Book of the Month: January 2021

It has been a busy(ish) month on the blog; 20 posts, including this one. Not all of these were book reviews and looking back on January I rather enjoyed working on non-review posts, as they can feel more creatively stimulating. February might see a couple more such posts, depending on the time it takes to research certain things, (why can I never come up ideas that take a small amount of time to do?)

January saw the launch of a new series of posts: Death Paints a Picture. Each month I will be posting on book covers, of mostly vintage, crime fiction, focusing on a specific theme each time. This month I began with cats on covers and I asked my readers to vote on February’s theme. The votes are now in and next month I will be looking at Artistic Equipment on covers. Dogs were a close second and Insects and Criminals Hands came in joint third.

I also posted a written version of the talk I gave at the Bodies from the Conference in 2019, on the author June Wright. It was very exciting to be able to finally read Reservation for Murder (1958), a couple of weeks ago, as this is Wright’s first Mother Paul mystery. I am looking forward to the others being reprinted soon. Another book I have been desperate to read but have only managed to get a copy of this month was She Wouldn’t Say Who (1957) by Delano Ames. Are hard to track down books a bit like buses, I wonder?  

This month also saw me publishing my findings on what modern crime authors think the legacy is, of the Golden Age of detective fiction, entitled: What Did Golden Age Detective Fiction Ever Do for Us? A Legacy… This was an interesting piece of research to do and it was great so many authors were willing to take part.

And if that wasn’t enough, I also posted this week a ranked list of the books by Christopher St John Sprigg, which I have read so far and I put up a classic crime fiction quiz: Where was Dr Black Killed? Solve the Quiz of Tudor Mansion to Find Out! Not only do you have to answer the trivia questions, but you also have to figure out where Dr Black was killed.

So really it is a wonder you have had any time left over after reading all of that!

Before looking at this month’s winner of the Book of the Month title, I am continuing my foray into the past and seeing which books won it in previous years…

Back in January 2016 the winner was:

I felt this book had an engaging setting, with a crime/crisis situation which gives the narrative an engrossing sense of urgency, as Detective Napoleon Bonaparte races against time to save a woman’s life.

Meanwhile in January 2017 two books held the title:

Both books are quite different from one another, especially in terms of setting, but each of them was full of sneaky clues and had well-put together plots. Looking back, I would say these titles are one of, if not the best book by each author.

The winner of the Book of the Month in January 2018 was from an author I had not read before:

Although this book is not everyone’s cup of tea, I really enjoyed the humour running through this book and felt it balanced puzzle and character development well. Typical me I have yet to read anything else by this author, so if you know of any good books by him, then let me.

January 2019 sees another modern title claim the prize:

My decision to look back at previous winners is rather timely, as it has reminded me that I think the second book in this series is coming out later this year. I enjoyed the cold case element of this story and definitely remember it being a page turning read.

Finally, last year’s Book of the Month was:

Another book which has it all really: the edge of your seat plot whose direction you can’t predict, well-crafted characters, even if they’re not the sort you would like to invite around for tea, and a strong dose of delicious irony to cap it all off.

This time around there were several contenders for the Book of the Month accolade and three highly deserving runners up were:

However, my last read of the month, Christopher St John Sprigg’s The Perfect Alibi (1934) just pipped these other books to the post. This was a brilliant book which avoided the pitfalls of some of the other titles by this writer and like other BOM winners, it had plot, character and humour in just the right proportions.

Last but not least, in other news, this month saw one of my olive egger hens do their first olive green egg.

9 comments

  1. the Gilbert was one of my favorite reads of 2019–later to the party than you, but the details of life in the Italian camp were fascinating. We seldom hear the Italian camps mentioned, only the German. I’m about to get hold of the St John Sprigg as I enjoyed Death of an Airman. TBR groweth by the day even though I’m still awaiting my second cataract surgery!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As regards J C Masterman, the only book of his that I’ve read was “An Oxford Tragedy” (available from bloomsburyreader.com along with “Fate Cannot Harm Me) but while I would describe it as a solid enough plot the book on the whole wasn’t particularly memorable to me, perhaps because I have no particular knowledge of, nor reverence for, Oxford and its traditions. It does have the same detective, Ernst Brendel who was in “The Four Friends” so your mileage may vary.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the post – it’s nice recapping past winners, especially Jennifer Rowe (whom I encountered through your blog), and Christopher Huang. 🤩

    Thanks also for sharing photos of the eggs – what’s the difference between a regular egg and an olive green egg? Is it simply a matter of colour? Did you need to breed or feed the chickens differently to achieve this result? 🐓

    I’m halfway through the second entry in Ragnar Jonasson’s ‘Dark Iceland Series’ – we’ll see if the comparisons with Agatha Christie remain credible. 🧐

    Liked by 2 people

    • There’s no difference in taste with the eggs, it is just a different shell colour. Shell colour is determined by genetics, though thankfully I was able to buy my hens rather than having to breed them. Olive Eggers are a hybrid breed which means they came about by breeding different types of chickens. In their case you need one parent who has the brown shell gene, (such as a Maran) and one parent who has the blue shell gene, (such as a Cream Legbar, which I think is another hybrid which is part Araucana (a breed which naturally does blue shells)). However, to get the colour of green you see above you probably need to breed a few generations, it is not quite like mixing different coloured paint together.

      Liked by 1 person

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