Apologies for the delay in the round up of April’s reading. I was just sitting down to write it yesterday morning when a gang of marauding pagans tied me to a maypole and I’ve only just gnawed my way free.
April was supposed to be “Awesome April” after “Mediocre March” and, for the most part, it was. A good collection of mystery novels and nothing that wasn’t enjoyable. Actually, that’s not quite true, I did spend the last couple of days of the month struggling with the second book in a cosy mystery series that I quite liked the debut entry in – but book two leans much more into the cosy and when there hadn’t been a whiff of murder at the 30% mark, it went in the (electronic) bin…
But the books I finished were the following:
- Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie – stronger than I remembered. I came away from it deciding that I actually preferred it to Peril At End House, which surprised me a bit.
- The Mask Of The Vampire by Paul Halter – a love letter to Dracula (and Le Fanu’s Carmilla). The impossibilities are too technical but the overall story works well with Halter’s kitchen sink approach.
- No Less The Devil by Stuart MacBride – a new release this month, and a top thriller from the enemy of the Aberdeen tourist board.
- Death Finds A Foothold by Glyn Carr – another mountaineering mystery from the very hard to find writer of classic-style mysteries.
- The Cutting Season by M W Craven – a brief adventure for Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw. Brief but immensely satisfying.
- The Dying Day by Vaseem Khan – the second of the Malabar House series, which veered a little too much away from the traditional mystery structure to really prove to be a winner for me.
- Cut Short by M W Craven – three Poe & Tilly short stories, including a lovely lockdown story, “Why Don’t Sheep Shrink?”
- Mrs Pargeter’s Pound Of Flesh by Simon Brett – an entertaining and funny cosy mystery.
- Sudden Death by Freeman Wills Crofts – to use an old favourite saying of mine, “Humdrum, my arse!”. And “Julian Symons can go do one”. A great locked room(s) mystery tale.
- Swan Song by Edmund Crispin – opera (zzzz) rehearsals are livened up no end by the murder of the leading man.
- Coffin Cove by Jackie Elliott – a well-constructed setting with characters with depth. More of a thriller than a mystery, I thought.
Oh, and I also heaped loads of praise on Scream (5) and Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? and wondered whether Unforgotten Series One was supposed to contain a surprising murderer or was an amalgam of Play For Today episodes with a weak whodunnit tacked on…
Book of the Month – well, I’m discounting the short stories and novella – sorry, Mike – but Poe and Tilly are back in The Botanist this month so, let’s face it, that’s probably the book of next month. I think it’s going to have to be one of the classics this time. I think Swan Song just edges it over Sudden Death, mainly due to Crispin’s writing. I think it’s his best book – The Moving Toyshop always disappointed me by the prosaic solution to the moving of said toyshop. This one builds a satisfying mystery with a clever mystery, distinct characters and a clever solution. Any readers of classic detective fiction really should seek this one out – there are plenty of reprints of it out there – and then read the rest (apart from The Glimpses Of The Moon).
Next month – The Botanist will be up against E C R Lorac, Steve Cavanagh’s The Devil’s Advocate and something else from Crispin, probably, all while I read a lot of books 31 to 40 from a certain Mr Flynn. Oh, and the marvellously titled Death Of A Weirdy by Glyn Carr…