Book of the Month: January 2016

This is my first Book of the Month of the year and due to a lot of reading, (16 crime fiction novels, 1 short story collection and 2 books about crime fiction), there was a lot of choice for this month’s award. Let’s take a look at the contenders:

The Rasp (1924) by Philip MacDonald

The Rasp

This was my first experience of MacDonald’s work and I found it an easy and entertaining read, with a strong puzzle and solution, However, I felt the ending needed a lot of shortening, as it did drag on slightly. The gender dynamics were also interesting, though unsurprisingly left some of the female characters in more weaker and inferior positions.

 

 

Murder Included (1950) by Joanna Cannan

Another new author for me and I think Cannan did well at interweaving the issue of class Murder Includedinto her story and the effects it can have on a police investigation. Moreover, the class issue adds a sense of unpredictability to the story as don’t know if justice will prevail.

 

 

The Polo Ground Mystery (1932) by Robin Forsythe

The Polo Ground MysteryContinuing the new author theme, Forsythe was brought to my attention through the Dean Street Press who have been reprinting his novels this month. Although the writing style needed some improvement in that there needed to be less theorising on the amateur sleuth’s part, I enjoyed the characterisation, the ironic solution and the allusions to Oscar Wilde.

 

 

 

Death on the Riviera by John Bude (1952)

Reading this book was a return to an author I had read before and I felt this was a much Death on the Rivierabetter reading experience as the characterisation and character development was stronger and the narrative style lost a lot of its dryness, even interjecting some humour into the tale. The methods of the crimes are unusual and provide interesting twists, though perhaps the mechanics of one of the crimes was a bit flawed.

 

 

 

A Right To Die (1964) by Rex Stout

A Right To DieI read this as part of my contribution to the Tuesday Night Bloggers who every Tuesday this month have been looking at Rex Stout. I found this a quick read, with a good plot and engaging narrative voice. However due to the sparseness of the text, emotional engagement was difficult and I still feel that the solution although good did make the middle of the book a bit of wild goose chase.

 

 

 

Wings Above Diamantina (1936) by Arthur Upfield

One of the main things l liked about this book was its setting in the Australian outback andWings Above Diamantina how the setting ties into the plot and crimes effectively. Such a setting felt like a real change from the other European set novels I had been reading during the rest of the month. There are a couple of improbabilities in this novel but they are only minor ones and the mystery at the centre of the book is a strong and engaging one and the characters are well created, meaning you are interested in what happens to them.

 

And after a tough decision the winner of this month’s Book of the Month prize is…

Wings Above Diamantina as I found it an enjoyable change from the other novels I had been reading this month in regards to setting and Upfield is successful at getting you hooked into the story.

trophy

A special mention goes to Kathryn Harkup’s A is for Arsenic (2015), which is a great book looking at the poisons used in Christie’s works.

A is for Arsenic

Another positive is that as part of Bev Hankin’s Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt hosted at her site My Reader’s Block I have completed 13 categories towards this challenge this month.

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About armchairreviewer

Qualified English teacher, with a passion for literature and crime fiction. On a random note I also own pygmy goats and chickens with afros (it doesn't get any cooler than that).
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8 Responses to Book of the Month: January 2016

  1. fbr says:

    I really enjoy these monthly summations and I am looking forward to next months. I recently added some Upfield books to my reading pile, so I will be looking forward to that as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Andy Kelley says:

    Great post and exciting books to expose to readers. I think it is fantastic that these golden age greats are being brought back to life . The Rasp started me collecting the authors work and I have not been disappointed yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes the increase in GA reprints in the last couple of years has definitely been a boon for readers like myself, who can’t afford to spend hundreds of pounds on a first edition of a rare author. Glad you liked The Rasp. Are there any other Macdonald books you would particularly recommend?

      Like

  3. bkfriedman says:

    NINETEEN books in 31 days?!? In all of January, I got a third of a the way through one Carr title! I am mighty impressed, Kate, and I feel like a blogging fraud…..

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bev Hankins says:

    Woo hoo! That’s quite a month of reading and congrats on knocking out 13 categories on the Scavenger Hunt!

    Liked by 1 person

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