Library lending shows ‘crime against passion’

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Crime tales and thrillers appear to have killed off romantic novels from the likes of Catherine Cookson as they dominate the list of most-borrowed titles from Britain’s libraries.

New figures show that authors such as James Patterson and Lee Child have committed a “crime against passion” by pushing period tales of love out of the top 10 which they once ruled.

The league of most-borrowed titles compiled by Public Lending Right (PLR) gives a snapshot of changing tastes. Topped by Dan Brown’s thriller The Lost Symbol, the rest of the top 10 is made up entirely of crime titles, with Patterson having a hand in five of the books.

US-based British writer Lee Child is in second place with 61 Hours, and has another book, Worth Dying For, ranked at number 10. It contrasts sharply with the figures for a decade ago, when writer Cookson and her historical romantic dramas took five of the top six places.

Patterson was also the most borrowed author from UK libraries for the fifth year running, according to PLR figures for 2010/11.

His books accounted for 17 of the top 100 most borrowed titles.

Child – whose real name is Jim Grant – said he believed people had turned to crime writing to reassure themselves.

He said: “It gratifies their desire for safety and security and the rule of law, because at the end of crime novels, order is restored.”