It has been a pretty good month in terms of reading, clocking in 16 mystery novels, as well as David Suchet’s book on playing Poirot. Even better most of these books were good reads.
Despite their being one clear winner for this month there are three others which I think should get an honourable, runners up mention. The first of these was E. C. Lorac’s Fire in the Thatch (1946), which was reprinted this month by the British Library. The setting of a soon to be post war Britain is well crafted and the characters are a delight to experience. The mystery itself also has unusual elements, being a rare instance of death by arson – a murder method not often used in vintage crime fiction for primary deaths. The second runner up book was Alice Tilton’s The Left Leg (1940), which is a wonderfully entertaining and hilarious mystery adventure, with the amateur sleuth, Leonidas Witherall getting up to his neck in trouble as usual. Finally there is Edwin Greenwood’s The Deadly Dowager, a darkly comical and spine chilling mystery from the 1930s, which follows one elderly woman’s murderous campaign to restore the family fortunes.
However there can only be one winner and my choice for this month has to be Henry Cecil’s The Asking Price (1966). The plot may seem comparatively simple, especially in comparison to Tilton’s novel, but Cecil is still able to produce plenty of surprises for the reader and maintain reader suspense, as they try figure out whether Holbrook really did kill the girl or not. If characterisation is important for you in your reading then you’ll find it hard to fault this book, whose success relies largely on this aspect. The comedy of the piece also made it a huge success with me as well, as did the tantalising ending.
Interestingly most of these best reads for this month have come from my Friday Forgotten Book reviews, a meme I started joining in with this month. Hopefully my Friday Forgotten Books for March, whatever they might be, will be as good.