Book of the month: March 2015

I haven’t done one of these monthly round-ups for a while, but March was an absolutely storming month in terms of reading. Mainly due to being trapped in a hotel for 5 days straight (don’t ask).

In chronological order, then…

The Murders in the Rue MorgueGoing right back to the beginning of mystery fiction, Edgar Allan Poe’s Murders in the Rue Morgue (and other stories) is widely credited with kickstarting the genre. It’s good stuff, if a little, erm, preposterous.

Another classic is E. C. Bentley’s Trent’s Last Case, a satire of the genre which inadvertently kickstarted a completely new set of tropes.

Frank Froest’s The Grell Mystery (review pending) is a paean to Scotland Yard by a man who could bend a sixpence with his bare hands. Yes.

Movie star (he played the Saint back before Roger Moore) George Sanders’ Crime on My Hands is a sardonic mystery set in 40s Hollywood, suspiciously dedicated to ghost writer Craig Rice. From a new publisher called Dean Street Press.

Sticking in 40s LA, Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely is my favourite Chandler, in which his archetypical PI Philip Marlowe wisecracks his way around the corrupt little town of Bay City.

Robert van Gulik’s Necklace and Calabash was my entry for the #1967book challenge. Judge Dee sorts out a classical Chinese mystery with a lot of false pretences and a bit of martial artistry.

Margey Allingham’s last novel, finished by her husband Philip Youngman Carter, Cargo of Eagles is a piratical romp with motorcycle gangs and spies in the remote Essex village of Saltey.

Three quick reads which I will be sending Eurocrime’s way. I Nearly Died, Full Personal Service, and Under the Influence are fun pieces by the theatre critic Charles Spencer, newly republished by Bello Books. Greatly enjoyed all three.

men-at-arms-2Book of the month? Men at Arms by the late, great Terry Pratchett. This is one of my two favourites (the other being local-journalism satire The Truth).

Vimes of the Watch is joined by the charismatic Corporal Carrot, Fred, Nobby Nobbs (‘disqualified from the human race for shoving’) and some surprising new recruits in an adventure involving assassins, dwarfs and trolls, a talking dog, and the Discworld’s first gun.

This is an amazingly inventive book which has also has time to squeeze in a canine demagogue, the problems of being a werewolf in lodgings, a consideration of the effects of temperature on a silicon-based life-form, thoughts on why poor people spend more than rich people, and even a clown museum. Brilliant and I’m sorry we won’t see more.

You can see what other reviewers got up to in March over 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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2 Responses to Book of the month: March 2015

  1. Keishon says:

    Didn’t know you read the Chandler. Of course I agree having recently read it, too.


  2. Those are two of my favourite Pratchetts too. Great man, great books, greatly missed….


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