I began getting involved in ‘Spell the Month in Books’ on Instagram last year, having come across the hashtag and decided it looked like fun. If you don’t know, the idea is that you gather together a bookstack of titles and create the name of the relevant month with the first letter of the title of each book.
This year, I have decided to try and find books that fit into the crime and/or mystery category, and which I currently have in paperback in my bookcases. I can tell you already that finding certain letters of the month has been a challenge, and as much as I would love not to repeat a book in the twelve bookstacks for the year, I get the distinct feeling that there might be one or two that I have no choice to repeat, unless I go out and deliberately buy books beginning with specific letters! I’m resisting doing that, as I have so many unread books that I’m determined to use ones I’ve got.
This is my chosen Spell the Month in Books bookstack for January:
Jamaica Inn – Daphne du Maurer
Among the Mad – Jacqueline Winspear
Nemesis – Agatha Christie
Under the Dragon’s Tail – Maureen Jennings
A Shilling for Candles – Josephine Tey
Return of Sherlock Holmes (The) – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
You Let Me In – Lucy Clarke
You’ll notice a few Golden Age (or modern versions of Golden Age) mysteries among this lot – and being the Agatha Christie obsessive that I am, I couldn’t resist adding one in. However, this group ranges from Victorian to contemporary, and spans detective, suspense and thriller books.
Jamaica Inn combines the Gothic elements of landscape that Daphne du Maurice made so famous in her incredible book, Rebecca, with crime and dark deeds in Cornwall. Labelled as a suspense novel, there are enough dark deeds for me to include this in a set of crime books. When Mary ignores the coachman who warns her against travelling to her aunt at Jamaica Inn, she becomes ravelled in a whole host of villainy going on inside the house. Can she trust the mysterious stranger she meets there? Because she falls in love with him, and danger lurks everywhere.
Jacqueline Winspear’s Among the Mad is one in a series of mystery novels set in post-World War I Britain, featuring her sleuth, Maisie Dobbs. Maisie is drafted in by Scotland Yard after she sees a man commit suicide on a street in London, followed by threats to the Government by a lunatic who threatens mass destruction of people if certain demand are not met. It leads Maisie down a dark route to discover who could possibly be able to commit such atrocity, and to stop him before it is too late.
Nemesis is one of the much later novels of Agatha Christie and features the indisputably astute Miss Marple. When an old acquaintance dies and sets her a challenge of solving an old crime and setting right a wrong, Miss Marple takes it with relish. Thus, the wheels are set in motion to solve the mystery and discover a killer. The only problem is, she has been given absolutely no clue as to who is involved in this mystery or when the crime happened. A curious puzzle…
Under the Dragon’s Tail is a Murdoch Mysteries novel. The murder of Dolly Merishaw is not really unexpected. She was a midwife and abortionist for both high and lowborn, but held every one of her ‘clients’ in contempt and derision. One week later, a boy is found murdered in Dolly’s kitchen, leaving Murdoch to chase down a murderer. Or just maybe there were two on the loose.
A Shilling for Candles sets Alan Grant of Scotland yard on the trail of a murder – but where to start, and how to end? A young screen actress washes up on the south coast, but it seems that everyone the Inspector comes across during his investigation wanted her dead. There are more false and puzzling clues and dead ends than the Inspector knows what to do with!
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle caved in to public pressure after the publication in 1902 of The Hound of the Baskervilles, and resurrected his famous detective in (The) Return of Sherlock Holmes. The tales in this collection see Holmes returning to London to recount the tales of his life between 1891-4 (the time between Holmes’ supposed death and his ‘present day’).
You Let Me In in a psychological thriller by Lucy Clarke. Being a sucker for red, black and white, the cover on this (although more grey than black) sold it to me, to try. Yes, I did actually buy this for the cover, initially! Ella is a writer; she uses her imagination every day. But something doesn’t feel right when she rents out her house. It feels like someone is watching her. As threats arrive and she feels trapped in her own home, she knows that someone has discovered the secret of her past.
I hope that this makes you think about the books on your bookshelves, and maybe you now fancy taking part in #spellthemonthinbooks too. Can you create a bookstack for January, and can you create it in just one genre (although you don’t have to in the slightest)? Maybe yours would be a virtual stack of ebooks. I haven’t tried that yet – maybe that’s my challenge for next year! I’d love to know what your books for January are/would be, so do please pop them in the comments, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your choices.
I also hope that I might have encouraged you to try one of the books in my bookstack! Just so you know, if you do happen to purchase any of them through my links, I may earn a very small commission (depending on the country you’re in) at no extra cost to you. I’ve only linked to the ones I’ve actually read – not ones that are sitting in my ‘to be read’ pile, so you know that if I’ve linked to it, I thoroughly recommend it.