Tuesday, November 1, 2016

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

It's time to put together my wrap-up post for October. I also have a contribution for Kerrie's Crime Fiction Pick of the Month. This year is rapidly heading to the finish line. Will I finish off the 30-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: 16
Total Pages:  3,608
Average Rating: 3.41 stars
Top Rating: 5 stars 
Percentage by Female Authors: 38%
Percentage by US Authors: 69%
Percentage by non-US/non-British Authors:  6%
Percentage Mystery:  63%
Percentage Fiction: 100%
Percentage written 2000+: 6%
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: 23 (68%)

Well....it'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 sixteen books read in October, ten were mysteries (or near-cousins. Here are the mystery-related books read:

Avon Mystery Story Teller by Jos. Meyers & E. B. Williams, eds (4 stars)

A Rattling of Old Bones by Jonathan Ross (4 stars)
The Affacombe Affair by Elizabeth Lemarchand (4 stars)
Death Wears a Mask by Therese Benson (3 stars)
Sunday by Georges Simenon (2 stars)
The Metropolitan Opera Murders by Helen Traubel (3 stars)
The Camera Clue by George Harmon Coxe (4 stars)
The Garden Murder Case by S. S. Van Dine (3.5 stars)
Beyond the Ice Limit by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child (4 stars)
Meat for Murder by Lange Lewis (3 stars)

And now it's time to look for our P.O.M. Award Winner. The only book to grab a five-star rating this month was Grace Livingston Hill's Crimson Roses--which is not a mystery (unless you count the fact that through 80-90% of the book our heroine has no idea who her secret admirer is...). The Christian romance novel was followed by a quintet of four-star mysteries: Avon Mystery Story Teller (a short story collection), A Rattling of Old Bones by Jonathan Ross, The Affacombe Affair by Elizabeth Lemarchand, The Camera Clue by George Harmon Coxe, and Beyond the Ice Limit by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. We're going to eliminate Preston and Child right off the bat. Not only have the won a P.O.M. previously (for Relic), Beyond the Ice Limit pushes the boundaries of the mystery category...slipping in by virtue of being a science fiction thriller. So, that leaves us with four.

The Avon Mystery Story Teller contains stories of murder and spine-tingling adventure. And, of course, as with all collections, some are better told and more spine-tingling than others. (For instance, "The Man in the Black Hat" by Michael Fessier really doesn't seem to belong here--it's more on the fantastic side than the mysterious. A fine collection overall...but not quite consistent enough to take home the honors. The Affacombe Affair (1968) played into the "murder in costume" them for one of my monthly memes and her the disguise employed is meant to provide an alibi for those engaged in a completely separate crime. It leads to murder...and finally to another round of make-up artistry (on the part of the police this time) which is used to jolt the villains into giving themselves away. Disguise plays a triple part here--as alibi (for both the initial crimes and the murder), as motive, and finally to facilitate the solution. It provided a very interesting entry for the Tuesday Night Bloggers group, but still not quite what I'm looking for in a P.O.M. Award Winner.  A Rattling of Old Bones is a close runner-up. Ross's story shows his detective George Rogers at his best. He's struggling with his memories of Judith Quint and trying not to let the past interfere with his investigation. He shows as very human--nearly failing in his detective work because he's been too close to the victim. Jonathan Ross provides a very clever wrap-up. It's a plot twist that has been used before, but it's well done and not everyone will spot the trick. Overall, a very satisfying read.

Which gives us our October Pick of the Month....

Coxe provides tough guy crime with a very light touch. There are dames and dolls and men on the make; gamblers and gossips and guys on the take. There are hired goons to sent to rough Kent up. But Kent, for all his tough exterior, is a softie when it comes to a lady in tight spot. The novel is fairly clued, but I have to say he still fooled me. I probably should have spotted the culprit, but I didn't. Excellent novel from the 1930s. 



fredamans said...

16 is really terrific!! Happy November!

J F Norris said...

I'm going to add THE CAMERA CLUE to my November reads. It's been sitting in a pile of books since I bought the book three years ago at the Printer's Row book fair!

Bev Hankins said...

John, I hope you enjoy it!