December is all but over and while I might finish my next read before the end of the year, I’m off for a few days away in an internet-free cabin with my better half, so I doubt I’ll have time to post a review – sorry, Dolores. That’ll be in January, along with all sorts of other delights, I’m sure, but as I’ve also got my 2021 Review for your delectation, I thought I’d do the Puzzly 2021 a bit early. And would you believe it, for the end of the year, it is the genuinely hardest book of the month ever.
So the books in question this month are:
- A Will To Kill by R V Raman – a perfectly average murder mystery, but – and I’ll say this again – NOT AN IMPOSSIBLE MYSTERY!!!
- Anthrax Island by D L Marshall – more on this below.
- Death And The Chapman by Kate Sedley – an historical title I’ve been looking forward to reading for a while, but it was a bit of a disappointment, I’m afraid. I’ll take a look at another in the series, now that the scene-setting is done.
- Murder Under Her Skin by Stephen Spotswood – a good sequel to Fortune Favours The Dead with strong leads, but it leans a bit too noirwards for my liking
- Death On The Trans-Siberian Express by C J Farrington – an interesting, if rather busy, mystery novel but with a very strong lead character and a great setting.
- Last Victim Of The Monsoon Express by Vaseem Khan – if you can get over an elephant living in the baggage car of a luxury train, it’s a fun little novella. Must look at the series at some point.
- The Dead Voice by Cecil M Wills – an interesting set-up but a predictable murderer in this one.
- A Murder Inside by Frances Brody – a promising start to a new series from the author of the Kate Shackleton series.
- Octagon House by Phoebe Atwood Taylor – another chance for me to mention whale poo. An OK book, not sure I’ll be rushing back to her work soon.
- The 5 False Suicides by James Scott Byrnside – I wanted to like this a lot more than I did, there’s just too many ideas in the pot, not all of which make complete sense.
- The Appeal by Janice Hallett – more on this below.
Until I read The Appeal, there was no question as to who would get the Book Of The Month. Anthrax Island, with a classic locked room mystery buried inside an action movie, was streets ahead of anything this month – hell, probably this year. And then came The Appeal, another fair-play classic mystery with a unique format. As I said in my review, just as much Ellery Queen as Agatha Christie, it’s just as engrossing and just as puzzling. Two outstanding books, but I’ve got to choose one of them and there is absolutely nothing between them.
So I’m going to take the coward’s way out and award another joint Puzzly. Congrats to both authors and go and buy their books. D L Marshall has a second out now, and Janice Hallett’s new book is out early next year – reviews for both will be coming soon.