Friday, November 26, 2021

Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks


Lilac by Stephen Darbishire

hosted by Robyn

I'm ready for year eight! The rules are simple. Just read one book per week for a total 52 books in the year. I generally have no problem reading at least one book per this is one of my slam dunk challenges. I will list my books below as I read them. If you'd like to join in, just click the link above. Robyn offers other challenges as well--including a perpetual Agatha Christie challenge and a book bingo among others.


2022 Monthly Motif Challenge


Kim & Tanya have posted their 2022 Monthly Motif Reading Challenge. Click on the link for full details. For this challenge each month is assigned a motif or theme. The task is to read one book each month that fits the motif...I've listed my tentative choices below.

January (New to You): The Ruby Raven ~Michael Dahl OR The Burden of Guilt ~Ian Gordon
February (Girl Power):
March (Buzzed About Books): Eight Perfect Murders ~Peter Swanson [lots of my online friends read this one in 2021]
April (Books to Screen): The Lodger ~Marie Belloc Lowndes (1927 & 1944 films)
May (Book Lovers Unite): Murder in the Stacks ~Marion Havighurst [in a library]
June (Support PRIDE thru Books): The Galactic Whirlpool ~David Gerrold
July (Summer Lovin'--romance or something light): Pride of the Peacock ~Victoria Holt
August (Quick Lit--under 200 pages): Mystery of the Hidden Hand ~Phyllis A. Whitney
September (Title Play-pun, joke, play on words in title): Read & Buried ~Erica Chase
October (Murder or Magic): Welcome Death ~Glyn Daniel
November (Books in Translation): Borkman's Point ~Hรคkan Nesser OR The Man from Beijing ~Henning Mankell
December (The Fire is So Delightful): The Saint Plays with Fire ~Leslie Charteris

2022 Monthly Key Word Reading Challenge


I'm back for another round of the Monthly Key Word Challenge, hosted by Kim and Tanya at Girlxoxo. I encourage you to join us as we read books for the monthly prompts. Just click the link to head to their page for details. I'll add a few possible titles and update as I go.

January: Last, Kingdom, Girl, Dark, When, Winter, Light Window: The Last House Party ~Peter Dickinson; Fade-Away Girl ~Martha Grimes; Girl Waits With Gun ~Amy Stewart; The Dark Garden ~Mignon G. Eberhart; When Last I Died ~Gladys Mitchell
February: Midnight, Never, Into, Sun, Love, Good, Spell, Search: Midnight Sailing ~Lawrence G. Blochman; Something About Midnight ~D. B. Olsen; Never Cross a Vampire ~Stuart Kaminsky; Journey Into Fear ~Eric Ambler; Plunder of the Sun ~David Dodge
March: End, Fall, Loud, Queen, Woods, Nine, Beautiful, Crown: Friends Till the End ~Gloria Dank:: Home by Nightfall ~Charles Finch; Fall Over Cliff ~Josephine Bell; Queen's Full ~Ellery Queen; The Beauty Queen Killer ~John Creasey; Wycliffe & the Guild of Nine ~W. J. Burley
April: Race, Now, Chose, While, Stop, Burn, Red, One: Now Dead Is Any Man ~Pierre Audemars; He Chose the Nails ~Max Lucado; While the Clock Ticked ~Franklin W. Dickson; While Murder Waits ~John Estevan; The Sunburned Corpse ~Adam Knight; Murder in Bright Red ~Frances Crane
May: Thorn, Catch, Black, Under, City, Cloud, Sing, Legacy: Thorns ~Robert Silverberg; Nobody Wore Black ~Delano Ames; Murder Down Under ~Arthur W. Upfield; The Singing Sands ~Josephine Tey; Legacy ~Michael Jan Friedman
June: Sea, You, Hate, Perfect, Shade, Until, Beach, Little: The Man from the Sea ~Michael Innes; Death Beside the Sea ~Marion Babson; And Soon I'll Come to Kill You ~Susan Kelly; The Perfect Murder Case ~Christopher Bush; Dead Little Rich Girl ~Norbert Davis
July: Star, Next, Infinity, Iron, Word, People, Rise, Clear: Star Trek 1 ~James Blish; The Six Iron Spiders ~Phoebe Atwood Taylor; Crossword Mystery ~E. R. Punshon; The Word Is Murder ~Anthony Horowitz; The Terrible People ~Edgar Wallace
August: Breath, Case, Hundred, Day, Happy, Language, Stay, Lie: Breath of Suspicion ~Elizabeth Ferrars; 100 Best Detective Stories ~Thwing; Ten Days' Wonder ~Ellery Queen; Opus: 25 Years of His Sunday Best ~Berkeley Breathed; The Case of the Unhappy Angels ~Geoffrey Homes
September: Bright, Here, Out, Life, Strange, Rule, Story, Salt: The Mammoth Book of Roaring Twenties Whodunnits: Murder Mysteries from the Age of Bright Young Things ~Mike Ashley; The Bright Road to Fear ~Richard Martin Stern; Here Is Your War ~Ernie Pyle; The Philadelphia Murder Story ~Leslie Ford
October: House, Bone, Haunt, Body, Blood, Witch, Murder, Mystery: The Mystery at Orchard House ~Joan Coggin; Secrets of the Tomb: Skull & Bones, the Ivy League & the Hidden Paths to Power; Smallbone Deceased ~Michael Gilbery; The Haunting of Torre Abbey ~Carole Bugge; Cold Blood ~Leo Bruce; The Witches' Bridge ~Barbee Oliver Carlton
November: Many, Boy, River, Fever, Down, Gold, Jade, Hill: Too Many Clients ~Rex Stout; The Ugly Little Boy ~Asimov & Silverberg; The Fabulous Riverboat ~Philip Jose Farmer; Down Among the Dead Men ~Stewart Sterling; The Golden Man ~Richard Lockridge; The Golden Box ~Frances Crane; 
December: Still, Cabin Cafe, Night, Lake, By, Holiday, Fire: Still as Death ~Sarah Stewart Taylor; The Patient in Cabin C ~Mignon G. Eberhart; The Case of Cabin 13 ~Sam McCarver; Murder by the Tale ~Dell Shannon; Holmes for the Holidays ~Greenberg (ed); Mad Hatter's Holiday ~Peter Lovesey; The Saint Plays with Fire ~Leslie Charteris

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Murder at Feathers & Flair

 Murder at Feathers & Flair (2018) by Lee Strauss

Lady Ginger Gold has opened a new dress shop in Regent Street called Feathers & Flair and plans to kick things off with a gala event. She'll have designer dresses for the well-to-do as well as well-made clothing in the off-the-rack section for those who can't afford a frock from Paris. She's also arranged for a well-known Parisian designer to give a debut viewing of some of his latest models. Everything is set for a breath-taking evening. 

There is a terrific turnout with everyone from a former German princess to a Russian duchess attending--along with the elite of British society. The event goes well, several purchases and orders are processed, the guests leave for home, and Ginger is breathing a sigh of relief when her shop manager discovers the Grand Duchess Olga Pavlova Orlova lying dead behind the curtain leading to the backrooms. Not only has the Grand Duchess been murdered, but the fantastic blue diamond necklace which had been on display around her neck is gone. Was the lady killed for the Blue Desire, a jewel which carries (as so many of these fabulous gems do) a history of bad luck for its owners? Or is there something else behind the Russian's demise? When a coded message is found hidden in the Grand Duchess's shawl, it begins to look like the lady has been playing in the spying game.

Ginger dives into sleuthing once again--this time with two investigations vying for her attention. Her sister-in-law, Felicia has asked her to look into the disappearance of Angus Green, an actor in the repertory theater group which Felicia has joined. Felicia and Angus were in the middle of a play run with two more performances left. Others think that Angus was just a flighty young man and took off for his own purposes, but Felicity does not believe that he would let his fellow actors down. She's convinced something awful has happened to him. When another actor in the group disappears as well, it begins to look like something is rotten in the acting circle. Ginger is going to have her hands full and a lot to think about...and then, of course, there is the complications in her personal life.

Her previous investigations put her in close contact with the very personable and handsome Inspector Reed. Reed has been separated from his wife (due to her romantic indiscretions) and has given Ginger to understand that a divorce is in the offing. So...why did he show up at the dress shop gala with his wife? It seems that Emelia Reed has begged forgiveness and asked for a second chance. Reed is torn and Ginger is faced with the fact that she loves a man who still very much belongs to another. It puts a strain on their detective co-op. But the duo do find a way to work together and eventually bring the culprit to justice.

I think this was Strauss's best effort at mystifying me. Even though she plainly displayed two clues that should have told me who was responsible, I managed to disregard them. Well, not entirely, I did pay attention to one clue...for about two seconds. It didn't seem to lead anywhere so I promptly forgot about it. I could blame it on listening to an audio version (I don't seem to take things in quite so well if I don't actually read the words), but I don't think that's the reason. I just hang on to it and put it together with the other clue. One interesting note on this's a cliffhanger. The missing actor storyline doesn't get resolved and we're left with a tantalizing episode at the end that leads into the next book. ★★★★

First line: "You're a thief!"

Last line: Ginger grabbed at the string of beads around her neck. "Oh, mercy."


Deaths = two neck broken

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Death in High Heels

 Death in High Heels (1941) by Christianna Brand

Brand's debut mystery takes place in a posh dress shop where Mr. Frank Bevan, proprietor and manager, is getting ready to shake things up. Everyone is sure that he is going to send Miss Doon (his especial favorite) off to manage the sales floor of a new branch in Deauville. But at the last minute, those honors go to Miss Gregory, Bevan's secretary and right-hand girl. Miss Doon was set to go to lunch with Bevan to celebrate her promotion--but winds up having lunch in the staff room instead. Hours later, Miss Doon is dead from oxalic poisoning--some crystals were apparently sprinkled on her portion of curried rabbit.

Where did the oxalic acid come from, you might ask. Well, Mrs. Rachel Gay and Mrs. Victoria David had gone to the chemist's to get a small quantity to use to clean straw hats. The stuff gets spilled twice and a number of the staff have an opportunity to get their hands on some of it. When Inspector Charlesworth comes to investigate the suspicious death, he finds that some had opportunity to get the poison, but no opportunity to use it on the food. And some had plenty of opportunity to use it, but no opportunity to get hold of it. And among those who had both there are few motives for doing away with Miss Doon. Then another near-poisoning happens and Charlesworth is baffled. Another inspector is brought in to help clear the muddle and then....Charlesworth has a flash of insight while interviewing one of the suspects. Has he finally solved it? 

Honestly, I found this quite exasperating. Throughout 90-some percent of the book Inspector Charlesworth is a most unpromising detective. There are points of interest that absolutely escape him and I can't believe it took 162 pages (and another inspector pointing it out) for him to confront the idea that maybe the intended victim wasn't really the person that died. I'm not saying that's the solution--maybe it is and maybe it isn't--but it was an obvious thing to consider as soon as everyone had told the story of that last fatal luncheon. It also never occurred to him to go talk to the chemist who supplied the oxalic acid. And, then, of course, there's his weakness for lovely young women and the fact that he "just knows" that Victoria David couldn't have murdered and attempted to murder anybody. Fingerprints on a glass? Pooh-pooh. There must be an explanation. Or maybe we can just pretend they aren't there. Again, I'm not saying she really is guilty (or that she really isn't), but I don't care for watching the detective tie himself into pretzels to avoid considering her a legitimate suspect.

And then there's the pacing. This thing dragged...and dragged.We went through the evidence several times and went through convoluted discussions of who might have and who didn't and who could have and who possibly couldn't have and it twisted my thoughts into pretzel shapes. The best of the book was when Charlesworth was interacting with Sergeant Bedd (and Bedd is able to one-up him on a few points) and the scenes in the dress shop environment. I could tell that Brand had worked in a dress shop--the attention to detail really gives the reader a sense of the atmosphere of a high-class shop. I was also surprised by the ending--I had considered the culprit, but then got so sidetracked by the various solutions Charlesworth proposed and his mental gymnastics in avoiding fitting Victoria up as the villain of the piece that I lost sight of that particular solution. ★★ and 3/4--not quite a three-star read.

First line: Irene was always the first to arrive.

Last lines: "I beg your pardon, sir. The racing yacht?"


Deaths = one poisoned

Sunday, November 21, 2021

My Reader's Block Challenges for 2022


Just a reminder that all the new Reader's Block challenges for 2022 are posted and ready to go. If you're looking for a challenge to join, then please check out those I have on offer. Click on the links to view  the details for each one. I'd love to have you join me for one...or a few...or all of them!

Mount TBR for those who accumulate books and need incentive to read from their own stacks.

The Virtual Mount TBR Challenge for those who read masses of books from the library or other non-owned sources.

The Vintage Scattergories Challenge is for those who like their mysteries with a bit of age on them. Two levels are available: Golden (Pre-1960) and Silver (1960-1989 inclusive). Read mysteries that fit various Scattergory categories.

Calendar of Crime: Read mysteries from any era that fit various calendar-related prompts.

Reading by the Numbers: 2022 will debut this challenge whose main goal is to log all your books. No pre-set challenge levels. You decide your goal for the year and then just keep track of the books you read. I put it together primarily so I'd have a handy place on the blog to track everything I read in one place.

The Color Coded and Read It Again, Sam challenges are both housed at the same page. In the first, readers choose books on color names in the titles or cover colors and the second is for those who enjoy rereading old favorites. 

Which Reminds Me

 Which Reminds Me (1989) by Tony Randall & Michael Mindlin

Tony Randall of The Odd Couple fame (among others) goes on a story-telling spree. There. Review done. Oh, I suppose I ought to say a bit more. So, Tony gives us little snippets of everything from life in the theatre to TV and film. He tells naughty stories about producers, directors, writers, fellow actors, and critics. He gives us behind-the-scene views of his most famous TV show appearances, The Odd Couple and Mr. Peepers. There are stories about practical jokes and mistaken identity. If could have happened in Hollywood, then it probably did and Tony lets us know.

I read this once before (in the 90s, I think--though I didn't note the date) and thought it amusing. I remembered Tony as a good storyteller. So, when I saw this at the Historical Society's community garage sale a few years ago, I decided to pick it up for a reread. I'll just say that this hasn't aged well. Most of the stories aren't nearly as funny as I remembered and some reflect views that aren't appropriate. Tony's style (or Mindlin's writing or however this pans out between the two) is too rambling. He just plunges from one story to the next with little to connect them into a nice, flowing commentary. I think it was supposed to represent the idea of the title--telling one story which reminds him of another story which leads to another story....and so on ad infinitum. Which perhaps works better conversationally than it does on paper. 

There are things to like about the book--especially his stories about his early years onstage and his work with Jack Klugman on The Odd Couple--but not enough to make it a really good read. I gave it a strong three-star review before, but now I'd give it ★★ and 1/2 at most.

First line: There are, they tell me, more amusing anecdotes and jokes about show business than about any other.

Last line: [from a section on epitaphs] Here lies Porky Pig T-T-That's All F-Folks

Friday, November 19, 2021

Death of an Obnoxious Tourist

 Death of an Obnoxious Tourist (2006) by Maria Hudgins

The first in a series of cozy mysteries featuring Dotsy (Dorothy) Lamb, a professor of Ancient History, who quite honestly seems like the furthest thing from an academic. And this debut novel has very little to do with the academic world at all. Dotsy and her best friend Lettie are on a group tour to Italy. They plan to take in the sights--the Colosseum and the Leaning Tower of Pisa--just like any tourist as well as stopping to take in archeological museums along the way. Also in the group are the Bauer sisters, Beth, Amy, and Meg. Beth is a friend of Lettie's and Meg is more like one of the evil stepsisters in Cinderella than part of a loving trio. In fact, Meg seems to go out of her way to insult every one of her fellow travelers.

When Meg is found stabbed to death with a souvenir knife just bought by Beth, Lettie's friend is an immediate suspect--until Marco Quattrocchi, the carabinieri officer in charge of the case, arrests a local gypsy who had stolen Beth's wallet and hotel room key and was found to have been in the hotel. Dotsy is convinced that both the gypsy and Beth are innocent. But who else could have wanted to kill Meg Bauer. As it winds up--practically everybody in their tour group. There's Shirley Hostetter who was forced to leave her nursing job because of Nurse Meg Bauer. There's Wilma Kelly whose activist activities have crossed Meg's path. There's Paul Vogel who always seems to be sneaking around and asking the most awkward questions. There's Gianni, an Italian local, whose blue Fiat is in the wrong place at the right time. 

Then a second Bauer sister, Amy, falls to her death on one of the tour outings and it begins to look like someone has it in for the Bauer family. Dotsy spies a piece of paper in Amy's pocket with some mysterious references on it. But the paper disappears before Amy's body arrives at the hospital. If Dotsy and Marco Quattrochi can decipher the meaning of the words, they may just find a killer.

This first Dotsy Lamb book is my second encounter with the Hudgins series. I'm glad I read Death in an Ivory Tower first. It had an academic setting and Hudgins is much more in control of her cast of characters and mystery plot. The Italian background in this one is very nice and we get an excellent sense of place, but there are too many characters and not enough information about and/or interaction with most of them. It's difficult to take some of the tour members seriously as suspects when we have so little to go on and the attempts to use them as red herrings really didn't work well. The other annoying thing was after setting up a romantic relationship between Dotsy and Marco, Hudgins has him get angry at her amateur sleuthing and things get all uncomfortable between them. Then when she has a diabetic episode towards the end of the book, he comes charging into room like a knight-in-shining armor to make sure she's okay....and then nothing. The villain is caught and Marco just fades out. It's pretty unsatisfying.

That said, I do like Dotsy and Lettie and knowing that the fifth installment is a good one will ensure that I at least read the other series book I have sitting on the TBR stacks. I also like the fact that Dotsy doesn't outdo the police or assume that she can take on the bad guys alone. She's just an inquisitive woman who has a knack for finding things out. ★★ and 1/2.

First lines: "Strip search?" Lettie slapped a cold quivering hand on my arm. "Please, Dotsy, talk to them."

The Italian love of traffic rules is wonderful to behold. Rules are meant to be broken. If there were no traffic laws to break, driving would be no fun. (p. 192)

Last line: "And I also know how to pick a pickpocket's pocket.


Deaths = 2 (one stabbed; one fell from height)

Monday, November 15, 2021

50 Books A Year Reading Challenge


Emily @ The Nerdy Bookworm is also hosting a near-book-a-week challenge. It is a low-pressure, "you don't have to complete all the prompts" challenge. Since I'm already doing one book-a-week challenge, I'm going to set myself a personal goal of 20 prompts. I may do more--but I'm pretty sure I won't do all of them. I'll post some tentative picks and update as I go. Click on the link if you'd like to join in.

1. 2022 New Release
2. Reese Witherspoon BOTM pick: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
3. Romance book with enemies to lovers trope
4. A Memoir: I'm Still Here by Austin Channing Brown
5. Book based on TV series or movie adaptation
6. Book that was recommended to you: The Guest List by Lucy Foley
7. Thriller:
8. Book with two or more authors
9. Graphic novel
10. Hyped book that everyone is talking about
11. Book on TBR list a very long time: Hans Brinker by Mary Mapes Dodge (on TBR since about 1977--came in a batch of books from my grandma and I just never got round to reading it)
12. Goodread's 2021 Winner or Nominee
13. Book with less than 200 pages
14. An audiobook: Dave Barry Turns 50 by Dave Barry 
15. New to you author: The Egyptologist by Arthur Phillips
16. 2022 Bestseller
17. Book that makes you think & contemplate life
18. Highly-anticipated read
19. Summer vibes/summer read
20. Library book
21. Book with a cover that caught your eye
22. Book by an auto-buy author of yours
23. Physical book on your bookshelf
24. NY Times Nonfiction Bestseller: An Hour Before Daylight by Jimmy Carter
25. A Holiday Romance
26. Book that gives you fall and/or creepy vibes
27. Office romance novel
28. YA book
29. Book with a summer romance
30. Book with friends to lovers trope
31. Book with paranormal elements
32. Book with pink on the cover
33. Book that has a cover you love
34. Book written in text messages, emails, or other form of text
35. Book that as mental health aspects to it
36. Book with a place in the title (imaginary or real): Deathblow Hill by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
37. Coming of age story with characters in school
38. Dual timeline book
39. Book about family
40. Romance with a single parent in it
41. Book bought from a bookstore
42. Contemporary novel
43. YA Romance
44. Funny book
45. Book with an animal in it
46. Book you meant to read last year but didn't: A Scream in Soho by John G. Brandon
47. Book with winter scene on cover
48. A classic
49. Any book from a series
50. Free space/any book

Alphabet Soup Author Edition Challenge


The Alphabet Soup Challenge--Author Edition is a companion challenge for Lori's Alphabet Soup Challenge. The goal is to read books by authors whose first or last name will allow us to read one book for every letter of the alphabet. If you'd like to join in, please click on the link above for full details. X is going to be a tricky one--especially if I'm trying to read primarily from my own shelves. So--my declared personal goal is 13 books (half the alphabet). I will try to do all 26, but if I meet 13, I can count the challenge complete on my challenge tracker page.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

The 52 Book Club Reading Challenge


I'm back for another round of Liz's reading challenge at The 52 Book Club. Hers is a low-key challenge, so there is no pressure to fulfill all 52 categories I'm setting a personal goal of 20. I may read more that fit the categories, but at 20 I can claim my challenge goal fulfilled. In 2021 I managed to pull off all 52--so who know, maybe I'll get there again. I'll list some tentative selections below and update as needed.
1. A 2nd-person narrative: Star Trek: Voyage to Adventure by Michael Dodge (choose your own adventure-style book)
2. Featuring a library/bookstore: Murder in the Stacks by Marion Havighurst
3. Title Starts with an "E": Easy to Kill (Murder Is Easy) by Agatha Christie
4. Title starts with an "F": Fadeaway Girl by Martha Grimes
5. Chapters have titles: The Case of the Famished Parson OR He'd Rather Be Dead by George Bellairs
6. Household object on cover: An Old Betrayal by Charles Finch
7. Non-fiction bestseller: An Hour Before Daylight by Jimmy Carter {library; NY Times 2001 list} OR The Book of Virtues  by William Bennett {NY Times 1994}
8. Involving the art world: One Man Show by Michael Innes
9. A book that sparks joy:
10. Based on a real person: The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes [Jack the Ripper]
11. Book with less than 2022 Goodread ratings: Deathblow Hill by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
12: Set on at least two continents: The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell
13: Includes a club: This Club Frowns on Murder by Albert Borowitz
14: Character with superhuman ability:
15: A five-syllable title: 
16: Book you've seen someone reading in a public place: Leonard by William Shatner (picture of Frieda Tweehuysen [from FB group])
17. Book picked based on its spine:
18. Jane Austen-inspired: Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James
19. Book with alternate title:
20: Related to the word "gold": The Golden Man by Frances & Richard Lockridge OR The Golden Box by Frances Crane
21: Published by Simon & Schuster: The Ruby Raven by Michael Dahl (imprint) OR The Burden of Guilt by Ian Gordon
22: Unlikely detective:
23: Author with an X, Y, or Z in their name: Experiment with Death by E. X. Ferrars
24. Addresses a specific topic: Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s by Frederick Lewis Allen
25. Wealthy character:
26. Has an "Author's Note":
27. Includes a map:
28. Award-winning book from your country: The Devil in Music by Kate Ross (Agatha Award Best Novel 1997) OR The Twelfth Juror by B. M. Gill (Gold Dagger 1984) OR The Horizontal Man by Helen Eustis (Edgar Award 1947) or The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (Edgar 1955) OR see "award-winner" shelf on GoodReads
29. Over 500 pages long: The Forest by Edward Rutherford (883!!)
30. Audio book narrated by author: Dave Barry Turns 50 read by Dave Barry
31. Technology-themed: pick a SF title
32. Book that intimidates you:
33. Bilingual character:
34. Author's photo on back cover:
35. From the villain's perspective: Moriarty by John Gardner
36. Recommended by a favorite author: Use Sayers' Crime Reviews
37. Set in a rural area: Hans Brinker by Mary Mapes Dodge
38. Don't judge a book by its cover!
39. Middle-grade novel: The Body in the Fog by Cora Harrison
40. Book with photographs inside: The Castle Island Case by F. Van Wyck Mason
41. Involves a second chance:
42. An indie read: The Murderer's Maid by Erika Mailman {library; winner of National Indie Award) or He'd Rather by Dead by George Bellairs (Agora Books)
43. Author who's published in more than one genre: Four Days' Wonder by A. A. Milne
44. An anthology:
45. Book with illustrated people on cover: Luck Be a Lady, Don't Die by Robert J. Randisi
46. Job title in the title: Death & the Professor by E. & M. A. Radford
47. Read during month of November: Streaked with Crimson by Charles J. Dutton OR Death Warmed Up by Marian Babson
48. Redo a 2021 prompt with a different genre (#2 Featuring legal profession--used nonfiction memoir by RBG):
49. Book title starts with same letter as first your name: Badenheim 1939 by Aharon Appelfeld
50. Person of color as main character: Tears of the Singers by Melinda Snodgrass (features Uhura)
51. Word "game" in title: The Murder Game by Steve Allen
52. Published in 2022:

Friday, November 12, 2021

The American Gun Mystery

 The American Gun Mystery (1933) by Ellery Queen

It's rodeo time in the Big Apple. Wild Bill Grant has brought his cowboys and horses, sharpshooters and bronco busters to town and they're all set to give New York a taste of the wild and woolly west. As an added bonus, real life cowboy and former Western movie star, Buck Horne is on tap to appear. But the show has barely begun before there is bloodshed. As Buck leads a posse of 40 cowboys on a wild ride around the arena, someone takes a bead on the lead rider and Buck falls to the ground, dead. He's been shot straight through the heart and then trampled by the horses in the gang that followed him.

Inspector Queen and his detective son Ellery are in the stands and the Inspector's quick thinking closes down the arena before anyone can leave. Now all they have to do is find the gun. The police force shows up in droves, manages to search every person in the arena as well as every inch of the Colosseum and yet no gun is found. After no progress is made, the Commissioner (under pressure from various sources) declares the venue open for business and Wild Bill starts up his rodeo again. With the same result--his lead cowboy, One-Arm Woody, takes Buck's place at the head of the 40-man posse and sets off around the  arena. And falls dead in the same spot from another gunshot. 

On the spot each time was a camera crew filming the event for the newsreels. Ellery gets hold of the complete film (including portions cut from the film to make the newsreel more compact) and spots the clue that tells him who did it and where the gun was stashed after the first murder. He then challenges the reader to use the clues to find the same answer.

This is not one of the best Queen novels. The setting is clever--a Western rodeo in the middle of New York City. Populating the Big Apple with cowboys and ranch hands and bronco busters and contrasting that with the city slickers, hard-bitten journalists, and steely-eyed members of Inspector Queen's police force works well. What doesn't work well is the mystery itself. Supposedly, we have all the clues we need to reach the same conclusion as Ellery. Well--if you count vague little references, I suppose so. But, quite frankly, the hiding place for the gun is ridiculous and I doubt that anyone having actually noticed the brief little notation that (spoiler in apparent blank space--highlight if curious) the horse refused to drink any water after the shooting really came up with that solution. Add the fact that Ellery is really quite insufferable in this episode--announcing after the first murder that he knows who did it....except he doesn't know who did it. His poor father must have been ready to boot him from the case. I know I was. ★★

First line: "To me," said Ellery Queen, "a wheel is not a wheel unless it turns."

Last line: A silence appropriately enough, that was Buck Horne's epitaph.


Deaths = three shot

Christmas Spirti Challenge & Readathon


Michelle at Seasons of Reading is once again sponsoring her Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge. In short, the challenge runs from November 22, 2021 through January 6, 2022. The books read must be Christmassy in nature--novels, short story collections, books of poems, etc.
Three ways to participate:
1. Challenge: Pick a level
      ~Candy Cane: read 1 book
      ~Mistletoe: read 2-4 books
      ~Christmas Tree: read 5-6 books (this is the fanatic level...LOL!)
2. Readathon: read as much (or as little as you want)
3. Participate in both!

Additional levels for watching Christmas movies and reading children's books with your kids--but you must complete one of the main reading levels to fulfill the challenge.

For more details and to join up, follow the link above.

As usual, I am joining at the Mistletoe level for Christmas books and will jump into the Readathon this year as well since I can also count non-Christmas books for that:

1. Spence & the Holiday Murders by Michael Allen [Christmas]
5. Death in High Heels by Christianna Brand (11/23/24) [Readathon]
6. Murder at Feathers & Flair by Lee Strauss (11/24/21) [Readathon]


Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Reading Randomizer 2022


The Reading Randomizer 2022 Challenge is sponsored on StoryGraph by texassizedreads, but it's easily adapted to GoodReads or any spread sheet that you might use to track your books. It's intended for folks who have obnoxiously large TBR piles (over 100 books) you think they had me in mind?

The prompts will help you randomly select 24 books (2 per month) from your TBR and work on whittling those piles down. Click on the link to see full details.

January Book 1: Generate a random number (1 - # of books on your TBR) and read the book that appears at that position on your TBR list. The Best "Thinking Machine" Detective Stories by Jacques Futurelle

January Book 2: Sort TBR list by date (published, I'm guessing) in ascending order. Generate a random number and read the book that appears in that position on your list. Deathblow Hill by Phoebe Atwood Taylor

February Book 1: Sort TBR list by date (published, I'm guessing) in descending order. Generate a random number and read the book that appears in that position on your list. The Egyptologist by Arthur Phillips

February Book 2: Sort TBR list by author in ascending order. Generate a random number from 1-50 and read the book that appears in that position on your list. Balance of Power by Dafydd ab Hugh

March Book 1: Sort TBR list by author in ascending order. Generate a random number from 50-75 and read the book that appears in that position on your list. The Mystery of the Talking Skull by Robert Arthur

March Book 2: Sort TBR list by author in ascending order. Generate a random number from 75-100 and read the book that appears in that position on your list. And One for the Dead by Pierre Audemars

April Book 1: Sort TBR list by author in ascending order. Generate a random number from 1-# of books on your TBR and read the book that appears in that position on your list. Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s by Frederick Lewis Allen

April Book 2: Sort TBR list by author in reverse alphabetical order. Generate a random number from 1-50 and read the book that appears in that position on your list. Always Lock Your Bedroom Door by Roy Windsor

May Book 1: Sort TBR list by author in reverse alphabetical order. Generate a random number from 50-75 and read the book that appears in that position on your list. Going Public by David Westheimer

May Book 2: Sort TBR list by author in reverse alphabetical order. Generate a random number from 75-100 and read the book that appears in that position on your list. The Corbin Necklace by Henry Kitchell Webster

June Book 1: Sort TBR list by author in reverse alphabetical order. Generate a random number from 1-# of books on your TBR and read the book that appears in that position on your list. Aunt Dimity's Christmas by Nancy Atherton

June Book 2: Sort TBR list by title in ascending order. Generate a random number from 1-25 and read the book that appears in that position on your list. The Adventures of Jimmie Dale by Frank L. Packard

July Book 1: Sort TBR list by title in ascending order. Generate a random number from 25-50 and read the book that appears in that position on your list. An Air That Kills by Margaret Millar

July Book 2: Sort TBR list by title in ascending order. Generate a random number from 50-75 and read the book that appears in that position on your list. And Left for Dead by Richard Lockridge

August Book 1: Sort TBR list by title in ascending order. Generate a random number from 75-100 and read the book that appears in that position on your list. The Bad Quarto by Jill Paton Walsh

August Book 2: Sort TBR list by title in ascending order. Generate a random number from 1-# of books on your TBR and read the book that appears in that position on your list. Slow Dancing with the Angel of Death by Helen Chappell

September Book 1: Sort TBR list by title in reverse alphabetical order. Generate a random number from 1-25 and read the book that appears in that position on your list. The World's Best 100 Detective Stories Vol. 9 by Eugene Thwing, ed

September Book 2: Sort TBR list by title in reverse alphabetical order. Generate a random number from 25-50 and read the book that appears in that position on your list. Wife for Sale by Kathleen Thompson Norris

October Book 1: Sort TBR list by title in reverse alphabetical order. Generate a random number from 50-75 and read the book that appears in that position on your list. Welcome Death by Glyn Daniel

October Book 2: Sort TBR list by title in reverse alphabetical order. Generate a random number from 75-100 and read the book that appears in that position on your list. Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse: Adventure in Outer Space by George E. Davie

November Book 1: : Sort TBR list by title in reverse alphabetical order. Generate a random number from 1-# of books on your TBR and read the book that appears in that position on your list. Streaked with Crimson by Charles J. Dutton

November Book 2: Sort TBR list by ISBN in ascending order. Generate a random number from 1-# of books on your TBR and read the book that appears in that position on your list. Death Warmed Up by Marian Babson

December Book 1: Sort TBR list by ISBN in ascending order. Generate a random number from 1-50 of books on your TBR and read the book that appears in that position on your list. The Clue of the Velvet Mask by Carolyn Keene

December Book 2: Sort TBR list by ISBN in ascending order. Generate a random number from 50-100 of books on your TBR and read the book that appears in that position on your list. Where Two Ways Meet by Grace Livingston Hill

Bonus: Read earliest added book on your list: Hans Brinker by Mary Mapes Dodge (since about 1977; my grandma sent it to me in a batch of books and I just never got around to reading it)

Alphabet Soup Challenge 2022

 The Alphabet Soup Challenge means that by December 31, 2022 our bowls must be filled with one book (title) for each letter of the Alphabet. Each letter = one spoonful

Basic Details: you can join any time. Each letter should begin the book title--except for those pesky Q, X, and Z letters, the word that starts with the challenge letter may appear anywhere in the title. For full details and to sign up, click the link above.