Sunday, May 31, 2015

May Wrap-UP and P.O.M. Award

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 I'm enjoying another year of tracking reading progress and statistics for all things bookish on the Block. I will also be contributing to Kerrie's Crime Fiction Pick of the Month. Here's what happened here on the Block in May....

Total Books Read: 13
Total Pages:  3,174
Average Rating: 3.23 stars
Top Rating: 5 stars 
Percentage by Female Authors: 23%
Percentage by US Authors: 46%
Percentage by non-US/non-British Authors:  15%
Percentage Mystery:  85%
Percentage Fiction: 92%
Percentage written 2000+: 15%
Percentage of Rereads: 0%
Percentage Read for Challenges: 100% {It's easy to have every book count for a challenge when you sign up for as many as I do.}  
Number of Challenges fulfilled so far: 8 (20%)

This actually turned out better than I thought. I began the month with a hefty non-fiction book and my reading seemed to lag once I got that done. But then I put on a burst of reading speed in the second half of May to reach the respectable total of 13.

AND, as mentioned above, Kerrie had us all set up for another year of Crime Fiction Favorites. What she was looking for is our Top Mystery Read for each month. March was a big month for mysteries with nine coming from that field and two in non-fiction. And one of the non-fiction was all about poisoning, so it could almost count. Here are the books read:

The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards (4.5 stars, non-fiction)
The Eye in the Museum by J. J. Connington (3.5 stars)
Dead Lion by John & Emery Bonett (3.5 stars) 

The Great Dinosaur Robbery by David Forrest (3 stars)
The Three Fears by Jonathan Stagge (4 stars)
Gods of Gold by Chris Nickson (3 stars)
Deep Lake Mystery by Carolyn Wells (2 stars)
Bones in the Barrow by Josephine Bell (4 stars)
The Abominable Man by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (4 stars)
Penny Allen & the Mystery of the Hidden Treasure by Jean McKechnie (3 stars)

I actually handed out one full five-star rating in May, but that went to science fiction master Harlan Ellison for his short story collection Strange Wine and, unfortunately, that wasn't a mystery collection and doesn't qualify for the P.O.M. This month, I'm going to break tradition and hand out two P.O.M. Awards. First, as usual, for the best mystery fiction we have three contenders: The Three Fears by Jonathan Stagge, Bones in the Barrow by Josephine Bell, and The Abominable Man by
Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. The Abominable Man is a hard-hitting, action-packed police drama--moving quickly from the first murder to the final scene. Sjöwall and Wahlöö are experts at setting the scene and placing the reader right in the middle of the action. But they are also previous winners of the coveted Reader's Block P.O.M., so let's move on. Josephine Bell's Bones in the Barrow is a suspenseful puzzle plot that keeps the reader guessing till the end. It comes up just a bit shy in the fair play arena--there are clues if perhaps a bit tenuous, but I did have that "Oh, I should have noticed that!" moment for what was there. And I believe it is a much better example of Bell's work than her previous P.O.M. winner (Death at the Medical Board), but....having also won before we'll have to pass her by as well.

Which means that this month's winner is....

The Three Fears by Jonathan Stagge. Of all the pen names taken up by
Richard Webb & Hugh Wheeler as well as Martha Kelley and Mary Aswell (Patrick Quentin, Q. Patrick, and Jonathan Stagge), I think I enjoy the Stagge books with Dr. Westlake the best. This one has a nifty puzzle plot with a nice juicy clue dangled right before the reader's eyes in the opening chapter. I don't think that's a spoiler--most people still aren't going to get it. I know I zoomed right over it. Westlake is a good amateur detective. He's not infallible by any means and the way he works through the twists and turns of the mystery is very realistic. Solid characters--the police chief is perhaps a little bit too inept, but overall the characters are very well done. The rivalry between the actresses adds just the right about of spice and spite to the mix.

I am also handing out a bonus P.O.M. award to Martin Edwards for his highly entertaining and informative (hot off the presses!) book on Detection Club. The Golden Age of Murder is a fantastic and fascinating book that is an absolute must-have for anyone with interest in the Golden Age of mysteries, crime, and detection. Edwards gives us a detailed look at the original members of the Club--tracing their careers and investigating certain mysterious circumstances in their lives. And even though many of the authors' mysteries were already familiar to me (as a long-time reader of Golden Age crime fiction), Edwards managed to discover new and interesting tidbits about even the most well-known of the Golden Age writers.


Anonymous said...

So close and still yet so far! You had a great reading month and for once we were in the same digit categories for books :-D (I read 10, which is unheard of for me.) Hope you have a great June!

fredamans said...

You had another fantastic month for books! Happy June reading!

TracyK said...

I am always impressed with your stats. Nice month and some good suggestions for me.