Sunday, February 11, 2018

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

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My goodness but I'm slow out of the starting gate this year. I'm behind by five reviews. And now here I am getting a slow start on tracking my reading progress and statistics. I also need to get busy on my contribution for 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: 12
Total Pages: 2,663

Average Rating: 3.44 stars  
Top Rating: 5 stars 
Percentage by Female Authors: 33%

Percentage by US Authors: 42%

Percentage by non-US/non-British Authors:  0%
Percentage Mystery:  50% 

Percentage Fiction: 83%
Percentage written 2000+: 42%
Percentage of Rereads: 17%
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: 2 (6%)

AND, as mentioned above,
Kerrie had us all set up for another year of Crime Fiction Favorites. What she is  looking for is our Top Mystery Read for each month. January found me with five fictional mysteries and one mystery reference book--which is pretty good considering that I was participating in two science fiction reading events. Here are the mysteries read:

The White Cottage Mystery by Margery Allingham (3.5 stars) 
A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh (3.5 stars)
The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards (5 stars)
Red Warning by Virgil Markham (3 stars)
Act One, Scene One--Murder by A. H. Richardson (3.5 stars)
The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Ripper Legacy by David Stuart Davies (2 stars)

Over all January was a pretty average month for mysteries. Three of the fiction offerings brought in three and a half stars and poor Sherlock only managed two stars in the Davies pastiche. Our big winner for the month was Martin Edwards's reference book which
highlights the rise and duration of the Golden Age novels, gives synopses and background for 100 of them, and name-drops scads of others. I naturally love any resource that will tell me more about my favorite genre and period--especially if it tells me about books I didn't know existed. If Martin hadn't already snagged a nonfiction P.O.M. award for his The Golden Age of Murder, we'd definitely be throwing more bouquets his way this month. 
But that doesn't help us with our fiction P.O.M. award. A Man Lay Dead, Marsh's debut novel, is a classic Golden Age novel featuring a country house murder. It was my first experience with Marsh and it was also the first novel I ever read with the "murder game" as part of the plot. But I realized upon this reread that while the country house setting and the murder game was good, Alleyn's character is lacking a bit here and I definitely missed Inspector Fox as his right-hand man. I'm working my way through the first 12 Alleyn novels for a challenge this year, so hopefully we'll be able to call Ngaio Marsh's name for P.O.M. honors sometime in the near future. But not this month.  

Act One, Scene One--Murder is another mystery by A. H. Richardson in a series that models itself on the Golden Age. The setting is post-WW II Britain, but it seems more at home in the years between the wars. There are big, sprawling country houses with staff  to wait on guests. There is a very proper British butler at Sir Victor Hazlitt's aunt's house. House parties and Golden Age manners and the pre-cell phone and pre-computer era. It makes for a very enjoyable read and the plot has some interesting twists and turns to keep the armchair detective guessing. I also really enjoy our trio of heroes. Their interactions and their individual sleuthing styles make for an interesting mystery. Unfortunately, I had enough quibbles with the fair play aspect that I just don't see this one as our winner either.

Which leaves us with January's Pick of the Month:

I have to admit to being thoroughly bamboozled by the plot. I thought for sure I had seen my way around one of the difficulties...only to be proved wrong. I do think the ending is a bit of a cheat, but it is still a thoroughly enjoyable light and breezy example of the early detective novel. It has just that hint of romance in it--that doesn't overpower the mystery plot. A short, quick read that was just right to kick off the new year.


fredamans said...

Better late than never! Happy February!

Unknown said...

I am currently reading two mysteries, Etched in Tears by Cheryl Hollon and Death in the Stacks by Jenn Mckinlay,they are both good reads!