Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Unholy Dying

I am not a policeman but as an avid reader of detective stories, I don't want anyone to be wrongly suspected if I can help it. [Professor John Stubbs; p. 36]

Unholy Dying (1945) is the first of a series of mysteries featuring Professor John Stubbs, the larger-than-life botanist-cum-amateur sleuth, by R. T. Campbell. This initial outing is told primarily from the point of view of Stubbs' "Watson," his nephew Andrew Blake. Blake, who earns his keep selling "culture" pieces to the Daily Courier newspaper, has joined Stubbs at a formal Congress of geneticists where he is expected to come up with interesting stories on such things as blood groups and taste tests. But soon something far more exciting than genetic presentations happens.

Dr. Ian Porter, a vastly unpopular scientist who is well-known for stealing the ideas of others, is found dead from cyanide poisoning in the middle of the taste-testing exhibit. Pretty much everyone who ever met the man disliked him and had a motive to murder him--from Dr. Stubbs himself to Porter's unfortunate assistants to fellow scientists in his field and even Blake has the police's interest as a suspect. Ever the knight-errant, Blake had taken a swipe at Porter the evening before when the scientist pushed his unwanted attentions on one of his students, the lovely Mary Lewis. 

Mary, of course, is also a suspect having had to fend off such advances repeatedly with more and more evident dislike. Her current beau, Dr. Peter Hatton naturally hates Porter for making Mary's life so uncomfortable. There is also the American Dr. Swartz who has even more reason to hate Porter. While in the States, Porter had snagged the affections of the girl Swartz loved and then promptly dropped her like a hot potato when she found herself "in trouble." She couldn't bear the heartache and dishonor and shot herself. And finally, there is Dr. Silver, Porter's right-hand man. Silver claims to be devastated and to have been Porter's only friend--but he was also in the position to have had the most intellectual property stolen.

The police in the form of Inspector Hargrave provide the foil for Professor Stubbs' efforts at amateur detecting. In fact, Hargrave makes a pretty poor showing for the official force, repeatedly wanting to arrest people on the slimmest of suspicion. Fortunately, Stubbs is digging up honest-to-goodness clues and is able to lay a trap that will catch the real villain of the piece.

So...my reading log tells me that I read this once back in the mists of time, but I honestly don't remember a thing about the book. Which is actually a good thing--I got to approach this absolutely delightful and funny mystery as if I were reading it for the very first time. I love collecting good quotes from the books I read but I would be copying whole pages at a time if I tried doing that with this one. But I will give a small selection at the end of the review. 

Stubbs is a wonderful character. I can't imagine wanting to long be in the same room as a man described at various times as everything from an elephant to a tank and noted for hooting, shouting, rumbling, and "whispering" in one's ear loud enough to make the teeth rattle. But he is great fun on paper. Campbell's character descriptions in general are quite vivid and interesting. And his plotting was well done for a first attempt at mysteries. Most enjoyable.★★★★ and 1/2.

Deaths = 4 (three poisoned; one shot)

Conversation in this car was an impossibility. All one could do was to hang on to the sides and hope for the best, thanking God that there was no boom to swing over suddenly and catch you a crack on the head when Uncle John brought her to, rather too suddenly. (p. 4)

Uncle John concentrated on his driving with the grim concentration of a chess player.  I have an idea that he really is rather frightened of it, but is determined that he will show it who is the master.  His idea of showing it consists of driving as fast as he can and braking just in time to avoid disaster. (Ibid.)

In a pub like this you should never get anything with a French name, it only covers the fact they are using up the things that were left over from yesterday. (Professor John Stubbs; p. 5)

[after a mini-lecture from Peter Hatton on genes and how everything we are is due to bits and pieces we've inherited from our parents and other ancestors...back to the primordial goo unless one is a mutant (freak)] I did not like to think that if I had any individuality it was the result of my being a freak and I told him so and he went on to wound my vanity even further by telling me that, after all, I was only something frothed up around an egg, by that egg in order to guarantee its continued existence. Having reduced me to the level of a milk-shake, I wondered whether the hot tea would not melt the froth but decided I would risk it. (p. 7)

I thought the whole affair was developing into a melodrama and, while I can stand my melodrama on the stage or in one of my favourite gothic novels, I do not feel comfortable when I am, however remotely, mixed up in it.... (p. 9)

[the janitor--when the police arrive after the murder] "Is one of you gentleman, Mr. Blake? Did you ring up for the police?" I assured him that I had indeed telephoned the police and his face cleared a little; anything, I could see, was better than that he should be the victim of a practical joker. (p. 28)

Like one of those crocodiles in which schoolgirls enjoy their ration of fresh air, we followed him. First came my uncle and Professor Silver, then Dr. Swartz and myself, his assistants, and Mary and Peter. One of the detectives walked at the tail of this procession, as if to see that none of us evaporated in the journey. (p. 29)

I think we'll go back to the White Lion. No one can interrupt us there, and you can give me a full list of your  indiscretions and misstatements, for I've no doubt but that you've been tyin' yourself  up in a net under the impression that you makin' things sound better. (Stubbs; p. 34)

Don't be afraid to tell me anythin' you like. I don't mind if one of you did murder Porter, but if you did  I hope you managed it in such a way that you won't be found out. [Stubbs; p. 36]

Now, then, I'll  make a list of everyone that we know about at present, just to see who had the opportunity, motive and so on to murder Porter. I'll put myself at the top of the list so that no one can say that I'me being unfair. This business of making a list is common to many of the best detective stories, so I don't see why we should not follow their examples, do you? [Stubbs; p. 39]

Well, I don't know what you think, but for the present I'd like to keep our friend X out of it. He's such a strange chap, and he only appears in the worst detective stories when the author cannot hink of a way in which to link up one of the suspects with the murder, havin' provided him with too good an alibi. [Stubbs; p. 40]

I want to relax. And I relax best when I am reading. [Stubbs; p. 42]

I may tell you that I wouldn't bother to find Porter's murderer if he had not done his murder in such a way as to spread suspicion among several people, and general suspicion clings to the innocent no less than to the guilty if we can't prove the guilt of one person. [Stubbs; p. 45]

I told [the reporter from the Courier] that I was going to write up my notes on the [tasting and blood grouping] demonstration and he seemed to think they would make a popular article and one that would be of educational value as well, for the Courier liked even its murders cultural. The murder of a scientist among scientists would receive far more notice than the murder of a grocer by common burglars. [pp. 45-6]

Inspector Hargrave looked at him with the sympathy which one gives to an unfortunate lunatic who gives no real reason for certification, and Dr. Flanagan shook his head with the air of having known John Stubbs for a long time but of having rarely seen him as eccentric as he was now. [p. 51]

There's you reason for the murder takin' place at this congress. It's the opposite of the sealed room mystery, anyone could have done it and the murderer was trustin' to the fact of Porter's unpopularity to spread suspicion as widely as possible. [p. 66]

I've been readin' about murders, the most impossible murders, the more impossible the better, for donkey's years, and now I have a good plain murder dumped down under my nose with plenty of nice suspects, and I wan to be clever about it. I would like a murder of a man in a sealed room, so the only murder I get is the opposite of that. A man in a room to which about twelve hundred people have had free access. [Stubbs; p. 74]

Mystery Reporter's Challenge 2020

Sponsored by Ellie at Dead Herring 
Thru Goodreads Group: The Challenge Factory

The challenge runs from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

Who? What? Where? When? How?
Why? – because it’s fun to read!

Cub reporter: 5 books (1 from each category) [Finished 1/31/20]
Columnist: 10 books (2 from each category) [Finished 2/20/20]
News Anchor: 15 books (3 from each category) [Finished 5/18/20]
Editor: 20 books (4 from each category) [Finished 7/20/20]
Newspaper Mogul: 25 books (5 from each category) [Finished 8/22/20]

BONUS CATEGORY: Pulitzer Prize Winner
(Newspaper Mogul plus Bonus Category) = 30 books [Finished 9/12/20]

I'm back for another round! I'm going to go for News Anchor as my official goal this year and hope to do them all again.

Protagonist is in the medical profession: Deep Lay the Dead by Frederick C. Davis (2/14/20)
Protagonist works with animals: Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre (6/20/20)
Protagonist is writing a book: The Arsenic Labyrinth by Martin Edwards (8/4/20)
Protagonist is happily married: The Valentine's Day Murder by Lee Harris (4/10/20)
Protagonist is a male: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (1/15/20)

Title is 1 word: Kept by D. J. Taylor (5/2/20)
Title is at least 6 words: The Death of a Joyce Scholar by Bartholomew Gill (1/31/20)
Title starts with a vowel (Not the word ‘A’): Information Received by E. R. Punshon (2/6/20)
An event in the title: The Christening Day Murder by Lee Harris (4/7/20)
Any measurement in the title (example=inch, minute, mile, cup, quarter, etc): 4 Feet in the Grave by Amelia Reynolds Long (5/30/20)

Set in a beach town: The Colorado Kid by Stephen King [Maine Island Beach town] (6/17/20)
Set in a big city: Murder on the Waterfront by Michael Jahn (1/20/20)
Set on an island: Curtain for a Jester by Frances & Richard Lockridge [Manhattan Island] (4/3/20)
Set in a state beginning with the letter ‘M’: The Crying Sisters by Mabel Seeley [Minnesota]
Set on foreign soil (NOT America or England): Death in Kenya by M. M. Kaye (2/20/20)

Set in the 1900s: Spin Your Web, Lady! by Frances & Richard Lockridge (2/8/20)
Set in the 1800s: Between the Thames & the Tiber by Ted Riccardi (7/20/20)
Set in the future (2021 or beyond): Neuromancer by William Gibson (8/22/20)
Set during a storm: Deadly Pattern by Douglas Clark [story begins during a huge storm] (5/18/20)
Set during summer: The Haunted Pool by Phyllis A. Whitney (1/3/20)

(Method of Murder)
Poison: Good Luck to Corpse by Max Murray (3/30/20)
Drowning: The Big Four by Agatha Christie (2/27/20)
Gun/shooting: The Plague Court Murders by Carter Dickson (1/26/20)
Blunt object: Red Threads by Rex Stout (2/14/20)
Accident: The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers (1/28/20)

WHO – Not your typical protagonist (deaf, blind, wheelchair-bound, ADHD, Aspergers, etc.): Out of Control by Baynard Kendrick [blind detective] (9/12/20)
WHAT – The protagonist’s first name starts with your first or last initial: Blotto, Twinks & the Ex-King's Daughter by Simon Brett (7/1/20)
WHERE – Set in a hotel: Have His Carcase by Dorothy L. Sayers (1/13/20)
WHEN – Whole book takes place within a week: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (1/9/20)
HOW – Mistaken identity – wrong person killed: The New Year's Eve Murder by Lee Harris (4/25/20)

Challenge Complete 9/12/20

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Deal Me In Reading Challenge

In 2017, I joined in on Jay's Deal Me In Challenge for the first time and after a year off I've decided to do another round. If you'd like to join in please click the link for a full run-down. Here's the short version of the rules:

~Compile a list of 52 short stories
~Match each story to a card from a regular deck of cards
~Have a deck of cards handy throughout the year
~Read one short story per week
~Choose your weekly story by drawing a new card from the deck. I plan to draw my card on Sunday.

Image credit
Clubs (all but King from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine July 1958 (completed 6/16/23)
A: "Hunting Day" by Hugh Pentecost
2: "Investigation by Telegram" by Agatha Christie
3: "The Silent Informer" by Helen McCloy
4: "The Man Who Lost His Taste" by Lawrence G. Blochman
5: "Dead Boys Don't Remember" by Frances & Richard Lockridge
6: "Lioness vs. Panther" by Q. Patrick
7: "Tea Shop Assassin" by Michael Gilbert
8: "Chicago Nights' Entertainments" by Ben Hecht (1/19/20)
9: "An Official Position" by W. Somerset Maugham (1/10/20)
10: "Wanted: An Accomplice" by Frederick Nebel
J: "For Tom's Sake" by Sheila Kaye-Smith
Q: "Carnival Day" by Nedra Tyre
K: "How Mr. Hogan Robbed a Bank" by John Steinbeck (from Ellery Queen's Anthology 1966 Mid-Year Edition (Vol. 11) [2/18/24]

Bonus Read (to complete the 1958 magazine):
Nothing Is Impossible by Clayton Rawson (novelette)

image credit

(All but King from Ellery Queen's Anthology 1966 Mid-Year Edition (Vol. 11)
A: "You Can't Love Two Women" by L. A. G. Strong (2/18/24)
2: "I Killed John Harrington" by Thomas Walsh (2/18/24)
3: "The Grave Grass Quivers" by MacKinlay Kantor (2/18/24)
4. "The Crime by the River" by Edmund Crispin (2/18/24)
5: "£5000 for a Confession" by L. J. Beeston (2/18/24)
6: "Karmesin & the Crown Jewels" by Gerald Kersh (2/18/24)
7: "Black Mail" by Stephen McKenna (2/18/24)
8: "Murder on St. Valentine's Day" by Mignon G. Eberhart (2/11/20)
9: "A Piece of String" by Clarence Budington Kelland (2/18/24)
10: "The Tragedy of Papa Ponsard" by Vincent Starrett (2/4/20)
J: "The Silver Curtain" by John Dickson Carr (2/4/20)
Q: "Bride in Danger" by Ellery Queen (2/26/20)
K: "Angel Fix" by James Tiptree, Jr. (from Out of the Everywhere & Other Extraordinary Visions by Tiptree)

Bonus stories (to complete the anthology):
All at Once, No Alice by Cornell Woolrich (short novel) [2/18/24]
The Girl Who Lived Dangerously by Hugh Pentecost (short novel) [2/18/24]
The Clue of the Scattered Rubies by Earl Stanley Gardner (novelette) [2/18/24]
Blind Man's Bluff by Roy Vickers (novelette) [2/18/24]
That Was Will's Day by Aaron Marc Stein (novelette) [2/18/24]
Taboo by Geoffrey Household (novelette) [2/18/24]

image credit

Hearts (from Out of the Everywhere by Tiptree and 6 X H by Robert A. Heinlein)
A: "Beaver Tears" by Tiptree
2: "Your Faces, O My Sisters! Your Faces Filled of Light" by Tiptree
3: "The Screwfly Solution" by Tiptree
4: "Time-Sharing Angel" by Tiptree
5: "We Who Stole the Dream" by Tiptree
6: "Slow Music" by Tiptree
7: "A Source of Innocent Merriment" by Tiptree
8: "Out of the Everywhere" by Tiptree
9: "With Delicate Mad Hands" by Tiptree
10: "The Man Who Traveled in Elephants" by Robert A Heinlein (2/11/20)
J: "All You Zombies" by Heinlein (6/19/23)
Q: "They" by Heinlein (6/19/23)
K: "Our Fair City" by Heinlein (6/19/23)

Bonus reads (to finish the book): "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag" (novella)  and "And He Built a Crooked House" by Heinlein (6/19/23)

Diamonds (from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine October 1965)*
A: "Flair for Murder" by Frances & Richard Lockridge
2: "The Three R's" by Ellery Queen
3: "The Japanese Card Mystery" by James Holding
4: "Baskets of Apples & Roses" by Victor Canning
5: "The Cherub Vase" by Alice Scanlan Reach
6: "The Labor Day Mystery" by Lloyd Biggle, Jr. 
7: "Jericho & the Dying Clue" by Hugh Pentecost (1/26/20)
8: "Want to Buy a Cat?" by Gerald Kersh
9: "The Course of Justice" by Hugh B. Cave
10: "The Great Glockenspiel Gimmick" by Arthur Moore
J: "The Theft of the Black Jupiter" by Margaret Austin
Q: "Devil to Pay" by J. F. Pierce
K: "The Sound of the Peepers" by Caroline Breedlove

*Remainder, including bonus stories, complete 5/26/23
Bonus stories (to finish the magazine): 
"The Right Way & the Wrong" by Sonora Morrow
Not Easy to Kill by Philip Wylie (complete short novel)

2020 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

When the 2020 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge first came out, I resisted the temptation because I had this silly idea that I would limit my challenges to only 20 in 2020. Well...that thought has now gone out the window and I've decided to give in....

For some reason, the graphic above appears much bigger on the site than it does here. There are also links to spreadsheets and downloadable lists to make following the categories easier. So, click on the link above for more info.

I'm going to sign up for the Baker's Dozen (13 books). I may do more, but my commitment will be met at 13.

1. Mystery of the Haunted Pool by Phyllis A. Whitney [Body parts--nose on cover] (1/3/20)
2. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie [Singles--single figure on cover] (1/9/20)
3. Have His Carcase by Dorothy L. Sayers [Quick Decisions--author you always read] (1/13/20)
4. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Scott Turton [Selfies--written in 1st person] (1/15/20)
5. Murder on the Waterfront by Michael Jahn [TBR Crushers--have to dust off (on TBR since 2013)] (1/20/20)
6. The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer (1940) [How Old?--written before I was born] (1/24/20)
7. The Plague Court Murders by Carter Dickson (John Dickson Carr) [Hidden: pseudonymous author] (1/26/20)
8. Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer [Seconds--bought from second hand store] (1/27/20)
9. The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L Sayers [Inspirations--place I want to visit this year (England)] (1/28/20)
10. Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh [Birds of a feather--feathers/wings on cover] (2/6/20)
11. Silver Wings for Vicki by Helen Wells [Places: book about traveling] (2/15/20)
12. The Beatles--Yellow Submarine story adapted by Bill Morrison [Movie Quotes: I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way: graphic novel] (2/20/20)
13. The Crying Sisters by Mabel Seeley [Recovery: Missing Person] (2/23/20)
Commitment Complete!

Now I'm going to list all the books by category and see how far I get with the list.

Making Stuff Up
~Book with "maker" in title
~Book featuring fictional language: Blotto, Twinks & the Ex-King's Daughter by Simon Brett [Mitteleuropian] (7/1/20)
~Book about crafts/handiwork
~Book about lies: When Gods Die by C. S. Harris [lots of lies--biggest in the protagonist's family] (8/27/20)

Dark Genres
~A cult classic
~A dark fantasy book: A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny (8/20/20)
~A Gothic horror book: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (9/8/20)
~A speculative fiction book: Neuromancer by William Gibson (8/22/20)

~Found in a second hand store: Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer (1/27/20)
~Second book by an author: Death After Evensong by Douglas Clark (5/4/20)
~Clock/stopwatch on cover
~Book about eating

Quick Decisions
~Based solely on the title/cover
~Bought on impulse: A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas (8/19/20)
~By an author you always read: Have His Carcase by Dorothy L. Sayers (1/13/20)
~About living with consequences

Birds of a Feather
~Feather/Wings on cover: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh (2/6/20)
~About differences
~About community: The Thursday Club Murder by Richard Osman (11/10/20) [takes place in a retirement community]
~About twins: The Good Friday Murder by Lee Harris (5/13/20)

Where We Live
~About an apartment building
~With a mansion on cover: Murder at Melrose Court by Karen Baugh Menuhin (7/22/20)
~About nomads
~About moving to the country

~By a current/former journalist: Good Luck to the Corpse by Max Murray (3/30/20)
~About doctors/nurses//health care professionals
~About a teacher: Golden Rain by Douglas Clark (5/21/20)
~About blue collar workers

Body Parts
~Feet on cover: Murder in the Dog Days by P. M. Carlson (7/29/20)
"Hand" in the title
~About heads
~Nose on cover: Mystery of the Haunted Pool by Phyllis A. Whitney (1/3/20)

Reading Cliches
~Book called a "page turner"
~A "beach read": Between the Devil & the Duke by Kelly Bowen (7/24/20)
~By an author "everyone has read": The Big Four by Agatha Christie (2/27/20)
~"Best seller" you've never heard of

Music Genres
~Title could be a country song: The Colorado Kid by Stephen King (6/17/20)
~"Opera" in the title
~Cover makes you think about Heavy Metal
~Book should have a Jazz soundtrack: Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow (3/15/20)

~About recovering from accident/illness
~About dealing with death
~About a missing person: The Crying Sisters by Mabel Seeley (2/23/20)
~Re-issued with new cover: The Town Cried Murder by Leslie Ford (8/2/20)

Next Door
~"Neighbor" in the title
~Binoculars on the cover
~By a local author: In Search of the Great Dead by Richard Cecil (11/20/20)
~About the creepy old house in the neighborhood: The Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost by John Bellairs (10/3/20)

Brought to You by the Letter N
~"Novice' in the title
~Takes place in a country that begins with N
~"Name" in the title
~Author whose name starts with N: Letters from an Astrophysicist by Neil deGrasse Tyson (9/11/20)

~Inspires you to go for a walk
~About improving self-image
~About a place you hope to visit this year: The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L Sayers (1/28/20)
  [Thanks to COVID, not happening. :-( ]
~By or about a person you admire: R.F.K.: A Photographer's Journal by Harry Benson (8/27/20)

~By an author from a different culture
~About gender identity: Sweet Poison by Ellen Hart [Lesbian amateur detective and gay/lesbian themes throughout] (8/15/20)
~Folk/fairy tale retelling in non-western setting
~Character with a disability: Out of Control by Baynard Kendrick [blind detective] (9/12/20)

Check Out those Lists
~From NPRs Top 100 Books list (from Top 100 SF books): Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (9/3/20)
~From NY Times Best Sellers list
~Inspired by your shopping list: The Dreadful Lemon Sky by John D. MacDonald (5/9/20)
~From recommended list on internet: Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg [Show Us Your Books Faves 2018--Jana's list of favorite nonfiction] (3/9/20)

~About a widow or widower: Duke of My Heart by Kelly Bowen [Ivory is a widowed duchess] (8/6/20)
~Single word title: Kept by D. J. Taylor (5/2/20)
~Standalone book
~Single figure on cover: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (1/9/20)

Animal Kingdom
~Author's name includes an animal (i.e.: CATherine)
~Non-fiction about animals
~Book with talking animal: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster [Tock, the watch-dog] (5/13/20)
~Animal on cover: Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre (6/20/20)

~Mask on cover
~Pseudonymous author: The Plague Court Murders by Carter Dickson [John Dickson Carr] (1/26/20)
~ "Hidden" in the title
~About a treasure hunt: The Ampersand Papers by Michael Innes (8/8/20)

TBR Crushers
~From bookshelves you have to dust off: Murder on the Waterfront by Michael Jahn [on TBR since 2013] (1/20/20)
~Been meaning to read forever
~Anything you want: The Proud Cat by Frances & Richard Lockridge (8/3/20)
~First book you see on your shelf

~Less than 100 pages: The Chinese Nightmare by Hugh Pentecost [64 pages] (4/18/20)
~Author w/fewer than 10 letters in name: Big Bad Bear by Zola Todd (4/5/20)
~Character being "towered over" on cover: Curtain for a Jester by Frances & Richard Lockridge (4/3/20)
~Book of short stories: Deep Waters: Murder on the Waves by Martin Edwards, ed. (2/24/20)

Movie quotes
~I see dead people - a ghost story: The Life & Death of the Wicked Lady Skelton by Magdalen King-Hall (4/25/20)
~I coulda been a contender - about sports
~There's no place like home - about going home: The Christening Day Murder by Lee Harris (4/7/20)
~I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way - graphic novel: The Beatles--Yellow Submarine story adapted by Bill Morrison (2/20/20)

~Place name in title: Mortmain Hall by Martin Edwards (11/28/20)
~Map on cover: A Halo for Nobody by Henry Kane (11/26/20)
~Set in the mountains: Trixie Belden & the Mystery at Bob-White Cave by Kathryn Kenny [Ozark Mountains] (9/2/20)
~About traveling: Silver Wings for Vicki by Helen Wells (2/15/20)

~A memoir
~Written in 1st person: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Scott Turton (1/15/20)
~Narcissistic character: The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie [Mirelle] (3/1/20)
~Self-improvement book

How Old?
~Obsolete tech on cover
~Contemporary book written by author older than you
~About your parents' generation
~Written before you were born: The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer [1940] (1/24/20)

Reading Women
~Nonfiction about a famous woman
~By a woman of color: This Is Paradise by Kristiana Kahakauwila [native Hawaiian] (6/16/20)
~Kick-ass woman on cover: The Clue in the Diary by Carolyn Keene [Nancy on cover] (8/22/20)
~Children's book with strong female lead: The Clue in Blue by Betsy Allen (2/28/20)

Wild Cards
~Manga book
~Includes an ocean journey
~About geeks
~About Zodiac signs or astrology
~Centers around a group of friends: Betsy & Tacy Go Downtown by Maud Hart Lovelace (3/10/20) 

2020 Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks

January 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020
Hosted by Robin
The rules are simple. Just read one book per week for a total of 52 books in the year. This will be my sixth year joining in.  I generally have no problem reading at least one book a week...so this is one of my slam dunk challenges.  I will list my books below as I read them.  If you'd like to join as well, just click on the link below the picture.

1. Mystery of the Haunted Pool by Phyllis A. Whitney (1/3/20)
2. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Scott Turton (1/15/20)
3. Murder on the Waterfront by Michael Jahn (1/20/20)
4. The Plague Court Murders by Carter Dickson (1/26/20)
5. Information Received by E. R. Punshon (2/6/20)
6. Deep Lay the Dead by Frederick C. Davis (2/14/20)
7. Death in Kenya by M. M. Kaye (2/20/20)
8. The Big Four by Agatha Christie (2/27/20)
9. The Clue in Blue by Betsy Allen (2/28/20)
10. The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie (3/1/20)
11. Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow (3/15/20)
12. Good Luck to the Corpse by Max Murray (3/30/20)
13. Stand Up & Die by Frances & Richard Lockridge (3/31/20)
14. The Grey Flannel Shroud by Henry Slesar (4/8/20)
15. The Passover Murder by Lee Harris (4/12/20)
16. The New Year's Eve Murder by Lee Harris (4/25/20)
17. The April Fool's Day Murder by Lee Harris (4/27/20)
18. Kept by D. J. Taylor (5/2/20)
19. The Quotable Sherlock Holmes by Gerard Van Der Leun (5/12/20)
20. Deadly Pattern by Douglas Clark (5/18/20)
21. Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks by John Curran (5/25/20)
22. The Gimmel Flask by Douglas Clark (6/3/20)
23. Thirteen Guests by J. Jefferson Farjeon (6/10/20)
24. The Clocks by Agatha Christie (6/12/20)
25. Murder, She Said: The Quotable Miss Marple by Tony Medawar [ed] (6/20/20)
26. Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie (6/24/20)
27. Blotto, Twinks & the Ex-King's Daughter by Simon Brett (7/1/20)
28. The Mysterious Mr. Quin by Agatha Christie (7/6/20)
29. Between the Thames & the Tiber by Ted Riccardi (7/20/20)
30. In Memory Yet Green by Isaac Asimov (7/22/20)
31. Murder in the Dog Days by P. M. Carlson (7/29/20)
32. The Ampersand Papers by Michael Innes (8/8/20)
33. Sweet Poison by Ellen Hart (8/15/20)
34. Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie (8/17/20)
35. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie (8/25/20)
36. Trixie Belden & the Mystery at Bob-White Cave by Kathryn Kenny (9/2/20)
37. Something the Cat Dragged In by Charlotte MacLeod (9/4/20)
38. Out of Control by Baynard Kendrick (9/12/20)
39. Bound to Murder by Dorsey Fiske (9/16/20)
40. The Revenge of the Wizard's Ghost by John Bellairs (10/3/20)
41. Talking About Detective Fiction by P. D. James (10/9/20)
42. Death of a Warrior Queen by S. T. Haymon (10/24/20)
43. Foot in the Grave by E. X. Ferrars (10/28/20)
44. Look Your Last by John Stephen Strang (11/6/20)
45. If the Shroud Fits by Kelley Roos (11/13/20)
46. Replay by Ken Grimwood (11/17/20)
47. Peril at End House by Agatha Christie (11/19/20)
48. A Halo for Nobody by Henry Kane (11/26/20)
49. The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie (11/29/20)
50. Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories by Agatha Christie (12/3/20)
51. The Dragon Murder Case by S. S. Van Dine (12/16/20)
52. The Hound of Death by Agatha Christie (12/20/20)

Challenge Complete: European Reading Challenge




Once again, I joined Gilion on a tour of Europe with her European Reading Challenge – where participants tour Europe through books.  I actually finished my announced travel commitment back in April and thought I might add a few more countries to the journey before the year's end. But--I wound up spending most of my time in England and roaming around the US. I think I may take a year off from virtual European visits--I have a first-time ever real-live trip to England in the works for this summer! But will plan to rejoin again in 2021, if Gilion keeps sponsoring.

FIVE STAR (DELUXE ENTOURAGE): Read at least five books by different European authors or books set in different European countries.

Books read:
1. Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers [UK] (1/12/19)
2. Hitler's First Victims by Timothy W. Ryback [Germany] (1/24/19)
3. Blind Corner by Dornford Yates [Austria] (1/27/19)
4. Monsieur Lecoq by Emile Gaboriau [France] (2/27/19)
5. When in Rome (with Opening Night) by Ngaio Marsh (4/11/19)

Commitment Complete

Challenge Complete: Monthly Keyword

I've now completed December's keyword book and with Star Over Bethlehem, I have now completed the Monthly Keyword Challenge for 2019. I'm looking forward to working on next year's version--which is back in the hands of the original sponsor.

January: The Winter Women Murders by David Kaufelt (1/5/19)

February: Where the Snow Was Red by Hugh Pentecost (2/15/19)
March: The Lucky Stiff by Craig Rice (3/1/19)
April: The March Hare Murders by Elizabeth Ferrars (4/23/19)
May: Death on a Warm Wind by Douglas Warner (5/8/19)
June: The Father Hunt by Rex Stout (6/18)
July: The Mystery of the Fire Dragon by Carolyn Keene (7/29/19)
August: The Swimming Pool by Mary Roberts Rinehart (8/21/19)
September: The Murder Book of J. G. Reeder by Edgar Wallace (9/28/19)
October: The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (10/16/19)
November: The Eel Pie Murders by David Frome (11/13/19)
December: Star Over Bethlehem by Agatha Christie Mallowan (12/23/19)