Thursday, April 7, 2016

New (to me anyway) Books: January to March

The New (to me anyway) Meme is sponsored by Kerrie over at Mysteries in Paradise. Here's what she's looking for....

Just write a post about the best new-to-you crime fiction authors (or all) you've read in the period of January to March 2016, put a link to her meme in your post (click above), and even use the logo if you like. The books don't necessarily need to be newly published. After writing your post, then link up over at Kerrie's place and visit the links posted by other participants in the meme to discover even more books to read. 'Cause there are never enough books to hunt down and read.
Here are the books by authors I hadn't tried before:
Puzzle in Petticoats by Samuel M. Kootz (1944)
Four Against the Bank of England by Ann Huxley (1969) [non-fiction]
The Triumphs of Eugene Valmont by Robert Barr (1906)
The Clock Ticks On by Valentine Williams (1933)
The Doberman Wore Black by Barbara Moore (1983)
The Fifth Passenger by Edward Young (1963)
The Bridal Bed Murders by A. E. Martin (1954)
The Day He Died by Lewis Padgett (1947)
House of Darkness by Allan MacKinnon (1947)
The Philomel Foundation by James Gollin (1980)
Dead Against My Principles by Kenneth Hopkins (1960)
Death in Profile by Guy Fraser-Sampson (2016)
Overall, the experiments with new authors were very successful with most earning at least three stars, several with four, and one run-away winner with five stars. The two most disappointing were The Triumphs of Eugene Valmont and The Bridal Bed Murders with two stars apiece. The first lacked the promised humor and the second fell down on the job severely in the mystery department. The best of the bunch were Death in Profile and House of Darkness
Death in Profile wins for new-to-me, new releases. Guy Fraser-Sampson has created a company of very interesting characters. Characters who are at once likeable and compelling with imperfections that we can all understand and relate to. He has also, as noted on the novel's back cover, put together a "love letter to the detective novel." A notation that should come as no surprise to those of us who love the Golden Age Detective novel and who are fellow members of a GAD group online, because I would add that it is a love letter to the classic detective novel. The references to various writers from the Golden Age and their creations as well as the most obvious tribute to Dorothy L. Sayers and Lord Peter Wimsey are quite delightful. Fraser-Sampson pulled me into the story from the outset and I enjoyed the investigation quite a lot. I also enjoyed the various tensions developed in the story--from the tensions between older and newer methods of police work to the tensions between various members of the team to the tensions involved with bringing in the profiler. 
But the overall winner is House of Darkness. This, quite honestly, was the most fun I've had reading a mad-dash, mystery thriller in a long time. Even though I had never heard of Allan MacKinnon before, I snatched it right up when I saw this near-fine Dell Mapback edition sitting at my favorite used bookstore--just waiting for me. What a delight to find such a cracking good yarn with engaging characters, apt descriptions, and humorous dialogue. I have a feeling MacKinnon had a great deal of fun putting this story together and it translates to plenty of enjoyment for the reader. A definite surprise favorite--and it may just turn out to be the overall favorite for the year.  

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