This month I managed 16 reads, although many weren’t books that I reviewed as they were non-crime fiction. However, I really enjoyed reading more this month, as my brain definitely seems happier when it gets plenty to read. I think books provide my mind with better stimulation than TV. December also saw the posting of the answers to my Murder Stalks the Village picture puzzle as well as the results for the 2021 Reprint of the Year awards. We had lots more people taking part, both in nominating and voting, which was great. It is lovely to see the awards growing each year.
This month, for Book of the Month, I decided to do a Top 3. So in third place is Murder in the Blue (1937) by Clifford Witting.
I think this might be my favourite novel by Witting that I have read. It had good characterisation, an interesting bookshop milieu, enjoyable metafictional comments, and humour, as well as a multi-layered puzzle. I think its main weakness was that it was a bit too long.
Next in second place is Murder After Christmas (1944) by Rupert Latimer.
This is a standout festive mystery, one of the best that I have read for a while. Latimer firmly situates his mystery within the Christmas season, deploying well known tropes creatively. There are lots of lovely social and cultural details of the period as well as some well-executed humour. The quirky characters were very much my cup of tea, and I felt their traits fed into the central puzzle, as they generated ambiguity over who was guilty and who was just acting suspiciously for a different reason.
That means first place has been won by A Case for Solomon (1943) by Bruce Graeme.
This is the third in the Theodore Terhune series and I would say it is the best in the series yet. I began the series earlier this year and I have enjoyed it so much that it will be one I’ll return to in 2022. Graeme engagingly develops his intriguing plot premise, with a successful blend of a trial mystery with a cold case and a bibliomystery. There are some good surprises, and the gentle social comedy continues to work well.
I am not planning on doing a separate review of the year on my blog. I don’t feel I have enough to say to justify a separate post. It seems I have managed to read five more books by male authors than female, although I think this is accounted for by some required reading I had to do for other projects in 2021. I was surprised how well I evenly split my reading across the 30s, 40s and 50s, with 25, 25 and 22 reads respectively. Unsurprisingly I didn’t read anything from the 70s, 80s, 90s or 2000s. I did manage to read 18 books either published in 2020 or 2021, which is good going for me. The earliest book that I read was originally published in 1897. I also noted that I read mysteries from 7 authors who were not from the UK or USA, namely: Norway, Denmark, Australia, India, Holland, Ireland, and Sicily.
I also thought it might be nice to list some of the posts I wrote this year which were not reviews. I find it quite refreshing to do these posts and I like how they help me to look at mysteries in different ways.
- The 36 Most Read Mysteries of 1936
- Jane and Dagobert Brown’s Cases: Another Classic Crime Ranking
- Which Room is Agatha Christie Most Likely to Kill You In?
- Where is Agatha Christie Most Likely to Murder You? The Outdoor Edition
- Agatha’s Ark: Animals in Classic Crime Fiction
- “The Game is Afoot”: A Sherlock Holmes Picture Quiz
- The Mysteries of Christopher St John Sprigg: A Mini Ranked List
- “My name is Wu. Lily Wu.”: A Forgotten Gem from 1940s American Detective Fiction
- Solving Crimes Down Under: June Wright (1919-2012)
- My Top Ten Reads from the Dean Street Press
- Top Ten Tuesday: Say it with a Dell [A post I did for Valentine’s Day]
- What Did Golden Age Detective Fiction Ever Do for Us? A Legacy…
- Death Paints a Picture: The Feline Edition
- Where was Dr Black Killed? Solve the Quiz of Tudor Mansion to Find Out!
So what are my plans for 2022? I am afraid mine is rather boring in simply wanting to get my TBR pile under control. The addition of 24 books during December probably hasn’t helped… I don’t have any plans to read 33.33% more female authors or read alternate classic and modern mysteries in every month with an ‘M’ in the title. Those types of goals make me feel rather pressured, as I would feel bad if I didn’t achieve them. Looking at my TBR pile female authors don’t have too much to worry about anyways. So I think I will keep reading what I am already reading – mostly classic crime fiction – leaning towards female authors from the 40s and 50s. Hopefully they are books you will be interested in too. I might join in more of the Top Ten Tuesday posts as they can be quite fun. I enjoy doing thematic posts so if there any topics you would be interested in, do let me know.
All there is left for me to say is Happy New Year and I hope 2022 has lots of good reads in store for you!