The Puzzly – The ISOTCMN Book of the Month – August 2019

August is over. And, with two mini-breaks – mid Wales and North Devon, lovely, thanks for asking – that meant a lot of reading. In fact, there are a grand total of five books whose reviews will have to wait until September. Sorry about that – but if you’re interested, the long-hunted great Lorac, an early Bush, an entertaining Crofts and a couple of short story collections – the latest from the British Library and a book of mysteries that is rather magical.

But that’s for next month – along with yet more shameless Brian Flynn promotion – October 7th, put it in your diary – in the meantime, let’s take a look at this month’s reviewed reading.

Fourteen books to choose from for the August  2019 Puzzly – as follows:

Bodies From The Library 2 ed Tony Medawar – another intriguing collection of short stories, some never before reprinted. And the tales therein inspired the next few reads.

Love Lies Bleeding by Edmund Crispin – a charming tale and a great read, but not as perfect as I’d have hoped.

Suddenly At His Residence by Christianna Brand – a double locked room mystery, let down by at least one of them being utter nonsense.

A Puzzle For Fools by Patrick Quentin – the debut for Peter Duluth, a really strong tale, recently reprinted in the American Mystery Classics range.

Death Of Mr Gantley by Miles Burton – a good early Desmond Merrion tale. Not a classic, but well-constructed and an interesting read.

The Hangman’s Hands by Charles Wogan aka Brian Flynn – an interesting sideline from Flynn. Some way from his best work, but a fun read.

The Stars Spell Death by Jonathan Stagge – Patrick Quentin by another name. But this one is a massive disappointment. Poor.

There Was A Crooked Man by Clifford Witting – definitely an overlooked author. A very entertaining mystery.

Eleven Came Back by Mabel Seeley – an “isolated group gets killed one by one” novel, but the writing style is a little too histrionic for my tastes.

The Mad Hatter Mystery by John Dickson Carr – I had remembered this fondly, but it was disappointing this time round.

Murder Gone Mad by Philip Macdonald – tense serial killer, let down by the killer being basically picked at random at the end.

The Art Of Dying by Ambrose Parry – atmospheric, well-written and absorbing historical thriller, despite a fairly obvious gambit being used as part of the tale.

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard – a time-jumping tale of murder in an isolated hotel that makes good use of the gimmick rather than being controlled by it.

The Body In The Dumb River by George Bellairs – I might be in the minority here, but I found this weaker than the other Bellairs titles that I’ve read. Others disagree.

So many to choose from. The reason I say that is that two books really stood out, namely A Puzzle For Fools and Rewind. Because they’re so very different, it’s tricky to pick one of them… as it’s been a mostly Golden Age month, I feel that I ought to pick something from that era, but I’m going to ignore that feeling. Catherine Ryan Howard is, for me, one of the most exciting new crime authors, so the Puzzly for this month goes to Catherine for Rewind. Congratulations!

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