Since it is very unlikely that I read another admirable book before Midnight, I may as well declare the year over and proceed to reveal my annual Top Ten Reads. 2020 was a rotten one for everyone everywhere and I had my share of bad luck and catastrophes like everybody else, but it oddly also was my best reading year in a long time, both in quantity and quality. My numbers are nothing to brag about, but they were significantly better than last year – and the books themselves were extremely good too, so much so that it was very difficult to rank them – and the number one spot remained uncertain to the end. Ready? Here we go!
Book of the Year:
Lawrence G. Blochman, Wives to Burn
2. Patrick Quentin, Puzzle for Pilgrims
3. Germaine Beaumont, La Harpe irlandaise
4. Agatha Christie, The Murder at the Vicarage
5. George Bellairs, The Dead Shall Be Raised
6. Martin Edwards, Mortmain Hall
7. Ngaio Marsh, Scales of Justice
8. Patrick Laing, The Lady is Dead
9. Anthony Gilbert, The Long Shadow
10. Michael Butterworth, The Soundless Scream
The Reluctant Medium (L.P. Davies) Murder by Experts (Anthony Gilbert) The Stranger Diaries (Elly Griffiths) The Accomplice (Matthew Head) L’Auberge de banlieue and L’Enveloppe mauve (Léo Malet)
I’ve been known for years as that French guy with a taste for obscure books and writers and so it’s a surprise even to me how mainstream this Top Ten is. Most of the books are familiar to mystery fans and in print or easy to find on the second-hand market. None of the writers qualifies as obscure either, with the possible exception of Germaine Beaumont whose books sadly never made it to the Anglosphere. What’s more, and something rare enough to be mentioned, one of them is a living contemporary writer!
This is also my most GAD-oriented Top Ten since I’ve started compiling them, with nearly all of the books linked to the Golden Age, be it chronologically, stylistically or thematically – even Dames Agatha and Ngaio make an appearance! After years and years of a flattering yet thoroughly undeserved reputation as a GAD purist, it is good to finally come up with a list that somehow justifies it!
All in all, I am satisfied with my reading year, and this is the only 2020 trend I hope will continue in 2021. Less viruses, more books – this is what I wish you and myself for the New Year.