The Puzzly – The ISOTCMN Book Of The Month – April 2021

Blimey, it’s May! How did that happen?

To be fair to myself, it’s been a busy April. Those of you living in the UK know that due to a huge game of pass the parcel-of-responsibility, teachers have the unenviable job of carrying out the external assessments for students with no secure material in the form of questions being made available – despite claiming certain papers were going to remain locked for teachers only, the exam boards themselves proceeded to release the questions on those papers a few weeks before any assessments would be set. As you know, I’m a Maths teacher, so I want naturally to set a question or two that students haven’t seen before so they have to work out how to solve the problem, rather than just remember how to do it – that’s a core skill in my subject. And given that in the two year groups being tested there are two levels of exam, containing options and multiple papers, I have been, over the past month or so, writing twenty-five different examinations, partly from scratch.

Oh, mystery novels, that’s what we’re here for, not for venting at the government and their associated cronies. Sorry about that. Well, April also consisted of a significant birthday, a job interview… you can see why the blog has been a bit quiet. There is another reason but, no, we’ll come to that later.

So the books reviewed this month were:

  • The Big Four by Agatha Christie – it’s got some fun books, but as a Poirot book, it’s a bit rubbish.
  • No Fury by Frances Beeding – an entertaining read, but with a murderer so obvious, they might as well have it tattooed on their forehead.
  • Out Of The Dusk by Brian Flynn – the first review this month of a new book by my boy Brian, a lucky find that I’d been saving for a rainy day. A great tale of investigation, with perhaps a slightly disappointing motive.
  • The Three Locks by Bonnie MacBird – another Holmes pastiche/continuation/missing adventure. One of the tales is very strong, but I didn’t need the one that gives Watson some unnecessary backstory.
  • Farewell My Herring by L C Tyler – strong stuff from one of the most reliable writers out there at the moment.
  • Security Secrets Sold Here by Belton Cobb – I enjoyed this far more than I ought to have, given a number of nonsenses in the plot, despite a neat central idea. A good laugh, not necessarily for the right reasons.
  • Security Secrets Sold Here by Belton Cobb – not a good book, but I enjoyed it a lot, although partly as I was laughing at some of its ideas
  • The Case Of The Faithful Heart by Brian Flynn – my second new Bathurst of the month, and this is first-rate. Why after a woman apparently commits suicide in her car did someone cover her grave in violets?

That’s not a lot for me, but there are a couple of others:

  • The Edge Of Terror by Brian Flynn – not a new read this one, and I didn’t have time to re-review but it was for book club, where we discovered that not everyone was enamoured by the voice chosen as the narrator. I can see their point, despite the fact that I loved it.
  • The Mystery Of The Blue Train by Agatha Christie – part of my Poirot Countup, I’ll review it in a couple of days time.
  • Black Edged by Brian Flynn – a new one for me, this is the twenty third Bathurst title. Review coming soon-ish

Book of the Month? Well, it ought to be Farewell My Herring – I haven’t the nerve to pick Security Secrets Sold Here, as it is supposed to be the best book of the month, not the unintentionally funniest… But I’m going to frustrate you again, dear reader, by going for a book that you can’t get – The Case Of The Faithful Heart by Brian Flynn, which is a lovely, straightforward-ish mystery with some real… well, heart to it.

So, I should say that once I get my Poirot review written, then the blog is going to be rather slow for a couple of weeks while I get some reading done. I need to read a lot of Brian Flynn over the next couple of weeks for two reasons.

First of all, there’s the Bodies From The Library online conference where I’m talking with Kate Jackson about the mighty Flynn, so I need to re-read a few titles. Secondly… well, I’ve got hold of some more new titles to read. Can I say why? Probably not, but I’ll give a little hint – all the new titles that have found their way to me are books 21 to 30…

So there will be the occasional Flynn review appearing over the next couple of weeks, but I’m going to space out the reviews of the “new” books (including Black Agent) until the end of the summer, just to whet your appetites (he said, not particularly cryptically…) In the meantime, why not take a look at some of my older reviews? There are quite a few of them…

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