Book of the Month: November 2020

Apologies for being a little tardy in writing my November book of the month post. November, like October, did not give me as much time and energy for reading as I had hoped, but I still managed to read a mix of familiar and new-to-me authors. Quality-wise I would say my reading varied a bit, but thankfully not too many duds. But before I reveal which book achieved book of the month status, I thought it might be interesting to take a look back at previous November Book of the Month winners. If this new feature proves popular, I may include it in the next 11 BOM posts. So with my time machine at the ready, let’s see who won the first November book of the month title…

November 2015: Blue Murder (1942) by Harriet Rutland

This was Rutland’s final mystery novel, which I still feel was a great pity, since I think she really hit her stroke in this third book, with its high impact ending.

November 2016: Mist on the Saltings (1933) by Henry Wade

The strong characterisation of this piece pushed it into first place and I very much enjoyed Wade’s sinister love triangle plot.

November 2017: All the World’s a Stage (2017) by Boris Akunin, Enter Murderers (1960) by Henry Slesar and Four Days Wonder (1933) by A. A. Milne

It seems like this particular November was a very good month for reading, with three titles bagging first place, (and two others claiming joint second place). There is something of a leaning towards more unorthodox mysteries in this triumvirate. Whilst Enter Murderers is not the easiest of books to come by cheaply, though not impossible, Four Days Wonder became far more accessible when it was reprinted in 2017.  It is not a conventional whodunit, but it is a highly entertaining fugitive on the run story.

November 2018: The Deadly Percheron (1947) by John Franklin Bardin

This month also had a number of very good reads, including a re-reading of Nicholas Blake’s The Beast Must Die (1938). But Bardin’s title certainly had novelty factor. After all what other mystery novel can you name which has a suspect requested, by a leprechaun, to deliver a large horse to an actress? A wonderfully bizarre plot, which does not fall apart.

November 2019:

Best short story collection: The Measure of Malice (2019) ed. By Martin Edwards

Best modern read: A Rising Man (2016) by Abir Mukherjee

Best Vintage Read: Puzzle for Fiends (1946) by Patrick Quentin

In my opinion, A Rising Man, is the best book in the Captain Wyndham series, as I felt it combined puzzle, characters and setting well together. Whilst Quentin’s story is concerned with a sleuth suffering from amnesia, which is not a great position to be in when you’re in the hands of strangers who may have sinister designs on you… I found Quentin played around with the HIBK /heroine in jeopardy formula in an interesting way in this book, placing his male protagonist in that kind of vulnerable situation. Finally, I was quite surprised, in a good way, to find myself enjoying more, stories by Freeman Wills Crofts, and a H. C. Bailey, than by Edmund Crispin, in The Measure of Malice collection. Definitely an unpredicted outcome!

So now we are back in the present day, it is now time to reveal the winner of the 2020 November book of month, which is…

This is McCloy’s first novel and it is one I hugely enjoyed. I found the nature of the murder intriguing and I felt the investigation developed in a really interesting way, with a good mix of physical and psychological clues for the reader to ponder.

Which were your favourite reads of November?

6 comments

  1. I for one like this new feature and I’ll welcome its return. One of the good things about blogging is to be able to see how one’s tastes and thinking evolved or not over the years.

    As for my favourite November read, I’d say Lawrence G. Blochman’s Wives to Burn by a wide margin. It had everything I like in a mystery: a good plot and a good story (the two are not always synonymous, especially in crime fiction) a great use of the Indian setting and memorable characters. I think Blochman is becoming to me as Brian Flynn is to The Doctor!

    Don’t know whether it also counts as a November read but I also reread J.T. Rogers’s The Red Right Hand and enjoyed it as much as I did the first time, with perhaps even greater admiration for the author’s skill to make perfect sense out of the seemingly senseless. I can’t recall whether you read it or not but if you liked Bardin’s book you may want to check it out as it belongs in the same nightmarish vein.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay! Glad I have one person who likes the new feature. It was nice to remind myself of the books I have read over the last five years.
      I have occasionally come across some Blochman titles but not read any yet. Sounds like I might need to give him a try at some point, along with The Red Right Hand, another book I need to get a copy of.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My favourite read of the month was also Harriet Rutland’s ‘Blue Murder’, having been put on to it by your review. I also enjoyed Lawrence Blochman’s ‘Wives to Burn’, but read that one a few months ago. So to add to the conversation, I will mention my second favourite read of the month, George Bellairs’ “Half-Mast for the Deemster”, from 1953. “Deemster” is a Manx term for a senior judicial figure with a distinctive role. I read Bellairs more for the writing and the characters than the puzzle, but this one was satisfactory on all counts. It seems to be one of his first books set on the Isle of Mann, and the picture Bellairs paints of the landscape and the culture made me want to visit. I’ve read perhaps six other Bellairs titles, and this is the first time I realized that Littlejohn’s name is a reference not to his actual size, but to the character from Robin Hood, who was anything but little. We see him manhandle a couple of suspects to get at the truth. There is also a funny scene of a troop of by boy scouts successfully taking on a group of inept villains. An enjoyable and relaxing read.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad Blue Murder was a success for you. Always nice to know when a positive reading experience of your own puts people onto a book which they also go on to enjoy. I’ve read quite a few Bellairs titles, though not the one you refer to, so I shall have to keep an eye out for that one.

      Like

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