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

Well, that wasn’t a very successful September, in reading terms at least. In September 2018, I read sixteen books! This month, a grand total of six reviews, and, if I’m being totally honest, I read Brian Flynn’s Glittering Prizes ages ago, I just delayed the review until Brian Flynn Day. But I have just finished The Secret of Superintendent Manning, so it is six really – even so, that’s the worst my monthly reading has been since I started the blog.

In case any of you are worrying, there’s nothing wrong, I’m just finding myself distracted at the moment by everything and nothing. Obviously the start of the school term keeps me busier than usual (although obviously not in 2018) and for a reason that I can’t put my finger on, my go-to activity when I have some free time just isn’t picking up a book at the moment. Most of the books that I read, I read fairly quickly, but picking up a new one to start reading, that seems to be the hurdle at the moment. My reviews for two of them, from two of my favourite authors, missed the publication date because I needed to be in the right frame of mind to give those books the focus they deserved. Thankfully that did happen.

Hopefully, I can get back into the swing of things soon. I’m going to try and schedule a trip to the Bodleian in October to treat myself with some ultra-obscure treasure bound to annoy some of you by its unattainability, that should give me a jumpstart, but that won’t be for a while.

STOP PRESS!

I’ve just spotted a new Paul Doherty on Netgalley that I wasn’t expecting, so that’ll sort everything out. Cheers, Paul!

Anyway, enough excuses, let’s see what the books were:

Glittering Prizes by Brian Flynn – a Nazi conspiracy to undermine the Empire? A plan to thwart it goes horribly awry and it falls to Anthony Bathurst to pick up the pieces in one of the best, IMHO, of this tranche of Brian Flynn titles.

Too Much Of Water by L C Tyler – John Grey tries to get to the bottom of the murder of a candidate for Parliament on the eve of the election, while trying to avoid becoming involved in the new candidates that have now sprung up…

Many Deadly Returns by The Murder Squad – Martin Edwards, Kate Ellis, Ann Cleeves et al produce this anniversary collection. More hits than average for a short story collection, just one too many falling down by using the same central twist.

The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman – summed up by a quote from my review, namely “this wasn’t the best book called The Man Who Died Twice that I’ve read this year…” A real disappointment, a book with a very odd tone that just didn’t work for me.

The Ninth Enemy by Francis Vivian – a perfectly adequate Golden Age mystery, but far from his best.

The Supper Club Murders by Victoria Dowd – the third Smart Women mystery, that rarest of things, a modern novel with characters and an actual proper mystery – a locked room one at that!

You’d think Book of the Month would be easy with fewer books, but it’s close between three of them – Len, Victoria and good old Brian. Much as I loved Too Much Of Water, on balance, I feel that I should give it to The Supper Club Murders, because although it takes a while to get going, you have to appreciate the crafting of the mystery, both the locked room element and the whodunit, but just as the ghost of Ursula’s father keeps giving her hints in that book, the ghost of Brian Flynn just pointed out to me that I’ve only got two more of his books to read, so this will be one of the last chances I’ll have to award him the Puzzly. Strange priorities for a ghost, to be fair, but I feel after all the entertainment his books have given me – and I think Glittering Prizes, while a tad bonkers, is a great example of his work – I can be persuaded… Sorry, Victoria… I’m sure there will be a next time.

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