Monday, July 10, 2017

June Wrap-Up and P.O.M. Award

I'm a little behind on doing my monthly calculations for June. I had myself a nice bout of strep throat right as the the month ended and I'm still in recovery mode. BUT--I want to continue with the year of tracking reading progress and statistics for all things bookish on the Block. And I also want to contibute to Kerrie's Crime Fiction Pick of the Month and hand out the coveted P.O.M. Award for the best mystery. So, here's what happened here on the Block in June....

Total Books Read: 18
Total Pages:  3,897
Average Rating: 3.33 stars  
Top Rating: 5 stars 
Percentage by Female Authors: 44%
Percentage by US Authors: 67%
Percentage by non-US/non-British Authors:  6%
Percentage Mystery:  72% 

Percentage Fiction: 89%
Percentage written 2000+: 28%
Percentage of Rereads: 6%
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: 16 (52%)

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 all but five coming from that field--for a total of 13 out of 18. The only five-star winner was a non-mystery: Star Trek: The Art of Juan Ortiz, a lovely book of artwork that reimagines the classic Star Trek episodes as movie posters. Here are the mystery books read:
Where There's Smoke by Stewart Sterling (3 stars) 
Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon (4 stars) 
Death Finds a Foothold by Glyn Carr (3.5 stars) 
The Ghost & the Dead Deb by Alice Kimberly (2.5 stars) 
Deed Without a Name by Dorothy Bowers (3 stars) 
The Wailing Siren Mystery by Franklin W. Dixon (3 stars) 
The Secret of the Wooden Lady by Carolyn Keene (3 stars)  
Publish & Perish by Sally Wright (3 stars) 
Mink Is for a Minx by Leo Margulies, ed (3 stars)  
Tree House Mystery by Gertrude Chadler Warner (3 stars) 
Frame Work by Anne G. Faigen (3.25 stars) 
The Arctic Patrol Mystery by Franklin W. Dixon (4 stars)  
The Killing of Katie Steelstock by Michael Gilbert (4 stars)


June was another pretty middle-of-the-road kind of month as far as reading went. Lots of average, three-star ratings--with a few dipping into the two-star range. I did have three 4-star winners: J. Jefferson Farjeon with Mystery in White, The Arctic Patrol Mystery by Franklin W. Dickson, and Michael Gilbert with The Killing of Katie Steelstock. The Hardy Boys make a good showing in The Arctic Patrol Mystery with
a much more action-packed and dangerous story line than most that I remember reading when I was young. I mean, after all, Chet & Biff are nearly blown up in cave by the bad guys! If it hadn't been for perfect timing on the part of Frank and Joe, their buddies would be history. Overall, a suspenseful and fun read--with some interesting background information on Iceland thrown in for good measure. But not quite enough to grab the coveted award.  
The Killing of Katie Steelstock is also a strong entry. This small-town police procedural does an excellent job weaving tensions among the characters--tensions between the suspects, tensions between the local coppers and the Scotland Yard men, and tensions between the suspects and the police. Gilbert uses dialogue and setting to fully flesh out a cast of very believable villagers, internal police rivalries, and the rivalry between Knott and the defending counsel (a lady who would like nothing better than to watch Knott fall flat on his face in court). He manages to pull off quite a few surprises, though I must say I found myself with the right suspect before he produced the grand finale at court. The pacing is excellent and the story merges modern (for 1980) police practices with the classic mystery form. But Michael Gilbert has walked away with the prize before....Which leaves us with this month's P.O.M. Award Winner.... 

Farjeon loads his mysterious Christmas tale with all sorts of unlikely things--from psychic tremors that tell of past misdeeds in the house to unlikely connections among the cast to the police's ability to swallow the tale that Maltby ultimately spins them (to protect the innocent--you know). But--the tale is such great fun and is such a wild bobsled of a ride through Farjeon's winter wonderland that one can suspend one's disbelief in psychic happenings. And the psychic episodes are brief enough that they don't detract from the mystery. A thoroughly enjoyable romp through the 1930s countryside.



fredamans said...

18 books is fantastic! Happy July!

Jacquie said...

You are amazing! Thanks for all the great books I've read based on your reviews. I read much slower however 😊 I picked up a used copy of Mystery in White but am saving it for Christmas. Something to look forward to!