The Puzzly – The ISOTCMN Book of the Month – October 2012

And so we bring “Old Author October” to a close with the announcement of the In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel book of the month award – yes, it’s time for the Puzzly for October 2012.

Last month, if you recall, I managed a paltry (for me) six books, which at least made it easier to pick a book of the month. This time, we’ve got thirteen, which is on a par with my best months, July in Lanzarote notwithstanding, when I matched that total in one week by the pool.

So, which of these delectations with walk off with the non-existent award this month?

Well, the books I’ve read this month, in order, were:

If you recall, the theme of the month was to go back to the “old reliables” in order to try and stop the re-appearing reader’s block and it’s certainly done that. On top of that, there were three requested reviews of new material, two of which I enjoyed very much and one which I simply didn’t get – I don’t think I’m the target audience, but the target audience might be a rather small collection of people.

But the best of the lot…

Very tempted to give it to Paul Doherty again for The Treason of the Ghosts, but he’s had it twice this year already and with a new Athelstan coming this month, he may well get a look in next month as well. The Murder Quadrille was an entertaining read but doesn’t really count as a whodunnit. The Dark Winter was an atmospheric and absorbing tale, but at the end of the day, the mystery was the weakest part. Valley of the Shadow runs a very close second place, which is about the third time Peter Tremayne has done this.

By the way, faithful readers, has anyone out there read any Tremayne? Despite six reviews now, I’ve received a grand total of one comment about the book, and that was “sounds interest, I might try it”. Because if you like Doherty, you’ll like Tremayne – for a start, the mysteries are more traditionally constructed.

Where was I? Oh, yes, the winner of this month’s Puzzly has to be Paul Halter for The Seven Wonders of Crime. It has a couple of minor flaws, but overall this is an ambitious book that achieves almost everything it sets out to do. And on top of all that, the idea of setting murders based on the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World actually makes sense in the context of the book. And that in itself is to be applauded.

So what’s coming up for November? Well, I’m calling it ‘Nother Chance November, as I’ll be focussing on authors who I’ve reviewed one or two books for, once upon a time, and then let slip away. So expect reviews soon for books by Alys Clare, Michael Jecks, Bernard Knight, Simon Brett and many others… I might even slip another Ellery Queen in there as well…

Oh, and as I’m sure you’re following the Puzzlies with rabid interest, I’ve created a Puzzly page to summarise the past winners. I’m not bored, honest!

As ever, if you want to see what my fellow bloggers have been reading, pop over to Mysteries in Paradise for other peoples’ books of the month.


  1. It’s a case of ‘so many books so little time’ for me, and historical crime novels seem to be a low priority. That said, I’ve enjoyed a couple of Dohertys and noted Sister Fidelma in a short story in an anthology called Classical Crime – an interesting character, and I should make an effort to look out for her. A woman with an education and position in society! Quite by chance I’ve just been reading another historical in which a woman features, Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin, a 12th century female doctor and graduate of a school of medicine in Salerno in Italy that for a short time allowed women to study, or rather did so until prevented by the Catholic church. In one of those rare societies where Christians, Jews and Moslems were permitted to live together unpersecuted.


    • I’ve read the second in the Franklin series and was impressed by it. The only shame about it was, for historical accuracy, she has to hide her talents behind a male stooge. I’ll be getting back to the series very soon


  2. How do you read so much, and write about them all? I am so slow in comparison. But I am glad you do.

    Looking forward to your ‘Nother Chance authors in November.


    • One thing about my choices is that I rarely plump for the modern 400+ page novels which speeds things up. Also, my reviews tend to be stream-of-consciousness so rarely take more than half an hour to write. Half-term this week helped get through a few as well.


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