Crime novels dominate library list
The location is the library, the victim is romance and the weapon is a well-thumbed hardback book.
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 ten. 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 were responsible for more than two million loans nationally between them, and they accounted for 17 of the top 100 most borrowed titles.
Child - whose real name is Jim Grant, and formerly worked for Granada TV before finding literary success - said he believed people had turned to crime writing to reassure themselves. "It gratifies their desire for safety and security and the rule of law, because at the end of crime novels, order is restored. And in US crime fiction and thrillers, the canvas is bigger, and the stakes are higher, making them particularly successful in this context," said the writer, who lives in New York.
The second most borrowed author overall was Daisy Meadows, the pen name for a successful children's fiction writing team. The writers - who include the prolific Linda Chapman, who has successful series in her own right - are behind the Rainbow Magic books for young girls.
PLR pays a fee directly to writers based on the level of library usage for their books. A total of 211 writers will receive the maximum payment of £6,600.
Also among the UK's most borrowed titles 2010/11 was Harlan Coben's Caught; Don't Blink by James Patterson & Howard Roughan; The Postcard Killers by James Patterson & Lisa Marklund and The Complaints by Ian Rankin.