TBR Pile SOS

As the red flashing light denotes – this is serious stuff. My TBR pile *gulps* is under 10 books!! To be specific there are only 8 books left in the pile. Single figures *shudders*. Fellow readers will of course understand my desperate plight. Such a TBR pile is not in full health, a shadow of its former self (which is usually 20-30 books big). Whilst I’ve never gone in for TBR pile obesity, the other extreme is not great either. So I am calling on my dear kind readers to help me out. But before you panic, I’m not asking for free books, only for some insightful suggestions for what books I should be going for.

Aside from the woeful state of my TBR pile, I also thought a post like this would be a really great idea, as it means I could have tonnes of recommendations in one easy to find place. I do, after all, have a bit of a confession to make – I am bad at remembering the books I get recommended. Often it’s because these suggestions are made on various posts on my own blog and others, so I easily lose track of where they are and equally another big reason is that I’ve usually forgotten to write the titles/authors down or even worse written them down and then lost or accidentally deleted the list.

I have a few titles I have my eyes on already; the rare suggestions I have actually managed to remember, namely: Death of a Favourite Girl by Michael Gilbert, Incident at the Corner by Charlotte Armstrong and The Bellamy Trial by Frances Noyes Hart. Of course 3 books won’t keep me going long so more suggestions the better really.

So what sort of books recommendations am I looking for? Well in the main I prefer vintage crime fiction, as modern day bleak police procedurals and gore don’t really work for me. But I have enjoyed writers such as Ian Sansom, L. C. Tyler, Boris Akunin, Hans Olav Lahlum, Martin Edwards and Anthony Horowitz. As to my taste in older crime fiction you can probably get a sense of what I’ve enjoyed the most from my blog posts, but in a nutshell I’ve read a fair amount of the more well-known writers, so would be looking for more obscure authors, which (and this is the tricky part), don’t require a bank loan to purchase. There’s nothing to stop you suggesting expensive titles of course, but my likelihood of buying them are fairly slim. Equally regular readers of my blog will know that I am no friend of Freeman Wills Crofts and his cohorts. I like a good puzzle but characterisation, humour and writing style are probably more influential factors for me.

There you have it, your mission. I do hope you’ll accept it, as my hands are already getting nervous at the thought of not having a new book to read, (I kid you not when I had to go a week without a new book my hands did start to feel empty). I’m sure you won’t let me down!

Advertisements

65 comments

    • I have actually read a book by Doherty, ironically one which you gave me in fact, The Treason of Ghosts. But good idea to revisit him and try Jecks out. My sister might have these books as well, so no excuse not to try them really.

      Like

  1. I can’t say I know how you feel since my TBR never fell so low – alas – but I offer you my best sympathies as well as, surprise, surprise! some recommendations for you to consider.

    Since you’ve recently made your first forays into psychological suspense fiction and enjoyed the ride, I suggest you follow Jay and Armstrong with other major female talents in the genre (pleonasm here) in the person of Ursula Curtiss and Margaret Millar. I have no book in particular to single out as everything or so they wrote is of interest to the discerning reader but the former’s “The Stairway” and “The Noonday Devil” and the latter’s “A Stranger in My Grave” and “Vanish in an Instant” are great ways to make acquaintance. Also, they’re affordable (I checked Amazon.uk to make sure)

    You may also want to give a try to one of my all-time favorites and quasi-namesake Fredric Brown, though be warned he is a very special case indeed. “The Night of the Jabberwock” should be enough for you to decide whether you want to go on with him. I, for one, was hooked.

    I’ll end this already long post with an excellent book whose lack of reputation among mystery fans surprises me, Lucille Fletcher’s “Eighty Dollars to Stamford”. This one is harder to find, but eBay has some affordable copies, the problem being that you’ll have to be very patient as every one of them is located on the other side of the Atlantic – but it’s worth it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What is the lowest your TBR pile has gone down to?
      Thanks for the psychological suspense suggestions. Not tried any of those authors, so be good to explore their work. After all I’ve done rather well with your recommendations in the past.

      Like

  2. Firstly, I want to second the recommendations for Paul Doherty and Fredric Brown’s Night of the Jabberwock, which deserves the reputation enjoyed by Joel Townsley Rogers’ grossly overrated The Red Right Hand. As for Doherty, The Mysterium is probably a good place to start as it gives you an idea what he can do with the historical (locked room) mystery.

    I know you like Anthony Gilbert. So you should definitely put Something Nasty in the Woodshed and Death Knocks Three Times on your list. Kelley Roos’ The Frightened Stiff is one I can recommend to everyone or Derek Smith’s classic impossible crime novel Whistle Up the Devil. Personally, I would be interested in what you, or anyone else, thinks of A.C. Baantjer. A Dutch crime writer who was my gateway drug to the detective story (I recommend DeKok and Murder in Seance).

    And then there’s the always thrilling Freeman Wills Crofts! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • haha yeah I think I’ll leave the thrills of Crofts to you and JJ. Too much non-stop drama and action for me to cope with lol
      Baantjer is definitely a new name for me. What sort of mysteries do they write? Keen to read more Gilbert, but so very often the titles people recommend are not easy to get a hold of. Hopefully this won’t happen with your suggestions.

      Like

  3. My suggestions include Dorothy B. Hughes’ “In a Lonely Place”, James Runcie’s “Sidney Chambers and the Shadows of Death”, and Gaston Leroux’ “Mystery of the Yellow Room”.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Maigret – any Maigret, but the anthology “Maigret at Christmas” is particularly good. Cambridge Murders by Glyn Daniels aka Dilwyn Rees is also excellent. I’ve really enjoyed Iain Pears Art History mysteries too, though perhaps oddly, his best known work Instance of the Fingerpost, didn’t grab me. Well impressed by your whittling down of your TBR shelf, mine is currently standing at 60+!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think a fast reading speed combined with limited access to fresh supplies probably helps me keep my TBR pile under control. Thanks for your suggestions. Pears rings a bell but never tried any of his work and hey 60 is not that bad. Only double figures after all.

      Like

  5. Do you Brits really spell “tons” “tonnes”???? Somebody has to explain the reason for this to me!

    Kate, you are in this dilemma because you read (and review) three books a day! I would be feeding an addict’s misery to select new titles for you. Let the TBR pile dwindle down to nothing and then find a good place in the country to dry out and get some help!

    The problem is, there are plenty of titles you haven’t read by authors you’ve known, but you want to plumb undiscovered realms. I fear you know so much more about these things than I do that i can offer you no help. I DO second Xavier’s suggestion of Margaret Millar. (I know you liked Hilda Lawrence, and Millar’s a better writer.) Have you read James Anderson’s GAD pastiches? There are three of them, beginning with The Affair of the Bloodstained Egg Cosy. They’re fun, quick reads. (The third is noticeably weaker than the first two.)

    These are all modern recs: on a whim, I gave my friend Viv the first book in the Commissionaire Adamsberg series by Fred Vargas. The Chalk Circle Man. She is eating that series up! I offer her (second-hand) recommendation. Viv also loves Tana French. And Gore Vidal’s mysteries, published under the name of Edgar Box, were witty (although I read them a VERY long time ago.) People love Jill McGown (I’ve never read her). The first Elizabeth George, A Great Deliverance is a wonderful book (and the next couple of Lynleys are also fine).

    Liked by 2 people

    • haha I already live in the country – perhaps that’s why I end up reading so much lol
      I don’t recommendations for titles from authors I already know such as Carr, I just wanted to avoid endless Christie and Sayers recommendations, as I’ve read all of their work – hence the nod towards less well known authors. I have also read the Anderson novels quite a while ago, which I enjoyed. Should probably give them a re-read. Thanks for the modern author suggestions and interesting to see Millar getting a second vote.
      … and yeah you got to love British spelling.

      Like

      • If you don’t mind Carr recommendations, here are a few more under the radar books that I don’t recall you reviewing – The White Priory Murders, The Red Widow Murders, Death Watch, The Four False Weapons. Each of those books has a very different thing to offer and I think they offer a nice cross section of Carr’s work during his better years. And…if you haven’t yet dipped your toes in the water with a Carr historical, try Fire, Burn.

        Like

    • Do you Brits really spell “tons” “tonnes”???? Somebody has to explain the reason for this to me!

      That’s because the Brits write French better than the Yanks. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. An off the wall suggestion, mostly because I’ve never seen the book discussed as a part of crime fiction, is ‘In the Days the Comet’ by H. G. Wells. I should tell you it is crime, not mystery and that the second part of the book is a description of a utopia (i didn’t like this part and you could very well skip to the epilogue); but the first part of the book is a fine account of the build-up to an Edwardian murder, ahead of it’s time in realism, subject matter and its lower middle class milieu (think of the similar books Oliver Onions and C. S. Forester wrote in the next two decades).

    Like

  7. I was going to recommend Lucille Fletcher’s ’80 Dollars to Stamford’ when I saw Xavier Lechard’s comment above. An intense, beguiling read. Also Ursula Curtiss: ‘The Deadly Climate’ is another good one. Jean Potts’ ‘Home is the Prisoner’ is excellent. If you want a masterpiece of plotting, economic characterisation and suspense, go for Patrick Quentin’s ‘The Man in the Net’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, we must be some sort of astral twins as our reading tastes are strikingly similar! You are the first person I meet both online and IRL that has heard of, read and enjoyed the Fletcher book. I forgot “Climate” among my Curtiss recommendations but I agree it’s a great one. I haven’t read the Potts and Quentin books but they are among my favorite mystery writers too – you really should check them out, Kate! (And suddenly your TBR pile reaches Mont Blanc-like heights…)

      Like

      • Yes, I thought I was the only person who liked Fletcher’s ’80 Dollars to Stamford’! It’s a brilliant piece of work. Also it has a real element of mystery of a kind that’s all too rare. Margaret Millar’s little known ‘The Listening Walls’ is pretty OK too, I think.

        Like

  8. No suggestions at this point, I will go back and read the comments later and see what has already suggested. My TBR pile has at least 1000 books so I cannot imagine your predicament.

    Like

  9. I keep a list of books that I want to purchase and add to it as I read reviews. You’ve probably provided a number of titles on the list! I’ll post my current copy in case it stimulates your book buying fancy. I haven’t actually read any of these books (obviously), but each one found its way onto the list because of something that grabbed me in a review:

    John Russell Fearn – Death in Silhouette, They Arm Alone, The Five Matchboxes
    Arthur Rees – The Shrieking Pit
    Yukito Ayatsuji – The Decagon House Murders
    John Sladek – Maps – the uncollected short stories
    Harriet Rutland – Bleeding Hooks
    Philip MacDonald – The Maze
    Herbert Resnicow – The Gold Solution, The Gold Curse, The Gold Deadline, The Dead Room
    Miles Burton – Death in the Tunnel
    Rudolph Fischer – The Conjure Man Dies
    Paul Gallico – The Hand of Mary Constable
    Bruce Elliot – You’ll Die Laughing
    Siobhan Down – The London Eye Mystery
    Helen Mccloy – A Cue for Murder, Mr Splitfoot
    Elliott Chaze – Black Wings Has My Angel
    John Pugmire – The Realm of the Impossible
    Arthur Porges – The Curious Case of Cyriack Skinner Grey
    Henry Wade – Constable Guard Thyself
    Christopher Bush – The Perfect Murder Case
    Patricia Carlon – The Whispering Wall
    Szu-Yen Lin – Death in the House of Rain
    Ulf Darling – Hard Cheese
    Herbert Brean – Wilders Walk Away
    Lynn Brock – Nightmare
    Michael Innes – Hamlet Revenge, Lament for a Maker
    Freeman Wills Crofts – Antidote to Venom, Sir John Magill’s Last Journey
    Roger Scarlett – Murder Among the Angells
    Anthony Rolls – Family Matters
    Anthony Berkeley – Jumping Jenny
    JJ Connington – Murder in the Maze
    Pat McGerr – Pick Your Victim
    Anthony Gilbert – The Clock in the Hatbox
    J Jefferson Farjeon – Seven Dead

    Of course, this leaves out the books I’ve already purchased…

    Like

    • Only read 10 of your suggestions so that leaves plenty more to choose from. The Gilbert book has been recommended as a good one, but annoyingly is not all that easy to get a hold of. One day I’ll hopefully get a copy of it.

      Like

  10. I agree with Brad’s suggestion of the first Elizabeth George, A Great Deliverance. It is one my top mysteries ever, and I enjoyed the first 10 in that series before I got tired of them.

    Like

  11. Oh dear, what will happen to the steady stream of reviews when the 8 books on the rapidly diminishing TBR pile expire??

    I was going to suggest the rest of Paul Halter’s, JJ Connington’s and Rupert Penny’s canon, but I suspect you lump them together with Crofts. But how about digging into the canons of authors you have enjoyed, but haven’t got round to reading? If you have a Kindle account, you can access virtually all of Helen McCloy, all of Henry Wade, and some of Anthony Gilbert (including the much-lauded ‘Clock in Hatbox’) at quite cheap prices. That is, before the Murder Room reprints disappear.

    In terms of Coachwhip, there should be a few more titles by Roger Scarlett you haven’t read, including the much-lauded ‘Murder among the Angells’. As well as a handful of Todd Downing novels.

    I seem to recall you enjoying Ann Cleeves and Kate Ellis – there should be quite a wide range of their writings easily available? How about Christopher Fowler’s Bryant and May series? It isn’t always my cup of tea in terms of the puzzle – but the novels seem consistently strong on setting, atmosphere and characterisation.

    If you don’t mind Japanese inverted mysteries, I enjoyed Keigo Higashino’s ‘Devotion of Suspect X’ and ‘Salvation of a Saint’.

    Locked Room International has some good titles, apart from Paul Halter’s novels. I echo TomCat’s recommendation of Derek Smith’s ‘Whistle up the Devil’. The puzzle was very strong, though I daresay the novel, more so than Carr’s, is the rightful predecessor to Halter’s writings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • haha well the book on Christie’s theatre work is quite a hefty monster so I think that would slow me down for a bit lol
      and yeah I think one Penny novel was probably enough for this life time. However thank you for your other suggestions. If I had a Kindle it would be easier in some ways as I’d love to read more Wade, McCloy and Gilbert but they are not the easiest of writers to get paperback copies of.

      Like

      • If I had a Kindle

        You should consider buying one, the basic models are very affordable these days. Though on the other hand you’d better not – ebooks account for more than half of my Himalayan TBR pile, and I keep buying more; it’s funny how you don’t mind buying mountains of books when they cost next to nothing and take up no room!

        Liked by 1 person

      • True I can see the advantages of kindles but they still don’t hugely attract me. Never been much of a fan of reading for long times from a screen and I guess I love having an actual book in my hands. One of the joys of reading vintage mystery fiction is that most of your books are second hand and therefore have a sense of history about them. Feel like because books are just files of text on a kindle they’d just blur into one.

        Like

      • Being an English Literature graduate, I never thought I would like reading from a Kindle, but getting one out of necessity has been a more positive experience than I thought it would be.

        I got a Kindle because I found myself lacking the space to store my books. Now that I have one, I quite enjoy the screen, and I especially enjoy being able use the Kindle dictionary. I still love the feel of a physical book, but the Kindle has been a better experience than I anticipated.

        Incidentally, just to add to my suggestions: if I had to include a Carr title, I’d say “Till Death Do Us Part”? That’s just about the only Carr novel I’ve fully enjoyed till date. It’s a very good story with engaging characters, and very well-told.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t think I am sufficiently struggling for space that I need to resort to a kindle but I take your point. Thanks for the other Carr recommendation as well. Currently got Death Watch winging its way to me.

        Like

      • I confess shortly after posting my message on ‘Till Death Do Us Part’, I realised that I hadn’t quite told the truth. There was one other Carr novel that I fully enjoyed, and almost as much as I enjoyed ‘Till Death Do Us Part’ – and that would be ‘Death-Watch’. So I’m glad it’s on its way to you. But I daresay ‘Till Death Do Us Part’ still has stronger characterisation and story-telling, so I’d definitely recommend you getting your hands on a copy sooner rather than later. 🙂 I think of all the bloggers I’ve read, only Ben and JJ hold ‘Death-Watch’ in high regard – and I’m certainly in agreement with them.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Hello from a fellow GAD aficionado :). I’ve been lurking for a while and found some great suggestions to add to my TBR pile, so I thought I’d now put in my tuppence worth.

    I’ve recently finished The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton and was rather impressed. It’s a modern homage to Golden Age detective fiction, but it has an unusual twist to it. It boasts all the classic elements – a large crumbling country pile, a shooting party, a butler, tweeds, foul weather, eggs and devilled kidneys for breakfast – well, you get the idea. However, by the end of the day the eponymous Evelyn Hardcastle, the daughter of the manor, will be murdered, and the protagonist must uncover the murderer, because the house party is caught in a time loop, doomed to relive the same day over and over again until the murder is solved.

    Admittedly, there is some gore (not too much). And I had a problem with the ending, but it might be just me. The ending certainly didn’t make me regret reading the book. Overall, it’s a clever, unusual, atmospheric and captivating read.

    Sorry for blabbering on and on, and thank you for all the work you put in this blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • haha feel free to blabber all you want! and welcome to the blog, no more lurking necessary!
      Turton’s novel has sort of been on my radar as a book a lot of people are talking about, but not known more of the details about it, so feel a lot more clued in. Thanks! The Groundhog day element does sound intriguing.

      Like

  13. I am happy that Michael Gilbert made it into your TBR list. The book you mentioned (Death of a Favourite Girl / The Killing of Katie Steelstock) is one of my favorites. I look forward to reading your review. Here are two non-Anglo-Saxon suggestions which you may like given your preference for good writing.
    Simenon wrote several “hard novels” that have a crime element but focus on setting, psychology and characterization rather than detection. “The Man who Watched the Trains Go By”, originally published in 1938, impressed me very much.
    My other suggestion is “The Judge and his Hangman” by Friedrich Duerrenmatt, a classic from 1950.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad to find another thumbs up for the Gilbert novel. John at Pretty Sinister blog recommended it to me I think. Not read the Simenon title, but have read the Durrenmatt title, which I remember enjoying.

      Like

  14. A bit late, I know but — “Tonne” is not a British spelling of “Ton” – it’s the word for a metric ton, i.e. 1000 kg, sometimes pronounced “tunny”. As far as I know it’s a valid spelling on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Like

  15. My TBR is currently 194 😦

    Ragnar Jónasson’s Dark Iceland series has been described as Agatha Christie-esque whodunits.

    Plus I echo the recommendation of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – it is something special.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. – Laurie R. King: The Beekeeper‘s Apprentice
    – James Runcie: Sidney Chambers
    – Margaret Millar: Ask for me tomorrow
    – Nicolas Freeling
    – Vera Caspary: Laura
    – Ethel Lina White: The Lady vanishes

    All of these are without the gory, brutal details 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Got some Millar and Runcie in my TBR pile so looking forward to them. Definitely agree with your White choice. The Lady Vanishes is a great book. Not tried Caspary, King or Freeling so thanks for the tips.

      Like

      • Well, this thread refuses to die it seems – you have more than your share of books to look for now! I’m thus a little hesitant to add another item to your potential TBR pile, but this one I inexplicably forgot when making my list even though it’s a discovery of mine that I’ve been pestering people with for two decades now: Michael Butterworth’s “Flowers for a Dead Witch”. Be warned that as befits the title it is very peculiar and creepy but it’s very good and Moira Redmond, the only other person on the web that read it, agrees with me, so… The other two books of his that I could find, “Villa on the Shore” and “The Black Look” are very good too but may be too dark and grisly for your taste, though Moira liked the latter too.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.