Well, life has changed for me in January. Ever since my appearance on JJ’s In GAD We Trust podcast, I’ve been struggling not to let the fame go to my head. There is at least one good thing about social distancing, because otherwise I’m sure I’d be fighting off crime-fiction groupies with a cricket bat. Not sure why they’re keeping such a distance that I can’t even see them, when two metres would be good enough, but better safe than sorry, I guess.
Anyway, January, and I’ve been busy teaching through my computer screen, so my eyes are knackered a lot of the time. Oddly, this actually means more reading for me, as my reading glasses and a book actually seem to be my ideal distance for my eyes, meaning it’s relaxing after the computer screen. That probably means I should go to the opticians, but it did mean a lot of reading this month – fourteen books. Wow.
The books in question were:
- Murder Unrecognised by Miles Burton – the rather brutal murder of a young boy by a Mills Bomb booby-trap kicks off a good late Desmond Merrion case.
- A Fatal Flaw by Faith Martin – a decent but not outstanding entry in the series.
- A Really Cute Corpse by Joan Hess – a decent but not outstanding entry in the series.
- The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie – a decent… hang on, no it’s an outstanding debut novel. Not her finest, but an exceptionally strong debut for her and Poirot.
- The Case Of The Three Strange Faces by Christopher Bush – interesting first half but tails off in the second. Not his best.
- The Red Right Hand by Joel Townsley Rogers – loved it the first time I read it, got rather tired of it this time round.
- Early Morning Poison by Belton Cobb – an enjoyable read, although the murderer was obvious and it could have done with a plan of the house.
- The Corpse In The Waxworks by John Dickson Carr – a decent Bencolin, possibly the best of them, but still under-par Carr. Great bonus short story though.
- The Murder On The Links by Agatha Christie – Poirot and Hastings respond, too late, for a cry for help from a French businessman.
- The Devil’s Priest by Kate Ellis – the debut novel from one of my favourite authors, an historical mystery set in Tudor Liverpool.
- Death With A Difference by Belton Cobb – another enjoyable if unspectacular outing for Cobb.
- Midsummer Murder by Cecil M Wills – an impressive poison pen mystery without the “covering for a murder plot” explanation for the letters.
- Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie – eleven short stories from the early days of Poirot and Hastings.
- And Then There Were Nine by W H Lane Crauford – weird mystery tale, not necessarily in a good way.
Book of the Month? Well, I suppose it should be Styles – that’s the best book of the lot – but instead, I’m going to plump for Midsummer Murder. There was a lot of “perfectly fine, but” reading this month, but finding an unfortunately-expensive new author who I’d like to read more of is always a treat.
Next month, a few new releases, more of my Poirot Countup, more Cobb and at least one more “new” Golden Age author. See you there.
A really nice variety of authors–even if quite a few were “perfectly fine but.” I seemed to have a lot of those in January as well–and, if I had been handing out the mystery prize on stars-rating alone Dame Agatha would have taken home the prize over at the Block as well (for Murder in the Calais Coach/Murder on the Orient Express), but I’ve handed her a Pick of the Month award in the past so I had to move on to the four-star finishers.
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