Murder in Retrospect: The Best Reads of 2012

I've got a little list, I've got a little list!”
- Stewie Griffin

If it were not for a dilapidating flu, which felt like a resurgence of the Bubonic plague, I probably would've had another review up, alongside this best-of list, but I found myself unable to focus on any story – even if it was just a short one. So now that I'm back, but without a book to discuss, I have nothing else to post except this annual list of detectives that I enjoyed reading over the past twelve months.

This year, I wanted to elaborate on my picks, perhaps even divide them up in special categories, but I'm running low on creative juice and settled on the same model as last year – an accumulation of links to the individual reviews. Compiling the list was even easier, which I attribute to the fact that I emerged myself in unnoted, second (or even third) string mystery writers. It proved to be an enormous help in separating the wheat from the chaff.

My top 30 of favorite mysteries read in 2012 (in alphabetical order):

Murder Points a Finger (David Alexander, 1953)
The Death of Callista de Vries (M.P.O. Books, 2012)
The Emperor's Snuff-Box (John Dickson Carr, 1942)
The Bride of New Gate (John Dickson Carr, 1950)
Killed in the Act (William L. DeAndrea, 1981)
The Department of Queer Complaints (Carter Dickson, 1940)
The Spies of Sobeck (Paul Doherty, 2008)
The Mysterium (Paul Doherty, 2010)
Holiday Express (J. Jefferson Farjeon, 1935)
Dead Skip (Joe Gores, 1972)
The Demon of Dartmoor (Paul Halter, 1993)
The Devotion of Suspect X (Keigo Higashino, 2005)
The Blushing Monkey (Roman McDougald, 1953)
The Seven Deadly Sisters (Pat McGerr, 1948)
Follow as the Night (Pat McGerr, 1951)
Dead Men's Morris (Gladys Mitchell, 1936)
The Tree of Death (Marcia Muller, 1983)
The Moonflower (Beverley Nichols, 1955)
The Stingaree Murders (W. Shepard Pleasants, 1932)
Verdict of Twelve (Raymond Postgate, 1940)
Scattershot (Bill Pronzini, 1982)
Suspicious Circumstances (Patrick Quentin, 1953)
The Gold Gamble (Herbert Resnicow, 1989)
Murder on the Way! (Theodore Roscoe, 1935)
The Sleeping Bacchus (Hilary St. George Saunders, 1951)
Whistle Up the Devil (Derek Smith, 1954)
The Riddle of Monte Verita (Jean-Paul Török, 2007)
A Light in the Darkness (Simon de Waal & A.C. Baantjer, 2012)

Special Awards:

The Worst Mystery Read in 2012: Appointment with the Hangman (T.C.H. Jacobs, 1935)

The Best Impossible Crime Story Read in 2012: Whistle Up the Devil (Derek Smith, 1954)

Honorable mention: The Stingaree Murders (W. Shepard Pleasants, 1932)
(the book is, unfortunately, tinged with 1930s racism, but the three impossible situations and their solutions are wildly original)

The Best Short Story Collection Read in 2012: The McCone Files (Marcia Muller, 1995)

The Greatest Discovery of 2012: Cor Docter

Well, this won't be my last post of the year, but probably the last one to go up before Christmas. So, I want to wish every visitor to this blog a Merry Whatever It Is That You Celebrate, and hopefully, I'll see you all back for a third year reviewing classic mysteries, discussing neo orthodox detective stories and obsessing over locked room mysteries.


  1. And I just finished writing a post (which is scheduled for tomorrow, but that is in just three hours in this time-zone) which starts with me still wondering whether I'm going to make a list too :P (oh, and it's a review of a book you know. Very well).

    I really should look for Cor Docter when I come back in a few months...

    1. Did you find a Japanese translation of Sladek’s Black Aura? :)

  2. Well, TomCat, you win this round... But I shall go forth with multiple lists like I did last year, including one or two new ones. I enjoyed this list of yours, although I must say I was hoping for a bit of an explanation for why you chose X or Y in the "special awards" section.

    1. I'll consider adding explanations to the special categories later (was hoping that providing links would be enough).

  3. Terrific list and I shall certainly make sure I get hold of the David Alexander! Thanks TomCat - present flu notwithstanding, looks like you had a very good 2012 - congrats!

    1. I think you'll enjoy Alexander and don't forget about Baantjer. ;)

  4. Wow! This list is something else altogether. I haven't read any of the titles. Barring a couple, the authors too are new. Plenty of books to search for and enjoy.

    Merry X'Mas and hope you recover quickly.

    1. Looks like you'll have a pretty good year of reading ahead of you.