#18: My Blog Name in Books

Puzzle Doctor, curator of In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, put this up the other day:

Well, you can blame Cleopatra Loves Books for this one…

Apparently My Name In Books was a meme that went around over the summer (and over my head as well – never noticed it) but I thought I’d give it a go – namely spelling out my name in the titles of my favourite books. Now, there’s an obvious problem with a name like The Puzzle Doctor – can you spot it? But nevertheless, I thought it was worth a go. But try as I might, the only thing I could come up with for Z was Zzzz for any of the Brother Cadfael books. But this is a friendly blog, so I couldn’t possibly say that. Instead, I thought I’d do My Blog Name In Books.

It got me thinking; I’m sticking to a self-imposed crime focus on this blog, but it might be nice to acknowledge the SF and others that have played significant roles in my reading life.  And so I give you…My Blog Name in Books:

     Lord Edgware   Indigo Slam   Tiger's Head   Every Dead Thing   Ender's Game   Ice Station

Tiger’s Head, The (1991) by Paul Halter

Easily the most creative of Halter’s impossible crimes so far translated – a man battered to death by a genie from a magic artefact – with a beautifully subtle solution.

Hollow Man, The (1935) by John Dickson Carr

My first Carr, important to me for the stories it has since opened up to me from his pen even though I wasn’t a massive fan of it at first.

Ender’s Game (1985) by Orson Scott Card

Timeless soft SF; moving, thrilling, terrifying and with a staggering, devastating reveal in the final stretch; the movie is doubtless terrible, read the book.

Indigo Slam (1997) by Robert Crais

Crais is one of the few contemporary crime writers I read, and this – his seventh book – was my induction to his wonderful characters.  The introduction of Elvis Cole in this novel is one for the ages.

Nine Times Nine (1940) by Anthony Boucher

Boucher’s most famous impossible crime, in which a yellow-cloaked killer ingeniously disappears from a watched room.  Easily one of the best amateur sleuths to grace the genre, too.

V for Vendetta (1988) by Alan Moore

My first graphic novel, which would lead to Transmetropolitan, Watchmen, Locke & Key, etc.  Possibly a bit heavy-handed, but significant for the stories and format it was a gateway onto.

I, the Jury (1947) by Mickey Spillane

Important for being so bad as to convince me to finally give up on the pulps.  Moved onto Agatha Christie and the classics and, well, here we are today.  Cheers, Mike!

Sealed Room Murder (1941) by Rupert Penny

Diagrams – five diagrams – are used in the explanation of this impossible stabbing, and plenty of wit and guile evinced before you get to that.  Proof that some truly awesome writers are unduly neglected, which is always worth remembering.

Ice Station (1998) by Matthew Reilly

My first experience of Reilly’s over-the-top-of-over-the-top thrillers, not easily forgotten.  A book I’m fairly sure I read without blinking.

Bowstring Murders, The (1933) by John Dickson Carr [as, well, Carr Dickson or Carter Dickson]

Carr’s second impossible crime, pointing the way to his marvels to come.  Would be on my upcoming list of Carrs to start with, but it (like a lot of his books) is frustratingly out of print.

Lord Edgware Dies (1933) by Agatha Christie

Proof that you don’t need a huge cast for the reveal to come as a surprise.  Here it’s one of two women who is the killer, and Christie’s dance of deception is about as good as it gets.

Expanse, The (2011 onwards) by James S. A. Corey

Not a book but rather the overall title of the SF series being written by this duo; intelligent and bold, broad and finely observed, filled with great characters and huge ideas…everything I want in modern SF.

End of Eternity, The (1955) by Isaac Asimov

Received wisdom says you go with Foundation for Asimov, but that series’ message of “Hey, everything will be fine” pales when placed next to this detective-like time travel genius.

Volume Two of the Collected Stories (1954-ish) by Philip K. Dick

Published under the title Second Variety, which has the ‘V’ in the wrong place for my purposes!  In my humble and limited experience, the best collection of SF stories in the English language yet published.

Every Dead Thing (1999) by John Connolly

Connolly’s first five nightmarishingly genre-straddling thrillers contain some of the most evocative writing about violence and fear you’ll ever encounter.  This got me into crime writing, the rest is history.

Nightingale Gallery, The (1991) by Paul Doherty

The first historical mystery to convince me that decent historical mysteries exist; an impossible poisoning, cleverly set up and resolved.  For some reason I’ve never gone back to Doherty.  That will change.

To Say Nothing of the Dog (1997) by Connie Willis

A time-travel mystery like no other, as much Christie as Asimov.  Hilarious throughout, as much SF as crime as costume drama as pastiche…something for everyone, a book I genuinely cannot conceive anyone disliking (though that will, of course, happen).


Many thanks to Cleopatra and Puzzle Doctor, it’s been a lovely day or so wracking my brain over these.  Anyone else fancy trying…?

11 thoughts on “#18: My Blog Name in Books

    • But for wanting to spread the love around, it could easily have been seventeen Agatha Christies! Many thanks to you for starting this off, it’s been a lovely break and nice to mull over all of my books ever rather than just a select five or so.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I responded with titles only over at the Puzzle Doctor’s place, but you and he have inspired me. I’ll put up a blog post tonight….I’m thinking of posting my crime-only list and then doing one that adds in all my influences.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for these recommendations… I was initially surprised by your inclusion of Mickey Spillane, until I read your explanation. 😛 You would be happy to know that I’ve put in an order for Rupert Penny’s books – looking forward to being inundated with not one but five diagrams!

    I’ve read some of Paul Doherty’s works, but have never grown excessively fond for him. I think my struggle with historical mysteries is that they are slightly longer than I would like them to be, as the novels do need to spend some time developing the historical plot that the mystery is entangled with.

    Talking about the other Paul, I was curious about the inclusion of ‘Tiger’s Head’, which hasn’t seemed to garner as good reviews as the other titles translated by LRI. The few I’ve read from Halter I’ve enjoyed, and found to be good – but not great, apart from ‘Seventh Hypothesis’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The best historical mystery I’ve yet read is Carr’s Fire, Burn – I’m with you on the tendency of authors to overplay the background, but Carr does an (unsurprisingly) amazing job with the background and the context while also giving you an impossible murder into the mix. It’s one I’d recommend if you know Carr and wanted to try one of his historicals.

      There is one element of Tiger’s Head which I can understand people not being too hot on (a miraculous disappearance) but I loved it for the fact that the impossible murder didn’t need a genie to be the perpetrator; for going that extra mile I applaud him. But then I’m so excited about what LRI are doing that I do sign up immediately to each new book as it’s announced – they republished Derek Smith, for god’s sake, who can’t love that?!

      Hope the Pennys live up to expectations, too. Policeman’s Evidence review coming next Weds…


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