Christmas Books 2019

I thought it might be of some interest to readers to show you what books I got for Christmas, (crime fiction themed of course), either as a gift, or as a gift to self using Christmas money. Hopefully I’ll get a few comments saying things such as: “Oh yes, that’s a good book. I really enjoyed that one,’ or ‘I’ve heard lots of good things about that book.’ Finger crossed there weren’t be a barrage of comments appalled by my choices!

I’ve been on the hunt for a reasonably priced copy of this book for some time, and two days before Christmas I finally struck lucky. I’ve read quite a few novels by Australian writers such as June Wright, Conyth Little and more recently Margot Neville, so I am hoping this book will put me onto some new authors to try out.

Weirdly it was cheaper for me to buy the Australian Crime Fiction book, if I also bought this book as well from the same seller on Ebay. Not tried much by Ferrars but definitely intrigued to sample more of her work.

I have read all four of Sheridan’s Lily Wu mysteries and really enjoyed them, so I was pleased to track down a copy of this book, which she co-wrote with her family dentist.

I once put a copy of this book in one of my Coffee and Crime boxes, having found it for a very good price. I foolishly thought that such a price would be available again. Alas it has not been, but I decided to treat myself to a slightly more expensive copy this Christmas, given my interest in Berkeley’s work.

I have only read Death of an Airman by Sprigg and have since been looking to try more by him. So I was pleased to find this gift set of titles on the Moonstone Press website at a reasonable price. I have heard positive things about The Perfect Alibi from John at Pretty Sinister and Tomcat at Beneath the Stains of Time, so I might start with that one first. It’s also great to be able to support a small independent publisher and if you want to try titles by Sprigg or Dorothy Bowers I would recommend looking at their website.

I’ve tried a few by this author and this is another recommended title, though I forget who recommended it to me!

Regular readers will not be surprised by the last two titles, given my love of the Conyth Little novels.

This was the first of my secret Santa presents.

Not sure of the plot of this book, but hopefully it is a good one.

My final secret Santa present and I was so excited to get it, as it is the last Sergeant Beef novel I needed for my collection. Hoping to review this one soon.

Given that my TBR pile is quite healthy now I am going to do my best to not buy too many books in the next few months. That and read like crazy to whittle down the pile a bit…

Over to You

Of course it is also obligatory to tell me about all the mystery themed gifts and books you got for Christmas, which will no doubt result in me going green with envy.


  1. I guess it’s only fair to share with you, especially since you are one of the people who helped contribute 😉 when my daughter purchased Coffee and Crime box for me. It that was Fear and Miss Betony by Dorothy Bowers, Little God Ben by J. Jefferson Farjeon and A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup.

    And things just got better, because all I got this year was books. But then, that’s all I asked for –

    She Died a Lady & He Couldn’t Kill Patience by Carter Dickson (I almost have a complete set of H.M. now…very excited!).
    Seven Dead by J. Jefferson Farjeon
    Death in Fancy Dress by Anthony Gilbert
    Policeman’s Holiday by Rupert Penny
    The Hanging Captain by Henry Wade
    The Case of Three Detectives by Leo Bruce
    Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards

    So there’s my haul. It should keep my quite busy for a little while.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re in for a treat with She Died a Lady and The Case of the Three Detectives. Personal favourites of mine. I have He Couldn’t Kill Patience on my TBR pile, though I have since heard it is a bit of a problematic text. I remember the Wade title being good though. Can’t go wrong with Martin’s book either of course. Be interested to see what you make of his book and Harkup’s.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Moonstone Press intrigue me, not just because of the titles they may go on to print, but also because they’ve reprinted Dorothy Bowers’ books and slightly adjusted some of the titles — Fear and Miss Betony has become Fear for Miss Betony, The Bells of Old Bailey is now The Bells at Old Bailey, etc. Like…what gives?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Here’s what gives, my friends: Moonstone reprinted the books with all the original titles. The US editions reprinted by Rue Morgue Press about a decade ago used the altered titles created by Doubleday & Doran’s Crime Club editors. FEAR FOR MISS BETONY is correct. The US publishers changed it to FEAR AND MISS BETONY because Americans don’t use the imperative voice for the verb “to fear”. We rarely use the word “fear” as a verb at all! It’s always as a noun and the adjective “fearful”. Most Americans reading the title would interpret it as the action of someone handing a plateful of fear to Miss Betony, so to speak — a weird metaphor to be sure — rather than someone giving a command.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Ha, goddamn. I wondered if there was something about those (Rue Morgue) titles which meant they were unsuitable now (like “Fear for Miss Betony” had become a slur or something…) but could (as that previous parenthetical insertion demonstrates) come up with nothing. Didn’t occur to me that the problem might have been the other way around — the original titles caused some understanding difficulties — and you’ve clarified how that could come about perfectly. Thanks, John.

        Liked by 1 person

      • The fact that Rue Morgue Press was based in the US and Moonstone is a UK operation should probably have tipped me off; man, I’m dim sometimes…


  3. I had planned to save my Christmas vouchers for when more details of Bodies 2020 appeared – it’s not as if I’m short of books to read – but then I started browsing Amazon and ebay so I’ve got A Taste for Honey (Heard), Mystery at Lynden Sands (Connington), Case for Three Detectives (Bruce), The Ten Teacups, The Judas Window, Till Death Do Us Part, and He Wouldn’t Kill Patience (JDC/CD) winging their way towards me. At least they were all on my existing wish list and not the Sprigg set that has just appeared on my radar!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bookwise, Christmas was a mystery-palooza for me:

    The Black Stocking by the Littles

    Cold Steal – one of the Leonidas Witherall books by Tilton / Atwood Taylor

    Benjamin Franklin Takes The Case – historical humorous mystery where a USA Founding Father solves crime

    Secret Of Red Gate Farm – a Nancy Drew mystery facsimile edition using the original 1930s text

    Repeat Performance by William O’Farrell
    This last one I’m kind of going in blind. I never heard of it, but was browsing and it sounded interesting. Described as a thriller with some fantasy / supernatural elements. Written in 1942.

    We shall see what we shall see …

    ..oh. And I got some gloves.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I came home from the theater last night and sitting on my front door was a box from Moonstone Press. Debra Riley had sent me five books (!) to help promote their new reprint series. In the usual fateful bit of irony it turns out I own three of the five books in original editions, and have previously read four of the books. Additionally, three of the books she sent me I’ve already reviewed on my blog. So that’s left me with only Postscript to Poison to read and review as my humble bit of PR for Moonstone.

    As a recommendation of which Sprigg books to read in what order I’d start with Crime in Kensington, the very first mystery novel he wrote. It’s a lot of fun with the addition of a very odd impossible crime solved in a ludicrously simple manner. Then I’d read Death of a Queen and Fatality in Fleet Street. You really should save The Perfect Alibi for last. It’s his best book, IMO.

    My favorite of the Bowers books so far is Fear for Miss Betony. But I have still to read Shadows Before and Bells at Old Bailey. So that title may be supplanted within the next couple of weeks.

    I’m interested in that Australian crime fiction survey. I’d like to find out more about the underrepresented writers from that part of the world who were being published during the Golden Age. I only know of Paul Maguire and A. E. Martin. Of course there’s also June Wright but she came much later.

    I enjoyed this post, Kate. I no longer get books as Christmas gifts in this house. (“They’ve taken over!” he tells me) Always fun for me to see what others received, especially old vintage mystery books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well without some kind of list I imagine it would be pretty hard to buy you a book you’ve not already read!
      I read a couple of the Bower Rue Morgue reprints, (Postscript to Poison and Deed Without a Name), a few years back and they didn’t really click with me.
      But thank you for your recommendation on which Sprigg novel to start with. JFW will approve of your best for last motto!
      My experience of Australian crime fiction has tended be from the 40s on wards with writers, so I am interested to see what earlier authors there were, other than Arthur Upfield.


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