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?