Crime fiction pick of the month: July 2013

I read three more of the CWA’s top 100 this month, bringing my total to 48 (you’ll see from my pie chart that this is only 47.1% – Len Deighton’s Game, Set and Match are three books, not one). Next month I definitely get halfway.


Sarah Caudwell’s The Shortest Way to Hades (1984) is a very ’80s, light-touch legal whodunit featuring the mysteriously-gendered detective Professor Hilary Tamar.

Michael Innes’ The Journeying Boy (1947) is a detective/adventure story with a nice urbane wit. If the second half had intrigued me as much as the first, it could have been a book of the month. 

Desmond Bagley’s Running Blind (1970) is a pretty standard man-on-the-run thriller, given some distinction by its Icelandic setting.

I read two classics not on the CWA list:

Didier Daeninckx’s Murder in Memoriam (1984) has the distinction of being only the second French novel I have reviewed on Past Offences. I’d recommend it to fans of Camilleri – the protagonist is very similar to Montalbano.

Charles Warren Adams’ The Notting Hill Mystery (1862-3) is usually cited as the first detective novel, published in a good quality paperback edition by the British Library. There are some great illustrations by George du Maurier.

I’ve just now finished Traitor’s Field by Robert Wilton, which I’ll be reviewing for Eurocrime. Here’s the blurb:

It is 1648 and Britain is at war with itself. The Royalists are defeated but Parliament is in turmoil, its power weakened by internal discord. Royalism’s last hope is Sir Mortimer Shay, a ruthless veteran of decades of intrigue who must rebuild a credible threat to Cromwell’s rule, whatever the cost. John Thurloe is a young official in Cromwell’s service. Confronted by the extent of the Royalists’ secret intelligence network, he will have to fight the true power reaching into every corner of society: the Comptrollerate-General for Scrutiny and Survey.

It’s my pick of the month, but you’ll have to wait until my review appears…

You can see other crime fiction picks at Mysteries in Paradise.

About pastoffences

Past Offences exists to review classic crime and mystery books, with ‘classic’ meaning books originally published before 1987.
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5 Responses to Crime fiction pick of the month: July 2013

  1. Marni Graff says:

    Know Caudwells work.
    Think ill look for the Adams in a shop when I’m in the UK in August. Thanks!


  2. Margot Kinberg says:

    Rich – Nice reading list! And you’ve reminded me that I must renew my acquaintance with Innes.


  3. TracyK says:

    All very interesting books. I had not heard of Didier Daeninckx before. My husband has bought The Notting Hill Mystery to read.


  4. Hi, I felt I had to respond because you ‘liked’ us – not many people do (pause for the smallest violin in the world to tune up), but then I started reading your posts. Fascinating opinions and enormous breadth of knowledge: but pace A.S. Byatt, I think ‘The Tiger in the Smoke’ has the edge over ‘Traitor’s Purse’ – perhaps a less subtle and intricate plot, but the characterisation of the villains (and the canon and his coat), to say nothing of the master-stroke of the statue’s power, make it the tops for me. BTW, if you ever stray from fiction into non- [advertising alert!], try ‘Twenty-Five Years of Detective Life’ by Albert Caminada, exposing the real-life dark underbelly of Victorian Manchester. I’ve never yet blogged about him, but I should.


  5. PS, Bother, I should have said JEROME Caminada…


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