October is at an end, thank goodness. The seemingly unending countdown to turning the lights down, closing the curtains and pretending not to be home so that little scrotes don’t pester me for sweets with menaces is gone for another year. I’m writing this on October 31st, so hopefully my new porch will be spared having eggs thrown at it. Yes, I’m a grumpy curmudgeon when it comes to Hallowe’en – the US has given us a lot of good things, but Trick or Treating isn’t one of them.
Ahem. Back to the point. It’s been a much better month for reading than “Six Book September”, so that’s hopefully I’m back on the wagon, bookwise. I’ve also made an attempt at an accurate bibliography for Belton Cobb – not sure why as some of his late books are laughably bad – I guess it’s the “laughably” bit that helps. Anyway, the lists online are in the wrong order or missing the odd title, so I’m trying to get it right. I’ve only made six revisions to the page so far… No worries about November, as I’m off for a week away later with little internet to distract me, and I’ve loads of new titles to tempt me. This month, there were eleven books in total, so let’s get on with the round-up.
Those books were:
- The Secret of Superintendent Manning by Belton Cobb – the second outing of Cobb’s short-lived replacement for Cheviot Burmann, and an interesting set-up that mostly delivers.
- Midsummer Murder by Clifford Witting – interesting tale that was a very strange ending that doesn’t really live up to what went before.
- The Devil In The Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson – a superior historical mystery, the first one from a new author to me in ages.
- The Invisible Host by Gwen Bristow and Bruce Manning – file under “silly but fun”, a really enjoyable read that might have given Dame Agatha an idea or two.
- These Names Make Clues by E C R Lorac – an atypical Inspector Macdonald case that worked for some, but not really for me.
- Dark Queen Watching by Paul Doherty – a highly enjoyable historical mystery and thriller set at the dawn of the Tudor Age.
- Eight Faces At Three by Craig Rice – a fun mystery with a very creepy opening, if you can swallow your disbelief that the sleuths can solve a case when they should be paralytic.
- The Rat Began To Gnaw The Rope by C W Grafton – not my cup of tea at all.
- The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict – a great combination of puzzles and character work, let down a tad by a disappointing choice of killer.
- Suspicion In Triplicate by Belton Cobb – bloody awful, basically.
- Midnight At Malabar House by Vaseem Khan – not bloody awful in any way, shape or form.
With regards to the classic mysteries in that pile, only one of them has stuck in the memory. Oh, actually, that’s not true, I’m still mulling over Bryan and Kitty’s conversation in Suspicion In Triplicate about them having girlfriends and boyfriends respectively and trying to work out if it’s platonic or they’re swingers. No, the classic mystery I enjoyed most this month was Eight Faces At Three by Craig Rice, the first J J Malone mystery and definitely worth your time.
The best reads this month were all historical mysteries, something I used to obsess about but since finding Paul Doherty, Mike Jeck and Len Tyler’s series, I’d sort of stopped looking for new ones. However this month, while playing Kindle Roulette, I read two outstanding historical whodunnits, The Devil In The Marshalsea and Midnight at Malabar House. It’s not easy to separate them – they are both great books – but I’m going to give the Puzzly for this month to Vaseem Khan due to the more overt attempt to marry the classic mystery tropes to the historical richness of detail.
Next month, some new titles from regular authors on the blog in Frances Brody and Peter Bartram, more Belton Cobb and John Rhode and quite possible more from Vaseem Khan and Antonia Hodgson as well…