my introduction to some new crime writers. One of those is the above-mentioned Anthony Horowitz, who has long been a name that I passed while shelving adult fiction A-M. I always meant at some point to give his adult fiction a go but I never got around to him. I’m not that sure that he’d appreciate that my impetus for doing so was that I needed something lively to distract me from interminable road works.

I have also discovered Christopher Fowler’s detectives Arthur Bryant and John May from The Peculiar Crimes Unit in the adventure, The Burning Man (read by Tim Goodman). Not for the first time in lighting on a new discovery, I have begun well into the series so at some point I need to back track to the earlier books. I really enjoyed this story, both the main characters being agreeably quirky in the chalk and cheese vein. The wealth of historical detail about London’s layers of history is woven into the detective action in a way that brings London vividly to life, as Bryant is a veritable fount of information about the city he loves. I will certainly read more of this series (not necessarily in order of course!)

Now all I need is a steady supply of AAA batteries to fuel my travelling crime fest. And maybe I should treat myself to some decent headphones. Does anyone else relish a good audio book on the bus?