Chrissie was an indifferent reader for the first couple of decades of her life. After all the reading that was required throughout her school years, she couldn’t see why anyone would choose to read in their free time. There were so many other things to do.

On a long weekend in a small country town, Chrissie was wandering along the main street with her friend, Jess. Jess had family in town and kept getting pulled aside for chats with the locals who wanted updates on what was happening in her life, and was she planning to move back anytime soon? Weary of waiting, Chrissie stepped into a large store called The Emporium. Inside was an assortment of homewares and local crafts, and on a table at the back was a motley collection of books. Chrissie walked past the table, but one of the books caught her eye. She went back for a closer look. ‘G is for Gumshoe’ was the title of the book, and there was an old, beat-up VW beetle on the cover. Chrissie had a soft spot for VW beetles. The book was only a couple of dollars, and she paid for it on the way out before finding Jess. Their progress through the town continued to be interrupted, and Chrissie sat on one of the bench seats near the post office and opened the book.

From the first paragraphs, her interest was piqued. The voice of Kinsey Millhone was clear and direct; it was like listening to a friend. Chrissie grinned at the thought of someone cutting their own hair with nail scissors then circled back to the reference to being on someone’s hit list. Chrissie was hooked. By the end of the weekend, she’d finished the book and over the next few years, she added to the collection of the alphabet series by Sue Grafton. From paperbacks to ebooks and even audiobooks, Chrissie found each instalment both a comfort and a challenge, dealing with situations and characters that were seldom easy, but Kinsey’s humour and determination was a constant theme. Like all characters with depth, Kinsey was flawed and made mistakes, got her heart broken and wondered at choices she’d made. Chrissie could relate to different aspects of the character, even if their lives and circumstances were worlds apart.

But it also opened Chrissie’s eyes to a world of crime fiction, especially detective fiction. Kinsey was the first of the fictional characters that she was to meet that she felt a kind of affinity with – her bold, dogged approach to make it in a field where women were rarely seen, but there were also the challenging relationships in her life. Escaping into a different world with mysteries to be solved which provided insights into human behaviour was simultaneously satisfying and addictive. There was a wide range of styles and writers waiting to be explored by Chrissie, proving that it is never too late to discover the joys of reading.

I’m participating in this blogging challenge for the month of January, which supports starting the year on the “write” track. You can find other posts with #bloganuary and join in the challenge.

Photo: mural at Hornsby, NSW