Book of the Month: June 2021 & A Summer Easter Egg Hunt

It was a slower month on the blog, clocking only 9 reads. Some of them have been for quite obscure American mysteries, such as Stanley Hopkins Jr.’s Murder by Inches (1943) – the perfect book to read if you want to know how a cat can bust your alibi in a fairly unique way. Most of my reads were authors familiar to me, though in the case of Constance and Gwenyth Little, that did not guarantee a knockout brilliant read.  

To be honest, whilst no read was an absolute dud, as even Anthony Berkeley’s The Wychford Poisoning Case (1926) had its interesting points, I don’t feel there was one stand out book of the month. So instead, I have selected the three best, with suggestions as to who might enjoy them.

Hunt the Tortoise (1950) by Elizabeth Ferrars

First prize for inaccurate cover drawing goes to…

Ideal for a reader who:

  • Enjoys reading mysteries which consider the effects of WW2 on people in its aftermath.
  • Prefers a romance subplot to be more subtly used and to not overpower the plot.
  • Likes a solution which turns supposedly known information on its head.

The Fatal Picnic (1955) by Bernice Carey

Ideal for a reader who:

  • Likes character/character psychology driven mystery fiction.
  • Prefers mysteries which show the negative impact being caught up in a crime has on an individual.
  • Enjoys mysteries which use flashbacks.
  • Likes mysteries which complicate ideas of culpability and responsibility.

Golden Age Detective Stories (2021) ed. By Otto Penzler

Ideal for a reader who:

  • Enjoys classic crime fiction in its short form.
  • Wants to sample a range of classic crime writers and their varying brands of mystery fiction.

And before I forget here is also a brief trip into the past to see which other books have won the accolade of book of the month in June.

Jumping back to June 2016 my best re-read was Hans Olav Lahlum’s The Human Flies (2010), Kate Ellis’ The Death season (2015) was my favourite contemporary crime read and my top golden age detective read was E. M. Channon’s The Chimney Murder (1929). It is a shame that the Lahlum novels have ceased to be translated into English after the fifth book.

Moving on to 2017 and the title of book of the month was once again shared, this time between Anthony Berkeley’s The Piccadilly Murder (1929) and Guy Fraser-Sampson’s A Whiff of Cyanide (2017).

June 2018 was the unfortunate month in which I read Edwin Greenwood’s French Farce (1937). However, it was also the month in which I read June Wright’s The Devil’s Caress (1952) and I can’t wait until later this year when Faculty for Murder (1961) is going to be reprinted.

2019 seems to have been a month of many strong reads, with four titles sharing second place. The book which pipped them to the post though, was Celia Fremlin’s Appointment with Yesterday (1972). The central protagonist’s predicament is a hugely compelling one and I think this is one of Fremlin’s under-sung successes.

Finally, last year I had another triumvirate of titles which held the throne. These were Christine Poulson’s An Air that Kills (2019), No More Murders (1951) by Maria Lang and Peter Shaffer’s The Woman in the Wardrobe (1951). I know some of Maria Lang’s work has been reprinted for Kindle, but I wish some more would be put into paperback, as I have not been able to try more by this author since reading this title.

Finally, just a quick note to say that the blog will be going, (alas not me!), on holiday for the best part of July, as I need time to prepare for an upcoming speaking engagement, and my health at the moment means I simply can’t spread myself thinly across multiple activities. That also means that there won’t be a Death Paints a Picture post in July. However, I can tell you that with a five-vote lead theatrical mysteries will be the next theme when that series of posts starts up again. Bizarrely three of the themes tied for last place!

I hope the lack of new posts in the next few weeks does not cause anyone difficult withdrawal symptoms. Then again there are 1339 posts on the blog, there is bound to be one you have not read it. However, if you have read all of them, then do you fancy an extra challenge? I have concealed in 30 of my reviews a gif, which looks like this:

To give you a head start I can tell you one of these reviews is from this June’s reading. That review will include one final clue and then after that you are on your own for the remaining 28 titles. There is one commonality between all 30 titles, so once you have tracked a few down you might be able to figure it out and that will help to cut down your search time for the remainder. It is sort of like an Easter hunt in July. I will reveal the answers when I return, but if you want to share your answers now you can comment below.

31st July 2021: N. B. The Easter Egg has now closed. The sleuthing cats have left the posts they were hiding on, no doubt off hot on the trail of a new case to solve.

13 comments

  1. Hope you have a great July and will look forward to seeing posts from you again in August.

    Here’s a weird thing–when I see your post in my email notification the gif shows up as Scooby Doo and the gang buzzing along in the Mystery machine. When I see the gif here on the actual blog site it shows up as a cat in a Sherlock hat with a magnifying glass…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh thank you for your list! When I resume Death Paints a Picture I must remember to come back and take a look at it.
      My blogging break is going well. My talk is nearly complete. Just got a few gaps to fill in.

      Liked by 1 person

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