And so July wends its way to a close and it’s time for the inevitable review of the month. An odd month for me, primarily as I made my first ever visit to Mexico – Acapulco to be precise, as my much better half had a conference there and I figured, given that it is reportedly the murder capital of Mexico, it’d be nice of me to go with her. Plus her flight and the hotel were paid for, so cheapish holiday.
Well, it was ridiculously hot, the streets and shopping centres were constantly patrolled by sub-machine gun and shotgun wielding police and, apart from Minsk, Acapulco is the least sympathetic place I’ve been to as a non-native speaker. Nothing wrong with that, I hasten to add, tourists should make the effort, not the natives, but I wasn’t expecting that from a tourist venue. The reason is, Acapulco is a tourist venue primarily for Mexicans these days, not for people from overseas, or even it seemed, the US. So it’s basically the Mexican equivalent of Weston Super Mare. Only hotter.
But of course, holiday time and long flights there and back (thirty hours on the way back due to a missed connection – merci beaucoup pour rien de information, Air France) means loads of reading, so what did I read this month and which title takes the Puzzly for July 2018?
The books in question were:
- Bertie And The Seven Bodies by Peter Lovesey – a funny and clever Golden Age pastiche
- Night Exercise by John Rhode – fascinating wartime detail, less fascinating mystery
- The Case Of The Murdered Major by Christopher Bush – fascinating wartime detail, equally fascinating mystery
- Blue Murder by Harriet Rutland – possibly the best of her three titles
- The Air Raid Killer by Frank Goldammer – interesting history, but less interesting serial killer mutilating women story
- Brazen Tongue by Gladys Mitchell – a promising opening to this wartime tale but garbled finale
- A Fatal Obsession by Faith Martin – a gripping and clever mystery in 1950s Oxford
- The Missing And The Dead by Stuart MacBride – Scottish Noir at its absolute finest
- The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada – clever and disappointing at the same time
- The Case Of The Kidnapped Colonel by Christopher Bush – more fascinating wartime detail, another equally fascinating mystery
- Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh – very entertaining but nonsense at the same time
- One, Two, Buckle My Shoe by Agatha Christie – decent Poirot outing, dodgy attempt to fit the poem around it
- A Gentleman’s Murder by Christopher Huang – very promising Golden Age homage with some real depth
- The Five Red Fingers by Brian Flynn – entertaining, but not his best by some distance.
Ooh, so many choices… Any of Peter Lovesey, Christopher Bush (twice), Harriet Rutland, Stuart MacBride or Christopher Huang – seriously, any of these books would have walked it any other month – but I’m going to give the Puzzly this month to Faith Martin for A Fatal Obsession, the start to a new series with interesting leads and a genuinely clever puzzle plot. Looking forward to reading more of Faith’s work soon.
So next month? More Sherlockian Shorts which got a bit of a revival this month, a couple of new titles and more wartime shenanigans for my Do Mention The War thread, as we get closer to my thousandth review – just forty one more to go…
Important news for impossible crime fans:
An indispensable source book for impossible crimes is Locked Room Murders by Robert Adey. This was first published in 1979 and then a revised and enlarged edition was published in 1991. The 1991 edition lists above 2000 locked room novels and shiort stories with very brief summary of each and with even briefer solutions at the back of the book. The introduction of over 30 pages constitute amn outstanding history of the genre.
Unfortunatey the book has long been out of print and only a few copies are available in the used books market at exorbitant prices.
The good news is that Locked Room International (owned by 83 year old John Pugmire of New York) is republishing the 1991 edition of the book. It will be released soon (by the middle of this month)..
Robert Adey’s book is already out at Amazon and I have alrady placed an oirder for it !
Exciting you’re only 41 reviews away from a 1000! I’m about 30 odd away from my 800th post but no idea how many are reviews. I may need a few flights to Mexico if I am ever going to catch up with you!
Thanks for drawing attention to Faith Martin once again – I need to get round to reading her two novels on my Kindle. 🤩 It’s hard to find a contemporary writer operating within the Golden Age vein, and so I very much hope her other output functions equally successfully as classic mystery novels. 🧐