Hazel McHaffie

Thinking readers

Wow! I’m so impressed by the skill of some writers. Amazing imagination, incredible ability to hold strands of plots together and weave them into a coherent pattern, stunning empathy with characters experiencing life’s challenges, facility with words that takes me deep into the world they’ve created.

I’m particularly thinking today of Peter James whose Dead Tomorrow I took with me to Devon.

It’s a story about a mother whose young daughter desperately needs a new liver. And about a detective who knows what devastating loss feels like and who suspects human trafficking is taking place on his watch. And about youngsters living on and under the streets of Eastern Europe. And about bodies being dredged up in Brighton minus their major organs …

OK, this isn’t the kind of book that wins the Mann Booker prize. But it is the kind that makes you walk into a lamppost. And it leaves you with lots to think about. How far would I go to save my daughter’s life? How long would I wait before having a missing loved one declared dead? How much would I give up to help street kids abroad? What should I do about the desperate shortage of organs for transplantation?

As readers we all have our preferences. One man’s meat … as they say. But me? I like books that ask these kind of questions. Well, I would, wouldn’t I? Because that’s the kind of novel I write too. Only a couple of weeks now and my sixth one, Remember Remember, should be out. And I start a run of appearances at things. Most of March looks a bit crazy on the calendar so blogs might be brief!

And I’m hoping that Bertrand Russell got it wrong when he said:
Many people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so.
Because encouraging people to think is what I’m all about.

But Russell also said:
I think we ought always to entertain our opinions with some measure of doubt. I shouldn’t wish people dogmatically to believe any philosophy, not even mine.
I’m with him on that one. In my novels I always leave lots of scope for my readers to make up their own minds.

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