I last did one of these posts at the end of 2017, and have been rather too busy talking about books to concentrate on such details since, but thought it might be interesting to unpack my reading over 2022 as a way of seeing the year out.
In terms of sheer books consumed, these are the headlines:
The month-by-month and format breakdown looks like this:
I adored my Kindle when I first got it, but find myself falling out of love with ebooks. I’m definitely more likely to persevere with a book if it’s in paper form, and so I tend to opt for those where possible so that everything gets an even chance.
Incidentally, only three of those books were read without the intention of featuring them on this blog; I’m not saying that every one of the other 122 made it onto here, but, Hairy Aaron, The Invisible Event is a hungry undertaking. And, yes, I’ve read just the one book in December — man, I have not been able to settle, not least on account of how damn cold it’s been — so things might get a little quiet ’round these parts in January.
You want a decade-by-decade breakdown? Well, excluding anthologies — whose date of issue isn’t always a fair representation of their contents — you got it:
The 1930s has been supplanted by the 1940s as the most popular decade, possibly on account of me completing much of the earlier works by authors I like and am able to read and so moving onto their later works. And full credit to the 2020s, a decade only three years old and yet coming in as the third most popular bracket for my reading this year.
Back in 2017, my average reading day was 2nd March 1965, this time it’s…
Tuesday 13th June 1961 @ 6 a.m.
…which is pleasing as it shows that my overall reading continues to skew towards the earlier end of detective fiction’s developmental stage, at least in terms of spread of decades, where I’ve always suspected my interest lies. The date itself seems to have been largely immaterial in history, but I’m fine with that. I’ve been trying to come up with some humorous allusion, but it eludes me at this juncture.
Turning to the blog itself, 2022 represents the first time I’ve actually kept to my intended schedule of posting on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday each week since starting The Invisible Event back in 2015. Hell, I even managed an extra post one Sunday just to really show off.
The 157 posts prior to this one comprise a total 226,625 words — so nearly a palindrome! — meaning that I could write three novels a year if I ever decided to give up blogging.
Oh, yeah, I published a novel this year, if you didn’t know. You should totally check it out.
As to the books I’ve read this year, if I were to pick a favourite five they’d probably be…
I’d be remiss to offer this as an unqualified recommendation, but this was very much the point where the meandering, loose tales Masterman tells suddenly came into focus for me and catapulted him into the front rank of authors I will definitely read more of going forward. The structure is odd, the characters are odd, the plotting is all over the place…and yet it works, providing loads of entertainment if very few surprises. It’s easy to understand why Masterman has faded from view, but if you’re looking for some obscure delights having truffled out most of the genre’s big names, there’s much in him to enjoy if you’re willing to search for it.
4. Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination [ss] (1956) by Edogawa Rampo [trans. James B. Harris 1956]
By turns ingenious, infuriating, and grotesque, the incredible thing about Rampo’s stories is how magnificently they read thanks to James B. Harris’ spectacular translation, achieved in consort with the author. Fans of criminous endeavour can avoid ‘The Caterpillar’ and ‘The Hell of Mirrors’ — though you’re missing out if you do — and delight in ‘The Red Chamber’, ‘The Twins’, ‘The Cliff’, ‘The Psychological Test’, etc. Such richness here, and such incredible intellect brought to bear in the most surprising of ways, that it’s almost impossible to explain without experiencing it first. Expect more Rampo on The Invisible Event in 2023.
The original Gentleman Bastard, E.W. Hornung’s Raffles is a thief who steals purely to maintain his appearance as a well-to-do man about town. Created, no doubt, as a sort of moral counterpoint to the law-abiding Sherlock Holmes imitators who sprung up at the end of the 19th century, Hornung’s coup de grace is no never seek to make Raffles out to be more heroic than avaricious…and yet so devilishly charming with it that you sort of can’t help but forgive him when he abandons his chronicler time after time. Highly readable over a century later, these come recommended in the strongest terms.
Having gotten off to a — it turns out, justifiably — less-than-stellar start with Woolrich two decades ago, my discovery of how magnificent the man’s work is has been the highlight of these last couple of years. And Phantom Lady (1942) is simply divine: a man accused of murder cannot find the woman he spent the evening with who would be able to provide him an alibi…and no-one who would have seen them together has any memory of her, either. I suggest knowing no more about this, and simply strapping in for a nightmare of utterly phenomenal construction that’s all the more horrible for our protagonist because there’s no waking to escape it. A masterpiece, pure and simple.
Without question the most delightful surprise of 2022 was how intelligently Charlotte Armstrong applies herself to the shop-worn Domestic Suspense genre in The Chocolate Cobweb (1948). Clever people doing clever things to try to catch a very clever killer in the act, played out against the background of knowing the murderer’s identity and processes from very early one and so giving you plenty of time to squirm as plans go awry and the net begins to tighten in entirely the wrong direction. I’m both champing at the bit to devour more of Armstrong’s work and terrified that she never wrote anything to match this and so I’m setting myself up for disappointment by reading further. Except developments…
And in terms of what you, the consumers of this site — and the countless bots scouring the internet for personal information, natch — have been reading, the most-accessed posts on The Invisible Event over the last twelve months have been…
Brad, Moira, and I discussing Dame Agatha’s devious tale of murder, which contains one of the most excellently-hidden motives in that esteemed lady’s impressive oeuvre. I’ll miss podcasting with these guys, but there really are only so many hours in the day and something had to give.
Doubtless the result of the fabulous and highly-deserved word-of-mouth still circulating for Hallett’s debut. The follow-up, The Twyford Code (2022), didn’t fly quite as high in my estimation, but I’m eagerly awaiting her third, to be published at the start of 2023.
Not merely shameless self-promotion on my part, I promise, the announcement of my debut — and likely only, see above re: hours in the day — novel has been pleasingly popular, even if not every view of the post resulted in a sale of the book (man, I wish!).
My 1,000th post on this blog, in which I indulged my nerdy side and put together a primer for anyone wishing to explore the impossible crime, my most beloved subgenre of detective fiction, in more depth. I imagine there’s very little on that list to cause any surprises, but I’m delighted to think it might be bringing unconsidered books to the attention of interested readers.
Yup, the most-consulted dossier this year is a post from 2019 discussing the recently-republished puzzle novel Cain’s Jawbone, its popularity no doubt informed by the discovery of the book by The Youth and their Social Media ways. I really should attempt to solve this one day, but, man, trying to find the correct order for 100 jumbled pages is less fun than it sounds…
Okay, that’ll do. I hope 2022 has treated you well, and I wish you and yours a happy, prosperous, and healthy 2023. My thanks to those of you who engage on here and so justify the frankly huge amount of time I spend reading that I should really be putting to use in a positive plethora of other ways, and I hope those of you who simply come here to read my ramblings and move on have found something worthwhile.
However you use The Invisible Event, thank-you — this is all pointless without an audience, and I’m delighted to be part of so positive a community in these divisive days.