Six Degrees of Separation: from Rules of Civility to The Serpent Pool

It’s a New Year – welcome to 2022!

And it’s time again for Six Degrees of Separation, a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.

The chain this month begins with  Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, a book I haven’t read. Set in New York in 1938, it begins, appropriately for today, on New Year’s Day.

My first link is to another book by Amor Towles – A Gentleman in Moscow – another book I haven’t read, but one that is on my TBR list. Both books have received rave reviews, so I’m hoping they aren’t over hyped! The Times describes it as ‘A book to spark joy’. I do hope so.

My second link is The Kill Fee by Fiona Veitch Smith, the second book in the Poppy Denby Investigates series. It’s historical fiction is set in London in 1920 with flashbacks to Russia in 1917, beginning with an episode in Moscow in 1917 as an unnamed man in a bearskin coat enters the house of an aristocratic family to find a scene of carnage.

Moving from Moscow my third link is via the name Poppy. This time it is the author’s name, Poppy Adams and her book, The Behaviour of Moths. I thought this was a brilliant book! It’s the story of two sisters, Ginny and Vivi. Vivi, the younger sister left the family mansion 47 years earlier and returns unexpectedly one weekend. Ginny, a reclusive moth expert has rarely left the house in all that time.

My fourth link is to the word ‘moth’, but this time used as a name. Moth is Raynor Winn’s husband and their story is told in her book, The Salt Path. Despite finding out that Moth has a rare terminal illness, the couple decided to walk the South Coast Path. He had been diagnosed with a brain disease for which there is no cure or treatment apart from pain killers and physiotherapy. It’s not just the story of their walk, but also about their determination to live life, about overcoming pain and hardship, and the healing power of nature. 

My fifth link is via the place, Penzance, which is one of the places the Winns went to on their walk. Penzance is the setting of W J Burley’s crime fiction novel, Wycliffe and the Cycle of Death. Wycliffe is mystified by the murder of Matthew Glynn, a respectable bookseller who was found bludgeoned and strangled and there are plenty of suspects, including his brothers and sister and their grown-up children. 

My sixth link: is to another bookseller, Marc Amos, a rare book dealer who owns a secondhand bookshop in Martin Edwards’ Lake District murder mysteries, featuring DCI Hannah Scarlet, in charge of the Cumbria’s Cold Case Team. Amos is her partner and in The Serpent Pool George Saffell, one of Marc’s customers, is stabbed and then burnt to death amidst his collection of rare and valuable books.

My chain started in New York and travelled via Moscow, and in various periods of time and places in England, ending up in the English Lake District. It links together historical fiction, nonfiction and crime fiction.

Next month (February 5, 2022), we’ll start with a book that topped Best of 2021 lists, No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood.

Let’s hope this new year will be a happy and healthy one and for those of us who love reading, may we all enjoy lots of good books!

11 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: from Rules of Civility to The Serpent Pool

  1. Such a clever chain, Margaret! And it includes some really interesting choices of book, too! I’m especially pleased to see the Martin Edwards here; his Lake District mysteries are, I think excellent. Happy New Year!

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  2. I loved how you linked these. The Poppy Adams book was really good – I read it many years ago, but it stuck with me. I still have my copy on my shelf! Happy New Year!


  3. I enjoyed The Salt Path, but all your other choices are unknown to me – and definitely worth investigating. What a way to begin the year, with a pile of books to look through! Happy New Year!


  4. Plenty of travelling in your chain this month! I loved Rules of Civility, liked A Gentleman of Moscow and am currently loving his third book, The Lincoln Highway, so I hope you enjoy him too when you get to him – he really does know how tell a story…


  5. I’m only just catching up as usual…I do like your chain.

    I also loved A Gentleman in Moscow, so I hope you enjoy it too.

    I do like the sound of The Kill Fee and Wycliffe and the Cycle of Death. I will look them up.

    I have only read one of Martin Edwards’ Lake District series so far, I’m glad to hear that they’re all good – I have several waiting on my shelves. I have heard Edwards talk about Golden Age Crime and he was so interesting and enthusiastic. I have his (big!) book on the subject, but have only read the first few chapters – I really want to get back t it, he is so knowledgeable.

    I’m not sure I could cope with The Salt Path, though I know it has been very much acclaimed. My daughter read both this and Amy Liptrot’s The Outrun, and I think she found The Salt Path by far the more challenging.

    Thanks for some great book suggestions!


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