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

Farewell, October 2020. Only two months left of this year, which is never going to make any “Top Ten Years Of The Century” lists, is it? I’d say 2021 must be an improvement, but I’m pretty sure we were saying that about 2020 as 2019 drew to a close. Let’s hope my American readers help to give us some good news in a few days time. Cross everything, people… and don’t vote Trump whatever you do…

But you don’t want to hear about my political views, do you? Thought not – although I’m pretty sure you could have guessed them, based on the fact that I’m not insane – you’re here to find out what book has taken the Book Of The Month award for October 2020. Well, let’s find out, shall we?

Let’s take a look at my reading this month:

Book 3 of the Scilly Isles series, and an entertaining read, suffering a tad from “the killer’s a loony” syndrome.

Modern thriller, well-structured but lacking a killer twist and needing a couple too many coincidences to work.

Mis-sold by the blurb, not very Christmassy and a stupid lead who wouldn’t spot the murderer if they were dancing up and down in front of them singing “I’m a happy murderer”.

Good thriller (if a little silly at the end) but don’t buy it for the locked room.

Serial killer, lone female detective, nothing to make it stand out. Competent, with a couple of icky passages.

Another comfort re-read, with a bedroom that kills and a murderer stalking a religious conference.

Fantastic (if a bit silly). But I am biased, obviously…

Meh. You can tell most of her books weren’t mysteries.

A good, well-constructed locked-mine mystery. Yes, it does hit quite a lot of the expected clichés, but it does them well.

A new translation of the French original, but it didn’t really work for me.

Murder on board a cruise ship interrupts Inspector Burmann’s honeymoon, much to the chagrin of his new wife.

You’ll see that there are a lot of new or recent releases there. In case you forget, this is sort of the point of the blog, or at least was the point when I started. Sift through the crime fiction shelves to find the “proper” mysteries hiding therein. This month, alas, there was no expected treats like Moonflower Murders or unexpected delights such as The Smart Woman’s Guide To Murder. Most of them were good in places, but the best was Burnt Island, primarily as I’m invested in the series.

As for the classic reads, well obviously the best was The Spiked Lion, but you knew I’d say that. The Owner Lies Dead is excellent, using a lot of old tricks but tying them up together well. Similarly, Belton Cobb’s Corpse At Casablanca is great fun, with a charming narrative voice. I’m a sucker for well-told romantic themes in mysteries, and it works a treat here, elevating a decent mystery into something really satisfying.

I’ll make it easier for you, dear reader. The Owner Lies Dead is slightly easier to get hold of, and, trust me, you’ll be hearing more about Belton Cobb in the future. The jury is still out, but it’s two for two at the moment, and I just might have invested in a few more titles… but that’s for the next few months. This month, the Puzzly goes to Tyline Perry for The Owner Lies Dead.

Next month, Helen McCloy, another Paul Doherty re-read, some more new releases and goodness knows what else. Presuming the world’s still standing after November 3rd… don’t do anything stupid, dear American readers.

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