Book of the Month: September 2020

Apologies for being a bit quiet on the blog towards the end of the month. Just one of those weeks, but I am making good progress on Howdunit (2020). It is over 500 pages after all, so perhaps I shouldn’t judge myself too harshly for taking a little longer to read it. Nevertheless, I managed 11 reviews this month, one of which was for a 600 page-ish book. If you think about it, that’s nearly the equivalent of 3 classic crime novels.

However, this was still a month of reading disappointments, of sorts. First of all were those reads, which I think can be safely described as duds, such as Eric Routley’s critique of crime fiction, with the impossibly long-winded title, and Marie Belloc Lowndes’ Motive (1938). However, there were considerably more books which were disappointing, not because they were awful reads, but because they were not as good as I hoped they would be. This affected both my reading of older crime fiction, (with the likes of Guy Cullingford’s Conjurer’s Coffin (1954) and Shadow Show (1976) by Pat Flower,) as well as my forays into modern mystery novels. I think I felt this disappointment more keenly as in some cases these were authors I had read before and really enjoyed.

One of the things I noticed when reflecting on my modern and older crime reads, was the matter of plotting. In 2 of the 3 modern crime novels I reviewed, I found the biggest weakness to be the plots, evidencing the emphasis placed upon characterisation in current crime writing. Don’t get me wrong, characters are hugely important and they are a big drawing point for myself, but I find the more I read, the more disenchanted I have become with mystery novels which fail to produce a satisfying mystery plot, with adequate cluing.

Right grump over, let’s reveal my Book of the Month. It wasn’t too tricky a decision and I won’t be surprised if other bloggers select it as their top read of September, but the winner is…

Whilst I don’t think it was as good as Magpie Murders (2016), I thoroughly enjoyed the Atticus Pund mystery contained within the book. Horowitz is a dab hand at crafting a golden age pastiche.

I’m not entirely sure what books I will read during October, though no doubt a Doris Miles Disney title will feature, and I may also get around to finishing off the short story collection by Stanley Ellin. I recommend tuning into the blog tomorrow, to read my first Friday Fright Night, (a meme Curtis Evans from The Passing Tramp came up with).

… and on the off chance you have not seen my last post, today I have re-launched my Coffee and Crime Classic Crime Advent Calendar, which will available to purchase until the end of November.

However, for now I should probably get cracking on finishing off Howdunit

2 comments

  1. I agree with your assessment of contemporary mysteries. I am finding it harder and harder to read them and in fact have come avoid many authors. I wrote a caustic post about the lack of plot in so many books to a mystery discussion group I subscribe to awhile back. It did not go over well. Fortunately I have hundreds of mysteries from the 20th century to read, else I would have to turn to historical romance or generational sagas for my reading entertainment.

    Liked by 1 person

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