Visiting Cambridge on Friday to do some research for a story, I realise that I should have made an further exemption from my book-buying moratorium: because I can’t be in Cambridge without going to Heffers Bookshop – and I can’t go to Heffers without buying a book. It is one of my favourite book shops, because it has the best crime fiction department anywhere, in my view, and a great fiction buyer in Richard Reynolds. Above all, it has a special place in my heart, because it is the only book shop that, thanks to Richard, has always stocked my novels – actually has them on the shelf – ever since my first one came out in 2002.
So I always ask Richard what he’s enjoyed lately and I always buy a book. Well, several usually, to be honest, but this time I resisted 3 for 2 offers and bought just one, carefully chosen book. It was Lesley Thomson’s The Detective’s Secret and I picked it because I met someone at a party, who recommended her novels. So you see: nothing is more effective than word-of-mouth.
I now have less than two weeks to go on the moratorium, and I’ll report more fully at the end. But I already know it has made me more discriminating and that thinking about whether I really do want a particular book makes me see them as the precious objects that they are.
PS. Out with my husband at a Christmas fair, we came across a second-hand book stall and he asked me if there was anything I fancied. ‘I’m still on my moratorium,’ I said rather sadly. ‘Yes, but I’m not,’ he replied.