Thursday, December 22, 2016

Reading Bingo 2016

Book Bingo
Prompted by The Puzzle Doctor over at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, I am reminded that it’s Bingo Time! This is a game to help highlight some of the reviews from the past year. The Bingo card has twenty five categories – all I have to do is find a book that I’ve reviewed over the past year for each category. Let's see if I can fill them all in...

A Book With More Than 500 Pages
Didn't quite make this one--the closest I got was with The Master of Mysteries by Gelett Burgess and Beyond the Ice Limit with Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. Each of these topped out at 480 pages. [Maybe if I count all those blank pages at the end of the Burgess book, I could get by with that one....]

A Forgotten Classic
The Suicide Club & Other Stories by Robert Louis Stevenson. I'd be willing to bet that most people don't even know that he wrote these stories. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde...sure. Treasure betcha. But these? Nah.

A Book That Became A Movie
The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins. Excellent, excellent movie made from, what was for me, a very good read.

A Book Published This Year
Death in Profile by Guy Fraser-Sampson. A very good debut for a promising new series in the mystery field.

A Book With A Number In The Title
The 7th Mourner by Dorothy Gardiner is good solid entertainment and if you are looking for light mystery fare, then this is just the thing. If you don't expect complex plotting and serious sleight-of-hand with clues, then you'll be ready to settle down for a pleasant afternoon's read.

A Book Written By Someone Under Thirty
I'm going to cheat here a bit. Clair Blank first published the first book in her Beverly Gray series when she 18 years old. In fact, the first four books of the series were published before she turned 19. The first book I've ever found of that series is Beverly Gray's Mystery (1948) which was published when she was 33. I would normally try to start a series from the beginning--so I"m totally counting this.

A Book With Non-Human Characters
The Platypus of Doom & Other Nihilists by Arthur Byron Cover. If a Platypus of Doom, an Armadillo of Destruction, an Aardvark of Despair, and a Clam of Catastrophe aren't non-human...then I don't know what is.

A Funny Book
Oh Myyy! by George Takei--which recounts the actor and activist's adventures on the internet.

A Book By A Female Author
Checkmate to Murder by E. C. R. Lorac: I must have a thing for Lorac's fog-shrouded, black-out-centered mysteries, because I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Inspector MacDonald is a very thorough yet very human policeman. He is never quick to judge and he has a way of seeing everything--even the things the witnesses and suspects think they've hidden properly.

A Book With A Mystery
There's an embarrassment of riches in that category here on the Block. Let's see...I think I'll go with House of Darkness by Allan MacKinnon--this year's surprise favorite. This, quite honestly, is the most fun I've had reading a mad-dash, mystery thriller in a long time. Even though I had never heard of Allan MacKinnon before, I snatched it right up when I saw this near-fine Dell Mapback edition sitting at my favorite used bookstore--just waiting for me. What a delight to find such a cracking good yarn with engaging characters, apt descriptions, and humorous dialogue.

A Book With A One-Word Title
Sunday by Georges Simenon is the only one-word title I've got. Not a big winner on the Block, but there are many 4- and 5-star reviews on GoodReads so I'm thinking Simenon just isn't the author for me.

A Book Of Short Stories
Avon Mystery Story Teller byJoseph Meyers and E. B. Williams (eds.): These are 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. But over-all this is a very fine collection.

Free Square
Do Not Murder Before Christmas by Jack Iams--a nice Christmassy murder to give you that nice warm holiday feeling.

A Book Set On A Different Continent
Death in the Andamans by M. M. Kaye is set on an Island off the coast of India. This is another solid mystery outing from M. M. Kaye using her own experiences to inform her novel. Kaye spent a bit of time on Ross, the island in question, just prior to the outbreak of World War II under circumstances very similar. The story is up to her usual standard in terms of atmosphere and setting. The reader can definitely imagine the beauties of the island, settle back into the pre-war atmosphere, and then feel the building tensions as the storm approaches.

A Book Of Non-Fiction.
A Is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup is a very good read for anyonewith an interest in poisons-- whether scientifically or because you're plotting your very own Golden Age style mystery--and/or Agatha Christie. Harkup gives the reader an A through V (Arsenic through Veronal) look at the poisons the Queen of Crime used in her stories.

The First Book By A Favourite Author
The Norths Meet Murder by Frances & Richard Lockridge is a lovely beginning to Frances & Richard Lockridge's series which features (to varying degrees) Pam and Jerry North as the slightly "screwy," yet classy amateur sleuth husband and wife team and the sharp Lieutenant (later Captain) Bill Weigand and his faithful, often confused sidekick Detective Aloysius Mullins.

A Book You Heard About Online
The Seven Wonders of Crime by Paul Halter. The Puzzle Doctor himself first brought Paul Halter to my attention and I'm pretty sure this was the book that I first noticed on his site. I wish I was as excited about Halter as he and JJ at The Invisible Event are....

A Best-Selling Book
The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie: Considering that Dame Agatha still outsells just about everybody whose ever been on the planet, I'm pretty sure this counts whether or not this particular book is on the best seller list right now or not.

A Book Based On A True Story 
Another little cheat....this one is VERY loosely based on the real murders by Jack the Ripper and uses the life of Robert Louis Stevenson in a highly fictionalized manner...but it's the best I got for this square. The Jekyll Revelation by Robert Masello.

A Book At The Bottom Of Your TBR Pile
The Clock Ticks On by Valentine Williams. I have so many piles strewn all about the house that it's difficult to say which one was at the absolute bottom. But I'm quite sure that this one was at the bottom of one of those stacks...and I only pulled it out because it fit Rich's February Crimes of Century date (1933).

A Book Your Friend Loves
I guess I'll have to co-opt Christie for this one too. I know that Brad over at Ah Sweet Mystery Blog has a real thing for the Queen of Crime. I don't think he'll quibble too much if I say he loves The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie.

A Book That Scares You
Beyond the Ice Limit with Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child--mentioned above as not-quite-big-enough for the 500 page category. This book creeped me out more than anything else I read this year. Of course, I'm a big weenie when it comes to scar--so your mileage may vary on this one.

A Book That Is More Than 10 Years Old
That's about as hard to find on my blog as a fact, most of my books are more than ten years old. I'm not a current book reader in general. So, let's just pick one out of the hat....How about Poacher's Bag by Douglas Clark (at 1980--that's a bit more recent than most)?

The Second Book In A Series
I'm still looking...It seems that this was the year to read the third in a series. Not sure I have a second in the series anywhere. Back in a minute...Found one! Cocktails and the Killer (aka Ladies Won't Wait) by Peter Cheyney. It's the second of the Michael Kells books. Of course, there were only two...but we're not going to argue about that, are we?

A Book With A Blue Cover
Cold Steal by Alice Tilton: This is another fast-paced, hilarious romp with Witherall and company. It's the kind of silly heavy-on-the-fun and light-on-the-detection kind of mystery that one needs to be in the mood for in order to enjoy. But when you're in that mood--these are delightful. It's like getting on a roller-coaster that runs at top-speed the whole ride and when you come to a stop, you catch your breath and try to figure out if you've still got all the clues with you.

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