It has been a little while since I have participated in this meme, started by Kerrie at Paradise Mysteries Blog and looking back over the past three months, it has surprised me that I haven’t read as many new to me authors as I thought I had. Then again I have been indulgently in repeat visits to favourite authors of mine such as Anthony Berkeley and Delano Ames (more of which will be appearing soon on the blog).
This time round with the meme I decided to split my new to me author reads into three groups: Recommend, Recommend but try a different book by them and Not Recommended.
Helen Reilly’s The Canvas Dagger (1956)
This novel has the supposedly accidental death of a painter as its initial mystery, following the actions in the main of Sarah who is a crucial witness to the event. This was a great introduction to this author who certainly knows how to pace her plot and fill it full of engaging characters.
Arthur B Reeve’s The Adventuress (1917)
This story features Craig Kennedy, who was known as “The American Sherlock Holmes” and this tale is perfect for readers who love mysteries full of technology and gadgets. Like Reilly Reeve also knows how to create an action packed story.
Clayton Rawson’s Death From a Top Hat (1938)
My last read of the month and is a must read for all mystery readers who love a complex and mind blowing howdunnit. Death From a Top Hat features two locked room mysteries and many more other perplexing features, topped off with the fact that the suspects all have magic related occupations and the case itself is investigated by The Great Merlini.
John M. O’Connor’s Anonymous Footsteps (1932)
This story is another early example of the mystery novel type which focuses on a group of people stuck on an island, who are being depleted at a rapid rate of knots by an unknown killer. Another good read for mystery fans who enjoy a good puzzle.
R. A. V. Morris’ The Lyttleton Vase (1922)
This was Morris’ only venture into writing mystery fiction and the story itself is concerned with a missing financer. Deceptively simply on the surface, this tale has a sneaky solution hiding underneath. Another strong early mystery novel.
Alexander Williams’ Murder in the WPA (1937)
Although not my usual read, having a more hardboiled flavour, this was an entertaining tale which centres on the murder of a district administrator for the WPA. Lots of avenues of investigation to follow, as well two engaging sleuths.
Clemence Dane and Helen Simpson’s Enter Sir John (1928)
Not the easiest of books to find but one theatre lovers will appreciate the most, with its actor (and theatre owning) amateur sleuth. A good initial setup, as well as effective characterisation and writing style all made this an enjoyable read.
Rachel Rhys’ A Dangerous Crossing (2017)
Thankfully there is only one book in this group. Whilst this 1930s boat situated mystery had a lot of potential, with many tantalising elements, it unfortunately didn’t work very well (for me at any rate).
Recommend but try a different book by them
Christopher Bush’s The Case of the Platinum Blonde (1944)
Bush was quite a prolific author during the golden age of crime and the Dean Street Press are meant to be republishing his work soon. Although this book had a good beginning and middle, its’ ending was far from desirable. Consequently whilst I think Bush has a lot of qualities to recommend himself as a writer I am not sure this is the mystery to start with.
Conrad Allen’s Murder on the Minnesota (2002)
Another boat set mystery, which had a very entertaining pair of ship detectives and the overall characterisation, as well as the early 20th century setting, were well executed. For me it was the lack of mystery for the reader to solve, which let this book down a bit. Therefore I’m hoping others in the series might have stronger mystery elements (If this is the case do let me know!).
Mignon G. Eberhart’s The Patient in Room 18 (1929)
Finally we have a mystery set in a hospital, where bad things invariably end up happening to those situated in room 18. The high levels of tension and the complex case are strong points for this tale. However the distant approach to characterisation in this story weakened it considerably. A little bit of narrative shortening also would have been good. Nevertheless there were some strong components as I have mentioned and therefore suggest starting with another of her works. In fact Bev from My Reader’s Block recommends The Mystery of Hunting’s End, which involves a group of people trapped by a snow storm in a hunting lodge. Sounds good to me.