Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Death Has a Small Voice

She had been in trouble before, thanks in large measure to having met, years ago, a policeman attached to Homicide. but the trouble, while never really expected, had grown out of something in which she, along with Jerry, had got herself involved. This was different. This time, Pam North told her screaming mind, I didn't do anything.
 ~Death Has a Small Voice (1953) by Frances & Richard Lockridge

Normally if Pamela North is going to find herself in a jam and at the mercy of a murderer, then she at least waits until the last chapter or so. And it's because she's suddenly figured something out or remembered something and the murderer realizes she's a danger to them. But this time she shakes things up a bit and just waltzes right into peril in just the second chapter. Jerry is on the West Coast, finalizing a book deal, and Pam has been away for a weekend in the country. She comes home to a set of very upset cats (What kind of human would abandon cats for a whole weekend leaving them at the mercy of the housekeeper, Martha, who--of course--never feeds cats. Or so the cats would have her believe.). She also comes home to a mysterious envelope with a dictaphone record in it which (if you scrunch your eyes up) seems to be addressed to Mrs. North.

Mrs. North remembers that Mr. North has a machine at the office that will play such records, so off she goes to find out what the mystery person wants her to hear. She no sooner listens to a recording of what seems to be a conversation leading up to murder when she hears someone approaching Jerry's office. Her instincts tell her to hide the she does. She is promptly knocked out and toted who knows where and stashed in a coal bin where a whispering voice keeps badgering her to tell where the record is. The voice says that if she'll just cough up the record, then she'll be set free. But Pam is an old hand at this and knows full well that the whispering voice will more likely kill her. So she refuses....

Meanwhile, acting Captain Bill Weigand is intrigued by a report of the strangulation of a two-bit burglar well-known to the force. Men like Harry Eaton often get bumped off--shot, beaten up, possibly hit by cars...but hardly ever get strangled. And then Sergeant Mullins reveals that the little burglar had been an aspiring author (of the "My Life in Crime" variety) and had submitted the manuscript guessed it....North Books. Mullins just knows it's gonna be another screwy one. And when they find out that the last thing that Eaton had stolen was a dictaphone machine belonging to a famous writer who has gone missing and they get told by the Norths' Martha that Pamela North is also missing. It looks like Mullins is right. They spend the rest of the story (urgently pressed by Jerry North who has made a mad-dash across country to help look for his missing wife) hunting for the missing Pam North and the missing Hilda Godwin (writer) and trying to find the connection between the two.

DJ that my copy is missing

I read this from the local library once long ago and had absolutely no memory of the plot (it has been over 20 years, after all). I had given it four stars in my minimalist book log and, upon reading my own copy now, I think I know why. At least, I know why I'm gonna keep that star count for this round of reading. I really enjoyed the fact that the Lockridges turned the plot around and led with Pam in trouble rather than just ending it that way. Not that she's not in trouble at the end as well--true to form she and Jerry are held at gun point by the villain of the piece as s/he is still trying to get their hands on that darn record. Jerry gets to play hero and wrestle the gun away just before the cavalry arrives in the form of Weigand and Mullins. The husband and wife writing team also did a great job building up the tension and portraying Jerry's fears about Pam's fate. And you'll always find me happy when an academic-type appears--this time in the form of Creative Writing faculty member Bernard Wilson. A very satisfying mystery. ★★★★

First Line: He was a small, quick man, walking an unfamiliar street.

A voice is recognized by its timbre and by its pitch: by gradations and phrasing. A whisper has no timbre; it may be pitched almost at will. a whisper has no body. (p. 47)

"Was she carrying anything?"Jerry asked. "A package?"
"Just one of these bags they carry," Helder said. He used the word "they" in reference to strange creatures, inexplicable creatures. (pp. 73-4)

"Listen Loot," Mullins said. [forgetting the acting Captain bit for the moment] "We got no warrant."
"No," Bill said. "We haven't, have we?"
"O.K.," Mullins said. "I just mentioned it." (p. 78)

It was difficult to see what the connection could be, Bill agreed. Nevertheless, it was strange, out of the ordinary. When things out of the ordinary, however, trivial in themselves, turned up in relation, however distant, to murder, one--well, thought twice. (p. 112)

Last Line: "Life," said Pam North, "is ridiculous."
Deaths = 3 (two strangled; one fell from height)

Playing with Myself

 Playing with Myself
(2022) by Randy Rainbow

Told at the breakneck speed of one of his Broadway musical-style send-ups of Donald Trump and friends, Randy Rainbow gives us the lowdown on how he became the internet sensation behind such gemas as "Desperate Cheeto" and"Braggadocius." He tells us about growing up "different" and how after playing Snow White and other female leads on the regular in his home-produced plays his dad had the audacity to pretend to be surprised when his son came out of the closet. He follows with the story of heading back to New York City (his family moved from there to Florida when his dad couldn't hold down a job) where he took all sorts of jobs--he was a Hooter's hostess at one point!--before his home-produced internet videos began taking the world by storm. A real rags to riches story that gives readers both humorous episodes and touching moments. I think my favorites are those involving his Nanny (his grandma and biggest fan) and his cat Mushi. I have to confess to being teary-eyed when he lost Mushi during the pandemic. There are lessons along the way--from "don't give up on your dreams" to "wear your pink glasses and show the world the real you." I've been a fan of Randy Rainbow's from the first video I watched and I enjoyed every minute spent reading his memoir. ★★★★

First lines: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Fine, I didn't write that. But it's how I really wanted the opening chapter of this book to begin.

Last line: all right, now get the hell outta here...I need some me time.

Monday, January 29, 2024

A Guilty Thing Surprised

 A Guilty Thing Surprised (1970) by Ruth Rendell

Elizabeth Nightingale is the beautiful, young-looking, 40-ish wife of Quentin Nightingale. She has everything she could want--a lovely home at Myfleet Manor in the English countryside and a husband who denies her nothing. She is well-liked and likes everyone. Well...except her brother. When Elizabeth is found beaten over head after one of her evening walks in the woods, Chief Inspector Wexford and Inspector Burden must try to find a motive for the apparently senseless killing. 

As they dig, they discover that while life at Myfleet Manor may have been quiet, all was not well between husband and wife. There had been a certain cooling between them. Was it possible that Elizabeth was meeting a lover that night? And did Quentin follow her and, in a fit of jealous rage, kill her? Or perhaps young Sean, the gardener whom she had remembered in her will, got anxious for the money she was going to leave him? It's also possible that whatever enmity there was between Elizabeth and her brother Denys Villiers exploded into murder. But the deeper Wexford and Burden go, the more complex the motives seem to get...especially when blackmail raises its ugly head.

I read most of Rendell's books through the early 1990s and enjoyed them all. But rereading them now, I'm struck by how many uncomfortable subjects creep into her mysteries. A Guilty Things Surprised is a case in point. I can't tell you what the uncomfortable subject is--but suffice it is to say that I had forgotten all about it and was completely taken off-guard by it again reading the book 30 years later. There are plenty of clues (especially if you have literary leanings) and Rendell handles the material well. But I still didn't see it coming. 

I enjoyed the relationship between Wexford and Burden. Poor Mike Burden with his Puritan ways just can't seem to understand these people the way Wexford does. But Burden does get the chance to be proven right in some of his interpretations of the crime. It was good to see him shine a bit. A thoroughly interesting and good mystery. ★★ and 1/2

First line: When Quentin Nightingale left home for London each morning his wife was always still asleep

Last line: I want to die.
Deaths = 4 (one hit on the head; one natural; two bombed)

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Murder & Mendelssohn

 Murder & Mendelssohn (2013) by Kerry Greenwood

Miss Phryne Fisher, who can swim like a fish, fly airplanes like a pro, drive fast and expertly, and shoot more accurately than a sharpshooter, can also sing like angel. And she finds herself singing with the angels when someone starts killing off the conductors employed to lead a production of Mendelssohn's Elijah. The first victim is Hugh Tregennis, a nasty piece of work who alternately serves out tongue-lashing to the entire choir and tries to get his hands on every female choir member. When he's found dead--bung full of morphine, but choked to death with pages of the musical score--Jack Robinson is on the case and asks Phryne to give him a hand because he "knows nothing of these musical people." 

Tregennis's replacement isn't really any better. In fact, Henry James's temperament seems to be even worse and he has an even deeper supply of biting criticism for the singers. He doesn't last long though. After just a couple rehearsals, he's found dead as well. This time from arsenical poisoning. But the question is how did he come by it? His food and drink seem to have been okay and no one at the final rehearsal gave him anything. Then the man who sings Elijah's part is attacked and only some very quick work saves him from drowning. Can Phryne and Jack figure out who's killing off Australia's musical talent before they work their way through the entire production?

Meanwhile, John Wilson, Phryne's dear friend from her days as an ambulance driver during the Great War, has arrived in Australia in the wake of a brilliant, but disdainful and aloof mathematician y the name of Rupert Sheffield. Sheffield was a code breaker during the war and it seems he has not left danger behind him. Someone has tried to kill him several times and John asks Phryne to help him figure out how to keep Sheffield safe. Because John has fallen for the beautiful man. Phryne doesn't like the way Sheffield treats her friend, but she's determined to help...and maybe even mend the ways of true love in the bargain. 

This was another truly delightful adventure with my favorite grown-up version of Nancy Drew. The plot is very nicely done with plenty of clues. I might almost say too many--because I spotted the killer quite early and, after Phryne and Rupert Sheffield repeatedly show off their deductive prowess a la Sherlock Holmes (in a nice little game of one-upmanship), I was a bit surprised that our detectives (Phryne, Rupert, and Jack) didn't figure it out. If our culprit hadn't spontaneously confessed, I don't know that they'd ever have done so. That's the big snag for this outing. The ending was too flat after such a great build-up. If I didn't love Phryne and all her entourage (from Mr. Butler to Tinker to Bert and Cec to Dot and Jane and Ruth) so much and if Greenwood wasn't such a good wordsmith, the star count would be lower--based on the anticlimactic ending alone.

And, speaking of Sherlock Holmes, I really enjoyed the hat tip to Doyle's creation--both with Phryne and Rupert emulating his deductive observations and with mirroring of the Holmes/Watson relationship in the relationship between Sheffield and Wilson. I was also quite proud of myself for spotting what Greenwood was doing long before her author's note at the end. She also gives a brief nod to a few other classic detectives and it was fun to spot various tropes. Overall, a good read. ★★★★ and 1/2

First line: It was a quiet St. Kilda morning in the summer of 1929.

Last line: Phryne like happy endings
Deaths = 5 (one suffocated; two poisoned; one drowned; one shot)

Thursday, January 25, 2024

The Cambridge Murders

 The Cambridge Murders (1945) by Glyn Daniel

Sir Richard Cherrington, Vice President of Fisher College, Cambridge, and eminent archaeologist, decides to use his abilities to uncover the mysteries of the past to unravel the mysteries of the present. Things are bad enough when one of the college porters is found shot to death in the path between the inner and outer courtyards. But when a very unpopular Dean goes missing, things look very black indeed. And then the body of Dean Landon is found stuffed in the trunk belonging to Cherrington's nephew. Inspector Wyndham of the local Cambridge force begins to look at Cherrington with a very suspicious eye, but when Scotland Yard arrives the focus is turned to Evan Fothergill who has been having an affair with the Dean's wife. Those aren't the only suspects though. There's Roger Westmacott who though he might have a chance with Anne Landon before the Dean scooped her up and who has had many run-ins with the Dean since then. And there's John Parrott, an undergraduate whom the Dean had just sent down from College for flouting the rules about late leave once too often. And Westmacott's nephew who was also kicked out--and would have been reported to the police for theft if the Dean had lived. Of course, Anne Landon might also have wanted to get her husband out of the way permanently. Then she and Fothergill would have been free to marry.

Cherrington, not suspecting that any of the police seriously suspect him, sets out to solve the mystery for purely academic reasons. He's always been interested in crime (he has whole shelves of crime texts and detective stories--very fishy from Inspector Wyndham's view) and wants to see if he can put theory into practice. Some of his activities in the detecting game make him look even more suspicious to the authorities and even Superintendent Robertson-McDonald of the Yard begins to believe that Cherrington can't be as innocent as he claims. Will our amateur sleuth track down the real villain before the Yard decides to charge him?

First of all, thanks to Kate from Cross Examining Crime for including this in my Secret Santa goodies a few years ago [sorry it's taken so long to get to it, Kate, but you know how vast my TBR pile is...]. She knows how much I love getting new-to-me academic mysteries. Glyn Daniel does at least one thing really well in this one--he gives us very good look at academic life at Cambridge, albeit at a very fictional Fisher College. One really believes in the stairways leading to the Dean's and Cherrington's and the others' room as well as the courtyards separated by the Screens (where the porter was found) and walk leading down to the River Cam. I feel like once I make it to England (fingers crossed for this summer) that I could go to Cambridge and find this place. Daniel shares Sayers' gift for creating a College so real that it comes alive on the page. 

He also does a very good job with most of his characters. The best is Robertson-McDonald. I enjoyed his quirk of arriving on the spot, gathering up all the reports and files, and then taking himself off by himself for a really good think before getting started. It was also fun to watch him build up a beautiful theory and then think it all came to smash over one tiny little detail--a seemingly unshakeable alibi. [Surely a Superintendent at the Yard has learned by now to distrust the unshakeable alibi...] The one character who doesn't shine as much as I'd like is our amateur sleuth, Cherrington (and I noted this in Welcome Death when I reviewed it last year). I'm just not completely sold on him. He does a bit better at sleuthing in this debut than he did in his second outing, but he's not as engaging as I'd like my academic detective to be. I think one thing that's off-putting is that he has way too much sympathy with the suspects. He says he wants to pursue the investigation for academic reasons and then he doesn't want see any of the suspects get in trouble with the police--even when they're telling blatant lies. 

Overall, a well-plotted academic mystery--engaging story with an interesting motive behind the killings. ★★ and 1/2 

First line: To those who were educated in the older and more beautiful of the two ancient Universities there is no need to explain that Fisher College lies between Trinity and St. John's, and stretches from Trinity Street down to the Cam, but to those who were not so fortunate we should explain that Fisher College--the abbreviation "Fisher" is never used--comprises two excellent seventeenth-century brick courts, both tremendously praised by Ruskin.

"Quite like my undergraduate days" he said to Wyndham. "I mean being back in a College and dealing with porters. The salt of the earth, you know," he added. "The salt of the earth. No," he said ruminating, "he shouldn't have killed Gostlin. That was bad--very bad. It gives me an added reason in tracking him down." [Superintendent Robertson-McDonald; p. 139]

"After all...a murder should not really be more difficult to solve than a crossword puzzle. And I can solve them fairly quickly." [Robertson-McDonald; p. 148]

Last lines: "You know," he said, turning to the Superintendent, "this is one of those rare occasions in my life when champagne is the only drink and enough champagne to make us all quite tight."
  And he got up and rang the bell. 
Deaths = 3 [two shot; one pneumonia]

Monday, January 22, 2024

Bimbos of the Death Sun

 Bimbos of the Death Sun (1987) by Sharyn McCrumb

Jay Omega (Professor James Owens Mega) is attending his first ever science fiction convention--as a featured author. Under the pen name Jay Omega, he has written a hard SF novel--which has been given the title Bimbos of the Death Sun and a lurid cover by his publishers--and his partner, Marion Farley (Professor of English, science fiction specialty) advises him that he should go to a convention and promote his book. So he does. He doesn't expect the weekend to involve sharing author honors with one of the most odious fantasy authors, Appin Dungannon, or judging a writing contest or serving as Dungeon Master for a live "Dungeons & Dragons" game...or becoming involved in a murder investigation when somebody decides they've had enough of Dungannon and shoots him in his hotel room. Dungannon's fantasy series may have been beloved by fans...but he certainly wasn't. His idea of author/fan interaction was to insult their intelligence at every opportunity.

Poor Lieutenant Ayhan doesn't know what to make of the case when it's assigned to him.There are elves, Star Trek officers, vampires, storm troopers, and more wandering the hallways of the hotel. Since 90% of the convention attendees are in costume, it's difficult to pin down who's who--and he's never sure when someone mentions a name if it's a real person or not.

"I didn't see....Yes, I did. Going down the hall toward the room, I passed two Imperial Storm Troopers, and when I came out, I ran into Dracula." [Louis Warren]
Lt. Ayhan sighed, "I love this case."

He wonders which of these crazy SF/Fantasy folk went off the murder deep-end and decided to rid the world of the rude author. But, having just met him that weekend, Jay Omega wonders who didn't want to kill him? When Jay's expertise is needed with the victim's computer, they realize that portions of Dungannon's most recent novel have been deleted. Could the deletions hold the key to the murder? 

So, this was hilarious--dated views of women notwithstanding. I never attended a SF convention--I was too young when I was in my full-throttle science fiction phase. But I did write Star Trek parodies and poetry and, had I been able, I'm sure I would have attended a con in full Trek costume. I'm pretty familiar with the rabid fan mentality that McCrumb portrays. I see that some of the reviewers on Goodreads take exception to her poking fun at these things. But I can definitely recognize the types and enjoy the fun being had. I don't think she's being cruel and, quite honestly, some of the behavior is very funny. Full points for setting, background, and general ambiance.

The mystery plot itself is a little obvious. Mainly because I didn't think McCrumb built up enough solid motives among the "suspects"--and really didn't have the lieutenant do much in the way of investigating those suspects. The death occurs rather late in the game and so the ending was a bit fast and forced. An earlier murder with more investigation and motive development would have been welcome. I'm not as familiar with McCrumb's work, so I looked to see if this was her debut mystery, but she had at least three under her belt at that point (and possibly four--depending on the timing between this and Paying the Piper). Still, this was a highly entertaining book and I enjoyed reading it. ★★ and 1/2.

First line: The visiting Scottish folksinger peered out of the elevator into the hotel lobby.

Science fiction writers build castles in the air; the fans move into them; and the publishers collect the rent. [from the Author's Note; ix)

"Just tell Dungannon it can't be done," said Omega reasonably.
They both looked at him as if he were tap-dancing on a minefield. (p. 9)

"I was just thinking how nice it would be to be famous enough to be difficult." (Jay Omega; p. 10)

Ah, well, he thought, closing the door, it will make a fine story to tell back home. "What did you do in American, Donnie?"--"I loaned chocolate bars to the Martians." (p. 11)

Miles Perry didn't think that homicide detectives ought to giggle while investigating a murder. Still, he supposed, it was better than a granite-faced Joe Friday look that radiated suspicion. (p.80)

Last lines: Apparently they were talking about real life. Real life bored him. Bonnenberger stopped listening and went back to his book.


Deaths = 2 (one shot; one electrocuted)

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Murder by the Book: Mysteries for Bibliophiles

 Murder by the Book: Mysteries for Bibliophiles (2022) by Martin Edwards [all stories pre-1990]

Another terrific collection of little-known and never-before-collected short stories from the British Library Crime Classics series. This time the mysteries feature books and the written word--from collectors to writers to disgruntled mystery lovers. We have dying clues left in books and clues that could only be understood by someone who is well-read. There are seemingly impossible murders and inverted mysteries where we wonder if the investigator will catch up with the criminal. In fact, we have a little something for everyone. And what book and mystery lover could resist a whole anthology full of book-related mysteries? Not me! My personal favorites: "A Lesson in Crime," "Malice Domestic," "A Savage Game," and . I would have ranked "Murder in Advance" among them but I just don't see all the indications that Dacre says indicates the guilty party.  ★★★★

"A Lesson in Crime" by G. D. H. & M. Cole: A disgruntled (and slightly crazy) mystery fan decides to show a famous detective novelist what the perfect murder is really like. [one strangled]

"Trent & the Ministering Angel" by E. C. Bentley: Philip Trent's friend Arthur Selby presents him with an odd incident which occurred just before Gregory Landell died and asks for Trent's advice. After hearing details of a business transaction that didn't need to take place, Trent decides he simply must view the late Landell's rock garden. And there he finds clues to a hidden will. [one poisoned]

"A Slice of Bad Luck" by Nicholas Blake (Cecil Day-Lewis): At a very Detection Club-like dinner, the mystery writers get a chance to see murder up close and personal when one of their number is stabbed when the lights go out. [one stabbed]

"The Strange Case of the Megatherium Thefts" by S. C. Roberts: When a couple dozen books go missing from the Megatherium Club, Sherlock Holmes is called in to discover which member (or members) is behind the thefts.

"Malice Domestic" by Philip MacDonald: Carl Borden's friends noticed that things just didn't seem right between the writer and his wife. His doctor and his friend suspects even more when Carl has a bout of sickness. And his suspicions seem to be well-founded when he finds arsenic in Carl's food during another bout. But Carl refuses to believe his wife is trying to kill him... [one poisoned]

"A Savage Game" by A. A. Milne: Coleby, a mystery writer, declares that detective novelists are just as good as the police at taking a bunch of clues and devising a story from them. His friend, Colonel Saxe--the Chief Constable, dares him to come up with the correct story to explain the stabbing of an elderly miser. It would seem that one of his heirs must have done it...except circumstances seem to prove that neither one of them could have. [one stabbed]

"The Clue in the Book" by Julian Symons [one poisoned]: A collector of books and manuscripts is killed just after Quarles contacts him about examining certain documents in the manuscript collection. He quickly determines who poisoned the elderly man. *SPOILER: Can I just say that Symons could be rather severe in his critiques of other mystery writers. And the major clue in this one is so absolutely obvious that he might well have just told us in the first sentence who did it. There is zero mystery here. None.

"The Manuscript" by Gladys Mitchell: When one brings former lawbreakers into one's home, one shouldn't be surprised when trouble follows--no matter how reformed they might be. A writer hires a maid with a police record--precisely because she has a record. That fact will be useful for his current book. When her usefulness to him is done with, he fires her and she retaliates by throwing his manuscript in the fire. She's later found dead with her neck broken and the police think there is an obvious answer. But maybe not...(one neck broken)

"A Man & His Mother-in-Law" by Roy Vickers: A fairly self-centered man who thinks his wife should be the "yes-woman" in his life, is brought to grief by his mother-in-law, his wife, and a copy of a book by his mother-in-law's favorite poet. (one natural; two by enemy fire in WWII; one strangled)

"Grey's Ghost" by Michael Innes (J. I. M. Stewart): A man's ghost writer exacts revenge on his ungrateful employer. That'll teach him to underpay the help...

"Dear Mr. Editor..." by Christianna Brand: A very disturbed young woman who tried to kill her sister once and was "punished" (I read put into a facility for the mentally disturbed) is released. She received a letter from a literary editor requesting a murder mystery, so she decides to kill her sister again. But just for the story, you know. (one natural; one shot)

"Murder in Advance" by Marjorie Bremner: A playwright is killed after having announced the premise of his next play--about a man who is blackmailed into leaving his job. Some of the details mirror the fate of his friend, a man who recently died in an airplane crash. When the playwright is shot, Inspector Dacre thinks there must have been something in that blackmail story.... (one shot; two airplane crash; one car accident):

"A Question of Character" by Victor Canning: A well-established mystery author finds himself constantly coming up second to his wife--not just her books, though once she starts writing, they're bestsellers; but also in golf and gardening and...anything she decides to take up after he's shown interest. He meets a nice girl and decides to devise his most fool-proof murder plot ever. (two in a fire)

"The Book of Honour" by John Creasey: A man in the book business in Bombay witnesses the feud between a local man who has become his friend and the man's son--as a result of the son's insolent and illegal behavior. When his friend seems determined to suffer dishonor rather than betray his son, Graham takes matters into his own hands....

"We Know You're Busy Writing..." by Edmund Crispin: What's a man to do when the people in his life--friends, family, neighbors, bare acquaintances--won't leave him alone to do his writing? (two hit on the head)

"Chapter & Verse" by Ngaio Marsh: Timothy Bates, a New Zealand bookman who had become friends with Alleyn when the inspector was in that country, arrives in England with an old Bible with odd inscriptions. Alleyn is not at home & Bates tells Troy that he's got something a bit in Alleyn's line...but he dies in a fall from the church tower before Alleyn gets home.  (four fell to their death)

First line (1st story): Joseph Newton settled himself comfortably in his corner of a first-class compartment on the Cornish Riviera express.

Las line (last story): "And she ought to know," Alleyn said and turned back to the cottage.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Murder in C Major

 Murder in C Major (1986) by Sara Hoskinson Frommer

Joan Spencer, a widowed mother of a teenage son, moves back home to Oliver, Indiana when life becomes a bit complicated where they were. She had spent the first dozen years or so there before her family moved and had good memories. She's trying to find a way to fit in again and is pleased to be able land a chair in the viola section of the Oliver Civic Symphony. There she finds a familiar face in her sixth grade best friend, Nancy (Krebs) Van Allen. Soon Nancy has caught her up on everyone still in town and suggests she call on their sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Duffy. Margaret Duffy hooks Joan up with a director's position at the local Senior Citizen's Center. She also takes on a part-time position as the orchestra's secretary. Her son is doing well at his new school and all seems to be smooth sailing....

Until George Petris, the very rude and obnoxious first oboe, collapses during a rehearsal and dies in the emergency room. The doctors initially want to put it down as a heart attack, but Yoichi Nakamura, the orchestra's manager isn't so sure. The symptoms displayed before Petris was taken to the hospital remind him of a death he witnessed that was the result of puffer fish poisoning. He confides in Joan who suggests, if he concerned, that he should bring it to the attention of one of their bassoonists, Sam Wade--who is also the county prosecutor. 

Soon Lieutenant Fred Lundquist is assigned to "babysit" the case. That is, to do a good enough investigation to lay Yoichi's fears to rest and forget about it. But the more Lundquist asks question, the more he thinks Yoichi is right. And then another orchestra member, who picked up Petris's oboe after the emergency, is found killed and the oboe is nowhere be found. Now Lundquist is sure that Yoichi is right. But who among the many who disliked Petris hated him enough to kill...and to kill again to cover their tracks?

This is the first book in the Joan Spencer mystery series and the second one that I've read. I tried Frommer's style out first in The Vanishing Violinist--where, as I mentioned in the review, I didn't feel like I had lost anything by jumping in mid-stream, so to speak. It was nice to go back to the beginning and see how it all began for Joan and getting the initial introduction to the characters that reappear in later installments. Frommer does a very good job in this series debut setting the framework and establishing Joan and the other characters. Her plotting is really quite good for a first mystery (for this is her debut as a mystery author as well as the debut for Joan). She gives the motive a very nice twist and even though I did spot the killer, I absolutely missed on the why. Of course, [Spoiler hidden in ROT13 Coding] vg urycf (jvgu uvqvat gur zbgvir) jura lbhe ernqre qbrfa'g ernyvmr gung gur jebat crefba jnf xvyyrq. Naq V gbgnyyl zvffrq gur nppvqragny fjvgpu gung unccrarq juvpu erfhygrq va gur Trbetr'f qrngu. If I had caught that, I might have figured out why the killer did it.

Overall, a very good cozy mystery. ★★★★

First line: Ironing for a corpse wasn't Joan Spencer's idea of fun.

Last line: "Could you really have played the oboe solo on that sax?"


Deaths = 2 (one poisoned; one throat cut)

Sunday, January 14, 2024

There Is a Tide (Taken at the Flood)

 There Is a Tide [aka Taken at the Flood] (March 1948) by Agatha Christie

During the war, Gordon Cloade had met a young widow and married her. Just two weeks into the marriage a bomb hit his London home--killing everyone but Rosaleen Cloade and her brother David Hunter. Previous to his marriage, Cloade had served as the financial buffer for his family. He provided capital for new ventures, money for unexpected expenses, and promised to see everyone taken care of in his will. But he hadn't had a chance to write a new will since marrying Rosaleen...which means his widow scooped the pot. Rosaleen seems inclined to help her inlaws, but she is firmly under brother David's thumb and he believes in "finders keepers."

During another air raid, Hercule Poirot is sheltering with men from the Concordia Club and listens to Major Porter comment on the death of Cloade. Cloade's widow was previously married to Porter's best friend, Robert Underhay. The marriage wasn't a happy one and while Robert supposedly died in Africa, he had confided to Porter that "If a report of my death gets back that will make Rosaleen a widow, which is what she wants...maybe a Mr. Enoch Arden will turn up somewhere a thousand miles or soa away and start life anew." 

So...when a Mr. Enoch Arden shows up in the village where the Cloades live and Rosaleen and David have taken up residence, one wonders if Underhay has come back. And when Arden is found murdered one evening after having met with David in the morning, one wonders if David has silenced the one man who could throw a spanner into the inheritance works. But more death follows and it will take Hercule Poirot to figure out the twists and turns that lead to the real killer.

I read this once before...long ago and far away when a pre-teen and I was making my way through every Agatha Christie our Carnegie Library had on the shelves. At the time, I awarded four stars (with no explanation because past Bev didn't believe in reviews). Present Bev does not disagree. The plot is very nice and twisty. Just when I thought I'd figured it out, Dame Agatha would throw another curve ball and I'd change mind. So, actually, I would give the mystery plot five stars. But...there are two quibbles. First, Poirot does not show up (after the initial scene with the club bore telling his story about Underhay) until way late in the book. And then there's not quite enough of him. Two--that ending. Even in 1948, I can't believe a woman who had been in the WRENS would go back to a man who nearly strangled her to death because if he couldn't have her, then no one could. Seriously? I mean, yes, there are women who stay in relationships when they really shouldn't. But usually it's because they think they'll change him. Or they're too scared to leave. This gal says (when she's still free and could just walk away): "When you caught hold of me by the throat and said if I wasn't for you, no one should have me--well--I knew then that I was your woman!" Agatha, honey, I'm not buying it. ★★★★

First line: In every club there is a club bore.

Last line: "But you see, Rowley, I do love you--and you've had such a hell of a time--and I've never, really, cared much for being safe...."


Deaths =  9 (six wartime; one hit on head; one shot; one poisoned)

Saturday, January 13, 2024

The Mystery at Orchard House

 The Mystery at Orchard House
(1946) by Joan Coggin

All Lady Lupin Hastings wants is to have a quiet little rest at her friend Diana Turner's country house turned country hotel. Lady Lupin has just come out of a bout of influenza and the doctor has advised she leave her husband, the vicar of Glanville, and young son at home so she can recover. But the quiet life just doesn't seem to exist around Lupin. Her fellow guests seem attracted as if by magnets to her side...and even to her an unseemly rush to tell Lupin their life stories. Diana's cousin Paul Ramsden, an engineer turned artist, who assures Lupin that the only things worth painting are the most depressing subjects she's ever seen. There's the decidedly odd female author, Lavinia Dyson-Drake, who write books Lupin would never read and the "real" vicar's wife, Mrs. Smythe, who is sure to spot that Lupin isn't (or at least Lupin doesn't feel like a real vicar's wife). Arthur Smythe is her son, a poet who longs to be an engineer--or at least a motor mechanic. There's the domineering and always on the verge of a "spell" Mrs. Mydleton and her down-trodden daughter Grizel who would love a husband, house, and children of her own, but who is unlikely to get them while mama is still in the picture. And there's Ruth and Charles Rennie, a young couple who spend all their time together bickering. And, finally, Colonel Robert James who Lupin is sure will wind up marrying Grizel...or maybe he's after Ruth Renni...or maybe someone else.

As if listening to everyone's chatter isn't tiring enough, a kleptomaniac starts stealing things--Lavinia's manuscript, Mrs. Mydleton's pearls, Mrs. Smythe's brooch, Paul's notecase, and even a very ugly brooch that belonged to Lupin's Great-Aunt Jemima. And everyone seems to expect that Lupin will figure out who did it. But things get really serious when someone tampers with Lavinia's car and she and Diana are in an accident. They could have been killed, but fortunately the worst injury is Diana's broken arm. It all rounds out with a fire set in Diana's office--is someone really out to get Diana? If so, why? Soon the place is swarming with policemen and private detectives and insurance men--Lupin will have to work fast if she's going to figure it out before the professionals.

I seem to be working my way backwards in the Lady Lupin mystery series. I read #3 (Penelope Passes or Why Did She Die?) and #4 (Dancing with Death) and enjoyed them very much. I thought Coggin had achieved a delightful comic touch in the classic cozy mystery. But this one has fallen flat--I found it very hard to keep up with Lupin's circuitous conversations and the comic episodes just didn't seem as funny. It didn't help that the mystery really isn't much of one and there's no murder. None. Now, that isn't to say that a mystery can't be good without a murder (take Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers, for example). But, honestly, I think a good murder would have livened this mystery up quite nicely. It definitely needs something. A full  may be a bit much. But I'm feeling generous

First line: "This is absolutely perfect, Di, exactly what I have been longing for."

Last line: "I like Indian tea best," said Miss Wintham.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

The Passenger from Scotland Yard

 The Passenger from Scotland Yard (1888) by H. F. Wood

"The Passenger from Scotland Yard" is Wood's cute way of trying to keep the other passengers on the train from guessing who the inspector sent hot-foot after the diamond thief is. [I defy anybody, after reading the descriptions of the five passengers we have our eye on, to NOT know which one the inspector is.] But...I've put the cart before the horse. Five passengers get on board the mail train from London to Dover. As they're getting ready to depart, we learn that a diamond theft has taken place. There is a suspect in the case (who gets nabbed at Dover), but there's an inspector on the train bound for the boat to Paris who thinks that man has been framed. Also on board is the man he believes is the true thief, a couple of con men who hope to get their hands on the diamonds, and another man who claims to be a representative of a tee-totaler society but who may not be what he seems either. By the time they reach Dover, one of their number is dead and the diamonds are nowhere to be found. Who killed him? And where are the diamonds. Did the original suspect really steal them and send them to a confederate in Paris? Inspector Byde (our "Passenger from Scotland Yard") plans to find out.

So....according to E. F. Bleiler, who provides the introduction to Wood's novel, this is the best detective novel between Poe and Doyle (and he doesn't really count Doyle's longer works because they are "detective short stories tacked onto historical romances). Bleiler was apparently a scholar of science fiction, detective fiction, and fantasy literature (and I do actually recognize the name), but I have to say--if this was the best thing going, I'm surprised detective fiction took off at all. Because Wood has a bizarre narrative style. Yes, a detective novelist is trying to pull the wool over the reader's eyes in an effort to surprise her with the solution at the end...but never have I read a book where the detective (here, Inspector Byde) almost seems intent on keeping the clues secret from himself. He never refers to any of his suspects by name, always using the most circuitous methods of description to indicate who he's talking about. And his obsession with mathematical theorems were enough to make me want to pull my hair out. 

I have an idea that the confusion he strews about and the odd little conversations he has with "Grandpa" (one of the prospective diamond thieves already in Paris who wants to steal the diamonds from the original thief) is supposed to be humorous, but it all just made me tired. I've always thought I liked Victorian literature, but the verbose nature of this detective novel makes me think I'm a bit pickier--give me Doyle's style any day of  the week and twice on Sunday. Also, I normally like a good mystery set on a train and maybe I would have liked this one...if it had been a good mystery. One of the blurbs I read about it online said that "the murder comes as a surprise and we are puzzled whether it has any connection to the recent diamond theft." Um, no. Actually "we" aren't surprised at who gets murdered & that they got murdered on the train and "we" were pretty darn sure that it all had something to do with the diamonds. [Spoiler alert: "we" were right.]  , maybe. I think.

First line: The night mail for the Continent stood ready to glide out of the London terminus, the leave-taking friends assembled in small groups upon the platform before the carriage doors were reiterating last messages and once more exchanging promises to "write," when a hard-featured, thick-set gentleman who had been peering out of a second-class window drew back with a slight exclamation of annoyance or disappointment, and sank into a corner seat.

Last line: "Well, yes," he added, in a tone of corroboration--"Q.E.F."


Deaths = two shot

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Bodies from the Library 3

 Bodies from the Library 3 (2020) by Tony Medawar, ed. [all stories written pre-1990]

Another delightful collection of forgotten treasures by Golden Age detective writers. We have everything from disappearing Scotland Yard men, to possible factory espionage to gang leaders trying to do away with rival thugs. We have murders committed by scarecrows and through the use of oranges. We have murders that originate with letters to the editor and, of course, the age-old motive of greed. I love how Tony Medawar manages to track down these hidden gems--from stories that were never published to those which may have appeared only once as a serial in a newspaper or magazine. I know he's found enough material for three more collections and can only hope that he'll find even more. My favorites from this collection are "The Murder at Warbeck Hall" (even though I know it contains the scaffolding for one of Hare's novels), "The Riddle of the Black Spade," "A Torch at the Window," and "And the Answer Was" by Ethel Lina White. 

"Some Little Things" by Lynn Brock (Alister McAlister): When a Scotland Yard Inspector goes missing while investigating a necklace robber, Colonel Gore follows up on a few "little things" about the case. Those little things lead him to the Inspector--and the necklace.

"Hot Steel" by Anthony Berkeley (Cox): Roger Sheringham points out that his pal Luscombe isn't as "hush-hush" about his wartime factory business as he thinks he is.

"The Murder at Warbeck Hall" by Cyril Hare (Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark): When the heir to Warbeck Hall is killed, Sergeant Rogers discovers a most interesting motive. (one poisoned; one shot)

"The House of the Poplars" by Dorothy L. Sayers: Smith & Smith Removers will happily assist you in getting rid of any unwanted items...or people. (one suicide; one natural; one poisoned)

"The Hampstead Murder" by Christopher Bush (Charles Christmas Bush): A man murders his wife because of a letter to the editor in the Times. (one strangled)

"The Scarecrow Murders" by Joseph Commings: Senator Brooks U Banner has to solve the mystery of the scarecrow who committed murder. (two shot)

"The Incident of the Dog's Ball" by Agatha Christie: Poirot receives a letter too late to prevent a murder. But the dog Bob and his little red ball helpt the great detective find the culprit. (two poisoned)

"The Case of the Unlucky Airman" by Christopher St. John Sprigg: A daring airman loses his effort to break a flying record. He had said if he couldn't do it that he would shoot himself. To all appearances he did...but Charles Venables, crime reporter, doesn't believe it. (one shot)

"The Riddle of the Black Spade" by Stuart Palmer: To all appearances, Ronald Farling has killed his foster father with a well-placed, powerful golf shot. But Miss Withers thinks not and tells Inspector Piper he better drain the pond on the golf green. (one hit on head; one executed; one stabbed)

"A Torch at the Window" by Josephine Bell (Doris Bell Collier): When a nurse is killed on a night the hospital is plagued by a Peeping Tom, Inspector Coleridge has to determine how the two are connected. (one neck broken)

"Grand Guignol" by John Dickson Carr: This the precursor to Carr's It Walks by Night, which I read last year. One of my complaints then was that there were scenes that seemed to go on for-ev-er. Here, things are much more condensed in this tale of a psychotic ex-husband out to wreak revenge on his former wife's brand new husband. Too condensed--we need a happy medium. (two beheaded; one stabbed)

"A Knotty Problem" by Ngaio Marsh: Alleyn is in New Zealand again...and, of course, there's murder--this time at the grand opening of a new gallery. (one poisoned) [I was struck by the similarity to the opening of a museum of art in R. T. Campbell's Swing Low, Swing Death--though what's behind the curtain varies.]

The Orange Plot Mysteries: What follows here is a group of stories written around the same plot: "One night a man picked up an orange in the street. This saved his life." These stories were commissioned by the Sunday Dispatch and were written by authors in the Detective Story Club (precursor to the Collins Crime Club) plus one by the publisher Collins himself.

"The Orange Kid" by Peter Cheyney: Parelli, the mobster sets up what he thinks is the perfect solution to keep the feds out of his hair...until that drunk drops an orange in the middle of the street. (four blown up)

"And the Answer Was" by Ethel Lina White: Timothy Rolls comes across proof of who the killer of young women in town is. But will he live long enough to see the person caught? Picking up an orange in the street will see that he does...

"He Stooped to Live" by David Hume (John Victor Turner): Sammy Prince is put into the frame for the shooting of Charlie Ross by a man who wants to get rid of both of them in one fell swoop. Lucky for Sammy, he stops to pick up an orange dropped by a Christmas Eve reveller. (one shot)

"Mr. Prendergast & the Orange" by Nicholas Blake (Cecil Day-Lewis): Joe Prendergast is out of work and in need of money. He goes to see an aunt who has refused to see his side of the family. He's desperate and when she's found dead later, he's the obvious suspect. But Nigel Strangeways sees how the orange he picked up in the street might prove his innocence. (one hit on the head)

"The Yellow Sphere" by John Rhode (Cecil Street): A young man devises the perfect plan to get rid of the tiresome uncle who plans to disinherit him when he next sees his lawyer. If only uncle hadn't picked up that orange on his way to his boat moored in the harbor.... 

"The 'Eat More Fruit' Murder" by William A. R. Collins: Mr. Silvercat can't understand why his partner has suspected him of carrying on with his wife for the last six months, but he's certainly glad that Gallery has come to his senses and they've made up over a dinner where Silvercat drank a bit too much. The next day he can't understand why the police insist that he followed his partner home and shot him. But lucky for Silvercat that he picked up that orange in the road... (one shot)

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Ultimate Reader's Block Challenge Winners!


Thank you again to everyone who played along with my reading challenges in 2023. I am so glad you enjoy the challenges. I'm afraid I just don't get around to visit your reviews and posts like I used to and would like to--someone has stolen several hours out of my day and I can't figure out how to get them back. But I do appreciate your participation very much!

I've pulled out my Random Number Generator and fed my 13 entrants in. After a few whirrs and clanks and buzzing noises, it has produced two winners:

#9 Kimberly @ The Case of the Curious Brunette with a Calendar of Crime entry

#3 Alexis Drake @ Goodreads with a Mount TBR entry

Congratulations!! I will be contacting you both soon with the prize list so you can pick out a book to add to this year's TBR mountain. 

Christmas on the Block


I know I'm a little late and it's not Christmas anymore, but the last of Christmas happened on New Year's Day and then I had to go back to work...and, well, now here we are about a week later. So, here's my annual Christmas book (and more) update. Better late than never. As always, the various Santas in my life have indulged me in my book-collecting/book-reading ways. I'm very spoiled!

Christmas from my Golden Age Book Group Secret Santa:

Murder at Government House  by Elspeth Huxley (1937; reprint)
Detective Ben by J. J. (Jefferson) Farjeon (1936; Collins White Circle edition)
The Hanging Captain by Henry Wade (1932; reprint)
Picture Miss Seeton by Heron Carvid (1968; reprint)
Murder Fantastical by Patricia Moyes (1967; reprint)

From the Facebook Secret Santa group sponsored by Michelle:

Death of a Bookseller by Bernard J. Farmer (1956; reprint)
The Edinburgh Mystery & Other Tales of Scottish Crime by Martin Edwards (ed)
~~plus a Dr. McCoy bookmark and a library checkout card Christmas ornament

Christmas from my parents:

Making It So by Sir Patrick Stewart (2023)
Murder on the Orient Express: the Graphic Novel by Agatha Christie & Bob Al-Greene (2023)
The Gutenberg Murders by Gwen Bristow & Bruce Manning (1931; reprint)
~~plus Sherlock Holmes puzzle, beaver socks, beaver ornament, and a nostalgia Shaun Cassidy CD

From my inlaws:

Recipes for Murder by Karen Pierce (cookbook based on Agatha Christie stories)
These Names Make Clues by E.C.R. Lorac (1937; reprint)
~~plus a Hercule Poirot puzzle; a mystery puzzle (picture has clues to solve the mystery); and a new case/wallet for the fancy new phone

From my son:

The Listening Walls/The Girl Who Wouldn't Talk/A Key to the Morgue by Margaret Millar/Roy Vickers/Robert Martin (3-in-1 Detective Book Club)
The Pale Horse/The Well-Dressed Skeleton/The Lady Finger by Agatha Christie/Brad Williams/George Malcolm-Smith (3-in-1 Detective Book Club)
Death in the Mind/Jethro Hammer/The Scarlet Button/Appointment in Manila by Richard Lockridge & George H. Estabrooks/Michael Venning/Anthony Gilbert/Elinor Chamberlain (4-in-1 Unicorn Mystery Club)
Wicked Water/The Cat Wears a Mask/The Innocent/The Leaden Bubble by MacKinlay Kantor/D. B. Olsen/Evelyn Piper/H. C. Branson (4-in-1 Unicorn Mystery Club)

And from my husband--who couldn't resist buying all the things I put in his Ebay watch file:

The Evil That Men Do/The Cat Who Could Read Backwards/No Peace for the Wicked by Hugh Pentecost/Lilian Jackson Braun/E. X. Ferrars (3-in-1 Detective Book Club)
The Case of the Lazy Lover/Untidy Murder/Let the Tiger Die by Erle Stanley Gardner/Frances & Richard Lockridge/Manning Coles (3-in-1 Detective Book Club)
The Case of the Spurious Spinster/The Killing Strike/Encounter with Evil by Gardner/John Creasey/Amber Dean (3-in-1 Detective Book Club)
At Bertram's Hotel/A Business of Bodies/Conceal & Disguise by Agatha Christie/Stanton Forbes/Henry Kane (3-in-1 Detective Book Club)
Brothers of Silence/And One Cried Murder/Old Students Never Die by Frank Gruber/Lee Thayer/Ivan T. Ross (3-in-1 Detective Book Club)
The Noose by Philip MacDonald (1930; reprint)
Suspense Stories selected by Alfred Hitchcock  (1945; this edition 1949 Dell Mapback #367)
The Farmhouse by Helen Reilly (1943; this edition 1950 Dell Mapback #397)

Lament for the Bride/The Cat & Capricorn/Blood Will Tell (aka Mrs. McGinty's Dead) by Helen Reilly/D. B. Olsen/Agatha Christie (3-in-1 Detective Book Club)
Lady, Be Careful!/Bones of Contention/So Young a Body by Christopher Reeve/Rae Foley/Frank Bunce (3-in-1 Detective Book Club)
The White Dress/The Silent Speaker/The Hollow by Mignon G. Eberhart/ Rex Stout/Agatha Christie (3-in-1 Detective Book Club)
Stream Sinister/Murder on Angler's Island/Payoff for the Banker by Kathleen Moore Knight/Helen Reilly/Frances & Richard Lockridge (3-in-1 Detective Book Club)
Evidence of Things Seen/ Dark Duet/Lady in a Million by Elizabeth Daly/Peter Cheyney/Susannah Shane (3-in-1 Detective Book Club)
You Can Die Laughing/Guilt Is Where You Find It/Reservations for Death by A. A. Fair/Lee Thayer/Baynard Kendrick (3-in-1 Detective Book Club)
Tell Her It's Murder/Coffin for Christopher/Don't Hang Me Too High by Helen Reilly/Delano Ames/J. B. O'Sullivan (3-in-1 Detective Book Club)
Girl Meets Body by Jack Iams (1947; this edition 1950 Dell Mapback #384)
Hanged for a Sheep by Frances & Richard Lockridge (1942; this edition 1948 Bantam #305)
Give Up the Ghost by Margaret Erskine (1949; reprint)
A Taste for Cognac by Brett Halliday (Dell 10 Cent)
You'll Never See Me Again by William Irish (Cornell Woolrich) (Dell 10 Cent)

Picture Prompt Book Bingo

Oh, look, Jamie (who keeps throwing newly-found reading challenges at us over at Sleep Less, Read More--Reading Challenges, Events, & More! on Facebook) found another challenge that I simply can't resist: Bookforager's Picture Prompt Book Bingo 2024. This is a pretty open challenge--just read books that connect in some way with the pictures on the bingo card. A shoe? Well, "shoe" could be in the title, a shoe could appear on the cover, or like the story of Cinderella, a shoe could be really important to the story. If you can make a connection between the picture and the book, then it counts. goes. I'm in.

1. Shoe: A Fete Worse Than Death by Dolores Gordon-Smith [tiny shoes on cover] (2/20/24)
2. Microscope: Death, My Darling Daughters by Jonathan Stagge [the book is simply crawling with scientists] (1/1/24)
3. Partially Unrolled Scroll & Pen: Murder by the Book by Martin Edwards, ed [all about books, manuscripts, & writers] (1/20/24)
4. Snail: The List of Adrian Messenger by Philip MacDonald [murderer took five years to work his way through everyone he wanted to kill] (5/4/24)
5. Old Roman Coin: The Cambridge Murders by Glyn Daniel [amateur sleuth is an archaeologist who might dig up old coins] (1/24/24)
6. Fern: Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout [fern = plant; Nero Wolfe grows orchids] (6/25/24)
7. Crown: The Song of Roland translated by Dorothy L. Sayers [King/Emperor Charlemagne features prominently] (2/2/24)
8. Armillary Sphere: Murder in Brass  [aka The Brass Ring] by Lewis Padgett (5/29/24)
9. Seashell: Winter in June by Kathryn Miller Haines [set on a South Pacific Island--shells on the beach] (2/12/24)
10: Cannon: Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell [main character Colonel in the Crimean War] (2/7/24)
11. Harp: Murder in C Major by Sara Hoskinson Frommer [set in an orchestra] (1/15/24)
12. Hands making a dog shadow puppet: Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney [the dog is a fairly important character] (3/26/24)
13. Old camera on tripod: Unnatural Ends by Christopher Huang [old pictures provide some of the clues to solve the mystery] (4/14/24)
14. Dog: The Blood-Dimmed Tide by Rennie Airth [one of the critical characters at the end has a dog] (2/16/24)
15. Beehive (with bees): The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Seance for a Vampire by Fred Saberhagen [when Holmes retires he keeps bees] (4/9/24)
16. Fluffy cumulonimbus clouds:

Friday, January 5, 2024

Mystery Reporter 2024


Mystery Reporter's Challenge 2024 is sponsored by Ellie in The Challenge Factory on Goodreads.

My post in the challenge: HERE

Who? What? When? Where? Why?\
How--In a cozy chair with a hot cup of cocoa and a box of bonbons!

I'll be going for the Columnist level (2 books from each basic category) and hoping to complete them all.

Cub Reporter: 5 books (one from each category) [Complete 1/28/24]
Columnist: 10 books (two from each) [Complete 2/20/24]
News Anchor: 15 books (three from each) [Complete 2/29/24]
Editor: 20 books (four from each) [Complete 3/16/24]
Newspaper Mogul: 25 books (all five from each)

Bonus Category:
Pulitzer Prize Winner = Newspaper Mogul plus bonus categories (30 books)

Extra Bonus Category
Nobel Prize for Literature = Pulitzer plus final bonus category (31 books) 

Protagonist is established in their business/career: A Guilty Thing Surprised by Ruth Rendell [Inspector Wexford has been a detective for a long time] (1/28/24)
Any Character is a dead person (ghost, vampire, zombie, etc.): Seance for a Vampire by Fred Saberhagen {vampires} (4/9/24)
Main character works with animals: Man of Two Tribes by Arthur W. Upfield [Inspector Bonaparte has to work with camels and a dog to follow the trail] (2/22/24)
Protagonist involved in a love (dating) triangle: Murder After Hours (aka The Hollow) by Agatha Christie (2/26/24)
Character who bakes: A Fete Worse Than Death by Dolores Gordon-Smith [there's a bit of a feud over who is the best baker at the fete] (2/20/24)

Number in the title: Bodies from the Library 3 by Tony Medawar, ed (1/7/24)
Color in the title: The Blue Geranium by Dolan Birkley (3/3/24)
Title is at least five words: Miraculous Mysteries: Locked-Room Murders & Impossible Crimes by Martin Edwards, ed (2/9/24)
An anthology: Murder by the Book: Mysteries for Bibliophiles by Martin Edwards, ed (1/20/24)
Title is a play on words: 

Set in a state the touches water: The Silent Speaker by Rex Stout [New York] (3/5/24)
Set on an island: Winter in June by Kathryn Miller Haines [Tulagi Island in the South Pacific] (2/12/24)
Set in a state that starts with an "M": Death, My Darling Daughters by Jonathan Stagge [Massachusetts] (1/1/24)
Set on a farm: Red Bones by Ann Cleeves (3/24/24)
Set on foreign soil (NOT USA/England): The Unicorn Murders by Carter Dickson [France] (2/28/24)

1800s or earlier: The Passenger from Scotland Yard [1888] by H. F. Wood (1/11/24)
1900s: The Moneypenny Diaries by Kate Westbrook [1960s] (2/29/24)
During spring: The Final Days of Abbot Montrose by Sven Elvestad (2/3/24)
During summer: Mad About the Boy? by Dolores Gordon-Smith (3/13/24)
During a holiday: The Dragon Boat Festival by John Bechtel (6/19/24) [Dragon Boat Festival]

Money/Greed: Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz (3/16/24)
Revenge: The Cambridge Murders by Glyn Daniel (1/24/24)
To stop blackmail: Death Has a Small Voice by Frances & Richard Lockridge (131/24)
To keep a secret/cover up: The Emperor's Snuff Box by John Dickson Carr (1/3/24)

WHO--Book where you figure it out before the protagonist does: Murder & Mendelssohn by Kerry Greenwood (1/27/24)
WHAT--Title/Series Title starts with 1st letter of your last name:
WHERE--Set in fictional place where you'd love to live: The List of Adrian Messenger by Philip MacDonald [primarily in England] (5/4/24)
WHEN--During a storm: Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney (3/26/24)
WHY--To kill a witness: Murder in C Major by Sara Hoskinson Frommer (1/15/24)

Horoscope: Pick a horoscope from the 1st of any month and read a book related to the horoscope.