Er du vild med hyggelige krimier, og elsker du et univers, der emmer af Agatha Christie, så er det muligvis Helen Cox, du skal have fat i. Hun er netop aktuel på dansk med “Liget i boghandlen”, som er andet bind i serien, The Kitt Hartley Yorkshire Mysteries, om bibliotekaren og amatørdetektiven Kitt Hartley. Romanen udkom d. 1. november 2021 på Forlaget Zara.
Vi har stillet Helen Cox en række spørgsmål om bl.a. hovedpersonen Kitt, bibliotekarer og inspirationen.
Krimimessen: Two of your crime novels have been published in Denmark so far. Can you tell our readers a bit about the Kitt Hartley Mysteries, what can the Danish readers expect from this series?
Helen Cox: The books have been most readily compared to Agatha Christie’s work – though as they have contemporary settings they are obviously much more modernised in terms of tone and content. The stories revolve around a crime-solving librarian who lives in York, North Yorkshire. Kitt is very straight-talking, and curious but she does have some reserve – unlike the friends that help her solve cases. Her best friend Evie cannot let even one innuendo go by. Kitt’s assistant Grace is mischievous to the core and enjoys playing silly pranks on her boss.
Mercifully, Kitt falls into the good graces of a dashing Police Inspector – DI Halloran, so she does have someone of genuine help to her on the cases she works.
Krimimessen: Why have you chosen Yorkshire as the main location for your books?
Helen Cox: I am Yorkshire born and raised. It’s a place that is incredibly dear to my heart and I am always encouraging visitors to Britain to visit. The medieval city of York is at the heart of the region, but beyond that you’ve got miles of sprawling moorland, purple with heather. You’ve got ancient priories that crumble on the horizon, and a rugged coastline where you can search for fossils – or maybe an important clue in a mystery! I’m well aware I sound like a tourist brochure. I’m sorry. I can’t help myself. I’m very proud indeed of where I come from and these books are part love letter to the place I was born.
Krimimessen: Your main protagonist, Kitt Hartley, is a librarian who solves crimes, how did you come up with her as a character?
Helen Cox: I’ve always been very admiring of librarians. I suppose that’s not too surprising given my choice of career. But my endearment to them goes way back to my school days. I wasn’t a popular kid. I was often bullied if I dared to spend lunchtimes on the playground. So I used to scurry off to the library and disappear into a book. The school librarian kept the library a safe and quiet space which, given how loud and aggressive some of the people at our school could be, I always thought a small miracle, and was always grateful for. Kitt’s character is essentially my way of honouring the profession.
Krimimessen: When you start a new crime novel, do you always know who committed the murders, or is it part of a process?
Helen Cox: Because I’m one of those writers who isn’t a big fan of rewrites, I do plan who commits the murders but I don’t always know what twists and turns will happen on the journey to unmasking them. You can think that a particular character is going to play a big part in solving the case, and then they turn up dead in Chapter Twelve. Most inconvenient, I can tell you.
Krimimessen: When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
Helen Cox: At the age of six. My parents were most distressed. They were concerned that their first-born was going to starve to death in pursuit of her art. I can report that after three lockdowns and little else to do but eat and write, I’m certainly not starving to death.
Krimimessen: Which writer(s) inspires you the most and why?
Helen Cox: It’s so difficult to pick one writer, it’s difficult even to pick just a few but I would say the authors who have had the most influence on my work have been William Goldman – I’ve read The Princess Bride every year since I was 21 and the mastery of that book never ceases to amaze me. Sylvia Plath is also up there. The Bell Jar is just one of those pure works of literary genius that is so engaging you cannot put the damn book down. I try not to think of how many other perfect novels we could have had if she were still here. I try to just be grateful for the one she gave us (and all the poetry!). Lastly, I would say Daphne Du Maurier has had a great deal of influence over my content, and style to some extent. She explores some wonderfully dark territory in her stories and the setting always stands bold on the page.
Helen Cox er en engelsk forfatter, der er født og opvokset i Yorkshire. Hun beskæftiger sig med mange grene inden for litteraturen, hvor hun både er redaktør, forfatter og underviser i bl.a. engelsk og creative writing.
Helen Cox debuterede med serien The Starlight Diner Series, men slog først igennem i 2019 med serien The Kitt Hartley Yorkshire Mysteries om bibliotekaren Kitt Hartley, der opklarer mystiske mord. Den første bog i serien udkom på dansk i 2020.