An excellent question was posed of me when I was giving a talk at the Crediton Community Bookshop at the weekend.
It was this - why do crime writers so very often seem to choose murder as the basis of their plots?
I suppose (he says, after some thought) that it's because it's the most heinous of all crimes, at least so the legal profession thinks - murder demands a statutory life sentence, the only question is the minumum term in jail.
Perhaps it's to do with selling yourself as a writer. If you're going to interest a reader in your book, amid all your competitors, maybe you have to go for the worst of crimes.
And murder, of course, is about the most awful of our nightmares - imagining it happening to ourselves, a member of the family or someone we know.
But whatever, the questioner was quite right - there is a lot of murder out there in crime writing. And I'd never really thought about that before.
I was pleased that I could offer a partial defence, in that half of my novels aren't about murder. Death Pictures, on the surface, may seem to be, but actually isn't. Evil Valley isn't either, and nor is Judgement Book.
I've always tried to be a bit different in my writing, and so I've done my best to look beyond the bounds of the obvious. I suppose that's why I came up with the idea of the TV reporter turned investigator.
And there's a great deal of scope for good thrillers and mysteries with other crimes. As ever, it's all in the characters, the plotting and the writing.
But the questioner was right, murder does tend to dominate the crime field.
One of the reasons I love doing events like Saturday's is that I know someone will always make me think hard about something new with a question.
And that helps me too - because it makes me learn and in this case it's made me resolve to try to find more original forms of crimes and plots in my next books.
Before I sign off, a couple of photos and a big thank you -
This is me giving the talk, at the back of the bookshop. Everyone was very kind and made me most welcome, and that was much appreciated.
And here's a little closer shot, from afterwards -
I don't know what I'm holding - maybe my expenses claim? Or indeed why I'm grinning so oddly - perhaps it's better not to ask.
And does that shirt go with that scarf? Oh dear, me and fashion...
Anyway, thanks to all at the Crediton Community Bookshop for inviting me along, many congratulations on making such a success of the store and wishing you all the very best with it.