What did Santa Bring?

Being a bookaholic a number of my presents were books and being a crime fiction fanatic there are no surprises that a proportion of these gifts were from the mystery genre. So I thought I would share with you what I got…

Ice Moon (2003) by Jan Costin Wagner

Ice Moon

A psychological thriller set in Finland where a serial killer seems to be smothering young women to death and from the blurb it looks as though we also get to see into the tortured mind of the killer but also that of the grieving young policeman on the case.

The Matiushin Case (1997) by Oleg Pavlov

The Matiushin Case

A Russian crime novel which is more along the lines of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment (1866), in that the killer is also one of the victims of the novel and is set in the ‘declining Soviet Union.’

Punch With Care (1946) by Phoebe Atwood Taylor

Punch with Care

A more familiar type of novel in that it fits in with Golden Age tropes and styles and is by an author I have heard people talk about a lot this year, but one I have yet to read. The blurb gives the story a zany feel and has a corpse which goes missing. What more could you ask for?

Unexpected Night (1940) by Elizabeth Daly

Unexpected Night

Another Golden Age styled author which I have been meaning to try and this one features Daly’s central sleuth Henry Gamadge, a ‘rare book expert’. Seemingly natural death, an increasing body count, a ‘large inheritance’ and curious incidences in the night make this seem an interesting prospect.

The Eyes of Max Carrados (2013) by Ernest Bramah

The Eyes of Max Carrados

This is an omnibus collection of Bramah’s short stories mostly featuring his series detective Max Carrados who is blind. The sets of stories included are Max Carrados, The Eyes of Max Carrados, Max Carrados Mysteries and a story from The Specimen. Bramah has also been on my author’s radar for a long time now and I plan to dip into and sample his work over a period of time rather than binge read in a few days. The fact there are over 600 pages may also have something to do with this decision…

An Arsene Lupin Omnibus (2012) by Maurice Leblanc

An Arsene Lupin Omnibus

This is another large collection of short stories and includes Arsene Lupin Versus Holmlock Shears, The Confessions of Arsene Lupin, The Golden Triangle and The Eight Strokes of the Clock. Parodies and pastiches of Sherlock Holmes, which were written contemporary to the original stories have always been something which have intrigued and interested me, so I will be looking forward especially to first short stories.

One final thing…

It’s not a book but my lovely sister did also get me The Sherlock Holmes Card Game, so you can all guess what my family will playing (voluntarily of course…) over the Christmas holidays…

Sherlock Holmes The Card Game

I’m keen to hear what you make of my stash, especially if you have read any of them yourselves (always good to know what I’m letting myself in for). Also what books did you get this Christmas? Will I be getting book envy? (Answer: Most likely)


  1. It’s been a few years since I read Punch with Care, but I remember it as being a very good Asey Mayo novel – good plot and very funny. I’ve also read Unexpected Night – not my favorite Daly, although all her books range from good to superb. This was her first book and reads like it. I’d put this one closer to the “good” end of the spectrum; many of her later books are much better (especially The Book of the Dead, which is my favorite. Gamadge is a wonderful character – stronger, I think, in the later books, which are set in his home town of New York City.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m afraid I’ve not read any of the titles you received over Christmas, but they sound interesting. 🙂 Here are some of the titles I’ve received, or will be receiving very soon:
    * Ianthe Jerrold, ‘Let Him Lie’ and ‘The Studio Crime’
    * An omnibus of Marian Gallagher Scott’s ‘Dead Hands Reaching’ and ‘Death’s Long Shadow’
    * Four of Robin Forsythe’s novels that will be released by Dean Street Press tomorrow!
    * Todd Downing’s ‘The Cat Screams’ and ‘The Last Trumpet’.
    * An omnibus of Jill McGown’s first three novels.
    * Two of Matthew Ingwalson’s novellas recommended by JJ.
    * Boris Akunin’s ‘Murder on the Leviathan’, which I finished reading few days ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Seems like you got a good haul as well! I’m just about to start Jerrold’s Let Him Lie and glad to see you have a couple of Todd Downings on the list. Marian Gallagher Scott is a new name to me, which sort of crime fiction do they write? Also very glad to see you have or rather had an Akunin novel on your list, him being one of my favourite authors. Is that your first Akunin novel or have you read others in the series? What did you make of Murder on the Leviathan?


      • I’m glad to hear that you will be reviewing Ianthe Jerrold’s ‘Let Him Lie’, and look forward to your take on this novel. 🙂 I’ve just started on Dean Street Press’s reprint of Robin Forsythe’s ‘Polo Ground Mystery’, and so far it’s an interesting, even at times witty, read. Given that Dean Street Press tends to send out review copies prior to actual release – as in the case of Annie Haynes and Ianthe Jerrold – I’m surprised not to have seen any review of the four Forsythe novels released yesterday.

        I purchased Boris Akunin’s ‘Murder on the Leviathan’ off the back of one of your posts, and it was my first foray into the Fandorin series. So thanks for recommending this enjoyable novel. 🙂 The way in which some pieces of information were obscured, and therefore the way Fandorin made some deductions, was certainly clever, and I was pleased by the interweaving of the subtleties and complexities of cultural difference into the mystery and detection. Perhaps I read the conclusion too quickly – I do need to take JJ’s advice and slow down! – but the staging of the final solution left me wanting slightly more prior clues, and slightly less (albeit intelligent) speculation?

        P.S. I read about Marian Gallagher Scott from one of Curt Evan’s posts.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Glad you enjoyed Akunin’s novel. Do yo plan to read any more? If so I would recommend reading the first in the series, as I think it really sets up Fandorin’s character for the series such as his recklessness and why his hair has grey tinges (so the important things of course!). What did you make of the typography of the Murder on the Leviathan with the diary entries and newspaper report etc.? You’ll have to let me know how you fare with the Polo Ground Mystery once you’ve finished reading it. And if there are no reviews of it online, perhaps you should do one?


  3. ” a story from The Specimen (the only non-Max Carrados story in the collection). ”
    It’s actually the only Max Carrados not in a collection if I remember rightly. I’m glad to hear of the Wordsworth edition as my old Psnguins have nearly fallen to bits.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ahh thanks for the correction. Wikipedia confused me by putting The Specimen story in the other fiction section of Bramah’s bibliography, which must have made me think Max Carrados wasn’t in it. I shall edit my post so I don’t pass on the Wikipedia confusion. Yeah Wordsworth publishers are useful as they reprint all sort of stuff, mainly classic literature but they also have a mystery and supernatural imprint and are good for providing omnibus’ of short story collections. Also in their favour is the fact they’re really cheap – usually £2-3.


  4. Great-looking bunch of books. The only one I’ve read is the Daly (I like her work very much). Taylor is also good–but I’ve not read this one.

    My personal Santas were very good to me this year.
    Christmas from my hubby: Lady in the Tower by Katharine Newlin Burt; The Death of a Worldly Woman by A. B. Cunningham; Fire Will Freeze by Margaret Millar; Rocket to the Morgue by Anthony Boucher; Payoff for the Banker by Frances & Richard Lockridge; Murder with Southern Hospitality by Leslie Ford; The Case of the Solid Key by Anthony Boucher PLUS complete Rathbone/Bruce Sherlock Holmes and my man Dr. McCoy (Star Trek) t-shirt.

    And another group of books from my parents: Death Takes a Flat by Burton; Death in Shallow Water by Burton; The Clue of the Judas Tree by Leslie Ford; Juliet Dies Twise by Lange Lewis; Step in the Dark by Ethel Lina White; Family Affair by Ione Sandberg Shriber; The Body in the Basket by George Bagby; All Fall Down by L.A.G. Strong; The King Is Dead by Ellery Queen; This Is Murder Mr. Jones by Timothy Fuller; The Obstinate Murderer/The Old Battle Axe by Elizabeth Sanxay Holding; Sinister Stones by Arthur W. Upfield; The John Creasey Crime Collection Vol. 1; Scales of Justice by Ngaio Marsh

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I have a Phoebe Atwood Taylor book that she published under the name Alice Tilton in my TBR; she is supposed to be very witty, and that was the first one I came across when I started looking. Will be interesting to compare notes on the two ‘identities’ and see if there’s a distinct difference between them.

    Curious to see what you make of the Max Carrados stories, too. Someone mentioned them on my blog following a discussion on Sherlock Holmes and I’d not heard of them at all. They’re on my exponentially-increasing TBB list, so I’ll probably get to them in 2018…

    Among other books (I’d hate to bore you) I did get The Chinese Chop by Juanita Sheridan, prompted by your championing of her and this series. A complete unknown to me, so that should be fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Doubt you could bore me when it comes to talking about detective books, though if you started talking about some mathematical or statistical process I might begin to nod off…Really pleased you got the first Juanita Sheridan book, hope you enjoy it. Also I agree it would be interesting to see the difference if any between the Taylor and Tilton books – so you’ll have to let me know what your book is like and hopefully I will have got around to my Taylor book by that point. Hope you had a good Christmas. Did you watch the first episode of And Then There Were None last night?


    • The series written as “Alice Tilton” features a schoolmaster named Leonidas Witherall and are, essentially, slapstick comedy with some mystery/thriller elements thrown in. Witherall usually gets caught up in some peculiar murder plot and has to find a way to solve the case while staying a couple of steps ahead of the police. I reviewed one of them, The Left Leg, by calling it “The Three Stooges meet the Keystone Cops.” They’re very funny, but a lot wilder than the humor in the Asey Mayo books.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wonderful, thank-you Les. I’ll be sure to check out your podcast, and will be especially curious to see how the slapstick and crime elements merge. Not sure if I’ve read many (or any) books that do both aspects equally well, so Taylor/Tilton’s take will be all the more appreciated. Shall bump it up a notch or two on the TBR…


  6. I have read one book by Jan Costin Wagner. Interestingly he is a German author, but he lives in Finland and writes typical Scandi-Crime. So if you like those novels, you might enjoy this as well. Personally I feel that they are all the same, whether it’s Mankell or Nesbo or Larsson. For me these stories work well on film, but the books are just so dry and dull. Obviously I am not the biggest fan of these Nordic crime writers. Just read one over the holidays, “The Snowman” by Jo Nesbo, and thought it was poorly written and full of clichés, but I hope you will prove me wrong on this one.

    I only got one book for Christmas, “Son Of Man” by Augusto Roa Bastos, and it’s not even a mystery. I guess people figured I already have enough to read for the next few years 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I only really dabble in Nordic crime fiction. I’ve never read Jo Nesbo’s work so thanks for the heads up. And I hope your one book by Bastos is a good one. That’s an author I haven’t heard of before. What sort of crime fiction do they write?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great haul! Jan Costin Wagner is supposed to be good so I hope to give him a try next year. I didn’t get any books for Christmas. I did get a gift card to buy my books. I don’t think any of them know my taste or where to even start but they know to just give me the $$ and I’ll get it myself, lol.

    How does the Sherlock Holmes game work? Have you played already?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Smart thinking. But for my family if they want to get me books then they go off a list I give them. It’s a fairly long list so the books I do get off it are still a surprise, mainly because I forget which books I put on the list. A brief look at the instructions of the SH game firstly suggests it is quite complicated, but secondly it is sort of a card game where the aim is to get rid of all your cards and thereby score the lowest points. Incorporated into that is the option of arrest cards and nominating other players etc. It’s not a game where you actually get to solve cases. For a game like that you would need something the 221B Baker Street Master Detective Game.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. By typography do you mean the different fonts and sizes? If I recall correctly, my Kindle edition didn’t boast of explicit demarcations, except when there was a switch between narrative and newspaper articles. And perhaps when a letter was being read at the end. But I didn’t find it confusing, and enjoyed the different sorts of storytelling.

    I probably will try another novel by Boris Akunin, but the other titles I’ve seen in the local library seem to be thrillers/ adventures rather than mysteries? I will keep you updated regarding ‘Polo Ground Mystery’. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah I kind of meant the different narrative styles such as diary and letter extracts (and their inherent formatting) though I don’t know how well they come out on kindles. I think with the Akunin Fandorin series he was trying to use a different type of crime/spy fiction in each one which would mean some come out more thrillerish but I still think they are all amazing (so I’m not biased or anything!). The Diamond Chariot the last to be translated in English is the longest (over 500 pages) but it is so good you wish it was even longer (which is a rare thing for me to say because I am big on books not being stupidly long). If you want more conventional mystery you could try his Sister Pelagia trilogy, especially the first two and Sister P is definitely a very different character to Fandorin. Finally looking forward to hearing more about the PGM.


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