This month unfortunately I haven’t had as many great reads, encountering many average or okay reads and quite a few poor ones. However, on the positive side this has made deciding on my book of the month much easier with only two nominees.
The first one is Anthony Wynne’s Murder of a Lady (1931), which is action packed and has a strong puzzle factor, featuring locked room and seemingly impossible crimes. I also felt that the choice of secondary victims was darkly humorous. Dr Hailey who is the amateur sleuth comes from the ‘Great Detective’ tradition, though he thankfully is not arrogant with it. There are a few Christie overlaps in the characterisation with Dr Hailey exuding a quiet power I connect strongly with Miss Marple and the language and dialogue of Inspector Barley mirrors Hercule Poirot’s quite a lot. Thematically I thought love was an interesting concept woven into the mystery showing forms where it is twisted, failing or being renewed.
My second nominee for book of the month is Harriet Rutland’s Blue Murder (1942) and her mystery also involves love and relationships, although in keeping with the darkness of her work, love stands no chance of flourishing unblemished. Out of her three books, with the first two being Knock Murderer Knock (1938) and Bleeding Hooks (1940), Blue Murder is her best and is the most complex socially and psychologically. It incorporates the themes of the role of women and anti-Semitism in the UK and Germany during WW2 well. I think the reason this book works the best out of the three is because the mystery centres around one family, making it more intense, in comparison to her first where the cast of characters was too large.
Choosing a winner was a tough choice and it was a close call but in the end I decided that Blue Murder was the better out of the two especially in regards to their endings. Wynne’s novel ends too abruptly for me, whereas Rutland’s left me gasping out loud, which is a rare thing indeed. Moreover, I think Rutland’s prose style was more adept, with its much sharper and darker humour and well-crafted dialogue. The characterisation also was very accomplished and I feel like this was book Rutland had been working up to and using a family as the centre was in my opinion the best arena for her examination of the harsher side of human nature.
With a considerably higher TBR pile, December is going to be a busy month, so I best get cracking…