April is almost over – it probably will be by the time you read this – but it’s been a month of highs and lows for me. More trips up and down the motorway to see my ailing Dad, but lots of support and understanding from my family and work colleagues. And lots of reading and lots of Big Finish listened to during the car journeys, especially the wonderful Avengers (Steed and Tara King) audio dramas. I’ll get round to a review of those soon.
But for the mystery reading, it was the month of stories where the reader is expecting to be invested as much, if not more, in the personal journey the lead character is on, rather than the mystery/thriller plot. Sometimes it worked for me…
Anyway, the books in question were:
- The Scarlet Letters by Ellery Queen: Notable due to possibly having the stupidest dying message ever, but just felt like a short story inflated to novel length. Avoid.
- The Birthday Girl by Sarah Ward: Excellent stuck-on-an-island mystery. Other modern writers take note, this is how it’s supposed to be done.
- Up The Garden Path by John Rhode: Not great, not awful. Very much middle of the Rhode.
- Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice For Murderers by Jesse Sutanto: A very enjoyable tale of how not to investigate a murder. Nothing resembling a clue, but fun.
- A Pall For A Painter by E C R Lorac: A non-reprinted Lorac. The killer’s a bit inevitable, but, as ever, very readable.
- Death Under A Little Sky by Stig Abell: Jake Jackson retreats from his life as a policeman to an isolated village only to find there might be a murderer there. Thoroughly absorbing.
- About The Murder Of A Startled Lady by Anthony Abbot: A dead woman’s body, cut into many pieces, is found exactly where a psychic said it would be. Not a great classic mystery.
- The One Who Fell by Kerry Wilkinson: The first in a new series – an interesting crime plot, but the heroine is perhaps a little too over-complicated.
- Killing Jericho by William Hussey: I can see this is a good book, but it’s a bit too dark for me.
- Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie: In which someone gets killed on a train.
- Three Act Tragedy by Agatha Christie: In which Poirot eventually shows up to solve three murders.
Eleven books… quite pleased with that haul. Right now to sort out Book of the Month.
I think three books really fall under consideration – I’m ignoring the Christies but they’re not her best, even the train one. The best three reads this month were The Birthday Girl, Vera Wong… and Death Under A Little Sky. All three were engrossing reads, but I think the Book of the Month has to go to Sarah Ward for The Birthday Girl. It’s perhaps more traditional in structure than the others, but it did have much more plot in it that the other two. But all three are definitely worth your time.
Next month, just the one scheduled new release at the moment, but very much in the Golden Age tradition, namely Martin Edwards’ Sepulchre Street. Hopefully I can catch up on the recent British Library releases and on top of that? Well, let’s see…