Book of the Month: July and August 2021

It has a been a strange month for the blog, being initially quite busy with catching up on the reviews for my July reads, but then getting quieter again when other activities rather overtook my time and limited energy.

Continuing the theme of catching up, I have selected two joint winners for July’s Book of the Month out of my 11 reads. The first is The Cat Saw Murder (1939) by D. B. Olsen a.k.a. Dolores Hitchens, which is a gritty boarding house mystery, which proves that the early cat mysteries were far from cozy.

Meanwhile the second is The Widow of Bath (1952) by Margot Bennet. I particularly enjoyed seeing Bennett write a mystery without using the flashback structure.

In August I only managed 6 reads and the fiction ones were to varying degrees disappointing. Consequently, I have decided to appoint a non-fiction title as my August book of the Month: Sherlock in the Seventies: A Wild Decade of Sherlock Holmes Films (2021) by Derham Groves.

This is a great book which packs in a lot of unusual information and insights about 9 Sherlock Holmes made in the 70s.

In keeping with my other Book of the Month posts, I have looked through my records to uncover which titles won this accolade in previous Augusts.

Back in 2016 an author who is a firm favourite of mine, June Wright, won book of the month with her second mystery So Bad a Death (1949). This is a brilliant book for so many reasons. There are the great characters, the unusual, possibly original murder method and an excellent send up of the country house mystery subgenre. It is a shame that it is not as widely read as it deserves.

Then in 2017 another female author whose work I love, Ethel Lina White, claimed victory with Some Must Watch (1933), which is a perfect read if you want a scary tense tale for October. (N. B. Do not read it home alone on a stormy night, especially if you live in the countryside.)

2018 saw a number of titles being recommended beginning with A Voice Like Velvet (1944) by Donald Henderson and Ordeal by Innocence (1958) by Agatha Christie, which both shared third place. Second place was secured by Fear Stalks the Village (1932) by Ethel Lina White and in joint first place was The Colour of Murder (1957) by Julian Symons and Till Death Do Us Part (1944) by John Dickson Carr. You could say it was a bumper month for good reads!

2019 seems to have been also a strong month for reading with two vintage runners up: Home to Roost (1976) by Andrew Garve and Murder is Absurd (1967) by Patricia McGerr and two modern runners up: The Maltese Herring (2019) by L. C. Tyler and The Kill Fee (2016) by Fiona Veitch Smith. And the book which beat them all? It was a tough decision, but book of the month went to The Key to Nicholas Street (1953) by Stanley Ellin.

Finally last August two new-to-me authors shared second place: Post Mortem (1953) by Guy Cullingford and Murder in the Family (1940) by James Ronald and first place went to The Man Who Didn’t Fly (1955) by Margot Bennett. This is quite fitting as it brings us back to the start of this post with Bennett’s other title claiming a second win.

In looking back at my previous book of the month titles it has been interesting to remind myself of the winners, which are quite an eclectic bunch. In some cases these are writers I have continued to read and enjoy, whilst others seem to have been more one trick ponies, who haven’t reached such heights again.

My blogging during September is likely to be erratic as I will be going down to Paignton to deliver my talk for the Agatha Christie festival on animals in classic crime fiction. If you would like to get a ticket, click here.

My reading, as time and health allow, will hopefully encompass Anthony Horowitz’s latest book A Line to Kill (2021), The Supper Club Murders (2021) by Victoria Dowd, The Invisible Host (1930) by Gwen Bristow and Bruce Manning and The Man Who Wasn’t There (2021) by Henrietta Hamilton, amongst others.

What titles are you hoping to read this September?

10 comments

  1. Thanks for the reminder that I have Bennett, Ellin, Taylor, White and Wright on my virtual TBR! 😅 I’m currently reading a mysterious but non-mystery novel: the first entry in the Scarlett and Browne series by Jonathan Stroud.

    Hoping to read Anthony Horowitz’s latest Hawthorne-Horowitz novel next; I also have a stack of Chinese and Japanese mystery novels bobbing its way towards me. 🤓✨

    Liked by 1 person

  2. August was a difficult reading month here as well. I think I abandoned as many books as I completed. However, a new stack awaits me: Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich, a couple of Garry Dishers, and the first by Anne Emery.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bravo to Dolores for winning the prize this month! I did enjoy that very early mystery of hers. Hope you can read some of her Prof. Pennyfeather books some day. They are just as good, if not better.

    Thanks for including books you plan to read this month. In that list I learned that there’s a new Hawthorne & Horowitz mystery. I immediately ordered the US edition. However, we don’t get our version until October. That’s actually good because I still have yet to read my copy of Horowitz’s Moonflower Murders which I bought I don’t know how many months ago. [Was it really last year?!] I’ve given up on ordering UK editions because shipping rates have gone up and I’ve lost several books this year with the bizarre customs quarantines and other pandemic restrictions put in place by Royal Mail and the USPS. One was a rare Bruce Graeme UK first edition with a dust jacket that cost me a pretty penny. Never to be seen. Have no idea what the hell happened to it. Aargh…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel your pain regarding the lost book. I once bought an Ames novel from America and instead I got a motorbike autobiography. I got my money back, but it took ages until I could track down another copy of the book.
      I really hope too that I will get the chance to try one of Hitchen’s Pennyfeather mysteries. Maybe someone will reprint one of them at some point.
      It will be interesting to see what you make of Moonflower. People seem to either think it was better than the first one or not as good as the first one.

      Like

      • On the list for September. And In case you’re curious what happened to the The Man Who…” series of posts I decided to abandon them all. Too many other projects take priority. Blogging is not as frequent for me in the summer as you may (or may not) have noticed.

        Liked by 1 person

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