Read It Again Sam*: The Grand Re-Read a.k.a. Kate gets herself organised

From my early blogging days I have often commented on reviews and blog posts with remarks along the lines of “Oh I need to re-read that one” and in fairness to myself sometimes I even managed to do this. However in the main I have to admit that I have usually gone on my merry way, lured off the path of re-reading good intentions by some new to me title or author. So a little while ago I decided to make a list of some of the crime fiction novels, (mostly pre 1960), I wanted to revisit… and of course days later I had forgotten and nearly lost the list in question. In some ways this post is more for my own sake than my readers, a blog post is a bit harder to lose than a piece of paper. I’m not sure how fast I will get through this list, but I’d like to be optimistic and aim for 2 books a month. My next review up on the blog is from this list so at least I will be starting with the right intentions. I can definitely see me changing my mind over which titles to re-read and in the case of some well-known authors some outside advice would appreciated. I have gone for books I remember enjoying a lot and/or can’t remember too much about, so I am interested to see whether my opinions of the books have changed. But without further ado here is my list…

Boris Akunin – Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog (2000)

This is a trilogy I have warmly enthused about for ages. I’ve written about the series sleuth, Sister Pelagia in CADs magazine and even on the blog a few weeks ago, yet in fact I have never reviewed any of the books on the blog, so I would like to correct this omission.

James Anderson – The Affair of the Blood-Stained Egg Cosy (1975)

This was another trilogy I devoured pre-blog and was brought back to my attention by Brad, who recently championed Anderson’s skill in lovingly parodying golden age detective fiction. As with the Akunin I am starting with the first in the series.

John L Apostolou and Martin Greenberg (ed.) – Murder in Japan (1987)

This is a collection of 14 short stories by Japanese mystery writers. Definitely one of the books that my memory is woollier on, so a good one to return to. Writers in the collection include: Edogawa Rampo, Naoya Shiga, Junichiro Tanizaki and Haruto Ko.

George Baxt – The Affair at Royalties (1971)

Baxt is well known for his mysteries involving famous people, such as Alfred Hitchcock. Not seen a lot of enthusiasm for his work though and to be fair this is the only one of his that I have tried, but I remember really loving this one, so am keen to give him a re-visit.

Nicholas Blake – Thou Shell of Death (1936), There’s Trouble Brewing (1937), The Beast Must Die (1938), The Smiler with the Knife (1939)

Having read all of the Nigel Strangeways series I’ve felt the strongest ones were the first 6ish books, in terms of his plotting, (which is much more creative and experimental), and in terms of how the series sleuths appears; Nigel is never the same after his wife dies. I have already reviewed the first in the series, A Question of Proof (1935). I might add a couple more Blakes to the list later on but felt four was probably enough to be going on with.

Christianna Brand – London Particular (1952)

This is not a novel I remember much about, short of all the fog involved. Also an apt re-read as JJ at The Invisible Event will be doing one of his popular full on spoiler blog posts on this story in July.

Agatha Christie – The Man in the Brown Suit (1924), Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? (1934), Three Act Tragedy (1935), N or M? (1941), Crooked House (1949), A Murder is Announced (1950), Ordeal by Innocence (1958), Cat Among the Pigeons (1959), Nemesis (1971).

I’ve re-read quite a few of her titles already, but there’s always more isn’t there? Again my choices are a mixture of ones I can’t remember too much about, ones I loved when I read them the first time round and ones which have been recently massacred adapted *cough* Ordeal by Innocence *cough*. Like Blake, Christie will be another author I’ll probably keep adding to.

Edmund Crispin – The Case of the Gilded Fly (1944), Holy Disorders (1945), Swan Song (1947), Love Lies Bleeding (1948), Buried for Pleasure (1948)

Another writer like Blake, in that his first 6 books are his best and they are all ones I really enjoyed, yet strangely not ones I can remember much about. Victims, killers are mostly a blur. To date I have only reviewed one Crispin book on the blog, The Moving Toyshop (1946), so it will be good to revisit the world of Gervase Fen.

J. Jefferson Farjeon – Mystery in White (1938)

Perhaps one for saving nearer to Christmas time, but out of all of the Farjeons I have read, this is one of my favourites, with its successful fusion of thriller and detective fiction.

Cyril Hare – Suicide Excepted (1939)

I’ve reviewed quite a few Hare novels on the blog, completing all of Hare’s output earlier this year, with Death is No Sportsman (1936). But Suicide Excepted was my first encounter with this author and in my opinion is one of his best books. Ideally suited for readers new to Hare and vintage mystery fiction, but I am hoping it still holds some treats for the re-reader.

Georgette Heyer – The Unfinished Clue (1934)

I wasn’t really sure which titles to choose for Heyer. I’ve only reviewed, A Blunt Instrument (1938), on the blog, so had quite a few options to pick from. In the end I selected this one based on my Goodread ratings, but it would be great to hear other people’s selections.

Ngaio Marsh – Surfeit of Lampreys (1941), Scales of Justice (1955)

Marsh was someone I blogged about a few times when I first started my blog, but I did soon come to the conclusion that Marsh was perhaps not the best writer for me, so I have been a bit more circumspect about reviewing her books in more recent times. However, out of all the Marsh novels I have read, these two are the ones which did not disappoint. I realise one of these is quite a controversial choice, but I suppose that’ll give the re-read an added zest.

Gladys Mitchell – Speedy Death (1929)

Mitchell is another author I have read quite a few books of, but to be honest is someone who has rarely knocked my reader’s socks off. She comes up with unusual settings and premises, but her plotting is mostly too muddled for my liking. Of course the title I have selected, her first mystery novel, is one of the exceptions I believe and has always stuck in my head as quite an unorthodox and challenging opening novel to a series.

Raymond Postgate – Verdict of Twelve (1940)

I read this one a few years ago and in my opinion is Postgate’s best mystery novel; an opinion which has been backed by reading his two other stories, Somebody at the Door (1943) and The Ledger is Kept (1953). I can remember the ending to this one, but my hazy memories lead me to believe this is a book which can be enjoyed for the journey as well as for the destination.

Dorothy L. Sayers – Clouds of Witness (1926), Unnatural Death (1927)

A bit like with Heyer, I wasn’t too sure which titles to pick for Sayers. I’ve already reviewed Murder Must Advertise (1933), Gaudy Night (1935) and Busman’s Honeymoon (1937), so I decided to look at some of Sayers’ earlier novels. The only two I don’t think I would readily consider re-reading are Five Red Herrings (1931) and The Nine Tailors (1934) (more controversy). But again, as with Heyer, I would be interested to hear other’s people’s thoughts on which Sayers to re-read.

Josephine Tey – A Shilling for Candles (1936), To Love and Be Wise (1950)

It wasn’t too tricky to decide on which titles to re-read for Tey. Both of these novels are ones I can’t really remember anything about and as for the others, they tend to be ones I can remember too well. I can’t remember much about The Man in the Queue (1929) but I’ve never felt it was a strong effort by Tey and I have already reviewed The Singing Sands (1952) on the blog… and before you ask Brad, ‘No I’m not going to re-read Miss Pym Disposes’ (1946). Don’t think it would have a positive effect on my blood pressure… Oh Miss Pym *shudders*

Jill Paton Walsh – Thrones, Dominations (1998)

One thing I definitely picked up on when I first came onto the blogging scene was the divisive opinions on Walsh’s Sayers’ continuation novels. Personally I found them a mixed bag, but mostly enjoyed them, which is unusual for me as I am not prone to liking continuation works. It might have been that I binge read Sayers first before finding the Walsh books. Opinions may change if I try to read them closer together.

Ethel Lina White – The Lady Vanishes (1936)

With White being a tricky author to get a hold of, (aside from her two most well-known stories), I have decided to re-read arguably her most famous novel, The Lady Vanishes a.k.a. The Wheel Spins. One thought which has stuck with me is the sense that the BBC adaptation of the story actually gave the original plot a much stronger ending. Scandalous I know! Even more scandalous is that I have never watched the Hitchcock adaptation. I may well try and remedy this at some point to work in conjunction with my re-reading of this book. We shall see.

So there is the current list, how much it will mutate or be completed I do not know, but hopefully I will get a few more deserving books re-read at long last. Thoughts always appreciated and it would great to hear other people’s ideas on re-reading and which books/authors they are most keen to return to.

*Credit definitely has to be given to Bev at My Reader’s Block for the first part of my blog post title, as she has a reading challenge with this very apt name.





  1. Unfortunately, all these years later, I still remember who the killer was in Egg Cozy. I think I liked Mink Coat almost as much and felt Cufflinks was a letdown. But honestly, it has been a loooooong time!

    I simply cannot read as fast as you, Kate! I’m envious that you can actually add a “re-read list” to the lengthy amount of new books you cover each month! Have fun! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You must have a better memory than I do, as all I remember is that the murders tend to occur at a country abode and there is a very smart vivacious bright young female. No idea how well I will keep to my 2 a month aim, but if I hadn’t have made the list and done the post I probably would have backslide into forgetfulness. Definitely a goal orientated bod. I hope you get more time over the summer to read – just don’t fill that precious time with any more Halter or Penny!


  2. One good thing about getting old is that most of us (and definitely me) forget the plots and can go back and read with pleasure. (Of course for Rex Stout books I do remember and I don’t care.)

    There is too much to comment on here. I agree on James Anderson and The Affair of the Blood-Stained Egg Cosy. I have read that one and book 2 but not gotten to book 3 so should read that first. I do want to re-read (for a third time) more of Tey.

    I will be interested in your posts on Edmund Crispin’s books, as I had mixed results when reading him and have a hard time convincing myself to continue. My husband gave me his paperback editions of all of his books years ago and I still have them.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I like to read in order when possible, so I read The Case of the Gilded Fly first, and did not enjoy it at all. Then I read The Moving Toyshop, because it is well-known, and I did like that one a lot. I keep meaning to read Holy Disorders — for the setting — and Swan Song sounds interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I read both the books before blogging, so at least 8-9 years ago probably more.And I did not keep notes at the time, so I don’t remember except I was not impressed with Fen’s character or the writing. But then I really liked Moving Toyshop, so who knows? I saw your post on Gilded Fly, I will comment more there.


  3. What a lot of excellent books! I seem to do most of my rereading for our book group, as I usually work out the list…The only one that I had not read before choosing was The Essex Serpent which had a mixed or negative reaction. I found an anthology of Margery Allingham in Barter Books which makes ideal breakfast time reading, even if I have read and reread them ( and can remember who did it!) I love Nine Tailors, but mainly for sentimental reasons so I am taking its omission well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh that’s good. I was surprised when I first started blogging how popular Nine Tailors is, though not so surprised that I will be re-reading it lol Barter Books is a great place for GAD fiction. Just wish I lived closer to it.


  4. Lots of fun reading there. Georgette Heyer is one author I never really read in my earlier years as a mystery fan – mainly because there’s only one title translated into Swedish: “A Blunt Instrument”. But I fairly recently read the one you mention above, “The Unfinished Clue”, and that really appealed to me, so I’ve continued reading her novels one after one and enjoyed them all. They may not be the cleverest of mysteries, but they are generally at least decent, and Heyer really has a way with her pen.

    Of course you will have a great time with Crispin – he rarely lets the reader down.

    Of the other titles I’ve read, the ones I really didn’t like were Farjeon’s and Mitchell’s. So some commiserations to you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoyed the format of this. It’s a strange twist on a list of recommended titles by a wide range of authors. Not in any ways a “best of list”, but it definitely gave me some inspiration for my reading. I’m be looking forward to the review – in particular the Nicolas Blake and Edmund Crispin titles.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for the advance notice, and I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Boris Akunin’s Pelagia series, as well as see if Georgette Heyer is worth reading. 😀 Your mention on Nicholas Blake reminded me to get hold of ‘Question of Proof’, and I’m also curious to see if there are more Crispin novels worth reading. I confess I’m not overly-excited about Gladys Mitchell and Ngaio Marsh.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I too am rereading some GAD these days, mostly Carr and Blake. I recently reread Moving Toyshop and liked (not loved) it. I think Matthew Goode would make a terrific fen. I reread quite a few Poirot a couple years ago and still liked them.
    Also on the list, Hammett (several times already), chandler(ditto), Ross Macdonald and James Crumley.


    • Managed 8 re-reads this year so far, which is not many, but more than what I usually achieve. Not done much Blake re-reading yet. Hopefully rectify that soon. Interesting to see which books stand up to a re-read.


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