January has been a productive month on the blog racking up 23 posts, of which 20 were reviews. So give yourself a pat on the back if you have made your way through all of that! I had a lot of fun doing a joint review of Agatha Christie’s A Caribbean Mystery, with fellow blogger Rekha this month, and I hope to be doing another such review later this year. I’ve also been indulging in my interest with the work of Anthony Berkeley, reading Malcolm J. Turnbull’s overview of Berkeley’s life and works, as well as having a laugh out loud read with Jugged Journalism, (a collection of some of Berkeley’s sketches from the 1920s). In addition, this month saw me complete my reading of Alice Tilton’s Leonidas Witherall series, so it was only natural for me to give a ranked list of the titles.
However, despite having a busy month of reading my TBR pile does not look particularly smaller! Anyone else have this problem? Though it doesn’t bear thinking about how big it would be if I hadn’t read those books! The titles I read this month were mostly slim volumes, so I don’t feel that helped. Reading one chunky book from the TBR pile also seems to be make the pile seem smaller. Hopefully in February I will be able to read another chunk from the pile.
Nevertheless, the high volume of reading did not necessarily equate to high volumes of quality. There have been some disappointing reads this month – yes I am looking at you Ethel Lina White and your overly long novel about a woman failing to catch a train, (otherwise known as, The Elephant Never Forgets). Elisabeth Sanxay Holding also contributed another dud read with The Obstinate Murderer, which really should be retitled The Obstinate Detective Who Refuses to do any Detection.
But enough with the negatives. Let’s move onto the positives, as I did have a number of good reads*.
So to begin with here are the worthy runners up for the Book of the Month:
This is Christopher StJohn Sprigg’s debut mystery novel and it has a wonderfully odd but entertaining plot. It’s not a perfect puzzle mystery, but it is a story which abounds with clues and plenty of red herrings. I’m looking forward to trying more of his work soon.
This read was the perfect antidote to Holding’s title and I very much enjoyed my first experience with Ferrar’s work. Virginia and her separated light-fingered husband, Felix Freer, are a delightful duo to follow in the murder mystery which ensues.
Jean Potts continues to provide reliably brilliant reads and The Little Lie, shows her talents at their best. She engagingly shows the terrible power of a small lie and the psychological tension of the ending is powerful.
This was a re-read for me and thankfully it allowed White to redeem herself after the dull read I mentioned above. This is one of her most well-known and loved titles, and I think it is deserving of its positive reputation. Small events dovetail beautifully, leaving a young protagonist in an increasingly dangerous situation.
However, there was a clear winner this month, from a new to me author and it is….
Edna Sherry’s Sudden Fear is an amazing must-read book, delivering a brilliant variation on the inverted mystery theme, with an ending which has more than one sting in its tail. Characterisation, pacing and plot interest all receive top marks in this story.
*reviews can be found by clicking on the covers