Book of the Month: September 2022

It has been a slower month on the blog, with only 6 novels, 1 literary criticism book and a short story reviewed. However, on a whim I decided to add up how many words I wrote within these posts, and it transpires that there were 24760 of them! So whilst you may have received fewer posts from me in September, it seems like you are not getting short changed on the amount of words. The high word count is partially due to having reviewed Desirée Prideaux’s Sleuthing Miss Marple: Gender, Genre, and Agency in Agatha Christie’s Crime Fiction (2022) and I tend to write more when reviewing a non-fiction work. But I also think the fact I had many brilliant reads this month contributed to this too, as I found I had a lot to say about these books. Nevertheless, one downside to having a good reading month is that it is harder to decide who gets the accolade of book of the month.

This being me I had two categories in the end, beginning with…

Best Re-Read: Death on the Nile (1937) by Agatha Christie

Fontana paperback of Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile. It has a gun and a pharaoh's head on it.

Ignoring the fact there were no other re-reads this month, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one when I re-read it, as I feared the re-reading process might become lacklustre one due to my familiarity with the plot. However, this book shows how Christie mysteries can be read, and loved, for more than discovering whodunnit and I found I had a lot to say about the novel, particularly how the story interacts with Greek tragedy.

Best New Read was a more difficult category to decide upon as I had three great reads which all got the same rating. The three contenders were:

American Mystery Classics edition of The Fabulous Clipjoint by Frederic Brown.

A great book for readers, like me, who might not be diehard hardboiled fans. The choice of adolescent protagonist really softens the style, and I enjoyed how Uncle Ambrose’s approach to viewing people contrasts to that of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple.

American Mystery Classic edition of Cornell Woolrich's Deadline at Dawn.

Another successful read from this author and another unusual plotline with a man and woman giving themselves a handful of hours to solve a murder, with a view to changing the direction of their lives, if and only if, they manage to find the killer in time.

The Twist of a Knife by Anthony Horowitz

A delightful theatrical mystery and like Woolrich’s book, it too gives its protagonist a tight deadline for solving a case, which has strong personal consequences for one of them. This was a book I raced through, and I enjoyed reacquainting myself with the series characters.

After much dithering, followed by some umming and ahing, I selected Woolrich’s mystery as my Best New Read. It is a brilliant combination of gripping plot and beautiful prose – the latter of which is influenced by modernist “Jazz Age” writing (except this story is highly readable, easy to understand and has an interesting plot). There is great use of imagery, and it feeds into the action of the narrative which is a blend of noir and the boy/girl next door romance. It is the sort of thing you might think shouldn’t work, but in Woolrich’s hands it does.

September also saw the re-launch of the Coffee and Vintage Crime Advent Calendars. I started the launch earlier this year as I anticipated having to put my Etsy shop on hold for part of October. Naturally, with sod’s law in operation, this temporary pause is looking like it will happen in November instead. However, it has been brought to my attention that there are going to be a lot of Royal Mail partial/complete strikes during November, covering nearly 2 weeks of the month, I believe. Consequently, based on the information available at this time, I would recommend putting in your order for a calendar in October, if it is something you have been thinking about. I am looking into other couriers that I could use instead during November, but this might see an increase in postage costs unfortunately, so I thought I would give you a heads up. Apologies for the inconvenience, I am trying to navigate the changing circumstances as best I can.

Pile of books

I already have one read under my belt for October, an enjoyable return to the work of Anthony Gilbert, and hopefully I will get the review posted for that soon. I am finding lately that I am less able to decide in advance what I am going to read, I am becoming more of a mood reader. So the rest of this month’s reads are a mystery to you and me! Hope everyone has a good month of reading ahead of them. Which books are you looking forward to reading the most?

4 comments

  1. I only recently started reading this blog which I find most interesting. Do you do a roundup of your best new reads for the year when you get to the end of the year? That would be excellent.  All the bestCamilla 

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you are enjoying the blog. I have sometimes done so in the past, but I don’t do it every year. It is certainly I think about for this year, see what I come up with and how manic December is!

      Like

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