April and May 2019 in Review

Well, this is a few days late but then given my record of posting in a timely manner lately that should hardly be a surprise, eh?

Obviously given my extended absence from blogging toward the end of the month I never actually got around to picking my Book of the Month – an omission that frustrated me each time I saw my sidebar. It may have been just as well however as my April reads were a pretty uninspiring bunch of books. Any title that may have won would have been almost by default – hardly ideal.

Well, the good news is that since I resumed blogging last week I have read several more interesting titles meaning that at last there is a bit of competition. So, without further ado, let’s look at the contenders.

The options were:
Passenger to Frankfurt by Agatha Christie
The King of Fools by Frédéric Dard
Cast in Order of Disappearance by Simon Brett
The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong
Murder is Easy by Agatha Christie
Many a Slip by Freeman Wills Crofts
The American Gun Mystery by Ellery Queen
Your Republic is Calling You by Young-Ha Kim
Murder Mansion by J. H. Wallis

I also did a couple of TV reviews:
Colonel March of Scotland Yard
Death in Paradise: Season Two

As I suggested above, a common theme in most of these reads was a feeling of disappointment. Murder is Easy has an appealing start but I had expected more from the premise while The Good Son has an interesting premise and a punchy ending but I found the middle section to be pretty uninspiring fare.

And, of course, the less said about Passenger to Frankfurt, the better…

There were a few bright spots – a few story points in Cast in Order of Disappearance have not aged brilliantly but Charles Paris is an interesting, if not always particularly likeable, sleuth and the story does boast a strong reveal. On the short story front, Many a Slip suffers a little from some repetitive story elements but there are several entertaining and clever tales to enjoy.

So, what does that mean for Book of the Month? Might a TV show be walking away with the title?

Well, no. The good news is that there were a couple of books that struck me as being well worth a read. My most recent read, Murder Mansion, is an entertaining mystery in which a group of four cousins decide to stay together while they wait for a court case to be resolved only to find that someone begins picking them off. We get a mix of murder methods and the explanation at the end is quite clever, if a little fantastical.

My winner however is a book that I have seen described as one of its authors’ second-tier works – The King of Fools by Frédéric Dard, This turned out to be more complex and ambitious than I had assumed it would be from its fairly simple initial premise and I enjoyed its presentation of postwar Edinburgh. Not everything quite works but for the most part it is successful and even when an element turns out less than wholly successful, it is at least interesting making for a quick but highly engaging crime story.

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