Authors New To Me in 2017

As the end of the year draws ever nearer, it is that time that many bloggers look back over their year’s reading and reviews, trying to decide on their favourite books or in my case simply trying to remind myself what I have actually read. During this process I decided to see how many new authors I had tried this year, with new pertaining to authors I have known about but never tried before, as well as authors I found out about this year and also tried. The final total did surprise me slightly as I managed to fit in 58 new authors this year (not including Anthony Gilbert’s second penname, Anne Meredith), which is around a third of my total mystery reads this year. Whilst this post will be itemising these authors and reads, under various categories, I will also be pointing out my top favourites from each group, which are definitely worth tracking down, (so look out for titles in bold).

American Authors New To Me

This is my biggest group covering quite a wide range of mystery writing styles from as early as 1915 to 1960. This is also a group which has a number of winners of my much coveted accolade: Book of the Month.

Will Levinrew – Death Points a Finger (1933)

Henry Slesar – Enter Murderers (1960)

Kathleen Moore Knight – The Trouble at Turkey Hill (1946)

Henry Ware Eliot Jr. – The Rumble Murders (1932)

Tyline Perry – The Owner Lies Dead (1930)

Helen Reilly – The Canvas Dagger (1956)

Arthur B Reeve – The Adventuress (1917)

Elizabeth Daly – Death and Letters (1950)

George Harmon Coxe – The Camera Clue (1937)

John M. O’Connor – Anonymous Footsteps (1932)

Alexander Williams – Murder in the WPA (1937)

Ione Montgomery – The Golden Dress (1940)

Marion Mainwaring – Murder in Pastiche (1955)

Doris Miles Disney – Family Skeleton (1949)

Carolyn Wells – The White Alley (1915)

Clayton Rawson – Death from a Top Hat (1938)

Theodore Roscoe – I’ll Grind Their Bones (1936)

D. B. Olsen – Cats Don’t Need Coffins (1946)

Domestic Suspense

This is a genre I have dipped into a lot in the past 2-3 months and I have really enjoyed doing this, (as you can see from how many I put in bold), and I hopefully plan to continue my forays into domestic suspense fiction in next year’s reading.

Patricia Carlon – The Running Woman (1966)

Celia Fremlin – The Hours Before Dawn (1958)

Hilda Lawrence – Blood Upon the Snow (1944)

Anthony Gilbert – The Spinster’s Secret (1946)

 

Around the World (One way or another)

In terms of reading mysteries in translation I have not done too bad this year (for me), as aside from authors I regularly read in translation such as Boris Akunin and Hans Olav Lahlum, I have managed 5 new novelists this year and have one more in my TBR pile. If I can count the short stories included in the British Library Collection: Foreign Bodies (2017) this number gets into double figures.

Andrea Camilleri – The Patience of the Spider (2004)

Anne Holt – 1222 (2007)

Leo Perutz – Master of the Day of Judgement (1921)

Leonies Swann – Three Bags Full (2005) [Although this one does have pacing issues it is such a wonderfully bizarre book it still worth borrowing from library.]

Sebastian Japrisot – The Sleeping-Car Murders (1962)

Yet this group is subtitled one way or another, so this group also includes books written in English but set in a different countries.

Jennifer Rowe – Grim Pickings (1987)

Vaseem Khan – The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra (2015)

A. E. W. Mason – The House of the Arrow (1924)

There is also the special inclusion of Yolanda Foldes’ Mind Your Own Murder (1948), which although is set in England was written by a Hungarian writer. Regardless it is a brilliant book which all readers should keep their eyes peeled for.

 

Books To Avoid (to varying degrees)

There is always a risk when trying a new author that you won’t enjoy their work and this has been the case for a percentage of my new author friends this year. Pacing, poor writing style and other irks have all contributed to these novels being included in this list. However where it is more a case of personal taste I have elaborated a little more specifically, as understandably there will be people who love the books which are included on this short list.

A. E. Fielding – The Eames-Erskine Case (1925)

Victor L Whitechurch – Crime at Diana’s Pool (1926)

Rachel Rhys – A Dangerous Crossing (2017)

Bruce Hamilton – Too Much of Water (1958)

James Corbett – Death by Appointment (1945)

J. W. Vandercook – Murder in Trinidad (1934) (This one perhaps more disappointed in how it didn’t meet my expectations, as I was hoping for unusualness and novelty, given the book location, but instead got your standard island thriller mystery).

Robert Player – The Ingenious Mr Stone (1945) (This is definitely a marmite book, as I know a number of people who enjoy this one)

George Sims – The End of the Web (1976) (This was a book with a number of intriguing aspects but given my weaker enthusiasm for 60s/70s thriller like mysteries, it wasn’t one which captured my imagination).

James Hilton – Was It Murder? (1931)

 

Looking Back to the Golden Age

Although my reads tend to be older rather than newer ones, I do occasionally foray into stories written by current writers, though as this list title suggests, even these stories are looking back to an earlier time.

Guy Fraser Sampson – Miss Christie Regrets (2017)

James McEwan – The Case of the Mahjong Dragon and Other Russell Holmes Stories (2015)

Authors To Try (But Not This Book)

I decided to include this group as I know how myopic a viewpoint you can get from judging a writer based on only one of their books. Imagine what someone would think of Agatha Christie if they had only read Postern of Fate or Passenger to Frankfurt. So with these authors listed below I have felt they have certain strong writing qualities which have not been best shown in the books I have read.

Anthony Rolls – Scarweather (1934). (If you want to give him a go I would recommend Family Matters (1933) instead)

Christopher Bush – The Case of the Platinum Blonde (1944) (An author I am planning on re-trying soon with the new releases by the Dean Street Press).

Conrad Allen – Murder on the Minnesota (2002)

Clara Benson – The Murder at Sissingham Hall (2014)

Alice Campbell – Spider Web (1938)

Caryl Brahms and S. J. Simon – A Bullet in the Ballet (1937) (The second in the series, Casino For Sale (1938), is much stronger).

Lord Dunsany – Two Bottles of Relish: The Little Tales of Smethers and Other Stories (1952) (I included this title in this list as I felt the stories collected here were a mixture of  good ones and not so good ones).

Mignon G. Eberhart – The Patient in Room 18 (1929)

 

Journalists/ Magazine Contributors Turned Novelists

Perhaps a bit of a tangent sort of group, but hey! It was getting hard to group the stragglers at the end. Though unlike those who are picked last for sports teams, quite a number of these books are star players.

Andrew Garve – No Tears for Hilda (1950)

Hugh Conway – Dark Days (1885) and Andrew Lang – Much Darker Days

R. A. V. Morris – The Lyttleton Case (1922)

Louis Tracy – The Park Lane Mystery (1924)

R. C. Ashby – Death on Tiptoe (1931)

 

Writing Duos

Authors who decide to create a mystery together have interested for me a long time, as I often wonder how the writing process works and what the results may be. Only a couple this year (fittingly) but interesting ones nevertheless.

Clemence Dane and Helen Simpson – Enter Sir John (1928)

Romilly and Katherine John – Death by Request (1933)

 

So there we are. Fingers crossed next year’s reads will bring me as many good authors and books, as this year did. Feel free to share with me your own author discoveries this year. After all I’ll be needing some ideas for my 2018 reads. Hopefully this post might have given you some ideas as to what you might want to read next year too.

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11 comments

  1. “Domestic suspense” is an interesting term; I knew exactly what you meant and yet I don’t think I’ve heard it put quite that way. (Or, more correctly, I expect I’ve heard it, it just didn’t sink in and stay LOL.). I have heard the somewhat unpleasant term “femjep” — whether or not there’s a identity or an overlap, I think I like “domestic suspense” better. More useful, less sexist.
    Would you, or perhaps your readers, care to comment on a possible definition of domestic suspense?

    Liked by 1 person

    • A very journalistically phrased question indeed! I think I came across the phrase in an introduction by the Pandora Women of Crime imprint (who major in such authors). Not come across the term femjep. Not even sure how to pronounce it, but even on the sight of it, it sounds unpleasant. Now that I have prevaricated I should get on with my attempt to define such a genre. In the main such novels are female character/lifestyle/emotions/psychology/experience focused e.g. Death of a Doll, The Hours Before Dawn (latter of which revolves around parenthood). Though of course there are some exceptions and male characters do still have a part to play either as aggressors or solvers of problems. Psychological tension and suspense filled atmosphere are key in the writing style and have more priority than being fair played or excessively clued. I would say they are a descendent of gothic literature, sensation fiction and the HIBK genre – but in regards to the latter I think the female characters in domestic suspense fiction are much more nuanced and less stereotypical and from a wider variety of backgrounds. Also unlike HIBK novels I think domestic suspense fiction coming through the mid 40s onwards is less afraid of dark endings and bad things happening to good people e.g. Spinster’s Secret by Gilbert and from the novels I have read the marriage or romance plot (if there is one) is written in a darker, more troubling way and less perfunctory. Marriages or relationships might more be the problem cause than the end goal of the story.
      Does this tally with your own ideas?

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      • Actually I was trying to make a very fine distinction in my own mind as to whether or not Patricia Wentworth’s “The Gazebo” (1956) qualified as domestic suspense. It’s iffy. In what I’ve read recently about possible definitions, there is a fairly common suggestion that there must be some noir-ish overtones to the story, and perhaps this is what you are saying by “less afraid of dark endings”. I agree with your linkages to gothics, HIBKs, etc., and perhaps even in the 50s strongly linked to the modern gothic. Anyway, “The Gazebo” is not really noir-ish and is more romantic suspense or even something of an adventure story. And, as you note, here marriage is the end goal of the story so its similarities to domestic suspense may be merely accidental. But I find it very domestic and very suspenseful.
        For me the jury is still out on “The Gazebo” but I find it’s the fuzzy boundaries of definitions that are the most interesting. I don’t know if you’ve read that particular book but please comment if you can.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Unfortunately I’ve not read this one but from what I have read of Wentworth I think it plausible that she was influenced by the domestic suspense genre and included elements of it into her existing formula/ frame work. I’ve read some of her earlier work 20s/30s and I could see traces of modernism in them, so I don’t why her later work in the 50s shouldn’t be equally susceptible to outside contemporary literary influences. But like you say there are a lot of fuzzy boundaries, especially with domestic suspense in my opinion, given how many genre origins it has. Perhaps the role of women, the type of female experiences and the role of romance or marriage may be the deciding factor on whether something classes as domestic suspense rather than romantic suspense (which is what can be found on dell copies of Mary Robert Rinehart’s work).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope you’ll fare better with Christopher Bush the second time around, because I have been enjoying his work tremendously and would rank him, alongside Nicholas Brady, as my favorite discovery of 2017. Tyline Perry’s The Owner Lies Dead was definitely one of the high-lights of the year and hope the good folks at Coachwhip are considering her second locked room novel, The Never-Summer Mystery, as potential reprint material in 2018.

    You really have to read Theodore Roscoe’s Murder on the Way, which is, plot-wise, a stronger and more original detective novel. Although I’ll Grind Their Bones is amazing as a speculative novel about the then coming war and surprised me with an appearance of a thinly disguised version of the real-life merchant of death, Sir Basil Zarahoff. So that certainly made it an interesting read, but Murder on the Way is the better detective story and you should not forget about it in the new year.

    If you’re looking for any recommendations for 2018, I just finished reviewing three novels (back-to-back) by John Russell Fearn. He penned two excellent inverted detective novels, Except for One Thing and Pattern of Murder, which you might find to your liking. I recently reviewed the latter and was impressed with the story as a whole. A surprisingly character-driven tale by a veritable plotting-machine, but with devilish clever murder-trick that would made a first-rate impossible crime had the plot been played as a who-and how-dun-it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes coachwhip should definitely reprint her second book, as the first one was great on all levels. I think it was the zombie milieu which put me off trying Murder on the Way. Thanks for your suggestion of John Russell Fearn. Not come across him before. I’ll have to take a look at your reviews. Is he easy or hard to get a hold of?

      Like

      • Surprisingly ease. A good chunk of his work has been reprinted and is available as either a paperback or ebook edition.

        Two weeks ago, I hosted a guest-post providing some background as to what lead to this flood of reprints, which you can read here, if you’re interested.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I see there are quite a few copies on Amazon & Abebooks. I borrowed the copy I read from the local library – it wasn’t on the shelf but they had it stored away in the stacks. Curtiss was a popular American writer in her day, the daughter of one crime novelist & the sister of another. I’ve enjoyed several of her books, but ‘The Deadly Climate’ was the best of the ones I’ve read: tense and ultimately very satisfying. If she has a fault, it’s that her narrative style can become a trifle opaque at critical moments, but on the whole ‘Climate’ is very well written.

        Liked by 1 person

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