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

OK, Book of the Month time. I suppose I should say something about the wonder that was March 2023, but to be honest, I’m rather tired. It’s been a long spring term and I’m really looking forward to the Easter break. It’s only a couple of weeks off before we hurtle towards the summer exams, but my energy levels certainly need the break.

Some good news though – I was feeling pretty cheesed off as I wouldn’t be able to get to the Bodies From The Library conference for the second year in a row (after the train fiasco last year), but I am going to Alibis In The Archive at the Gladstone Library instead, with some of my favourite speakers from Bodies – Martin Edward, Len Tyler and Dolores Gordon-Smith – amongst the guests. I’ve got some first editions that are just desperate for a signature… Really looking forward to that, but in the meantime, rather than looking forward, I’m going to look back on a month of books that generally disappointed in one form or another, with two notable Jecks/Carr shaped exceptions.

So what did I read this month?

  • I Will Find You by Harlan Coben – another good thriller from Coben. Not his best work – that’s Win – but even average by-the-numbers Coben is better than a lot of the competition.
  • The Dentist by Tim Sullivan – an author who’s at Alibis who I’ve not encountered before. It introduces an interesting sleuth, but I’m looking forward to reading something from later in the series when the sleuth is more established.
  • The Black Spectacles by John Dickson Carr – the second best Gideon Fell mystery (as decided by no less an authority than you readers) ever. Yes, of course it’s Book Of The Mon… oh, spoilers. Let’s humour the “competition” first.
  • Murder Under The Tuscan Sun by Rachel Rhys – I so want to point out the biggest thing that bothered me about this book (and there was quite a lot of things) but it would be a massive spoiler.
  • Murder Under The Tuscan Sun by Maureen Klovers – yes, I am so tired that I decided to read a cosy simply because it had the same title as the previous read. It’s not great, but it was the better of the two…
  • The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey – just… no. No.
  • Portrait Of A Murder by Michael Jecks – ah, if only The Black Spectacles hadn’t been re-released this month. Sorry, Mike, as good as this one is, it’s not going to beat one of my favourite classic crime novels…

Yup, The Black Spectacles is the Book of the Month. The BL output has been a little disappointing over the last few months, but this one is an inspired choice. A masterpiece (apart from the shooting at the end – just ignore that bit…)

Next month – I’ve got loads of new releases lined up on NetGalley but I do want to do a few more classics. And one of them will be Three Act Tragedy, as it’s due for the Book Club. In fact, I might even read it twice. I wonder why…


  1. “Not great” unfortunately applies to every modern cozy I’ve read. Some are mildly amusing or feature an okayish puzzle or writing, but none has been really good or distinctive or memorable. I’m at the point where if I see a blurb on the cover along the lines of, “A Castle Bookstore Mystery”, “A Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery”, “A Lighthouse Library Mystery”, “A Catering Hall Mystery”, “A House Flipper Mystery”, “A Cider Shop Mystery”, “A Country Store Mystery”, “An Oregon Honeycomb Mystery”, etc., it’s an instant pass for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve got the Black Spectacles lined up on my kindle – yay! I’ve wanted to read it ever since reading Jim Noys opinion of it as stellar stuff. Incidentally, he really liked the Franchise Affair on a re-read as he knew what to expect. I like it but more for the picture of the times than as a mystery


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