Book of the Week, detective

Book of the Week: Answer in the Negative

Another week, another crime pick. I know. Sue me. At least I read this in March so that makes it one crime recommendation a month which is not quite so bad. Or am I grasping at straws? It wasn’t even the only classic crime book I read last week – I also read Seven Dead by J Jefferson Farjeon, which is another in the British Library Crime Classics series, which I have recommended a lot. This one however is from Agora books, who are also have a lot of more forgotten mid-century crime on their lists, including the Inspector Appleby series, which I have read a couple of, and some of the lesser known Margery Allinghams. Anyway, I stumbled across  this little gem last week and I’m unreasonably annoyed that none of the author’s other books seem to be available anywhere.

Answer in the Negative is a 1950s-set murder mystery, featuring a crime solving couple. It’s not the first in the series as it turns out, so I’m not quite sure how they came to be a thing, but Johnny is an ex-Commando and Sally is his wife. His family have a shop that sells books and he works there when he’s not solving mysteries. This particular mystery is a poison pen set in the National Press Archives on Fleet Street. Toby Lorn, a friend of the couple, asks them to investigate letters that are being sent to one of the archive assistants. Frank Morningside is not popular in the office, so the pool of suspects is fairly large. As well as increasingly nasty letters, there have been schoolboy-style pranks.  Johnny and Sally start investigating at the archives, posing as researchers, but just days into the investigation, things take a sinister turn.

This is a well put together mystery, which a good and varied cast of characters. I really like office-set mysteries – Murder Must Advertise is one of my favourite of the Peter Wimsey series. You get to find out what working life was like in the period and I like that there’s a cast of characters to draw from a bit like a country house mystery. But unlike country house mysteries the cast tends to be a bit more varied – less toffs with a grudge, more people from across the social spectrum. This is no exception – you’ve got office boys, young women on the lookout for a husband, stuffy spinsters, ex-soldiers and more. It makes for an intriguing mystery and although I developed suspicions about the culprit it has plenty of twists to keep you guessing. My only real problem with it was that it felt like it was set in the interwar period – whereas actually it was set in the 1950s. If it wasn’t for mentions of bombsites and the fact that Johnny was a Commando (who were only created in World War II) it could have been in an office two doors down from Pym’s Publicity.

This edition Answer is in the Negative came out towards the end of February, and I read it via Kindle Unlimited, but it’s also available to buy on Kindle. I can’t seen any other editions (except for super-pricey secondhand/collectible ones) and I can’t find it on Kobo either sadly. But if you’re a Kindle reader – especially one with unlimited – it’s worth it. I’m hoping that the recent release date means that more of the series will appear at some point too.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: February 23 – March 1

I finished the last of the longrunners! It’s been a bit of a week – three nights away from home for work (including one in Manchester), but managed to get a bit of reading in – especially on the trains. Anther busy week coming up – I’ll keep you posted. And in case you missed it yesterday, here’s the February stats.


The Case of the Drowned Pearl by Robin Stevens

Ask Me No Questions by Shelley Noble*

Morning Glories Vol 1 by Nick Spencer et al

Seven Dead by J Jefferson Farjeon

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia

Year of the Mad King by Antony Sher

Answer in the Negative by Henrietta Hamilton


The Five-Year Plan by Carla Burgess*

Anna K by Jenny Lee*

Still reading:


No books bought for once, although I bought quite a lot in February so I can’t be too smug!

Bonus photo: the obligatory Salford photo!

An * next to a book title indicates that it came from NetGalley.

books, stats

February Stats


New books read this month: 32*

Books from the to-read pile: 12

Ebooks read: 1

NetGalley books read: 10

Library books: 6 (all ebooks)

Non-fiction books: 5

Favourite book this month: Blitzed by Alexa Martin

Most read author: Antony Sher – two of his acting memoirs

Books bought: 14 (7 ebooks, 7 books)

Books read in 2020: 68

Books on the Goodreads to-read shelf (I don’t have copies of all of these!): 550

This months list bolstered somewhat by some graphic novels and novellas. Not quite as much progress on the NetGalley backlog as I wanted but hey ho.

Bonus picture: A blue plaque for JM Barrie near Great Ormond Street hospital in London.

*Includes some short stories/novellas/comics/graphic novels (5 this month)