Highlights of the year for me have been:
Lifetime Achievement Award: I’d read “Tragedy at Law” and “An English Murder” before but reading through the complete novels of Cyril Hare was a great pleasure, particularly one character’s journey from despair to happiness. Suicide Excepted was the stand out title.
Yorkshireman Award for Best Value for Money: Jointly to “The Derek Smith Omnibus” (Locked Room International) and “4 Novels by Anthony Boucher” (Black Box Thrillers – Zomba Books). Smith only had Whistle Up the Devil published during his lifetime but left us with the excellent novel “Come to Paddington Fair” and “Model for Murder”, a Sexton Blake novella, which could only have been improved by cutting out some of the more thrillerish elements which, having not read any other SB stories, I assume are essential to it being an SB story. All four Boucher books have different points of interest but overall I was most satisfied with The Case of the Seven of Calvary.
Best Unseen Novel Award: “She Died a Lady” by Carter Dickson. I picked up a secondhand copy having read a review sometime ago and forgotten all about it and deliberately did not read the blurb. Everything, including the identity of the victim and the nature of the impossibility, was therefore unknown to me which ratchetted up the tension of the first section.
Best Short Story Award: “The House in Goblin Wood” by Carter Dickson. There aren’t many must read short stories but this one definitely is. I got it in a secondhand copy of “Twelve American Detective Stories” edited by Ed Hoch from which I also especially enjoyed “The Age of Miracles” by Melville Davisson Post, “The Episode of the Nail and the Requiem” by C. Daly King, and “One Drop of Blood” by Cornell Woolrich. If you would rather have a new book, I’m fairly sure it can be found in “Murder in Midsummer – Classic Mysteries for the Holidays” published by Profile Books.
Best Novel Award: I didn’t review it at the time, but overall for the mix of puzzle, solution, and general enjoyment it has to be “Sealed Room Murder” by Rupert Penny. Douglas Merton, narrator, is employed by his uncle, an enquiry agent, to investigate which of Harriet Steele’s relatives is playing malicious practical jokes on her. The jokes turn sour when the mistress of the house is found stabbed to death inside (you guessed it) a Sealed Room. The eventual solution is one that I’ve not seen before and I can’t imagine that anyone has had the chutzpah to duplicate it.
Happy New Year and here’s to reading even better GAD in 2020!