Saturday, June 4, 2016

May Wrap-Up & P.O.M. Award

And--once again I'm slightly behind on my monthly wrap-up post. I blame it (this time) on vacation because I do enjoy tracking my reading progress and statistics for all things bookish on the Block. I also have a contribution for Kerrie's Crime Fiction Pick of the Month. Now, what happened here on the Block in May....

Total Books Read: 10
Total Pages:  2,370

Average Rating: 3.53 stars  
Top Rating: 4 stars 
Percentage by Female Authors: 50%

Percentage by US Authors: 420%

Percentage by non-US/non-British Authors:  10%
Percentage Mystery:  90% 

Percentage Fiction: 100%
Percentage written 2000+: 10%
Percentage of Rereads: 0%
Percentage Read for Challenges: 100% {It's eas
y to have every book count for a challenge when you sign up for as many as I do.}    
Number of Challenges fulfilled so far: 15 (48%)

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. May was another big month for mysteries with 90% coming from that field--for a total of  nine crime novels. Here are the books read:

Dead Man's Riddle by Mary Kelly (3.5 stars) 
The Family Tomb by Michael Gilbert (4 stars) 
Running Blind by Desmond Bagley (3.5 stars) 
The Bobbsey Twins at London Tower by Laura Lee Hope (3 stars) 
Gownsman's Gallows by Katharine Farrer (3 stars) 
Murder at the Savoy by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (3 stars) 
The Litmore Snatch by Henry Wade (4 stars) 
Good Blood by Aaron Elkins (4 stars) 
The Paper Thunderbolt by Michael Innes (3.75 stars)

This month saw a small crop of four-star winners. There was The Family Tomb by Michael Gilbert where British expatriate Robert Broke finds himself in the middle of a far-reaching web of intrigue which has at its center the eccentric Professor Bronzini and Estrucan art. There was also The Litmore Snatch by Henry Wade which centers on the kidnapping of Herbert Litmore's young son. The Yard's Chief Inspector Vine sets to work on the cold trail and with the aid of the local officers he soon has the perpetrator in his sights. But finding the necessary evidence may be a bit tricky. Fortunately, Vine has a trick or two up his sleeve that will suit the purpose. And finally Aaron Elkin's Good Blood, another kidnapping mystery, with the Skeleton Detective, Gideon Oliver, called upon to use his expertise while on vacation in Italy when a skeleton is discovered after the Padrone Vincenzo de Grazia's only son is kidnapped in a violent undertaking that leaves the family's chauffeur and one of the kidnappers dead. Oliver will discover that the modern kidnapping has ties to the skeleton's past.

All three of these novels were highly entertaining--which makes choosing this month's P.O.M. Award Winner rather difficult. But we can only have one winner and so (drum roll, please), our May P.O.M. goes to....

The real delight in this book is the characters--particularly the women. There is Miss Plant, who is "in every sense of the word, the leading lady of the English colony in Florence." She is a throwback to an earlier era, when ladies went about with retinues who smoothed the way and saw that every need was met and every wish anticipated. There is also Robert Broke's sister, Felicia who arrives on the scene to provide funds for a proper defense, having already arranged things with the Governor of the Bank of England--"Five minutes talk and the thing was fixed. I have found that men of intelligence usually see my points quite quickly."  And then there's Tina, who isn't about to let a couple Mafia-backed thugs get in her way when it comes to helping Signore Roberto and avenging her father. When she and Mercurio, Professor Bronzini's adopted son, are confronted by the men in a diner, she leaps into the battle with a pool cue. She "swung it carefully, like a golfer addressing a drive, and hit the stout man very hard on the back of the head, just above the point where his neck joined his skull." She is fearless and willing to do whatever necessary to free Broke and get to the bottom of the plot that killed her father. Gilbert has loaded this book with strong female characters who don't need a man to get things done. Not that Mercurio didn't hold his own in that fight--but it was not a case of him saving the damsel in distress. The strength of the characters and the Italian setting really drive the star rating up to ★★★★ that would have been five if the plot had been just a little less obvious.

1 comment:

fredamans said...

On vacay and still read 10, that's awesome!! Happy June!