Saturday, October 1, 2016

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

It's time to put together my wrap-up post for September I also have a contribution for Kerrie's Crime Fiction Pick of the Month. It's hard to believe that we're heading into the last three months of the year. Will I finish off the 40-ish more books needed to defeat all my reading challenges? We'll have to see. Meanwhile, here's what happened here on the Block last month.... 

Total Books Read: 15 

Total Pages:  3,200
Average Rating: 3.5 stars
Top Rating: 4 stars 
Percentage by Female Authors: 33%
Percentage by US Authors: 47%
Percentage by non-US/non-British Authors:  7%
Percentage Mystery:  80%
Percentage Fiction: 93%
Percentage written 2000+: 0%
Percentage of Rereads: 7%
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: 22 (67%)'s encouraging to see the numbers holding steady (I might just finish 160 books after all), but there are still way too many books that need reading for challenges and I'm still running a bit behind schedule if I'm going to get 40,000 pages done by the end of the year. And now for the P.O.M. Award in Mysteries.

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. Of the fifteen books read in September, twelve were mysteries (or near-cousins. Here are the mystery-related books read:

The Wheelchair Corpse by Will Levinrew (4 stars)
The Mystery of Burnleigh Manor by Walter Livingston (3 stars) While the Wind Howled by Audrey Gaines (3 stars) The Eye of Osiris by R. Austin Freeman (4 stars) The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars by Robert Newman (3.5 stars) Stories of the Supernatural selected by Dorothy L. Sayers (2.5 stars) 
The Suicide Club & Other Stories by Robert L. Stevenson (3 stars) Home to Roost by Andrew Garve (3 stars) The Seventh Mourner by Dorothy Gardiner (3.5 stars) Death in the Andamans by M. M. Kaye (3.5 stars) The Middle Temple Murder by J. S. Fletcher (4 stars) The Clue in the Clay by D. B. Olsen (3.5 stars)

And now it's time to look for our P.O.M. Award Winner. We've got three contestants in the running for September: The Wheelchair Corpse by Will Levinrew, The Eye of Osiris by R. Austin Freeman, and The Middle Temple Murder by J. S. Fletcher. And all three have definite attractions.

Levinrew's book is a delightfully fun murderous romp. Sure, folks are dying through the most outlandish means. Yeah, there's a bit of esoteric scientific knowledge necessary for the solution that the average Joe or Jane probably doesn't have. There's a rather unbelievable bit of (redacted so I won't give away a plot point) going on.  But it doesn't matter. This is just fun. The characters are engaging and book moves along at a terrific pace and before you know it, you're at the end of the story with the plot all wrapped up and Professor Brierly bemoaning the lack of perspicacity of his companions.

Freeman makes the running again for the second month in a row. This is another fine intellectual puzzle featuring Dr. Thorndyke. Thorndyke is perhaps a little long-winded in his scientific lectures when it comes to the mystery of the missing archeologist John Bellingham, but all is forgiven when the reader gets to enjoy the comic scenes in the coroner's inquest (where it is to be decided if the bones are Bellingham and, if so, how he met his death) and the probate court. Mr. Pope, one of the members of the coroner's jury is priceless--subjecting every witness to his stolid questions and disbelief of anything but the most obvious of proofs. He plays merry hell with Mr. Jellicoe's and Mr. Hurst's plan to get the bones identified as Bellingham's by raising enough doubt that the inquest is adjourned. 

And The Middle Temple Murder is a fast-moving story which follows our investigators from one adventure to the next, from one witness to another in their efforts to discover who killed the mystery man whose body was left on the doorstep of one of the Temple chambers. There are several features that would become standard in mystery stories--mysterious man from the past killed for unknown reasons, wealthy man of business with mysterious background, the missing child--but here, because it is such an early example, they seem fresh. The main disappointment I have with the book is the denouement. The reveal of the culprit at the end comes much too quickly and with too little explanation. One can just see the motive for the murder, but Fletcher gives the wrap-up very little effort. It's as if he said--"Well, X did it. That's all you need to know." Other than the ending, this is a fine example of an early mystery story and, from what I read on the internet, one of Fletcher's better efforts. 

It's been a difficult job for our judges this month. But, after considering the pros and cons of each of our contestants, the winner is...

Freeman is one of the early master's of the scientific mystery and the settings and character descriptions are really quite delightful in The Eye of Osiris. Well worth your time. 


1 comment:

fredamans said...

Another awesome month! You're gonna hit over 160, for sure!
Happy October!