Thursday, February 2, 2017

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

image credit

I'm ready for 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 and handing out the coveted P.O.M. Award for the best mystery. So, here we go--let's take a look at January....

Total Books Read: 16
Total Pages: 3387

Average Rating: 3.75 stars  
Top Rating: 5 stars 
Percentage by Female Authors: 13%

Percentage by US Authors: 56%

Percentage by non-US/non-British Authors:  0%
Percentage Mystery:  44% 

Percentage Fiction: 891%
Percentage written 2000+: 25%
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: 3--final posts coming (10%)

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. January found me with seven mysteries--which is pretty good considering that I was participating in two science fiction reading events and was reading non-mystery books to wrap-up a challenge that ended in January. Here are the mysteries read:

Death at Swaythling Court by J. J. Connington (4 stars) 
Death of a Racehorse by John Creasey (4 stars) 
The Snake on 99 by Stewart Farrar (4 stars) 
The 24th Horse by Hugh Pentecost (4 stars) 
Murder at the Masque by Amy Myers (2.5 stars) 
The Unconscious Witness by R. Austin Freeman (2.5 stars) 
A Losing Game by Freeman Wills Crofts (3.5 stars)  

I had a pretty successful mystery-reading month with over half of the entries pulling solid four-star ratings and one with three and a half stars. Connington gave me a slightly stronger outing with Death at Swaythling Court than my previous two reads (The Two Tickets Puzzle & The Eye in the Museum), but it left me with a slight air of dissatisfaction (between the use of a "Lethal Ray" device and the fact that the murderer does not have to face up to the crime).  

Death of a Racehorse by John Creasey was a very satisfying read. Despite the fact that I jumped into the middle of the series, this was an excellent introduction to Roger West and his method of criminal investigation. Creasey creates a good balance between descriptive, classic mystery scenes and the standard police procedural. He provides enough twists to keep the reader guessing and still manages to display the clues necessary to solve the puzzle. I did balk a bit at the brutal killings and the total tally is a bit high. 

And The Snake on 99 was a delightful surprise. Farrar has a way with characterization that make this a great read. The interactions between his detectives Morgan and Pitt are fun and realistic--you can tell that the two have worked together for some time and know how to pull each other's leg without stepping on anybody's toes. They make a good investigative team. And the boarding house inmates are also well-drawn and given a fairly good chance at the spot-light, especially when you consider how short the book is at 191 pages. The plot is interesting, though I will admit that old hands at the mystery game will probably spot most of the solution before the wrap-up--I certainly did. But I was interested enough in the characters and finding out the fine details that I didn't mind. Which leaves us with January's Pick of the Month:

This is a fast-paced mystery that is tightly plotted and works well in the short Popular Library digest length. A hundred and fifty-eight pages may not seem like a lot for a full-length novel, but Pentecost works in a good handful of suspects and plenty of detective spade-work to keep armchair detectives guessing. I quite enjoyed meeting Inspector Bradley and appreciated the mix of excellent investigator with a man with a heart and scruples (when it comes to protecting the innocent). Previous to this, I had read only the mysteries starring Pierre Chambrun, hotel manager (which are also quite good). I will definitely be looking for the other Bradley stories.

1 comment:

fredamans said...

16 books is fantastic! Happy February!