Friday, December 25, 2020

my best reads of 2020

It’s that time of year again - the time for making lists. These were the books I most enjoyed during 2020. I’ve divided them into genres.

My favourite science fiction reads:

Leigh Brackett’s moody 1951 sword-and-planet adventure Black Amazon of Mars. No-one did sword-and-planet tales better than Brackett.

Nictzin Dyalhis’s truly odd and rather uneven but intriguing collection of short stories (published in Weird Tales between 1925 and 1940) The Sapphire Goddess.

Paul W. Fairman’s 1952 hardboiled detective/science fiction crossover novel The Girl Who Loved Death which works quite well in both genres.

My favourite spy fiction reads:

Derek Marlowe’s superb 1966 tale of a Russian spy in Britain, A Dandy in Aspic. Lots of moral ambiguity and divided loyalties.

F. Van Wyck Mason’s 1931 The Fort Terror Murders, although it’s arguably more a crime story than a spy story.

My favourite detective fiction reads:

Erle Stanley Gardner’s wonderfully plotted 1936 Perry Mason mystery The Case of the Stuttering Bishop.

Charles Forsyte’s 1968 tale of murder in the British Embassy in Ankara Murder with Minarets. It captures the distinctive feel of diplomatic life extremely well. I'm delighted that TomCat shared my enthusiasm for this one - here's his review.

Bert and Dolores Hitchens’ splendid railway mystery End of the Line (and you know how much I love railway mysteries).

My favourite crime fiction reads:

James O. Causey’s dark paranoid 1957 noir tale Killer Take All!

John McPartland’s 1953 noir pulper Big Red's Daughter.

And two from Wade Miller (rapidly becoming my favourite noir writer) - Kitten with a Whip and Kiss Her Goodbye, both emotional roller coaster rides into nightmare.

The most popular posts with my readers have been:

Elspeth Huxley’s The African Poison Murders (AKA Death of an Aryan).

Henry Slesar’s delightfully enjoyable science fiction horror tale of monsters from the sea, The Secret of Marracott Deep.

Orrie Hitt's Wayward Girl, a classic of juvenile delinquency and sleaze with a touch of noir

And John Rhode’s cleverly constructed Death in the Hop Fields (AKA The Harvest Murder).


  1. Thanks for the Gardner and Forsyte recommendations! Hope you have a good end to the year, and good start to the following year. 😊

  2. Charles Forsyte is great and deserves to be reprinted! Diplomatic Death and Diving Death were great detective novels as well with the former having a similar, very well realized diplomatic background.

    Best wishes for 2021.