Looking back over this month’s reading I have to say it has been a mixed bag ranging from great reads to average reads to ultimately disappointing reads. I have encountered new authors such as Constance and Gwenyth Little’s The Black Headed Pins (1938) and returned to some familiar friends such as Ianthe Jerrold’s Let Him Lie (1940). There has also been some surprising or quirky reads such as The House Opposite (1931) by J. Jefferson Farjeon where I didn’t expect representations of race to be such an underlying key feature and Called Back (1883) by Hugh Conway, which is an unusual adventure story with a mystery twist.
The quick pace and engaging narrative style made Murder on Tour a great read for me and I enjoyed the similarities the book held with Agatha Christie, another favourite writer of mine. What makes this novel stand out from a lot of other Golden Age novels is its’ choice of setting which is mostly in Mexico and Downing’s understanding of Mexican history and culture, made the location of the novel vibrant and informative. The setting also makes the plot a bit more different as Hugh Rennert, a US customs agent is tracking down a killer who is attached to an artefact smuggling racket. Although the book isn’t entirely fair play, the choice of killer is good.
Although the setting of Carr’s The Case of the Constant Suicides is not as outré as Downing’s the Scottish Highlands work well within the story, providing just the right sort of atmosphere for a case involving a number of suicides or are they murder? But what really made this a good book for me was the focus on the characters, as opposed to dry alibis and the use of comedy in the novel, in particular the comic interplay between Alan and Kathryn Campbell. I also felt this book was aligning itself with another genre, the comedy of manners and in my review I in fact rename the book as The Case of the Constant Misunderstandings.
Before writing this post I was still in two minds as to which book should win but the writing of the post greatly clarified my thoughts and the final winner of 2015 for Book of the Month is…. *drum roll*
The Case of the Constant Suicides