October has been and gone, as it tends to do this time every year. I successfully maintained my Hallowe’en tradition of ignoring it completely, and, more importantly, managed to deal with a miscreant who, for some reason, was posting weird versions of my blog posts on his own blog. And you thought that making my own covers for obscure Brian Flynn novels was a waste of time – it’s pretty hard to justify copying my version of Black Agent’s cover.
Reading-wise, it’s been an odd month, as I’ve been going through phases of reading a lot and reading very slowly. Nine books was a reasonable haul, but only a couple of books really grabbed me. So which was the pick of the month?
The books in question were:
- A Will In The Way by Miles Burton – perfectly fine entry from Rhode/Burton/Street but nothing outstanding
- Mystery At Friar’s Pardon by Martin Porlock – a well-constructed Golden Age locked room mystery that suffers a little from a slow build-up, but has something in the solution that I thought was utterly chillingly brilliant.
- Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie – you’ve probably heard of this one. Much, much better than I remembered – it totally deserves its reputation.
- Season Of Blood by Jeri Westerson – perfectly fine historical mystery.
- The Gates Of Hell by Paul Doherty – a great historical mystery coupled with the siege of Halicarnassus, marred a little by part of the solution to the mystery.
- The King Of Thieves by Michael Jecks – see below
- The Wife Who Disappeared by Brian Flynn – a decent Golden Age mystery, but with a plot that I can’t help feeling that I’ve read before.
- The Realm Of The Impossible ed John Pugmire & Brian Skupin – an intruiging collection of locked room short stories from around the world.
- To Wake The Dead by John Dickson Carr – a flawed entry into the Fell canon. Great set up, poor execution…
OK, obviously, Murder In The Orient Express is obviously the finest classic mystery from this list, but everybody already knows that. So clearly I’m not going to pick that one. No, the Puzzly for this month is going to The King Of Thieves by Michael Jecks. Set in Paris towards the end of Edward II’s reign, this is rich in political intrigue with a mystery plot woven throughout the tale, full of characters who leap off the page out of history. Regular readers know how much of a fan I am of Michael’s work, but this is one of the best of the series, in my opinion. Utterly engrossing from start to finish – but only five more to go in the series… (six if you count the prequel).
Anyway, come back next month… er, this month, for a bunch of new reviews from Frances Brody, Elly Griffiths, Krysten Ritter