Book of the Month: June 2016

I haven’t read as many books as I normally do this month, but the quality of the books has been fairly high overall. This being the case I have three separate award categories for this month’s Book of the Month.

Best Re-Read

The Human FliesHad a few re-reads this month so I decided to give them a separate category of their own. The two main contenders were The Human Flies (2010) by Hans Olav Lahlum, which I reviewed yesterday and Edmund Crispin’s The Moving Toyshop (1946). If you’ve already read yesterday’s review then it won’t surprise you that it was The Human Flies which won this group due to its wonderful characterisation, engaging plot and exploration of a number of interesting issues such as human trauma and disability and detection.



Best Contemporary Crime Novel

Due to being asked to create an 11 weeks course on Northern crime fiction, a lot of my The Death Seasonreading this month has been focused in this area and this opportunity has given me the experience to try a lot of authors I have heard of, but which I have not got around to reading. My top three from this group are The Scent of Almonds and Other Stories (2015) by Camilla Lackberg, Ann Cleeve’s Murder in my Backyard (1991) and Kate Ellis’ The Death Season (2015). It was a tough choice deciding between these three but in the end I chose Ellis’ novel, as I was impressed with the way she juggled a number of plot lines, yet managed to interweave them into a convincing and exciting narrative.


Best Golden Age Detective Novel

The Chimney MurderAlthough I could technically place Crispin’s novel in this category also, I felt it only fair to pick from Golden Age novels which I had only read for the first time. With this rule in place it was an easy decision to select The Chimney Murder (1929) by E. M. Channon, which had first rate characterisation and I particularly enjoyed how Channon explored the issue of gender and gender roles within families.



Over To You

What has your favourite read been this month?


  1. Hmm, if I can even recall the books I’ve read over the past few weeks: ‘Murder at the Telephone Exchange’ by June Wright, ‘Auntie Lee’s Deadly Special’ by Ovidia Yu, ‘Dragon’s Cave’ by Clyde Clason, ‘Murder by the Matchlight’ by ECR Lorac, ‘Owl of Darkness’ by Max Afford, ‘Don’t Go out after Dark’ by Norman Berrow, ‘Scent of Almonds’ by Camilla Lackberg, ‘Golden Box’ by Frances Crane, ‘Salvation of a Saint’ by Keigo Higashino. (You can see how your blog has been very helpful in shaping my reading!)

    If I recall correctly, I would have given 4 stars (out of 5) to Afford and Higashino – but my top pick would go to ‘Salvation of a Saint’… I gather that JJ doesn’t think too highly of it, but perhaps the fact that I come from a closer cultural background to the milieu of the novel meant that I found the characters engaging. If I were to extend the time frame back by a few weeks to middle of May, then John Dickson Carr’s ‘Death Watch’ would have easily garnered the top spot.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I only read the first story, ‘Scent of Almonds’ – or should I call it a novella? It was well-written (well-translated?) and interesting, though I was slightly disappointed with its ending. It fit well with the characterisation, and as such was effective as a resolution to the plot, but I guess I was hoping for a different sort of solution to the puzzle.

        I will give the other stories in the collection a try after dipping into a couple of other novels. I have Ovidia Yu’s ‘Auntie Lee’s Chilled Revenge’ and Joan Hess’s ‘Malice in Maggody’ awaiting reading, as well as one or two other Golden Age novels on my Kindle.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I get what you mean about the solution to SOA – it was clever and I wasn’t expecting it, but then there was part of me which wanted a different type of solution. The remaining short stories are not necessarily puzzle clue mysteries but rather hinge on a narrative twist, which I enjoyed.


    • It’s okay, people are allowed to disagree with me — in fact, I encourage it! My issue with SoaS wasn’t the characters at all, I really enjoyed them as it happens, but rather more the fact that practially nothing happens in the second half of the book. You get the brilliant inverted mystery (very hard to do) and a doozy of a puzzle that twists and twists and twists and then….a looooot of nothing and the solution, by which time you’ve had enough time to figure it out due to boredom.

      It has a great method, very engaging characters, and a marvellous first half, and that’s why the stagnation of the home stretch is so irritating!


  2. I cannot consume books as quickly as you people, but I did get a lot of reading in during this first month of summer vacation. I laughed out loud at Stuart Palmer’s The Puzxle of the Happy Hooligan, and I had a lot of fun with The Moai Island Puzzle. But I have to say that Tey’s Miss Pym Disposes moved me the most this month. (Don’t be mad, Kate!)

    I really want to hear more about this course you’re putting together. If you get a moment, write me here or in e-mail and tell me about it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • haha it’s okay Brad. You’re forgiven. I think I got most of my frustration out of my system in my next article for CADs. I think I get me annoyed by Miss Pym because I looked at her for my dissertation, so prolonged exposure to her idiocy rather tainted the book for me. What book will you be reading for Rich’s challenge in July? And yeah sure I’ll drop you an email about the course I’m doing. Been busy writing up the course description today and learning outcomes etc.


  3. Without a question it was THE MEDBURY FORT MURDER that I enjoyed the most this month with HERE’S BLOOD IN YOUR EYE a very close runner-up. When I got back from vacation guess what was in my mailbox? A copy of TWICE DEAD by E. M. Channon! Thanks to your review of THE CHIMNEY MURDER I ordered the other book of hers that Grey Ladies reprinted. Review will be up in a few weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ooh two new titles for me and I imagine authors as well. Looking forward to your Channon review, as it will be interesting to see whether the strengths in The Chimney Murder are also in Twice Dead. Also be interesting to see if Channon does more with the puzzle aspect in this story.


  4. A clever idea to have a favorite book for each category. I hardly read enough books in most months to divide them up that way. Maybe you have convinced me to try Kate Ellis’s series again. I have read many review at Puzzle Doctor’s site on books in this series, and he consistently praises them.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Her first one, The Merchant’s House, from 1998. I read it in 2009, and I don’t know why I did not care for it. It was not bad, but I have a lot of books unread, and it did not move me to try more of hers. Although I do still have The Bone Garden from the same series, and the first Joe Plantagenet book.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh okay. A similar thing has happened to me with other series in the past. Though I think with this series you can perhaps jump about it. I don’t think it necessarily needs reading in order for everything to make sense.


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