Review of 2019

Highlights of the year for me have been:

So That’s What All the Fuss is About Award: Jointly to The Dutch Shoe Mystery and The Crooked Hinge because that is when I “got” Ellery Queen and John Dickson Carr respectively for the first time.







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!


15 thoughts on “Review of 2019”

    1. Excellent point, Kate. What made the categories and comments so enjoyable was that the categories were off the beaten path and highly personal as they related to John’s specific trajectory as a mystery reader.


  1. Alas, the solution to sealed room murder was reused in principle by H. Edward Hunsburger in the mid-1980s, and — in my opinion — in a thoroughly inferior way in a story that only barely makes sense. And so, of course, that was where i first encountered the trick… However, I’m delighted to see someone else loving Rupert Penny!

    Please to see Woolrich getting some love, too. I wasn’t at all sold on him when I first encountered him about 18 years ago, but recently remaking his acquaintance with the likes of ‘All At Once, No Alice’, ‘Murder at the Automat’, and the wonderful ‘Mystery in Room 913’, a.k.a. ‘The Room with Something Wrong’ has been a lot of fun. I picked up the Francis Nevins-curated Darkness at Dawn collection recently, and am looking forward to reading that in 2020.

    Happy new year, and happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And Happy New Year to you.

      Shame that it was spoiled for you in an inferior manner – although H. Edward Hunsberger is an impressive name.

      I hope to read more Penny this year, along with Paul Halter and some of the Japanese mysteries from LRI and I’ve already picked up some JDC/CD based on the combined Ed Hoch/JJ/Dan Top 15 Locked Room Mysteries List.


  2. Impressive list of books – I’m surprised that The Sealed Room Murder made it out on top. Good news for me though, as I received the book for Christmas.

    Thanks for the recommendation of Twelve American Detective Stories. It was easy to track down.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anyone who finds the love for both Queen AND Carr deserves a pat on the back and a promise to buy you a pint the next time I see you. We’ll toast them both in front of JJ . . . I also envy you the experience of reading a book like She Died a Lady without any hint of spoilers! Next year, I hope you get to He Who Whispers, my favorite Carr. And, man, do I agree with you about “The House in Goblin Wood”: only short story that ever shattered me!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve just ordered The Ten Teacups, The Judas Window, Till Death Do Us Part, and He Wouldn’t Kill Patience, but I will get to He Who Whispers at some point.

      I’m deliberately trying not to read reviews of books that I know are highly rated, so of the four above, I only know the set-up of The Judas Window.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d heard that it was highly recommended and so sought it out specially. I’ve read plenty of good short stories, but I think generally because they are short they are a bit throwaway, and whilst there are collections I would recommend e.g The Mysterious Quin, Partners in Crime, or even a selection of hand-picked Father Brown stories, I’ve never come across anything like this as a standalone where I would want to shout to the world “You must read this!”


  4. Happy New Year! I’m glad you got Ellery Queen. He is a great author despite what some cray-cray people say! I’m afraid I can’t agree with your choice for the best novel though…..


    1. Well you can’t please all the people all of the time.

      I bought a job lot of Queen at the end of the year as it included a few titles I definitely wanted so I’ve got Ten Days’ Wonder, The King is Dead, Inspector Queen’s Own Case, The Player on the Other Side, The Fourth Side of the Triangle, Face to Face, Cop Out, and A Fine and Private Place coming up on my TBR pile.


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