The Puzzly – The ISOTCMN Book Of The Month – December 2013

A little early, but it’s time for the Puzzly – my Book of the Month – for December 2013. Why is it a day early? Well, I’ve got to leave space for my Book of the Year post on New Year’s Eve – and what would a New Year’s party be without the traditional silence at 11:55 pm when the host reads out my end of year post to everyone in hushed tones? Really? Just in my house? And just to my cats? Wow, it takes all sorts, doesn’t it?

So, December. Nine books in total – some great books and one absolute stinker. But which will carry off the Puzzly, putting them in line for the Grand Puzzly for 2013?

The books this month were:

Wow – no Paul Doherty this month! That’s a first…

OK , it’s very easy to cut it down to two. The Crimson Fog is worth a mention, but it got a bit obvious in the second half of the book. Death In The Clouds is a great mystery, but, as has been pointed out to me, Poirot’s habit of keeping everything to himself causes a second murder and NOBODY MENTIONS THIS. This is starting to bug me a bit about the book now.

Shatter The BonesThe two books in contention (by a mile) are almost complete opposites – Shatter The Bones and Dream Of The Dead. But their different styles make them very hard to compare… I’m going to go for Shatter The Bones, as it was such a page turner. The humour is clearly not to everyone’s taste, but it made me laugh – and the clue in plain sight is very impressive. So congratulations to Stuart MacBride for the second time – Birthdays For The Dead won the Puzzly too – so that’ll be the wallpaper for the next month.

Tomorrow (hopefully) – the best of the year!


  1. Nice list of books for the month. I knew you really liked this book, so the choice doesn’t surprise me. I disliked the 2nd one in the MacBride series so much I stopped reading the series. I read your review of Dream of the Dead, and it does sound good. I may give that one a try some day.


  2. I think you are being unfair to Hercule Poirot regarding his role in a death in “ Death In The Clouds”. On the basis of initial clues, he suspects a certain person to be the murderer, but he does not know the motive. He decides to learn the the whole truth before revealing anything. This is natural, since otherwise he may make a fool of himself (as did Ellery Queen in The Greek Coffin Mystery). He comes across further facts which perplex him and seem to conflict with his earlier theory. It is only in Chapter 25 that he learns the whole truth and it is only then that he realizes the danger to the second victim. Prior to this, he has no way of knowing that a second murder would take place. (Incidentally, the practice of not revealing anything till the whole truth is clear is followed by several other detectives).
    I would rather trust Hercule Poirot than the bumbling cops of Aberdeen who by their sheer idiocy cause unnecessary suffering and deaths.
    You have given the first prize to Stuart Macbride not once but twice. In my opinion, Stuart Macbride is nowhere close to authors like Agatha Christie and Paul Halter, both of whom are so good mystery writers that they do not need to pep up their stories with coarse humour.


    • First off – if Poirot had shared his cast-iron certainty as to who killed the victim with the other two law enforcement professionals, they could have helped find the motive faster. But he didn’t because this book is basically a puzzle (and a good one) but little more.

      And yes, I have twice given the book of the month to Stuart MacBride because his books are more complete novels – I’m sorry that you don’t agree, but this isn’t supposed to be the divine word on what is best, just what I thought was the best of the month.


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