About Me

So what can I say about me? Or, more to the point, what can I say about me and the blog that you’d find interesting?

Well, I’ve read detective fiction since very young, starting with the Famous Five and progressing to the proper stuff. I’ve got very eclectic tastes in the mystery genre, but first and foremost, there needs to be a mystery – a fairly-clued one would be a bonus, but a villain who is only unmasked in the final chapters, preferably at a gathering of the entire non-murdered portion of the cast, is essential.

One of my particular interests is the neglected regions of the Golden Age – at the time of writing, my twin obsessions are John Street aka John Rhode aka Miles Burton and Brian Flynn, the second of those being an author who was almost totally lost to time until, well, I sorted things out. There are now twenty of his books available, with ten more coming very soon and the rest, hopefully, on the way.

Another interest is the historical mystery, in an attempt to get the general reading populace to look beyond Brother Cadfael and discover some much better historical mysteries – not every historical mystery needs a young monk/novice falling in love and running away from the monastery/nunnery. Particular favourites are Paul Doherty (who was nice enough to dedicate Dark Serpent to me) and Michael Jecks, (who did the same with The Dead Don’t Wait – anyone want to make it three?)although there are many others.

My reading always goes beyond those two areas, though, with other favourite authors being Kate Ellis, L C Tyler, Martin Edwards, N J Fountain, and many, many more.

What makes this blog a little different from some others is my determination not to spoil books for others. Obviously I won’t name the killer in a review, but I’ll go beyond that and try not to mention any significant plot developments that occur more than a quarter of the way in. The author chose not to put them in Chapter One for a reason. Hence I’d like to think that you can read my reviews and then still enjoy the book as the author intended. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new release or an old chestnut that most people have already read, the rule is simple – no spoilers!

Away from books, I’ve always liked logical puzzles in any shape or form, hence my membership of (and twice captaining) the UK team at the World Puzzle Championship four times so far. Feel free to check out the UKPA website.

I have a mathematical brain, having a couple of degrees in the subject and now spend my non-reading or puzzling time imparting the subject to a captive audience at school.

I do hope you enjoy my somewhat random thoughts.

If you want to contact me directly – for general queries or review requests – then my email address is puzzledoctor@gmail.com

My review policy is simple – if I am sent a copy of a book to review, electronic or physical, then I will only write a review if I have positive things to say about it. If not, then I simply won’t post a review, but will email you with my reasons. This has only happened on a couple of occasions, usually because I wasn’t the target audience. If I bought the book, even for a pittance, then I’ll review it regardless of what I thought of it. I think that’s fair.

I’d appreciate it if any significant part of the blog was regurgitated anywhere, then do credit me on it – please don’t take the blame for my thoughts. The one exception is blurb writers – feel free to spread my thoughts all over your book covers or websites!


  1. Good day,

    I didn’t see another way to contact you at the site so here goes. I publish the Traditional Mysteries blog and I’m inviting a few other mystery bloggers to take part in a roundtable podcast. If you’d like more details feel free to contact me by email or Twitter.


  2. How do you go about selecting the crime authors on your website? For example, you mention an interest in math so have you read detective novels that feature math profs such as John Dobie by Desmond Cory? I ‘ve enjoyed your website


    • Thanks for the kind words.

      How do I pick the books? An excellent question – pretty much at random. I’ve a magpie-like attention span, hence the many ongoing challenges/bibliographies. Certain authors who impress me will obviously get revisited – for example Nev Fountain, Martin Edwards, Kate Ellis and obviously Paul Doherty, but I’m always trying to find new authors as well. My one “rule” is to try and stick to authors who are still in print, although I bend that for Ellery Queen and John Dickson Carr.

      I tend as well to only pick up titles that seem to have a genuine mystery in the story – but again, that gets bent with authors that I’ve enjoyed in the past – Lee Child and Jeffrey Deaver spring to mind.

      Sometimes I plan to read certain books but change my mind – depending on my mood. A busy week and I’ll pick something that’s an easy read. Plenty of time and I’ll pick something with a bit more depth – not too much, though.

      Anyway, thanks for the recommendation – those books aren’t on Kindle but I’ll keep an eye out them.


  3. Steve mate – just a quickie to let you know that I nominated you for a WordPress Family Award – normally I don;t go in for such things, but … wouldn’t have started Fedora without your example, so thanks!


  4. Greetings, Sir, and sorry for disturbling you with an irrelevant question. However, knowing about your high knowledge in all things mystery, your interest in Edward D Hoch books and hoping that maybe some of your readers might be able to answer my question, I decided to put it here as well, beside other places.

    I have now no idea what else to do, except spamming all the knowledgeable mystery blogs (and I’ve started that already!) until I get some positive result. It concerns tracing the legendary complete Edward D Hoch bibliography, by June M Moffatt and Francis M Nevins, Jr., which everyone concerned seems to own already and we now strongly need, but have no idea where to find. If this is not a place to ask such thing, please point to place where it is; this cry for help fails to pass pre-moderation in the GADetection discussion group.

    I represent a group of half a dozen translators with a joint ambitious goal: to translate the complete corpus of Edward D Hoch’s 900+ short stories (or at least approach to that noble goal!) into Russian. We have been doing that for some years unofficially, spreading our works among the fellow fans (a good thing to be a part of a small fandom — literally knowing everybody!). However this year we have succeeded in securing our position with a ‘serious’ publisher (we are officially John Dickson Carr Club of Detection Lovers Library now, CDLL for short), and soon, as soon as we secure the rights, his first anthology, dedicated to Hoch’s impossible crimes, is gonna be out, followed by Dr Sam Hawthorne (like in Japanese and French) and Ben Snow (first ever) complete series in multiple books. So, the job is getting piles of EQMMs, scanning, selecting, classifying, trying to trace the stories in the other magazines and looking for the more available reprints and finally translating…
    And that’s why we are in a great need of that amazing work. As stated in EQMM (and elsewhere), it exists in 2008 edition, featuring all the stories, with the essays by Marvin Lachman and is apparently available for US shipping for $10 plus 5 postage and handling (that was in a 2008 issue). The way it is worded it seems that only US-domestic shipping is available, with local payment only. But we desperately need to get an access to it in Russia, without having any US contacts as intermediaries. We are ready to pay extra for overseas shipping and able to pay with a credit card. I tried to ask some people among the American fans I knew, but nobody could provide any help. We hope very much for a positive solution of our problem and eagerly wait for any response!

    I found an e-mail in a March/April 2006 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine which was promised to be a contact address to obtain the book, but the mail delivery subsistem told me the address is defunct. What should we do now?

    Best regards and desperately hoping for (any kind of an) answer,
    Alexander Zapryagaev (+ all the CDLL guys).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for getting in touch, although this is the first that I’ve heard of the volume. A quick search does show one for $35 on eBay – search for Hoch, Bibliography, Moffatt Nevins and it should show up and will ship internationally. Other than that, can’t help I’m afraid. Good luck with your project.


      • I did a search right now: it could be the same copy as on Abebooks, where the 1994 edition is also on sale. Anyway: obviously a HUGE part of Hoch’s output lies after 1991 and after 1994: I managed to stumble upon the information concerining no less than five late 2000-s obscure stories in anthologies — and most of all I need it to solve some bibliographical conundrums based around 2001.
        Maybe you or the readers of your blog could help us with a more minor question: if you happen to own Jan 2001 and Mar 2003 volumes of EQMM, could you check for us the inner datings (in the plot) for the two Ben Snow stories in them? These two we do not own and have no idea where to put in chronological terms. If they are early adventures, than we should rather make a pause and send all our efforts into looking for them?


      • The March 2003 story, The Mountain Of Jade, is set in May 1900, near Chiapas, Mexico. I don’t have the Jan 2001 issue, but The Ripper Of Storyville collection dates it as September 1899 in Tucson, Arizona. Hope this helps.


      • Perfect! Exactly the kind of information I needed! Now I can push the project forth… (I wonder was there a re-edition of The Ripper — checklist in mine stops right after 1998 The Bullet from Beyond!) And the exact dates, as well! If it is possible to date Gunfighter’s Honeymoon from Apr 2002 to a year (a late adventure, obviously, but before 1908 or afterwards?), then this branch of research would be finally complete.
        Anyway, you’ve been the most helpful of all the detection fans out there up to date! We are incredibly grateful already, and I’ll try to mention you as a continuity expert somewhere in the published product!


  5. Great book selection to review and your site is really well done. Keep up the nice job you are doing. Stay safe. Sincerely, Andy


  6. I have found a copy of John Rhode Murder at Bretton grange. Copyright 1929 published August 1929. Printed by p.f.Collier &sons New york. Do I have a keeper?


  7. Well, I have now read all ten of the republished Brian Flynn books. When are the next ten being published?

    Chris Osborn


  8. Thanks for all your work in illuminating these writers and their tales. I came late to the mystery genre, about thirty years ago and have been very gratified to meet the authors and their works of a time past. Long may it reign. Murder by Matchlight is a favourite of mine.


  9. Hi,

    I’ve just been browsing your site and have been intrigued by a couple of titles – in particular I am about to track down Kate Ellis’ ‘The Devil’s Priest’ for my next read. I have long been a fan of historical mysteries and was interested to read some of your comments about both Sister Fidelma and Brother Cadfael. We have differing views of the two, it seems. I enjoy the inner reflections of Cadfael, and find the Fidelma series too pedantic – it feels often like Tremayne should be writing history texts rather than trying to force the historical nuggets into the storylines. Mind you, I have very much appreciated the actual historical information.

    There are a few series I have enjoyed very much that I thought I would bring to your attention, since none of them appear on your site. To counter Sister Fidelma, I have found the Dame Frevisse series by Margaret Frazier, set in the fifteenth century, to be very satisfying. Perhaps it is because I identify so strongly with her unwillingness to suffer fools gladly!

    P F Chisholm (Patricia Finley) has written a series of mysteries set in the Elizabethan era. Her detective is the charming and penniless Sir Robert Carey, cousin to the queen. The historical setting of the series is well-researched and blends far more seamlessly with the plot than Fidlema’s pedantic style.

    Finally, a far more recent setting: Flavia de Luce is the eleven year old detective in Alan Bradley’s 1950s era series. The first title in the series is ‘The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie’. Flavia is a dauntless and brilliant aspiring detective and chemist; an altogether engaging principal character.

    I hope you might find these suggestions to be of interest.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Your website has been listed in THE BOOK COMPANION WEBSITE COLLECTION – Under the sub-head – “A collection of book-focused websites worth viewing”:
    Book Companion is a great resource featuring printable character lists, discussion questions and more. We’re a young Silicon Valley startup with over 10 million clicks last year.
    Enjoy the day and stay well,

    Liked by 1 person

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