Top Ten Tuesdays is a meme currently being run by the blog That Artsy Reader Girl. Put simply each Tuesday has a theme assigned to it and participating blogs have to come up with a top ten list around it. This week, as the post title suggests, is all about titles with a colour in them. When deciding which topics to take part in for this month, I thought this one would be an easy one to do. All I had to do was go to my Goodreads account and select all the titles with colours in that had 5/5 ratings. Simples right?
Wrong! It turns out my absolute favourite books do not include colours in their titles. Even when it came to authors such as Christie and Sayers – my favourites by them are not the likes of The Mystery of the Blue Train or The Red Herrings. So compiling this list took a little longer than I envisaged and in a way does not depict my overall favourite books. Nevertheless, all the titles on this list, although not ranked, are good reads and are worth seeking out.
- The Black Iris (1953) by Conyth Little (a.k.a. Constance and Gwenyth Little)
This was one of the easiest selections to make for the list as I am a definite fan of the Littles’ work. This title, along with The Black Shroud (1941), are the strongest books I have read by this writing duo and I was tempted to include more than one story by this pair. However, I thought it might be cheating if I did a list which just included books by these authors, (as bar one story which has the colour grey in it, all the others have titles containing the word black). The Black Iris shows these two at their best in terms of their comic writing style, their engaging characterisation and their ability to still provide an intriguing mystery to solve.
- Green for Danger (1944) by Christianna Brand
This is a title which I only re-read quite recently, but it has a lot to recommend it. It has a well realised WW2 setting, a baffling death on an operating table and an ending which packs a punch.
- The Woman in Red (1941) by Anthony Gilbert
This is an interesting almost-inverted mystery from Gilbert, which is a riff on Wilkie Collin’s The Woman in White (1859). Although I will say the book has slightly different aims than your run of the mill heroine in jeopardy novel. WW2 also plays an interesting role in this story.
- Blue Murder (1942) by Harriet Rutland
Another mystery with a wartime setting, this time focusing on one family on the home front. This is my favourite title by Rutland and the ending definitely makes you gasp and it is one I have never forgotten.
- The Chinese Gold Murders (1959) by Robert Van Gulik
This is a title that I read pre-blog, so my memories are somewhat hazy, but out of all the Judge Dee mysteries this is one of my favourites alongside The Chinese Nail Murders (1960).
- The Yellow Room (1945) by Mary Roberts Rinehart
This title sees Rinehart engaging in a thoughtful way with the HIBK subgenre, for which she is famous for perpetuating. Not all of the book’s components follow the prescribed mould and I felt the story was very effective when it came to atmosphere and tension.
- Pelagia and the Red Rooster (2003) by Boris Akunin
Another pre-blog read, but I loved all three books in Akunin’s Sister Pelagia series. The first book in the series also contains a colour in the title: Pelagia and the White Bulldog. However, I decided to select the final novel in the trilogy for my list, as I felt the ending was decidedly unique. Sister Pelagia is an enjoyable amateur sleuthing nun to follow and I liked the 19th century Russian setting.
- The Golden Child (1977) by Penelope Fitzgerald
This is yet another pre-blog read and is one I have been meaning to re-read for a while. The story is a satirical mystery set at the British Museum and deserves to be better known.
- The Puzzle of the Silver Persian (1934) by Stuart Palmer
This is an enjoyable entry in Palmer’s Hildegarde Withers series taking place on a boat, but also in England, as Withers is going on holiday there. This story has a strong puzzle at its centre and interesting characterisation, as for me I found new sides to Withers’ personality.
- White Face (1930) by Edgar Wallace
This might seem an odd inclusion for me, because as a rule Wallace’s books are not my cup of tea, such as The Face in the Night (1924), which managed the feat of having loads of action, yet being incredibly boring at the same time! White Face though is a much stronger effort. The solution is especially effective and is a good example of a writer using a narrative which is slippery but fair. I also felt that Wallace brought a moral complexity to the tale, which I was not expecting.