Monday 3 February 2020

Read in 2020 - 1, 2, 3

My first three completed reads in 2020 happened to be mysteries, but all very different from each other. All three had in common that they kept up the suspense rather well, and had some likeable (and some less so) characters in them.

#1: A Matter of Policy
An Amy Brewster Mystery
Sam Merwin Jr.

First published in 1947, this was probably my favourite of the three here. It set my mind's cinema well in motion, depicting characters and places in a manner that I could easily imagine right out of a black-and-white movie.

The plot: A young insurance clerk all of a sudden finds himself the centre of attention when a policy is issued that entitles the beneficiary to a large sum of money after his death. 
Trouble is, the young man has no family, has been scraping by on his meagre salary for years now, and nobody seems to know who issued the policy, and why.
And who is the mysterious Tosta Kaaren, named as beneficiary?

The cast of characters ranging from an alluring nightclub singer to a private detective, gangsters, playboys and rich heiresses inlcudes Amy Brewster, a very unusual figure and one that appeared in only three novels, although I imagine her having been quite popular with readers back then.

The author must have been quite a character, too - doesn't it say something about a person if they use four different pen names? Find out more about Sam Merwin Jr. here on wikipedia, if you like.

I certainly enjoyed this book and wouldn't mind coming across more free ebooks by the same writer.

#2: The One You Love
Emma Holden Suspense Mystery Trilogy, Book 1
Paul Pilkington

On his own website, Paul Pilkington is described as "suspense mystery author known for his fast-paced thrillers and mysteries packed with suspense, twists, turns and cliffhangers."
I can definitely confirm that! Sometimes the story had me on my toes, and although more than once I found the heroine's actions hard to understand (you know you've been stalked for years by a man, and yet you go and seek him out - ON YOUR OWN?!), I suspected the true identity of the almost-murderer only about two thirds into the book.

Emma Holden is a young actress about to marry. On the night of her hen party, her husband-to-be disappears. When she returns to her flat, she finds her fiance's brother unconscious - the only person who could maybe shed some lights on the mysterious events is half dead and in a coma...

In this book, everyone is keeping secrets from everyone else, something I found a bit annoying at times. But the story is so fast-paced you just race along with it, waiting for the big revelation. The end leaves enough open for the reader to wonder, and anticipate Book 2 of this trilogy. I am not sure I am going to actively look for it, but would read it if I came across it.

#3:For Sale in Palm Springs
Henry Wright Mystery Book 1
Albert Simon

Of the three books reviewed here, I liked the principal character in this one best, but was slightly disappointed with poor editing. 

Henry Wright is a retired police chief, widowed a few years ago, who moved to Palm Springs to escape the cold, snowy winters of his hometown.

Every now and then, he helps the FBI with an investigation as a profiler, but other than that, he enjoys his retirement and beautiful house with swimming pool. He meets his friends and talks to his grown-up daughter on the phone, but there is no woman in his life since his wife died very suddenly.

Then he gets drawn into a case not far from his neighbourhood: A real estate agent is found murdered in one of the empty houses he was supposed to show a prospective buyer.

On the surface, nobody had a motive, even though some former house buyers were not perfectly happy with their purchase. The cute office manager is very helpful, and Henry begins to see her as a woman, not just as a source of information...

The story is quiet, not all that action-packed, in spite of it taking place within a week or so. Most of what happens is packed into the last 10 % or so of the book. The conclusion leaves the reader (me) satisfied, and if there was the promise of better editing, I guess I would want to read more of Henry Wright's cases.


  1. It sounds like you had three good mysteries to start the year off! You read on a Kindle don't you? I love my Kindle as I can adjust the font size so easily plus it is nice to be able to find a book and download it immediately.

    1. It was interesting to read three very different mysteries and still find common ground, regardless of the times and places of writing.
      Whenever I am travelling by train (which is almost every day, to and from work, and then again on weekends), my Kindle is with me - the perfect travel companion, much easier to handle than a physical book.
      At home, I prefer physical books, especially if they are non-fiction.
      Yes, the adjustable font size is a big plus for the Kindle.

  2. Sounds like you read three most satisfactory mysteries this year. I use my Kindle for travel, but at home I read library books.

    1. They kept me entertained during those trips to and from work, or while waiting at the station. Like you, I use my Kindle for travel (see my reply to Bonnie). At home, I have a pile of books waiting to be read - some were given to me for birthdays or Christmas, others I bought last year in England at my favourite bookshop.

  3. It's always fun to read about what you've been reading! But I am not sure what I think it means when an author has several pen names...Some of my favorite authors do. For instance, the recently deceased M.C. Beaton wrote under several pen names. (I know you like her Agatha Raisin books.) And Faith Martin wrote under several names and then her publishers republished nearly everything she wrote under the name of Faith Martin. I've been rereading they mysteries about Jenny Starling ones about a wonderful cook.

    1. Thank you for letting me know about Marion Chesney's death; my Mum and I love the Agatha Raisin series but neither of us knew that the author died in December. Yes, she used quite a few different pen names for her different styles of writing and series, like many other authors have done and still do. Faith Martin is a name I don't think I have come across before, but mysteries featuring a wonderful cook sound good!

    2. At wikipedia you can find the Jenny Starling titles...

    3. I'll have a look, thank you, Kristi!

  4. I haven't read any of these. I seem to recognise the name Paul Pilkington, but probably just came across the name when browsing Kindle books.

    1. That happens to me, too; I come across an author's name and am pretty sure I have read something by them, but when I look their names up on my blog, I can't find them - I guess I have read reviews about their books on other blogs then, such as yours.

  5. I am feeling bad now. You have read three books in 2020 but I am still only halfway through the novel I am reading - "A Week in December" by Sebastian Faulks.

    1. All three were relatively short books, plus I was travelling a lot. Maybe it makes you feel better if I tell you that I have started on Leonardo Da Vinci's biography last September and still have not finished it, even though it is highly readable and I enjoy every page.