Friday, July 4, 2014

Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge Update

I'm on vacation in Washington state (first time here, only seven more states left and I'll have been to all 50 at least once) and didn't have time to get my Friday's Forgotten Book post up. In fact I left all my notes for the past five books at home and I won't be able to write any reviews or essays until I get back home. Without my notes I'm lost. I read too many books each month to remember everything about the characters and plot details.

Life has been very chaotic and I've been forced to change a lot about how I live. I'll spare you the stories of my adventures with the two physical therapists I am currently seeing. Because of that I haven't been up to sitting at my computer for long periods of time to write the many reviews I am behind on.

In lieu of my usual FFB I'm going to list all the books I plan to review this month (all but one of them read in June) and also take this opportunity to catch up on my Golden Age Bingo Card in Bev's Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge

Rare photo of Richard Wilson Webb posing as "Q Patrick"
Death in the Dovecot - Q. Patrick
"Book with an animal in the title"
This is the British title for Murder at the Womens' City Club, a very rare Q Patrick title that I was very excited to find on eBay for a bargain price. The book is most interesting in that's it's the second of Richard Wilson Webb's mystery novels and the second (and last) book he wrote with his first collaborator Martha Mott Kelley.  An almost all female cast of characters (only three men) is an additional unique aspect to this detective novel.

Return to the Scene - Q. Patrick (Webb & Wheeler)
"Book featuring a mode of transportation"
Boats are featured in this mystery set in Bermuda. The victim falls overboard and people are constantly going back and forth to a small private island where the body washed up. I'm proud to say that I figured identity of the murderer, the motive and the method of one of the murders in this book. But I also think, while the killer is a surprise, veteran mystery readers will also be able to figure whodunit in this one. Reminded me of Christianna Brand because all the characters are lying and protecting one another and colluding during the murder investigation.

Come and Be Killed! - Shelley Smith
"Book featuring cooking or food"
Poisoned food is the killer's choice in this book. One of the best "badass biddy" books I've read. A groundbreaking book, I think, way ahead of its time. Reminds me of the best of Ruth Rendell but it was published in 1947. The murderous Mrs. Jolly (how's that for a killer's name?) almost tops my favorite spinster killer Claire Marrable in The Forbidden Garden. The climactic scene where one clever woman confronts the villainess is classic.

The Blue Horse of Taxco - Kathleen Moore Knight
"Book set in country other than US or UK"
Set in Mexico. A fascinating near noir thriller cum detective novel, very different from her Cape Cod books featuring Elisha Macomber. Troy Banister, the woman protagonist, is the closest I've come the discovering a female Tom Ripley. One of the first anti-heroines in detective fiction who at first is utterly despicable and then suddenly you find yourself sympathizing with. Plus, an unusual background in silver jewelry design and the silversmith industry which is still what Taxco is known for today. Very interesting and mature work from this unappreciated and very forgotten American mystery writer.

And the fifth book I will leave a mystery. It's the book I read for the July 11 "Femme Fatale" theme. And it's ready to go for next Friday. I guarantee no one has heard of it nor reviewed it since FFB has been going. It's a book that has been incredibly hard to find for decades and was just reprinted two months ago by a British indie press.

There's enough to tease you for the coming days. In depth reviews on all books listed above are coming when I return from Washington. Stay tuned...

Oh! and I now have a total of four Bingo rows on my Golden Age Mystery bingo card. I've read more than the mere 29 books shown on the card below. Some of the books were reviewed but didn't qualify for the challenge because I couldn't find a category to apply to the book. I'm excited that with half the year gone I have only seven more books to read (that will fit the categories left) and I've filled the card.


  1. Thanks again for bringing Quentin Patrick/Patrick Quentin, in all their permutations, to us; I think these have been overlooked for too long and deserve to be appreciated again. And congratulations also on filling up so much of the Bingo score card!! I am so far behind you at this point, I foresee a dismal and hard-working November as I desperately try to catch up LOL.

  2. You are just amazing John. Look at all the books you have read for that challenge. I can't even find time to update the challenge reading I have done so far.

  3. You are really zooming through the Golden Age, John! I've managed to get myself caught up in the Silver Age years here lately. It's about time to get back to my first love... Also, you've got me intrigued with that first Q. Patrick book--an almost all female cast of characters! Hope you're enjoying your time in Washington and I hope you've gotten your physical therapists situation sorted.

  4. Oh NOW I get how the Bingo works. Ha! That's the story of my life, I NEVER pay enough attention. I thought it was too confusing for me to take part. Silly me. But at the same time, I find that joining reading challenges of any sort makes for too much stress. Health-wise it seems I must avoid stress of any kind, so that's that. But at least I finally saw how the Bingo works. :)

    I hope you'll be feeling back to normal really soon, John. TWO physical terapists? Ouch. I'm so sorry for what you're going through. Please take good care on your travels, m'dear.

    Looking forward to your reviews.

    1. Sneaking in some comments while we're got brief access to wi-fi before I heard out to the remote areas tomorrow. Amazingly, I am able to hike the mountainous trails out here and I'm not in any pain. God bless those boys at Novacare!

  5. What a great picture of Webb! I have an earlier one of him too, but not as good as that one. Now we need one of Hugh Wheeler from the same period, when they were living together.

    1. He's on the DJ for Murder at the Women's City Club and that was published long before Wheeler was his writing partner. Dashing, isn't he? Looks like a Noel Coward clone.

    2. Wow, you have it in the jacket! I've never seen the jacket to this book.