This November has been crazy busy between work and a family visit for Thanksgiving but I am happy to report I managed to fit a lot of reading in!
The chief change for the blog this month was that I realized I had inadvertently given my blog the name of an already well-established website. I can only put that down to my working to name this late at night and just being relieved to finally find something that wasn’t already taken on WordPress.
The new name, Mysteries Ahoy! pays homage to my favorite and least Christie-inspired of the four Margaret Rutherford Miss Marple movies. For those of you who barely remember these from Saturday morning repeats, it was the one with the extended sequence at the start where she dresses up in a sort of naval-inspired uniform and then walks down the high street to some swinging Sixties music.
If it wasn’t Mysteries Ahoy! it would have been Ratiosensational Reads. I think you will agree the better title won out…
Books Read in November
The Collini Case by Ferdinand von Schirach – A legal thriller from Germany. The mystery elements do not quite pan out but the issues it raises would make for good book club discussion.
Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver – A very entertaining mystery that plays on the grand hotel mysteries of the Golden Age. Striking main characters and a sense of style make this a winner.
Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley (with movie review) – I had read the book before but got far more out of it the second time, listening on audio. In my review I compare the book with the movie adaptation.
Antidote to Venom by Freeman Wills Crofts – This inverted mystery set in a zoo features some wonderful surprises and an interesting main character. It loses a little steam and interest when Inspector French appears towards the end but it is very entertaining.
Say Nothing by Brad Parks – A thriller that preys on parental fears. The premise is interesting and I was happily surprised to find it played fair with the mystery of who is responsible.
Lament for a Maker by Michael Innes – While I thought it was atmospheric, the story structure and excessive use of dialect in the first third of the book made this hard going. The solution to the mystery is clever but not so special as to make reading it worthwhile.
Death of a Busybody by George Bellairs – After complaining about Innes’ heavy use of dialect, Bellairs turned out to be a second dose of the same. While the mystery was weak, I did enjoy the story and the characters.
The Master Key by Masako Togawa – One of the best books I have read all year and so easily my pick for my book of the month. Unsettling, mysterious with an ending that packs a punch.
The Bookseller’s Tale by Ann Swinfen – The solution is perhaps a little too well clued but I really liked the characters and the storytelling style.
Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander – In spite of not being much of a beer connoisseur, I found this a likable read with plenty of small town charm. The mystery is more lager than stout and I do not think the reader could solve it though the solution is easily guessable.
Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie – An interesting exploration of theme. I felt that the structure wasn’t entirely successful and had a few issues with character development.
The Roman Hat Mystery by Ellery Queen – While I enjoyed aspects of this novel, I found it to be frustrating and glacially paced for much of the investigation.
The Moai Island Puzzle by Alice Arisugawa – There are some aspects of this story that really appealed to me but overall I felt it was underwhelming.
The 12.30 From Croydon by Freeman Wills Crofts – An enjoyable inverted mystery that is perhaps less ingenious than Antidote to Venom but which features far less of Inspector French.
The King’s Hounds by Martin Jensen – I loved the setting of this story, even if I felt cold towards the character of the narrator.
The Perfect Murder by Stewart Giles – Contained an interesting mix of murders but the motivations of the murderer did not convince, nor did the Cornish setting.
Death Invites You by Paul Halter – I found the crime to be as interesting as it was macabre. There are some developments later in the story that feel convoluted at the time though I felt Halter does explain (almost) everything at the end.
Death Wears A Mask by Ashley Weaver – The second Amory and Milo mystery isn’t quite as clever as the first but I still love the two leads and the novel is written with wit and charm.
The Month Ahead
December is likely going to be a busy month but I am hoping to find time to read Alan Melville’s Quick Curtain, Szu-Yen Lin’s Death in the House of Rain and Ann Swinfen’s The Novice’s Tale among others. And while I said it would be a while before I returned to Ellery Queen, I am currently listening to The French Powder Mystery…