It has been a busy month, attending the Bodies from the Library conference, as well as seeing two Agatha Christie plays: Love from a Stranger and Witness for the Prosecution. So I was quite pleased that I managed 14 mystery based reads, including two non-fiction books on crime fiction. Of these two the best was definitely Julius Green’s Curtain Up: Agatha Christie – A Life in Theatre (2015).
This has definitely been a month where the quality of my reads has full ranged. We’ve had the nauseating pits of French Farce (1937) right up to … well that would be telling. Don’t want to reveal the Book of the Month just yet.
This has been mostly a month of familiar faces with June Wright’s The Devil’s Caress (1952), Kelley Roos’ Sailor, Take Warning! (1944), Stuart Palmer’s The Puzzle of the Happy Hooligan (1941), John Dickson Carr’s The Problem of the Green Capsule (1939), Margaret Millar’s Vanish in an Instant (1952), Anthony Boucher’s The Case of the Seven Sneezes (1942) and Ovidia Yu’s The Betel Nut Tree Mystery (2018). There was only one new author to me this month, Now I Lay Me Down to Die (1955) by Elizabeth Tebbetts-Taylor, which has been reprinted by Coachwhip. I also of course managed my two re-reads for my re-reading project, which were A Murder is Announced (1950) by Agatha Christie and The Case of the Gilded Fly (1944) by Edmund Crispin.
So the wait, (all one paragraph’s worth), is over and the choice of winner was a very easy choice for me being the topic of my first review of the month, The Devil’s Caress. Wright is a versatile writer who is good at writing enjoyable mystery stories in different styles and she does no less with this psychological thriller, which weaves a country house and medical milieu into it. The characters, plotting and atmosphere are all pitch perfect and I loved the complex portrayal of relationships and gender roles. I’d hugely recommend it to everyone and since it has been recently reprinted it is easy to come by.
I also decided to have three runners up as The Case of the Gilded Fly, A Murder is Announced and The Puzzle of the Happy Hooligan were also strong seconds. The two re-reads were expected good reads but I was surprised by the Palmer novel, which is now my favourite by him to date, even if a trip to Hollywood changes Hildegarde Wither’s character.
I’m looking forward to July’s reading with Anthony Gilbert coming up next.