Sunday, October 30, 2011

Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge 2012

Bev from My Reader's Block has already started the ball rolling for next year's Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge. And this year is slightly different. Participants must read a minimum of eight books from the defined "vintage period" (anything published prior to 1960) and choose from one of the many categories Bev has whipped up. They range from books with colors or animal in the titles to books only by women authors or books only by male authors. You can read books that share a common setting (eight books set in the same city, set in a hospital, set on an island, etc.) or feature only amateur detectives or only policemen. There's quite a range of possibilities. If Bev's categories don't suit you there's always "Murderous Miscellany" that allows you to design your own category of eight books with a common theme.

Since this blog is pretty much nothing but vintage mystery reviews and essays I'm going for three categories - two of Bev's and one custom made category of my own - for a total of 24 books. Easily done, my friends, though I'm sure to exceed that by the year's end. Though I won't be listing many of the actual titles (I am subject to frequent fits of whimsy that will cause me to deviate from any laid out plan) I will list the authors I have lined up.

The writers marked below with an asterisk (*) will be first time reads for me. I know it's hard to believe, but there are hundreds of writers I have yet to sample.

PERILOUS POLICEMEN: 8 books with a policeman as the primary investigator
Anthony Abbott
Jonathan Craig
Ed McBain
J. J. Marric*
Nigel Morland
Helen Reilly*
Lawrence Treat*
Henry Wade*

DEADLY DECADES: 7 books, one from each decade plus one extra of my choosing
Pre-1900s - Mary Elizabeth Braddon*, Emile Gaboriau*, Wilkie Collins
1900s - Gaston Leroux, Arthur Morrison*, E. W. Hornung*
1910s - Hesketh Prichard, Ernest Bramah, Marcel Allain & Pierre Souvestre
1920s - Isabel Ostrander, Carroll John Daly, Johnston McCulley, Thomas Hanshew*
1930s - Jonathan Latimer, Nicholas Brady, Ethel Lina White*, Richard Hull, Anthony Berkeley
1940s - Helen McCloy, A.B. Cunningham, E.C.R. Lorac*
1950s - Bruno Fischer*, Jonathan Craig, Day Keene*, Helen Nielsen*
... and many more especially from the 30s, 40s and 50s.

MURDEROUS MISCELLANY: Witchcraft/Black Magic in the detective novel
Gladys Mitchell
Michael Burt
Maxwell Grant
Dennis Wheatley
The Witch of the Low Tide by John Dickson Carr
The Devil's Bride by Seabury Quinn
The Witching Hour by C. S. Cody
The Black Magician by R.T.M. Scott
...and probably some others I will discover serendipitously next year.

I encourage all lovers of mystery novels who have yet to sample some of the best of the old books to take this opportunity and challenge yourself with the bare minimum of eight books. Eight books over an entire year! Anyone can do that. Those eight may lead to new discoveries and a new addiction. Anything is possible.


  1. I know it's not a competition, but when I read lists like this it gets the competitive juices going. I was going to do women authors, but now that just sounds dull in comparison to your fabulous lists. I'll have to put on my thinking cap.

  2. Mouth-watering titles and authors, especially your Miscellany selections - really looking forward to 2012!

  3. Carol -

    Whatever and whomever you decide upon I'll look forward to your thoughts and impressions. You picked a few this year that I 've never read and enmjoyed your takes on all the books.

    Sergio -

    I have to say you inspired me to go all out with next year's chlalenge. I was thinking only of sticking with the decade category, then I read your post and thought I can do three categories, too. As Carol says above it's almost like we're competing with each other. I'm already looking forward to January.

  4. Looking good! Love to see those "Miscellany" themes going up!

    Looking forward to another great year of reviews.