Well, and forgive the language, but this sodding year is almost over. Before we get into my review of this year’s reading – that’ll be up tomorrow – it’s time to take a look at December. Managed to get a lot of reading done, partly as the NHS App told me to self-isolate for the last week of term. A real shame to miss that part of the school term, but at least I had some confidence that I could safely spend Christmas Day with my parents-in-law.
Anyway, on to my array of December reading – so which is going to take the Puzzly for December?
Fourteen books in total – that’s a lot for December for me – with a mixture of old and new, and just the one that you’ll never find in a shop unless you’re very, very lucky. The contenders are:
- The Horrible Man In Heron’s Wood by Belton Cobb – or what 2020 would be if it was a book. Pretty horrible in every sense of the word.
- The Pardoner’s Crime by Keith Moray – a random Kindle pick that turned out to be a very enjoyable historical mystery. Looking forward to more in the series.
- The Lost Gallows by John Dickson Carr – not my favourite section of Carr’s writing, but good to see the British Library getting the Bencolin books back in print.
- The Stone Of Destiny by Paul Doherty – a superb entry into one of my favourite series, with an ending that looks set to provide problems for our little friar, Brother Athlestan, in the future…
- The House Of The Hanged Woman by Kate Ellis – the Albert Lincoln trilogy comes to an end with a finale as strong as the two preceding titles. An excellent set of books.
- The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood – now that is how to do a modern classic whodunit. Funny, thrilling and with a perfectly clued puzzle plot.
- Thou Shell Of Death by Nicholas Blake – an very entertaining classic mystery – just don’t think about the logic of it too much afterwards.
- Home Guard Mystery by Belton Cobb – now this, rather than The Horrible Man From Heron’s Wood, is why Cobb could do with a reprinting. A well-constructed and well-told tale.
- An English Murder by Cyril Hare – not a fan of Cyril Hare, but this is an excellent mystery, easily the best I’ve read of his work.
- Dead In Devon by Stephanie Austin – perfectly serviceable mystery fare, but pales in comparison to other reads this month, and mostly feels like a set-up for a series. Also, a candidate for most obvious murderer ever…
- Death And The Brewery Queen by Frances Brody – a strong entry into the Kate Shackleton series, an enjoyable between-the-wars historical crime tale.
- Agatha Christie’s Poirot by Mark Aldridge – an essential and very readable reference book on the World’s Greatest Detective.
- By Murder’s Bright Light by Paul Doherty – a re-read but there’s a damn good reason I re-read this series…
- The Quickening by Rhiannon Ward – not my usual fare, but an intruging gothic mystery tale that will impress fans of the genre.
Now this almost certainly is the hardest Puzzly to call in a long, long time. There are so many options to choose from…
So tempting to go for Mark Aldridge’s Poirot magnum opus, or for the conclusion of Kate Ellis’ trilogy, but I think I have to go for the author who has the honour of winning my Book of the Month for EVERY SINGLE MYSTERY NOVEL he’s ever published. The Marlow Murders Club ticks every box in what I’m looking for in a book – in particular the clues that you see when they occur but don’t realise their importance until it gets pointed out to them. Still smiling about the bit about the SPOILER that I really should have noticed…
Right be back tomorrow for the highlights (and a few lowlights) of my 2020 reading. See you then…