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)
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.
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)
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)
R. A. V. Morris – The Lyttleton Case (1922)
Louis Tracy – The Park Lane Mystery (1924)
R. C. Ashby – Death on Tiptoe (1931)
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.