December 2018 in Review

Monthly Review_ December 2018

There are fireworks lighting up the sky all around us so I guess December and 2018 are coming to an end and it is time for my monthly roundup post.

It has been a busy month and though I didn’t manage to read as many holiday crime stories as I had hoped in the run up to Christmas, I feel the ones I did read made a good impression. More importantly I am happy to be able to say that I managed to complete my Vintage Mysteries Challenge this year, getting my last read in just before the deadline.

I really enjoyed playing along with the challenge this past year so I am planning on doing it once again. I will be signing up to do the Golden Age challenge and will aim to complete all 60 categories. Expect to see a page charting my progress on the navigation bar in the next couple of days. I will do my best to keep updating the page and links as I go. If you are interested in participating yourself it is easy to take part and you can sign up at any point up through November 2019.

Now let’s get on with the Book of the Month award. The contenders are:

Mad Hatter’s Holiday by Peter Lovesey
A Baker Street Wedding by Michael Robertson
The File on Lester by Andrew Garve
Cirque de Slay by Ceecee James
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
Madame Bluebeard by Bruce Sanders
Released for Death by Henry Wade
The Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories edited by Martin Edwards
The Dead Shall Be Raised by George Bellairs
Murder at the Old Vicarage by Jill McGown
The Case of the Howling Dog by Erle Stanley Gardner
St. Peter’s Finger by Gladys Mitchell

I enjoyed most of these books on at least some level but some titles stood out a little from the group.

Strangers on a Train was the best-known title on that list and one of the few novels I have revisited for a review having read it several times over. This read did not disappoint me and I still really appreciate Highsmith’s striking characterization and ability to make the reader feel how the situation affects Guy’s state of mind.

The File on Lester is my favorite book I have read so far from Paul Winterton, this time writing as Andrew Garve. The mystery is an example of dossier fiction (a term I hadn’t encountered before) and it credibly details the evolution of a political scandal. There are some interesting ideas and there is even a very short locked room puzzle of sorts built into one section of the novel. I enjoyed it enormously and given used copies are quite affordable I would certainly recommend it to anyone who is interested in giving this author a go.

DeadShallThe book that stands out most to me though from my month’s reading is from an author who, I admit, I have sometimes struggled to understand why I have persisted with. I am glad I did though because George Bellairs’ The Dead Shall Be Raised is a fantastic cold case mystery in which the body of a man who disappeared several decades earlier is dug up on the moors and Inspector Littlejohn has to piece together what happened when many of the witnesses have died and memories faded.

It is a really interesting book and I think Bellairs creates some interesting challenges and complications for Littlejohn to overcome. The solution is genuinely clever and properly clued and, for those who like such things, the opening chapter in which he has to travel by car in a blackout is both striking and effective. I found it thoroughly enjoyable and would certainly recommend it as a starting point for readers who have never tried a Littlejohn mystery before.

Finally I once again want to say how much I have enjoyed the comments, tweets and reading suggestions you have all shared with me over the past year. These interactions help brighten my days and I have found so many fantastic books thanks to you all. Thank you and I hope you have a wonderful 2019.

8 thoughts on “December 2018 in Review

  1. Happy New Year Aidan! Glad to be recommended a novel by George Bellairs – many of the reviews I’ve read of his writing haven’t been overly-complimentary. 😅 Thankfully, I have this title on my Kindle.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy New Year! I have mixed feelings about many of his novels but this one is the first that felt really successful to me. I still have plenty more Bellairs to read and hopefully this is the start of a run of hits…


    1. Happily it was part of that two title omnibus the British Library released a year or two ago so it isn’t too tough to find. Hope you enjoy if you do try!


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