Well, I’ve hit 50,000 visits, so I figure that’s cause for a State of the Nation speech – i.e. a bunch of general bits of waffle for new and old readers alike as to what I’m up to with this blog, a bit of news, and the mandatory “Best of…” list. Hopefully, I’ll have thought of a theme for that by the time I get to the end of the post. Let’s see…
We’ll start off with some news first though – and some news about two television series that I’ve reviewed in the blog recently.
Endeavour, the Inspector Morse prequel that was shown over the Christmas period in the UK has been picked up, to the surprise of absolutely no-one, for a series. Given that, in my opinion, it was better than a lot of episodes of the actual series, especially the later ones, this is excellent news.
Even better news, I discovered a tweet from Robert Thorogood the other day asking for suggestions for episode titles for series 2 of Death In Paradise, easily my favourite TV series of last year. Goodness knows when this will be turning up, but it seems that it exists! An entertaining show with (whisper it quietly) properly clued mysteries! Very excited about this.
Well, I’m a forty year old mystery enthusiast who started this blog to get over my reader’s block. Fifteen months and 136 novels in (plus a number of short stories and other bits and bobs) and it would seem that it’s working. My goal with my blog has always been to seek out “proper” mysteries, something that I’d found was often missing from modern crime novels.
Apart from the occasional foray into thriller territory – some successful, such as here and here, one notably less so – here – I tend to stick to books that are advertised as containing a mystery. I’ve wandered backwards in time for certain out of print authors, most notably Ellery Queen and John Dickson Carr, but more recently I’ve tried to settle on authors that are, if not currently writing, are at least still in print. It’s by no means a hard and fast rule – consider it a guideline.
There are also a number of bibliographies that are slowly building – check out the tabs at the top of the page.
Some authors have been nice enough to stop by and say hello, and a couple follow me on Twitter (@puzzledoctor) as well – I’ll leave it to you to find those comments, but there’s a very nice post (partly) about one of my reviews by Martin Edwards here.
If any aspiring or published authors want a review, feel free to get in touch, either through Twitter or emailing me on firstname.lastname@example.org - I review pretty much every book I read and I always try to give an honest review. I’m all Kindled up as well, so ebook requests are also welcome.
Also, and if I put it here, I might get round to actually doing it, I’m batting around an idea in my head for my own novel at the moment. More on that if it actually happens…
THE PUZZLE DOCTOR AWARDS:
Well, it beats the usual list of recommendations, doesn’t it.
MOST REVIEWED AUTHOR:
Paul Doherty, by a country mile. Having been recommended to me after I’d bemoaned the lack of proper mysteries in historical fiction, I rapidly became addicted to Dr Doherty’s output. At the last count there are 31 reviews of his books on my site – that’s just short of a quarter! – and plenty more to come. Ironically, after discovering Dr Doherty, I’ve since discovered a number of other authors who also produce cracking historical mysteries – see the Other Historical Mysteries tab – but Doherty got there first.
MOST PLUGGED AUTHOR:
Has to be Nev Fountain, author of the Mervyn Stone mysteries, Geek Tragedy, DVD Extras Include: Murder and Cursed Among Sequels. Given that’s three books, it might be overkill that if you search for his name, you’ll find sixteen posts mentioning the books. Well, seventeen now. So they must be good – go and read them. They’re available from www.bigfinish.com. Nev’s been nice enough to retweet a lot of my reviews, so thanks for that! I’ll keep plugging away until the next one comes out.
MOST VISITED REVIEWS:
Usually the ones where the image ends up on Google Images – hence the constant stream to my review of Scream 4 and my rant about the Miss Marple/Jennifer Garner debacle. Of my proper reviews, The Death Maze by Ariana Franklin wins hands down (and that’s not on Google Images). I meant to go through and work out some of the averages for some titles – the next highest story review is The House of Goblin Wood by Carter Dickson, which gets so many direct searches that I think it must be on some reading lists for short story courses – which is completely correct, of course. Then it’s The Finishing Stroke by Ellery Queen, Hercule Poirot’s Christmas and The Hollow by Agatha Christie and The Saltmarsh Murders by Gladys Mitchell. I guess you can’t beat the classics, even if three out of the four are some of my few negative reviews.
A few recommendations now, and I’m going to concentrate on some books that to me were very pleasant surprises. Either a freebie (or cheapie) from Kindle, a lucky find in a charity shop or whatever, just a few books that you might like to check out that you might not have come across. No Doherty or Fountain here – although you should check them out – just a few great reads.
A Spark of Death by Bernadette Pajer – Death in a Faraday cage in turn-of-the-century Seattle. Bought due to a review in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, one of the best mysteries that I’ve read in ages. Available on Kindle.
The Square Root of Murder by Ada Madison – Mathematics, puzzles and murders. A fun little book set in a Massachusetts college campus. Clearly designed to lure me in with the subject matter, looking forward to the sequel.
The Fourth Door by Paul Halter – Finally, the “heir to John Dickson Carr” is being translated into English. Available on Kindle.
The Lake District Mysteries by Martin Edwards – cold case murder mysteries set in the Lake District (obviously) but with some of the most real-feeling characters that I’ve met in the genre. The Cipher Garden and The Arsenic Labyrinth have been reviewed to date.
The Holmes on the Range series by Steve Hockensmith – World’s Greatest Sleuth! and The Crack In The Lens have been reviewed so far, genuinely entertaining mysteries combining Sherlock Holmes (sort of) with the Wild West!
The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg – my only foray to date into Scandinavian crime and a genuine surprise. A really well constructed story.
A Cold Day for Murder by Dana Stabenow – first in the Kate Shugak series, set in Alaska, and best of all, it’s free on Kindle! Oh, and it’s really good as well…
That’ll do, before I start listing all my other reviews (with a few dishonourable exceptions).
WHERE TO NOW?
Well, I’ve got a number of challenges to continue, including my self-imposed Mystery Tour of the USA, so I guess I’ll just keep chugging along. If you’ve read this far, then hopefully you’ll be sticking around too.