The Puzzly – The ISOTCMN Book Of The Month – June 2018

Fifty-five books to go until the Millenial review. No, hang on, fifty-four. Because I shouldn’t be counting review 1000 in the countdown to review 1000. Or should I? In a month when work has absolutely swamped me and I’ve had very little free time – or at least that’s what it’s felt like, I think in reality it’s just been the last ten days – then these are the minor problems you latch on to in order to gloss over things that you really should be thinking about…

But as exam and report season comes to a halt, and the sun is shining in the sky, it’s time to look back at this month’s reading – nine books in total, which I can’t quite believe, but I’ve the reviews to prove it.

It was the month when I started my possibly ongoing thing, Chapter To Chapter, a hopefully-spoiler-free look at a book in detail. My first title was Fear and Trembling by Brian Flynn, and for those of you who don’t like it when I look at ultra-obscure crime fiction – of the two Flynn titles that I looked at, there seem to be no copies for sale anywhere – well, brace yourself as there’s going to be more to come, probably more rapidly than before. I have my reasons – if you don’t want to read those reviews, then there will be something more to your tastes as well. Unless you’re an E L James fan, I doubt there’ll be much in that genre…

It was also the month when I went to two Crime Fiction conferences, the Alibis In The Archive and the Bodies From The Library. Absolute highlights were the chance to have a couple of extended chats with Michael Jecks, blog-favourite and thoroughly nice chap, and a quick chat with the legendary Peter Lovesey (who kindly signed my first edition of The False Inspector Dew – I’ll flog it to Martin Edwards in ten years’ time). Oh, and I have in my possession the first ever signed copy of The Pocket Detective by fellow blogger Kate Jackson (and I made her write that in the book too, so another one for Martin in a few years…)

But those nine books? They were:

The Ashes Of London by Andrew Taylor – enjoyable Restoration thriller, a bit too light on the mystery for me.

Disappearance At Oare by Julie Wassmer – another thoroughly entertaining book in the Whitstable Pearl series. Cozy but well worth your time.

A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee – murder in post-Great War India, a fascinating backdrop and great characters. A real stonker, this one.

Excellent Intentions by Richard Hull – a perfectly decent book from Hull, but the most ordinary of the four that I’ve read to date. Evidence in the case against Martin Edwards having a predilection to books featuring lawyers…

Fear And Trembling by Brian Flynn – the Somerset family have been targeted by an oddly dressed bunch of foreigners. Or have they? Anthony Bathurst to the rescue…

The Case Of The Bonfire Body by Christopher Bush – a surprisingly gruesome body (head and hands “hacked” off) hidden in a bonfire sends Ludovic Travers on the hunt. Drags a little in the third quarter but a good mystery

The Feet Of Death by Brian Flynn – a dated motive and an anticlimactic explanation for a strangling in the back of a taxi cab – it was foggy and the driver didn’t notice! That’s not a spoiler, it’s stated as fact very early. Still, a fun late entry from Flynn

Keep It Quiet by Richard Hull – murder, blackmail and general shenanigans in a London Club. Fun.

Dark Queen Rising by Paul Doherty – a new series from the master of the historical mystery. A strong start to an intriguing series.

So, Book Of The Month? Well, I’ll avoid the temptation to go for Fear and Trembling. It admittedly was fascinating to really get under the skin (the vellum?) of a Golden Age novel, taking it much more seriously than usual and getting a few insights into Flynn’s writing style and habits. So instead, I thought I’d go for a book that you could conceivably get a copy of. Well, you can easily get a copy of it as it won the Historical Dagger in 2017. Having said that, it only beat the historical mysteries of 2017 to win the Dagger – to win the Puzzly, you have to be a better read than anything that I might have read in the month. Well, sort of. You know what I mean. And guess what? It was – a first-rate mystery, full of character, background and plot. I know the resolution irked at least one reader but I loved it – a lovely subversion of the genre that it had been paying homage to for the rest of the page-count. Yes, this month’s Puzzly goes to A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee. Strongly recommended to any fans of traditional mysteries, historical mysteries, good books… well, to you, dear reader.

Next month – more Flynn, some more Rhode, some new books… and who knows what else?

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