My first year in blogging: The best and what’s next!

It’s December 2017 and with that comes the anniversary of my first year of blogging! I started The Reader Is Warned with the sole purpose of getting things out of my head. Excitements, thoughts, ideas and theories about locked room mysteries and impossible crimes that had to come out somewhere, and I really didn’t think much more would come of it. But something totally surprised me, and that was all of you! I have found a group of bloggers and readers who share these passions and a desire to express them, discuss them and read about them together.

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I have been recommended books and TV shows I never would have read or seen otherwise. I have a deeper insight into this whole crime genre and it’s joys and treasures. I have discussed and debated with so many people in this digital world, and I have met fellow bloggers JJ, Kate and Puzzle Doctor in person! Myself and JJ started our podcast together on impossible crime fiction, and through that I have met and interviewed authors I love, and we have had some great laughs making the series. What a year it has been! Thanks to all of you for making this what it is, and here’s to another year!

Well, before I get carried away and start tearing up, I thought I would take an opportunity to look back over this year and try and pick my favourites. With so many great books it has proved an almost impossible task (pun intended). But with you folks behind me I know I can achieve anything! (Yeah! High five! Okay I’ll stop this now). Here is my run down of some of my favourite reads of 2017, and what I’m reading next:

The Chinese Gold Murders – Robert Van Gulik: 1952
My second book review on this blog, and still a stand out work for me. Multiple impossible crimes set in 7th century China written by Dutchman, whats not to love!? I think Van Gulik really had something special with this series, and the historical context, written from experience, is compelling and makes for original forms of detective fiction. As an anniversary special, I am next up reading and reviewing another impossible Judge Dee novel by Van Gulik, The Red Pavilion, which contains three locked room murders! So watch this space.

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Ronald Knox – The Short Stories: 1931 – 1947
Hunting out these three shorts from Knox was a real highlight of 2017. I find Knox is totally underrated, and possibly because he was really a master of the short story form rather than the novel, and these three shorts prove it. Solved By Inspection is still one of my top 10 locked room short stories, if you haven’t read it, go and do it now! Expect to see some Ronald Knox novels discussed on this blog this coming year.

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Christiana Brand – Suddenly At His Residence: 1944
This year was my first time reading Brand and what a writer she was! Her sheer volume of ideas is staggering clever, and it was difficult to choose a favourite. But I went for Suddenly at His Residence because it has the best of all her skills (that I have read so far) all rolled into one book: solid impossible set up, so many top level false solutions, great clewing, great comic/tragic characterisation and a kicker ending. I have her first novel Death In High Heels on the TBR ready to be read and reviewed this year, and London Particular is also burning a whole in my bookshelves.

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Cue For Murder – Helen McCloy: 1942 

Having read McCloy’s impossible classic Through a Glass Darkly before starting this blog, I really wanted to get my hands on some of her other work. Cue For Murder was a great way to continue with her oeuvre and wins the award for best motive for murder out of everything I have read this year. It also has one of my favourite opening little maddening mysteries/clues that spirals outwards into the book’s murders. Next up for McCloy on this blog will be another of her locked room classics Mr Splitfoot. 

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It Walks By Night – John Dickson Carr: 1930 

I have read so much good Carr this year; Till Death Do Us Part and She Died a Lady absolutely blew my mind (obviously), and Nine – And Death Makes Ten surpassed all my expectations and was one of my top shock killers of the year. The reason I pick It Walks By Night for this list is, as Carr’s first book, it’s amazing how it acts as a perfect map for where Carr would take his career. And how the book is a clear homage to Poe was wonderful to see.

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Siobhan Dowd – The London Eye Mystery: 2007

A solid, perfectly executed, contemporary locked room mystery from the late and great Siobhan Dowd was a total favourite this year. A young boy steps into a pod on the London eye and when it comes back round he has vanished! I mean come on! This also put me on the path to the work of the brilliant Robin Stevens, who published a sequel to the book this year (2017), who myself and JJ of The Invisible Event interviewed for the second episode of our podcast.

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Well there you have it, some of my tops reads from this year. I hope they are inspiring to you, particularly if you haven’t read them before. And thanks once again to all my readers and fellow bloggers out there writing about all this stuff, it’s been a joy to share this all with you. Happy Christmas and Happy 2018!

 

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22 thoughts on “My first year in blogging: The best and what’s next!”

  1. Crazy to think you’ve been doing this for a mere 12 months, dude, it seems like you’ve been around forever (in an entirely good way, of course). Keep up the great work, thanks for all your efforts with TMWEM, and here’s to many more years to come.

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  2. A very impressive first year of blogging! And a very good list as well, though I feel there may be much discussion over your chosen Carr. Managed to read three from your list. Looking forward to the upcoming reviews mentioned, especially the one by McCloy. Really need to read more by her.

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    1. Thanks Kate. Yes the Carr is the strange choice, but I guess the other books of his I mentioned are obviously brilliant, where as with It Walks By Night there was something special about seeing a person who would become a brilliant writer embark on his career.

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  3. Congratulation on making it through your first year of blogging, Dan! It’s always interesting to read what another hoarder of impossible crime fiction is up to and hope you’ll continue to do so in 2018. You still have a ton of locked room mysteries to consume.

    Glad to read your enjoying the work of my compatriot, Van Gulik! He really was an important writer who helped popularize the historical detective novel. I actually revisited The Red Pavilion this year and while two of three impossibilities were not as strong as I remembered them the book, as a whole, was very good. And one of the three locked room deaths actually has an entirely original solution. One that only worked in the circumstances of the story and with the characters populating it.

    So I hope you’ll appreciate as much as The Chinese Gold Murders.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks TC, and thanks for all your expertise and recommendations over the year. I’m about 20 pages from the end of The Red Pavilion and enjoying it a lot. Have you been through the whole series? I realise things link together quite a lot over the books.

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  4. Congrats on a year of blog! I do like how you remind me of material I am or have been familiar with and also point out some stuff I’ve yet to sample – those van Gulik books now intrigue me.

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  5. Oh, and you had a baby . . .

    (Seriously, Dan, I picture you dragged out of bed for lack of sleep, going into the nursery to feed the baby, going back to bed, switching on the light and finding that your reading the bottle while the kid is in the crib, suckling on Christie’s One, Two, Buckle My Shoe!

    Congratulations on your first year. I enjoy your posts and your enthusiastic comments throughout the blogosphere. One of my dreams is to be a guest conversationalist on your podcast with you and JJ. Meanwhile, I’m glad that you’re continuing on with McCloy (she’s probably the most significant discovery I made for myself when i started blogging two years ago!) and that you like Christianna Brand (who, if I had the wherewithal, I would launch a campaign to make her the fifth Queen of Crime. I mean, come on! She’s magnificent, and she puts What’s-Her-Name Sayers to shame!)

    Happy New Year! To many more years of rousting about with the rest of us aficionados of crime fiction! 🙂

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    1. Haha! I love that image. I talking to my wife yesterday wondering when he could read his first mystery and what it would be (and impossible choice!!)

      I’m sure you’ll be on the podcast at some point for sure, and you’ll steal the show with the deep American tones.

      And Amen to Brand and McCloy! Two amazing writers! Looking forward to much more of them.

      Thanks for all your comments and posts this year!

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  6. Thanks for the post, and I should check out Siobhan Dowd soon! I think I’ve ‘First-class Murder’ sitting on my metaphorical TBR pile (ie, in my Kindle). I’ve ‘Cue for Murder’ too, but I think I might leave that as my last McCloy novel to read.

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  7. Congratulations on the first year – glad to hear good things about Suddenly… as I got a copy the other day and then read a couple of negative things about it.
    Welcome to the blogging community and hopefully see you at Bodies this year

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you PD. Suddenly is great. Whether you’ll be over awed by the final solution is another question but the whole book is full of amazing ideas. And yes I’ll be back at Bodies again this year for sure.

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  8. Thanks for the recommendations. 🙂 It has some of my favourite authors such as Brand and Carr, but not the novels I’ve enjoyed most from them. I think I shall reserve ‘Cue for Murder’ to be my last McCloy – or perhaps that might be ‘Mr Splitfoot’.

    I’ve just got ‘London Eye Mystery’ out from my local library – looking forward to it!

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