Despite five baby goats being born this month, I still managed to read 13 books.* I also had fun taking part in the Bodies from the Library conference, which took place earlier in May.
Before finding out which was my favourite read of this month, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and see which authors have previously won the accolade of Book of the Month in May…
In 2016 An English Murder (1951) by Cyril Hare just snuck ahead of Case for Three Detectives (1936) by Leo Bruce. But it was a very tricky decision, and I would of course go on to hunt down the remaining titles in Bruce’s Sergeant Beef series.
A year later and another favourite author of mine, made it to first place, with Richard Hulls’ Keep It Quiet (1935). I very much enjoyed the humour and the plot twists in this story.
May in 2018 had several strong reads including Murder by the Book (1989) by Jennifer Rowe, Weekend at Thrackley (1934) by Alan Melville and For Old Crime’s Sake (1959) by Delano Ames, but once more Richard Hull stole the prize with his mystery Murder Isn’t Easy (1936) by Richard Hull.
In 2019 I had a favourite re-read as well as a favourite new read. The re-read saw Cyril Hare gain another accolade with Suicide Excepted (1939), whilst my new favourite read for May was An Afternoon to Kill (1953) by Shelley Smith. With this latter title I especially liked the story within a story device used.
Finally, last May I chose Don’t Open the Door! (1945) by Anthony Gilbert as my book of the month for its more unpredictable narrative.
However, back to the present, May’s reading featured a number of new-to-me authors:
- Angela Dyson – The Love Detective (2018)
- Jo Csida – Crime is of the Essence (1947)
- Marguerite Silverman – The Vet It Was That Died (1945)
- Clare Clarke – British Detective Fiction 1891-1901: The Successors to Sherlock Holmes (2020) [The only non-fiction title]
- Anthony Abbot – About the Murder of Geraldine Foster (1930)
- Robert Thorogood – The Marlow Murder Club (2021)
Of these my favourite discovery was Marguerite Silverman’s story in which she utilises her own veterinary experience to fuel the plot.
Nevertheless, I have also been really enjoying returning to other more familiar writers. The standout titles from this category were:
- The Unsuspected (1947) by Charlotte Armstrong
- Seven Clues in Search of a Crime (1941) by Bruce Graeme
- The Case of the Careless Kitten (1942) by Erle Stanley Gardner
- A Shroud for Rowena (1947) by Virginia Rath
The 1940s certainly seem to have provided me with some strong reads this month, but the novel which just pipped the others to the post, for Book of the Month, was Armstrong’s The Unsuspected (1947). This is a story which definitely deserves to be better known as it creatively and expertly deployed the inverted mystery structure, in such a way that the read is still full of surprises.
I have less reading time coming up in June, so don’t panic or sound the alarm if my posts are more infrequent. I will be announcing the Coffee and Crime Prize Draw Winner on Twitter tomorrow. However, you still have until the end of today (May 31st) to enter. So don’t delay!
*Before going on to their new homes later this year, we have given them the temporary names of: Lupin, Dandelion, Tweed, Moray and Galloway. All those with some agricultural knowledge will be able to pick Galloway out of the lineup.