Review Of The Year – 2012

2012, the second year of my blog, and 141 books reviewed. Blimey. So how on earth to summarise all those?

Well, for an overview of the year, you could check out the Puzzlies page which gives a month-by-month breakdown. But I’m going to try and summarise things into various categories. Now the pickier of you may notice some books that weren’t, for example, books of the month. As is often the case, some books have stuck in the memory and others were flashes in the pan, and I think this reflects this.

Let’s start off with some one-off awards.

Best Example of Clown NoirHonk, Honk, My Darling by James Finn Garner

Most Misleading CoverThe Hanover Square Affair by Ashley Gardner

The “Did She Think She Was Being Clever” AwardEndless Night by Agatha Christie

The “Half A Good Book” AwardThe Case Of The Man Who Died Laughing by Tarquin Hall

Best Thriller Featuring ZombiesCadaver In Chief by Steve Hockensmith

Best Reason To Buy A Book – One quarter of the profits from A Wake Of Vultures by Mary Earnshaw goes towards the University of Liverpool Africa Endowment Fund

Right, on to the proper awards – well, as proper as these things get…

Best New Novel

I do, on occasion, review newly released fiction – I’m including books released in 2011 in this list, btw, in case you feel like a quibble.


Death On A LongshipWinner:

Very hard to choose but I think I’ll go for Death On A Longship, marrying a genuine puzzle plot with an engrossing and colourful background in the Shetlands.

Best Historical Mystery

I can’t really restrict this to one per author, but I’ll try.


A Murder In ThebesWinner:

Again, could be any of them, but it’s the very-hard-to-find A Murder In Thebes. An evocation of a long-lost era combined with a simple-but-clever locked roof mystery. Hopefully coming to an e-reader near you soon.

Biggest Disappointment

Not the worst book of the year – not that sort of person, and if I was, then it would be five very different books – but books that seemingly had a lot of potential but…



Bit of explanation here. Ghostly Murders was lacking any real mystery. The next two have such ardent fans, I was surprised how flat (and rather dull) the books were and the Wolfe book hasn’t inspired me to visit the back catalogue that inspired it. But the biggest disappointment was the “winner” of this category, Mistress of the Art of Death, a medieval version of the modern-day serial killer nonsense, rather than an actual mystery – unlike the second book in the series that inspired me to read this.

Favourite Author

Just going to consider multi-reviewed authors here:


The House of CrowsWinner:

Right, first of all, I recommend everyone goes out there and reads something by each of these authors. As a starter, you could do a lot worse than Suffer The Children, All The Lonely People, The Cadaver Game, The House of Crows and Mrs McGinty’s Dead as starting points. But of course the winner is Paul Doherty. Big surprise.

Classic Mystery Of The Year

I trust I don’t need to clarify what I mean by classic…


Green For DangerWinner:

Surprising that there’s no Carr on the list, but that’s something that I mean to correct next year. But in the meantime, the winner is Green for Danger, now available from

The Grand Puzzly for 2012

Only to be awarded for the best book that has already won a monthly Puzzly. The candidates are:


All The Lonely PeopleCrikey, this is difficult. Twelve quite different books – even the two Doherty works are from opposite ends of the spectrum. I’ll go for the one that I simply couldn’t put down when I was reading it and was an astonishing debut for a writer who continues to produce crime fiction of the highest order, marrying character and puzzle seamlessly – All The Lonely People by Martin Edwards.

The Best Mystery of 2012

And so to this final award – not necessarily the best novel of 2012 but the best out-and-out play-along-and-solve-the-multi-clued mystery novel of the year. I’m restricting this to recent novels, rather than the classics as, after all, this is the point of the blog.



The Demon of DartmoorNine Men's MurderUgh, why am I torturing myself like this? OK, can’t separate two of them, so congratulations to both Paul Halter and Eric Keith.

Right, that’ll do. So, dear reader, if you go out and read everything listed here (apart from the disappointed category), you’ll be certain of a good read.

See you next year!


  1. Brilliant stuff Steve and wonderful list. I’ve already bought the Eric Keith after your excellent review so the Halter is definitely coming next – well done on all that reading chum, I am very envious as I read next to no new mysteries last year, just a handful and really, really will be correcting that next year along with some of the Martin Edwards books you have also been recommending. Cheers mate – here’s to a great 2013!


  2. I am very honored by the recognition Nine Man’s Murder has received here. I write to entertain and challenge readers, and this type of encouragement means a great deal to me. Thank you.


  3. Well, I’ve certainly read more of your nominations than Curt Evans’!

    I agree with the choice of DEATH ON A LONGSHIP. It’s definitely one of the finer detective stories of 2012, and here’s hoping the author keeps at it!

    GREEN FOR DANGER is a brilliant novel, but so is everything by Brand that I’ve read… with the exception of SUDDENLY AT HIS RESIDENCE. But others seem to like it. Personally, I think DEATH OF JEZEBEL is one of her best.

    You probably enjoyed ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE more than I did, but I liked it tremendously myself, especially when considered as a debut novel. If I recall correctly I think you said you lived in the Liverpool area, so that may have something to do with it, since the only thing I know about Liverpool is their football team.

    THE DEMON OF DARTMOOR is a fine choice for the Best of 2012… and if Eric Keith’s book can rank with it, it must be a fine book indeed!


    • To be honest, it was a very tough call for Grand Puzzly. In fact, I wanted to make a few books that hadn’t been Book of the Month into the Best of the Year. Good as Dead by Mark Billingham came very close, but All The Lonely People just resonated with me at the right time.

      And Nine Man’s Murder is indeed a very fine book…


  4. So much good stuff here. As you know, you directed me to A Spark of Death and Nine Man’s Murder (both of which made my list btw). I loved Brand’s Green for Danger back in the day when I read it (and the movie’s pretty good as well….) and I’ve got London Particular (aka Fog of Doubt) on deck for 2013. Halter is also on my Must Get Soon list thanks to you. Happy Reading in 2013!


  5. I am late to comment, and there is so much here. I do want to try Paul Halter, and I will be reading Nine Man’s Murder this year. I am going to try Paul Doherty and Peter Tremayne based on your recommendations. And I have been wanting to find a copy of and read All the Lonely People for quite a while. Keep up the good work… of convincing me to try new authors.


Leave a Reply to Puzzle Doctor Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.