Given how disappointed I felt in many of April’s reads, I was delighted to see my reading fortunes bounce back in a big way this month. For a while I had started to believe that anything I picked up would be worth reading and I found myself getting back into a groove of a book almost every day. I did finally hit some more mediocre fare towards the end of the month but even those each had some rewarding aspect or idea that kept me motivated. In short, picking this month’s Book of the Month is something of a daunting prospect.
But when it comes to Book of the Month, as in Highlander, there can only be one…
The books I read were:
Mystery at Olympia by John Rhode
Malice Aforethought by Francis Iles
The Frangipani Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu
The Murder of My Aunt by Richard Hull
Prague Noir edited by Pavel Mandys
The Box Office Murders by Freeman Wills Crofts
The 8 Mansion Murders by Takemaru Abiko
Bertie and the Tin Man by Peter Lovesey
The Informer by Akimitsu Takagi
The Three Taps by Ronald Knox
Toll the Bell for Murder by George Bellairs
Blood on the Tracks edited by Martin Edwards
Deadly Hall by John Dickson Carr
The Case of the Velvet Claws by Erle Stanley Gardner
The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie
As I look back over that list it strikes me that there are at least a handful of titles there that I think may well be in contention when it comes time to make my list of favorite titles from my first year of blogging.
There are obviously a number of ways I could go with this. If you are looking for the best puzzle, I think The 8 Mansion Murders is a really strong read and while I stumbled on the solution to the first murder early, I think the second one is particularly clever. The most influential read would be Malice Aforethought, a title that inspired the funniest read of the month, the hilarious The Murder of My Aunt (though actually Bertie and the Tin Man has its moments too on that score).
The Frangipani Tree Mystery had one of my favorite settings of the month and I am excited to check out the second book soon while The Case of the Velvet Claws was one of the most entertaining, page-turning reads I came across. None of these books take home this month’s prize however.
In the end the book I picked is perhaps not the strongest mystery on offer (it’s really more of a suspense story), though I was certainly stumped by its solution, but it was the one that I found most interesting and rewarding. I found it to be quite an intriguing work and enjoyed discussing some of its themes in my review. It reminded me why I love to read international crime fiction because it gives a window into a place and time that I think proves really interesting to explore.
So while I think you can’t really go wrong picking up almost any of the books I read this month, the one that will stick with me most is Akimitsu Takagi’s The Informer if for no other reason than it prompted me to sign up for some Japanese lessons in the hope that I might someday in the very distant future be capable of reading his vast back catalog, next to none of which is available in English.
Keep It Quiet by Richard Hull, Murder Isn’t Easy by Richard Hull, Death Going Down by Maria Angelica Bosco, Murder in Stained Glass by Margaret Armstrong, The Egyptian Cross Mystery by Ellery Queen, Holy Disorders by Edmund Crispin, Japanese Tales of Mystery & Imagination by Edogawa Rampo, A Quiet Place by Seicho Matsumoto, Ill Met By Moonlight by Leslie Ford, The Gathering Murders by Keith Moray, From Doon with Death by Ruth Rendell and The Plumley Inheritance by Christopher Bush.