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True crime author Vikki Petraitis lists some favorite crime novelists...

READERSVOICE.COM: The role of the crime scene investigator was intriguing; akin to Sherlock Holmes making deductions at the scene, before handing the investigation over to detectives. Which of these jobs would you prefer to do?

VIKKI PETRAITIS: The problem with crime scene examiners is that they examine the scene then pass the work over to the detectives. Unlike TV, they don’t follow the case. While they can often work in with the detectives during the investigation, it is not their primary role. I think I’m too much of a sticky beak not to do the whole investigation.

RV: One case in your book involved six months work for a detective. How many cases might a detective get to work on in a career?

VP: Some cases take a long time, but others are much quicker, so as to how many cases a detective might work on is the same as asking how long is a piece of string. Regardless of how many or how few they do, there always seem to be a few that really stand out. These are the ones I like to find.

RV: What are some of your favourite true crime books?

VP: I loved Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and In Cold Blood because they are like literary true crime. I have read most of Ann Rule’s true crime books because I love how she gets to know the families and the histories of the victims so that you really feel for them. I have several hundred in my collection. When I first began reading true crime, there was very little Australian material. I loved it when writers and publishers began to see the potential for true crime in the market. My book, The Frankston Murders, was one of the first best-selling true crime books in Victoria. I like to think in a small way, it paved the way for the ones that followed.

RV: What are some of your favourite crime fiction books?

VP: I never used to read crime fiction, but then I joined Sisters In Crime and met a lot of crime authors and have now almost completely switched to reading fiction. Some of my favourite overseas authors are Janet Evanovich, Nicci French, Kate Atkinson, Tess Gerritsen, Karin Slaughter, Lee Child, and Kathy Reichs. Some of my favourite home-grown crime authors are Sulari Gentill, PD Martin, YA Erskine, Leigh Redhead, Kathryn Fox, Katherine Howell, Jaye Ford, and Kerry Greenwood.

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-copyright Simon Sandall