Book of the Month: October 2018

It has been a bit of a slow month on the blog, only 10 reviews, (out of 23 reads) and a few of which were rather dud reads, such as Stanley Hyland’s Who Goes Hang? (1958) (Answer: Probably the reader out of sheer boredom). However to make up for such reads I also had a handful of really good ones ranging from Francis Vivian’s The Singing Masons (1950) to Vernon Loder’s The Shop Window Murders (1930). I equally managed to include three re-reads which I was quite chuffed with, given my reduced reading pace. But who won the title of Book of Month? Thankfully this was not a hard decision to make and in fact I actually had two joint runners up in second place….

The first of these is Anthony Horowitz’s The Sentence is Death (2018), which is out today in fact and is a brilliant sequel to the first in series, The Word is Murder (2017). Intriguing clues, an enigmatic sleuth and a Watson in a quandary, this book will certainly need to be read in one sitting.

My second runner up is Norwegian mystery, The Final Days of Abbot Montrose (1917), which is by Sven Elvestad and has been translated into English for the first time by Kazabo Publishing. Not only is this an action packed and puzzling mystery, with a refreshing solution, but I also found it interesting as a transitional novel between Edwardian and Golden Age detective fiction, foreshadowing the work of John Dickson Carr.

However the book which just pipped these two to the post was Ethel Lina White’s The First Time He Died (1938), an inverted mystery which is anything but straight forward when Charlie Baxter, his wife and their lodger decide to commit insurance fraud. Wonderfully written, delightfully surprising and full of well-drawn characters. This along with the other two I can strongly recommend and I am very keen to get onto the next White title in my TBR pile.

N. B. This was also a good month for me as the Pocket Detective, which I produced for the British Library, is now available to buy and it has been great seeing the positive responses it has garnered so far.


  1. Congrats once again for the publication of ‘Pocket Detective’. 😁 Thanks for the post, which reminds me once again to consider whether or not to get ‘Sentence is Death’ on Kindle – or to wait for my local library to procure a copy. That, however, would entail me rushing down and beating the queues of people waiting to seize a copy. 😓

    Of the Ethel Lina White novels you’ve read, which would you say is the strongest in terms of being a traditional puzzle mystery?

    Liked by 1 person

    • hmm tricky question as White is largely defined by her diversion from traditional puzzle mysteries. However I think Fear Stalks the Village is the most traditional one I’ve read by her, so probably a good starting point for you. The first time he died is a brilliant book, but cannot be described as a traditional puzzle mystery.


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