The Puzzly – The ISOTCMN Book Of The Month – April 2020

April 2020, the month when I became a perfect square (and will remain so for another 360 odd days) and I continue to learn how to teach via a computer screen. Oh, and the month in which I finally got my hands on another Brian Flynn novel – The Seventh Sign, which being book forty-one, you’re going to have a long time to wait for that one. Not as long as you’ll have to wait for… no, I’ve said too much.

But with being confined to quarters has meant a fair bit of reading, so here’s this month’s reviews:

The Golden Age Of Murder by Martin Edwards – Martin’s award winning history of the Detection Club.

The Dungeon House by Martin Edwards – the most recent entry into Martin’s Lake District series.

Mortmain Hall by Martin Edwards – the sequel to the fantastic Gallows Court, a sequel that is just a good as its predecessor.

The Bishop Must Die by Michael Jecks – the events surrounding the death of the Bishop of Exeter

Dead Man’s Daughter by Roz Watkins – did a heart transplant from a murder suspect make the recipient kill her father? A fantastic modern crime tale.

The Case Of The Counterfeit Colonel by Christopher Bush – another fine reprint from the Ludovic Travers series.

Hoch’s Ladies by Edward D Hoch – seventeen short stories featuring three of Hoch’s female leads (but mostly Susan Holt)

The League of Matthias by Brian Flynn – a young couple on the run from a murder charge and Anthony Bathurst in a dress. What more could you want?

Murder At The Brightwell by Ashley Weaver – entertaining GA-set mystery novel, albeit lacking some actual detection.

Confessional by Robert Innes – another novella in this promising series.

A Song For The Dying by Stuart MacBride – a pitch black crime novel with a strong mystery buried within it.

Hell Bay by Kate Rhodes – the death of a young girl in the Isles of Scilly in the first of the Ben Kitto series.

The Split by Sharon Bolton – another excellent standalone from the author of Little Black Lies.

Thirteen books – unlucky for some – well, for twelve of them to be precise. But this is a tricky one – one of the hardest Puzzlies to call for ages.

It comes down to three – Mortmain Hall by Martin Edwards, Dead Man’s Daughter by Roz Watkins and Hell Bay by Kate Rhodes. All three had me carrying the book around with me, unable to put it down for the chance to read a few pages more. I think… crikey this is hard… Mortmain Hall is a stunning blend of the Golden Age and a modern thriller and Hell Bay is evocative character-driven tale with a stunning reveal, hiding the killer in plain sight. But I think it’s going to be Dead Man’s Daughter, for the simplicity of the sort-of impossible problem – if the young girl wasn’t driven to kill because of her donor heart, how is there so much evidence that she did? – and the satisfying solution. But the other two books are great as well – you really should read all three.

Next month, potentially a bit of a slowdown as I have some writing to do but there will be more from Bush, more from Flynn and new books from Caro Ramsay, Simon Mayo and almost certainly the next from M W Craven, as it’s been staring at me from my shelf for the few months and my resolve to wait til publication day is weakening fast…

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