WELCOME TO FORENSIC LENSES
Investigating the reader’s experience…
“Never theorize before you have the data. Invariably, you end up twisting facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.” -Sherlock Holmes
Everyone please welcome writer Ingrid Bouldin!
The reader’s experience is the best evidence. -Benjamin Thomas
*What is your favorite genre (s)?
I really have no distinct favorites although I can say, I’m not fond of romance novels.
I read pretty much any genre and love the variety. You’ll find me reading three to five books at the same time. Two or three will be fiction of different genres, then a book or two on writing structure, and maybe one that’s research for my own WIPs, etc.
I gravitate towards Murder/Suspense, Crime, Science Fiction…at least for now.
It’s far more important for me to be experiencing a great read that I get absorbed into, versus limiting myself to any particular genre. Close runner-ups would be Fantasy and YA (yes, young adult!)
Often, I’ll pick up a classic or what’s currently popular at the time, outside what I might be more inclined to delve into. I do this because it stretches my brain cells and may spark my interest in some other genre that I otherwise might not think of reading.
Very good! The exact same taste as I do.
*What is your educational background?
I’ve had several years of college but alas, no degree…yet.
Since way back, I can’t begin to remember a time that I didn’t create art and have my nose in a book or three, or was ‘covertly writing’ in hidden notebooks. I grew up in a family where no one else devoured books like I did, much less wrote wacky stories about flying to other planets and talking animals.
Through Junior High, then High School, my focus was initially on artwork…pen and ink and pencil that lead to several successful one-man art shows. I had one of my pieces displayed at the Smithsonian / Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. for a month, even.
Straight out of High School, it was determined that I would become a Registered Nurse, so I attended two years of College, Pre-med and clinicals, before I decided nursing was not my cuppa tea. I left college to marry my High School sweetheart (our 35th Anniversary is today, Sept. 5th!) and two years later, happily began our family as my major shifted to Mom. I raised our four phenomenal younglings plus semi-fostered a waffling tally of seven other younglings through their school years and into colleges, all the while continuing to do commissioned artwork on the side.
As my younglings became sassy and more independent, I entered the working field as a professional rescuer where I discovered I, by far, preferred being the one to call the shots and make the lifesaving decisions. I attended formal college level training to the Advanced EMT / Shock Trauma / Cardiac Tech and Enhanced levels… operating as Medic and Training Lieutenant for 27+ years, now currently semi-retired. My certifications fill two 2″ notebooks.
A few years back, I’d returned to college full time to attend a massive mix of lectures, practicals, clinical rotations, and field duty. I had zero life beyond academia and regular duty for two full years as I worked towards achieving my AAS Degree in Paramedic Sciences, on the Dean’s list every semester.
As I began the final semester of my two year program, my mother passed away. It was sudden and unexpected. I deeply loved her, was close to her in both location and heart, and was entirely devastated. In the mayhem of closing down my mother’s life and home by myself, I had to pull out of the Paramedic program at the eleventh hour.
Much soul searching later…one day soon I’ll get that Associate’s Degree, but it’ll be a general diploma. Now I’m following a dream I had back about a hundred fifty years ago, when I was that scrawny little quiet kid that hid notebooks in boxes under her bed.
Navigating through life experiences is by far the greatest education. Although you never graduate, it constantly teaches you.
*What part of the earth are you in?
I reside on my peaceably beautiful homestead in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, nestled in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I’m a stone’s throw away from the Shenandoah River and every outdoor activity possible. From 2014 to this year, I was the Stable Manager and a Professional Horse Wrangler with my string of 30 amazing horses in the heart of the mountains on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.
Oh my, that sounds so adventurous! I’d love to go there one day.
*Who are your favorite characters?
There is no way on this planet I could narrow down my favorite characters to even a dozen or so! I’m currently infatuated with Inspector Rebus in the Ian Rankin Inspector Rebus Trilogy. Also Hitch and Jael in Katie Weiland’s “Storming” novel at the moment.
Okay, okay… if you’re gonna put my arm behind my back… I adore Sherlock Holmes, Severus Snape and if I can squeeze in a movie character that I’m currently fangirling on (plan to read the books asap) it would be Jason Bourne. I know I’ve left off at least two or three obvious others that once I push the ‘Send’ button will pop into my mind and complain about being left out…
I don’t know Inspector Rebus, but I’m acquainted with Jael and my good buddy Hitch. Quite a treat aren’t they? Oh yeah, Jason Bourne and I are pretty tight. Don’t say anything though. He’s still undercover.
Good grief! Again, you’re asking the impossible of me, Benjamin!
Every Ray Bradbury, Michael Crichton, Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code”, “Angels and Demons”, and “Inferno”.
Nearly all the Stephen King’s, every Agatha Christie, the entire collection of “Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series believe it or not, J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”, “Lord of the Rings” and every Grimm’s Fairy Tales…(which I got into trouble for sneaking in 4th grade, I was black opping it to the 6th grade section of the school library to read them and had to get a permission slip from my mom so I could ‘officially’ access the 6th Grade level books that I could barely reach…yeah, making trouble wherever I go )
Also the first seven of Patricia Cornwell’s “Scarpetta” series, along with her fascinating theory in “Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper”, also Dennis Lehane’s “Shutter Island”.
Asking me which book is my favorite is exactly the same as asking me which of my children is my favorite…how in the name of Odin am I supposed to be able to answer that, eh?
There is never a wrong answer to this question. Seeing everyone’s’ favorites is exciting.
*What do you like most about reading?
What do I like the most about reading…..hmmm.
This answer’s not as hard to pin down as the others.
When I pick up a book, cradle it in my hands…all eBooks aside, there’s so much more than paper, printed letters, and compressed cardboard there. More than I can put into words well enough to know, beyond any slight shadow of a doubt, that you’ve grasped what reading truly means to me.
That’s probably the one word I would choose if I had to narrow it down to that.
Reading is a sanctuary for me, an amazing adventure, mystery, journey to some place I’ve never been with fictional characters that become so flesh and blood while I read that I feel as if I met them somewhere along my life, and miss them once that last page has been read.
Reading gives me that respite from what ails me along the path of life.
And then there’s the learning about new places and worlds, civilizations and eras, and…..
I have sacrificed precious sleep more times than I will confess, all in the name of the next chapter that I must just read a little more of.
That’s a great way of putting it, Ingrid!
“Reading is a sanctuary for me, an amazing adventure, mystery, journey to some place I’ve never been with fictional characters that become so flesh and blood while I read that I feel as if I met them somewhere along my life, and miss them once that last page has been read.” -Ingrid Bouldin
I’ve enjoyed “Knots And Crosses” (1987) and “Hide And Seek” (1991) quite a bit!
The ‘Tartan Noir’ aspects of Scotland Yard’s Detective Inspector John Rebus are well met in the story lines of both novels thus far. Descriptions of local spots around Edinburgh that Ian Rankin gently places into his narratives effectively pull the reader into vivid depictions of each location, affording credibility to his settings…both good spots and the ‘bad’, like back alleys and abandoned buildings, as if the reader’s been placed directly into Edinburgh and not some postcard depiction.
I’m looking forward to getting to the third installment of this trilogy, “Tooth And Nail” (1992). There also are just over a dozen more Inspector Rebus novels that carry this character on beyond the trilogy. I’ve definitely found these first two interesting enough to keep with this series beyond the third book, “Tooth And Nail”.
I found Rankin’s smooth writing easy to get lost in as he blends a certain gruff, “hard boiled” twist to the main character’s disillusioned, slightly non-compliant persona that conflicts with his inner turmoil. The Inspector pushes his limits a bit against the grain to get the job done, at times in a sort of bumbling, human way. This, in spite of his own personal problems along with inner political issues within his job.
Inspector Rankin is probably the second most contemporary detective I’ve read (the first being Patricia Cromwell’s Kay Scarpetta). That being said, this trilogy’s publication dates are still dated enough to make the lack of today’s modern technology a bit noticeable and a little odd to have it missing in the narrative… he has to find land lines to make phone calls, rely on maps, etc., kind of a flash back to the late eighties situation which lends a unique voice to this trilogy, not such a bad thing and rather vintage. Different than say, an Agatha Christie when you know you’ll be warping backwards by nearly a century.
What I appreciate about Ian Rankin’s character is Rebus’ humanness, the way he occasionally has to fall back and punt when he’s run out of clues, quite literally at times…and has to still deal with life in general, for better or worse, along the way like the rest of us. In the first of the trilogy, Rebus must overcome an overwhelming past experience that threatens to be more than he can deal with, an interesting sub-plot that presents without a clear and obvious solution.
*Who are your top 5-10 sleuths? What do you appreciate about them?
This memorably grouchy, introverted, antisocial character solves murders and crimes utilizing aspects that I find very interesting myself…Sherlock Holmes combines forensic science, his extensive knowledge of medical sciences, and his keen powers of observation and unbiased deductive reasoning to decipher clues and hunt down suspects. Often on the run while thinking on his feet.
Sherlock is also purported to be a fairly rare MBTI personality type known as INTJ, which I am myself…another likely reason I appreciate this character no matter who portrays him, or whether I find him solving crimes in the pages of a book, via tv, or on the big screen. Not thinking linearly like 99% of people do, but rather in three dimensions, the contemporary version of Sherlock Holmes accesses his Mind Palace with an ability to store information for retrieval at any time which is supposedly a trait of this personality type. I’d love to think so anyway!
No matter what the medium, any version of Inspector Holmes has him discovering solutions by going outside the box while using unconventional thought processes with total disregard of social standards…offending nearly everyone as he goes along much to the chagrin of his sidekick, Dr. John Watson.
You could say I’ve pretty much loved every rendition of Sherlock and Watson…from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short stories, Basil Rathbone’s late 1930 b&w portrayals, all the way to the current Benjamin Cumberbatch version. My gravitation towards murder mysteries began the minute I read “A Study In Scarlet”, the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes that led to other installments resulting in Holmes becoming so well loved by the populous that when Sir Doyle wrote Sherlock plunging to his death at Reichenbach Falls at the hands of (and with) his nemesis, Professor Moriarty,all of London rebelled. I can understand that, I was young and devastated myself when I read that moment of Sherlock’s ultimate sacrifice…the feels. I’m pretty sure I was in a foul mood for weeks.
2. Kay Scarpetta – Author / Patricia Cornwell — Once again, here’s another character I totally enjoy reading. Cornwell portrays Kay Scarpetta as a confident, strong female protagonist. In a male-dominated genre no less!
Scarpetta utilizes quick-thinking intelligence and forensic technology to solve murders and stay alive as she pursues killers, yet dodge her own premature demise. This series first novel begins with Scarpetta as the Chief Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Virginia, out of Richmond. Cornwell modeled Kay Scarpetta after real life M.E., Dr. Marcella Farinalli Fierro, based out of Richmond.
I’ve read the first nine consecutive novels in this series, all fast-paced and undeniably a series that compels me to stay up reading all night. Kay Scarpetta is written realistically, preserving her character as intelligent with an astute, sophisticated ability to not lose her own self, her integrity or her compassion in a high stress occupation. She deals with real world problems, both personal and professional yet remains focused on solving the crime even under adverse conditions. More than capable of taking care of herself, she still recognizes her own vulnerability and sees her own flaws.
This is not an easy character to convert to written word in any way without it coming across as false and two dimensional yet Cornwell does this, and creates a character that grows with the progression of each chronologically progressive novel.
One unique aspect of this story line are the oft times, true to life descriptives of scenes, diagnostics and procedures involved in solving the murders…an inside look at the world of present day forensic sciences which I’ve found fascinating though undeniably, not everyone’s cuppa tea. Cornwell changes the narrative POV from book to book at times which gives the reader the experience of different perspectives within the same character series…an interesting and somewhat unique approach, at least for this genre.
This book series is the inspiration for several current popular Crime tv shows, such as “CSI”. I’ve found Patricia Cornwell’s blending of narrative, action, and technical info fascinating across the board.
3. Hercule Poirot – Author / Agatha Christie — I very much enjoy vintage Detective stories. Undeniably, Agatha Christie spun these yarns with classic suspense as the ‘Queen of Crime’, creating Detective Hercule Poirot as an absolute opposite of the vast majority of grizzled inspectors, to be sure.
A Belgian Detective and perfectionist at heart, Poirot practices sleuthing via use of his self-described “little grey cells”, preferring to solve murders in a manner that will preserve the upturned, perfectly groomed tips of his magnificently impeccable mustache, and without scuffs to his impeccable shoes.
Quite a change from other sleuths, the neat and tidy Detective Poirot with his frequent stomach issues usually stages a classic great reveal to a room full of people by story’s end in true Agatha Christie style. This “opposites” approach Agatha Christie used as she created Poirot’s fastidious obsessions produced an interesting protagonist that proved immensely popular over time, and I found just as interesting decades after his creation…once again, at a very young age.
(3 and 4 are a close tie)
4. Inspector John Rebus – Author / Ian Rankin — Pretty much covered up there ↑. I plan to be reading the third in the trilogy soon and hope to go on from there with Ian Rankin’s numerous further adventures with Inspector Rebus.
From this point, I can’t say that I’ve read complete collections of other singular Detective characters or sleuthing authors recently enough for me to be comfortable commenting on them. Most of the Crime / Mystery novels I’ve read were from many years ago but included some Ellery Queen, Sam Spade and “The Maltese Falcon”, Edgar Allan Poe’s character C. Auguste Dupin in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robt. Louis Stevenson, and others. Several suspense novels, and other genres, etc.
I am in no way an authority on Detective / Crime novels and have definitely not read all the works of these authors, or all the novels in any Crime / Detective series. Hercule Poirot alone has somewhere around thirty novels to this character.
*What do you like most about crime thrillers? Is it the hunt? The suspense? A meaty hook?
That’s a good question, Benjamin!
I believe I love this genre because of that classic challenge, the thrill of the hunt. I enjoy the settings, the exotic characters, the mysterious unfolding of plots as I read along to uncover clues along the way, at times along with the characters. Other times, deciphering whodunnit and solutions in some Sherlockian fashion as I read to the end.
I enjoy the suspense, the cerebral exercise, the stretching of the “little grey cells” and the challenge to see by the story’s last page if I was right or not. And if not, what it was that stumped me. I like figuring out solutions to seemingly impossible problems…some labyrinth that makes me think outside the box. It’s good to know when I’ve deduced the solution on my own brain power which is it’s own reward. Not to mention, a good mystery is it’s own form of escapism.
The plot and story line are far more important to me than a meaty hook! Sure, it’s great to grab my attention but if the rest of the story can’t keep me absorbed in the plot line…
*Name your favorite Murder/Crime/Mystery/Thrillers of 2016. (In no particular order)
I’ve been writing myself, Beta reading for others, reading outside this genre and catching up on Technical Writing, Paramedic and so forth. My fiction Murder / Crime / Mystery reading’s been pretty limited for 2016 which I’ve recently been changing so that I’ll get more of this genre under my belt, it’s been awhile and I’ve missed it.
By default, I would have to say the Inspector Rebus novels have been pretty good thus far for 2016 although recently reading Dennis LeHane’s “Shutter Island” might qualify for a mystery thriller!
Great, I love hearing the best reads of the year. I’ll take all your recommendations.