My #4 reading challenge signup – the Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge.
There are a lot of themes, and I’m tackling most of them!
1. Colorful Crime: 8 books with colors in the title
The Chinese Gold Murders (Van Gulik); A Study in Scarlet (Doyle); The Man in the Brown Suit (Christie); Gray Mask (Wentworth); Miss Silver Intervenes (Wentworth); The Problem of the Green Capsule (Carr); The Ivory Dagger (Wentworth); The Case of the Restless Redhead (Gardner)
2. Murder by the Numbers: 8 books with a number in the title
Nine – and Death Makes Ten (Carr); Champagne for One (Stout); Mr. Zero (Wentworth); The Clock Strikes Twelve (Wentworth); The Case of the One-Eyed Witness (Gardner); The Nine Wrong Answers (Carr); Thirteen at Dinner (Christie); The Three Coffins (Carr)
3. Occupational Hazards: 8 books with a “detective” who is not a P.I.; Police Officer; Official Investigator (Nurse Keate, Father Brown, Miss Marple, etc.)
4. Perilous Policemen: 8 books with a policeman as the primary investigator
5. Lethal Locations: 8 books that are all about place (for instance: country houses, hospitals, schools or even particular cities/countries)
6. Dangerous Beasts: 8 books with an animal in the title (The Bat; The Canary Murder Case; etc.)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (Doyle); Fer-de-Lance (Stout); The Case of the Howling Dog (Gardner); The Case of the Caretaker’s Cat (Gardner); The Case of the Lame Canary (Gardner); The Peacock Feather Murders (Carr); The Five Red Herrings (Sayers); The Maltese Falcon (Hammett)
7. Deadly Decades: 8 books, one from each time period plus one of your choice (Pre-1900s; 1900-09; 1910-19; 1920-1929; 1930-1939; 1940-1949; 1950-59)
8. Golden Age Girls: 8 books by female authors OR 8 books with female detectives
Have His Carcase (Sayers); Unnatural Death (Sayers); The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (Sayers); Dead or Alive (Wentworth); Rolling Stone (Wentworth); She Came Back (Wentworth); The Blind Side (Wentworth); Through the Wall (Wentworth); Holiday for Murder (Christie); Death Comes As the End (Christie)
9. Cherchez le Homme: 8 books by male authors OR 8 books with male detectives
In the Best Families (Stout); The Black Mountain (Stout); Murder Must Advertise (Sayers, Lord Peter Wimsey); Double for Death (Stout); The Case of the Counterfeit Eye (Gardner); The D.A. Takes a Chance (Gardner); The Blind Barber (Carr); The Crooked Hinge (Carr)
(It’s no big surprise, alas, that both men and women wrote about male detectives, but only women wrote about female detectives. The only, honorable, exception was Rex Stout, who wrote at least one book starring Dol Bonner – but I need that one for my Miscellany.)
10. Murderous Miscellany: Choose your own theme. Get creative–surprise us! The only stipulation is that the theme cannot be reading books by a single author.
Okay – how about A Year of Death? The following were all published in 1937: The Burning Court (Carr); Poirot Loses a Client (Christie); The Case Is Closed (Wentworth); The Case of the Dangerous Dowager (Gardner); The Red Box (Stout, Nero Wolfe); The Hand in the Glove (Stout, Dol Bonner); Cards on the Table (Christie); Busman’s Honeymoon (Sayers)
Ouch. I do have a lot of golden age mysteries handy, don’t I? It’s true that these authors were prolific – they were turning out stories that in some ways are more like episodes of TV shows like NCIS or Bones or CSI than like what we expect from books today. But I have to admit that I’ve spent a lot of time and money and shelf space on books that may not quite deserve it.
Maybe I should include Sayers’ Strong Poison, with its ringing Christmas dinner defense of mysteries, to cheer myself up.