Lawrence Block – No Score (1970)

NoScore

Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Hand Holding Weapon
TBR #78
Date Finished: October 8, 2017

A teen-age orphan attempts to find a path for himself, and have sex. There is no mystery here, despite the back cover’s attempts to repeat “It’s a Mystery.” The third and fourth books in the series are, but this first one is a coming-of-age with only a small scene of violence. Still, a somewhat humorous voice and a quick read.

Vintage Silver Scavenger 2017-10-08

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Charles Williams – Nothing in Her Way (1953)

NothinginHerWay

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Musical Instrument
Date Finished: October 5, 2017

A gambler meets a con man in a bar. The con man attempts a simple scam as way of checking out the gambler. Once they’ve gotten friendly, the gambler meets the con man’s partner, who turns out to be the gambler’s ex-wife. Soon we don’t know who is fooling who as they first con a banker in a small town and a rich dude in San Francisco, both of whom have connections to an unhappy time in the gambler’s and his ex-wife’s childhood.

A twisted, turning story of cons and marks, betrayers and betrayed, this one is very entertaining. Outstanding. I can see why they call Williams the best of the Gold Medal writers.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-10-05

Sax Rohmer – The Daughter of Fu Manchu (1931)

DaughterofFuManchu

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Doctor (Doctor Fu Manchu, of course)
Date Finished: October 2, 2017

In Egypt, the tomb of the Black Ape, which contains ancient and powerful secrets, naturally, is discovered and opened. The leader of the expedition is supposedly dead, and his assistant Greville, our narrator, somehow gets Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie to help against a mysterious woman, Madame Ingomar, aka Fah Lo Suee, the daughter of Fu Manchu. She fancies Greville, drugs him and takes him back to London, where the final confrontation takes place.

This fourth book in the Fu Manchu series is the first published after a 14-year gap, as Rohmer resumed the series during the Depression. Fu Manchu makes only a small appearance here, as his daughter is the main villain. This one moved along quite quickly, which did not seem to be the case with the earlier ones, but doesn’t serve much purpose other than to fill pages. The Egyptian setting worked better than the old London Limehouse yellow peril bit, while all the white manly heroes have little to distinguish themselves from each other.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-10-02

2017 Mt. TBR Checkpoint #3

mount-tbr-2017

At the 3/4 mark of the year, I have reached 77 books read off of the To Be Read pile, leaving me very slightly ahead of pace to reach my goal of Mt. Everest at 100 books. At this point of the year, however, I’m reading more and more 2017 purchases and ebooks, so need to get back to the stacks.

I don’t want to get creative in answering the second part of Bev’s challenge question, but I used the easy answer of which has been on the stack the longest at the last check-in. This time, the question is: A. Who has been your favorite character so far? And tell us why, if you like.

I’ve enjoyed the John J. Malone / Jake and Helen Justus series by Craig Rice, namely Eight Faces at Three and The Corpse Steps Out. I had read later works in this series, but reading the first two in the series has been much more memorable and enjoyable, as Rice spends more time introducing the characters and their wacky antics.

 

Carter Dickson – The Unicorn Murders (1935)

UnicornMurders

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Plane
Date Finished: September 28, 2017

unicorn-murders

 

British secret agents, including Henry Merrivale, become entangled in a battle between a French master thief and a French inspector, both masters of disguise. Arriving by emergency landing of a plane, the thief and the inspector, along with assorted other characters, are met by the British agents, arriving by car, at an isolated chateau on a river island. The man thought to be the inspector is murdered mysteriously and impossibly. Henry Merrivale sorts out the various disguises, while one of the British agents is implicated in the murder by the real inspector.

While the murder and solution are clever and partially unexpected, the overall work seems less substantial than what I expect from John Dickson Carr. There does seem to be more action than usual in these, and perhaps that explains the lack of character development for some of the minor players. I had some difficulty motivating myself to read, so perhaps that explains my disappointment, but I expect these early Carrs to be outstanding and this one was only adequate.

 

 

 

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-09-28

The Phantom’s Greatest Gamble (1941)

PhantomDetective41-1

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Suit of Armor
Date Finished: September 18, 2017

An Adventure House reprint of the January 1941 issue of The Phantom Detective, this features a full-length novel, “The Phantom’s Greatest Gamble,” by Robert Wallace. The Phantom Detective investigates an attack on a radio station and its news announcer by a gang of criminals. They turn out to be associated with a smuggling ring of some sort and the shipping companies they use, all contacted at sea through secret messages in the radio reports. Naturally there is a crime kingpin, in this case the Big Shot or the Shot, as well as damsels in distress, explosions, and gun battles. What there is not is anyone in a suit of armor, despite the cover.

A bit of a tough read, in that it was tough to keep my mind from wandering as the plot wandered around with little coherence, other than to get a bunch of action in. Disappointing. At least I got a Suit of Armor cover.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-09-18

Craig Rice – The Corpse Steps Out (1940)

CorpseStepsOut

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: A Tombstone
Date Finished: September 16, 2017

The second mystery in the John J. Malone-Jake and Helene Justus series, The Corpse Steps Out starts sometime after Eight Faces at Three. Jake is now working as publicity agent for a radio star, Nelle Brown, whose former lover is found dead by Jake just after Nelle had visited his apartment. Soon the body is moved by an unknown person. A second body is taken from the radio studio to the park by Jake. He later moves the first body to an apartment where a third body is found. Meanwhile, Jake runs into Helene again, rekindling their romance enough that they spend much of the book trying to head to Indiana to get married. Malone is brought in by Jake to help Nelle and straighten this all up.

Another wacky mystery by Craig Rice with an interesting Chicago radio production setting. Very fun, with perhaps not quite as much alcohol as the first in this series, though Helene really should not be driving. Jake has more to do here than do Helene and Malone, but Malone does fix it all in the end. The solution was not a big surprise, but still very fun.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-09-16