The Puzzly – The ISOTCMN Book Of The Month – January 2023

So, January. That’s been and gone and it’s been a bit of a funny old month chez Puzzle Doctor. Lots of trips and down the motorway to see my dear old Dad (and Mum) – mostly kept entertained on the way by the wonderful Big Finish Productions and The Rest Is History podcast. Really helps take my mind off things – I must do a thank you post for the former soon.

As for reading, I seem to have regained something of my reading enthusiasm, as there have been a good number of books devoured this month. More than for a while, I was carrying the book or my kindle around with me to grab little snippets wherever I could.

As I mentioned last time, Janus himself seems to have infected my choices of reading, or at least my critical faculties as nearly every book this month had its good points and bad points. So with that in mind, here are the twelve titles in contention for the Puzzly…

The Mysterious Case Of The Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett
: Engrossing and complex tale, told in an interesting way
CON: Far more of a thriller than a mystery and didn’t need to include real tragedies in the narrative

Heir To Lucifer by Miles Burton
: An interesting mystery that takes some unexpected turns
CON: Merrion’s actions at the end are really weird

An Honourable Thief by Douglas Skelton
: A rich enthralling trip into early Georgian London and Edinburgh
CON: Um… more of a thriller than a mystery (but with a good twist).

Breakneck Point by T Orr Munro
: An well-constructed lead character but…
CON: An unnecessarily nasty villain and a disappointing character arc for the lead.

The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths
: Great characters – so nice to see leads untroubled by massive trauma in a modern book
CON: Let down by “villain is a cackling nutjob” reveal.

Tragedy At The Thirteenth Hole by Miles Burton
: A gripping classic crime tale
CON: SPOILERS don’t work like that! And it needed more than two suspects.

The Corpse In The Crevasse by Glyn Carr
: Another new way to kill someone up a mountain and more time with Sir Abercrombie Lewker.
CON: It was a bit obvious…

The Ruffler’s Child by John Pilkington
: Another nice trip into history
CON: Not as clear a sense of time as other books this month and again, not a mystery.

The Dovebury Murders by John Rhode
Amazing deduction from Jimmy Waghorn…
CON: …preceded by immense stupidity from Jimmy Waghorn

The Devil’s Domain by Paul Doherty
: A beautifully constructed historical mystery with vibrant characters. And one of the best “shot in the face by a crossbow” scene you’ll ever read.
CON: You could argue that a murder method that requires an author’s note to convince that it really exists is a tad too obscure.

Constant Hearses by Edward D Hoch
: Another collection from the master of short stories with an interesting setting in the American Revolution.
CON: They’re not his best work.

The Murder Game by Tom Hindle
: A nice homage to the classic murder mystery
CON: I found the clues a bit too telegraphed and too easy to interpret correctly.

So, who’s getting the Puzzly? Well, it’s down to two. I’m really glad that I decided to dip back into historical mysteries again. And while I can’t give the Puzzly to a re-read – The Devil’s Domain is absolutely great, just to reiterate – instead, it’s going to my 1500th review on the blog, namely An Honourable Thief by Douglas Skelton. A fantastic dive into one of the many gaps in the school history syllabus, with a strong and engaging central character (and supporting cast) and some good twists and turns along the way. Looking forward to the next one eagerly.

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