Rae Foley – The Hundredth Door (1950)

DBC cover

Golden Age
Category: Author You’ve Never Read Before
Date Finished: September 7, 2015

I have two other Rae Foley mysteries in other Detective Book Club volumes, but had not read any before. This one gets mis-categorized online as a Gothic Romance or a Cozy Mystery, but, of course, these are insults. Foley seems to have written later Gothic novels, and a 1970s era reprinting of this gives it a cover in that style, but this is really a country house mystery. A family, including a long separated young woman who is set to inherit everything, is reunited for Christmas in a secluded country house, which becomes even more secluded as a blizzard prevents them from leaving. Luckily, one of the guests has brought along lawyer and master amateur detective John Harland. This is the second of three mysteries by Foley featuring Harland. He is somewhat austere and characterless, but is also a contrast to the emotions and characters in this family. The reveal happens somewhat suddenly, as a character panics, and without any master detection by Harland. The capture is more as a result of Harland’s work, but not by much. The writing, setting and characters are competent, so it is a shame to be let down by this anti-climactic ending. Still it captured the interest enough to be read in a day and allowed me to completely finish my golden age bingo card. Yay.

Vintage Golden Card 2015-09-07

Thomas B. Dewey – The Mean Streets (1954)


Golden Age
Category: TBR First Lines
Date Finished: September 6, 2015

I’ve had this on my To Be Read pile since 2005 or so, not quite wanting to read it lest it be gone and something no longer to look forward to, like the last piece of cake. Mac is undercover as a baseball coach in a mid-sized city of 200,000, investigating juvenile gangs and an mob boss who has them organized. At first this seems like a typical 1950s expose of juvenile delinquency, but we should expect more from Dewey. There is a couple of murders, the mystery of the mob boss’ identity, some bittersweet romance with a sad, lonely wife, and Dewey’s writing. Taking the title from a Chandler quote, Dewey doesn’t quite come up to the poetry of Chandler, but it is still very good. I read it in a day after struggling to be interested in another book for most of the preceding week.

Oh, my first lines from which this book was selected were:

George Harmon Coxe, Murder with Pictures (1935)
“Foley, the red-faced, uniformed deputy on duty in the hall, peeked through one of the glass ovals in the courtroom doors and said, “Hey, the jury’s comin’ out!”

Ellery Queen, The Tragedy of X (1932)
“Below, shimmering in a blue haze, was the Hudson River, a white sail scudded by; a placid steamboat waddled upstream.”

Brandon Bird, Death in Four Colors (1950)
“The hands holding the knife were almost part of the futuramic [sic] decor.”

Thomas B. Dewey, The Mean Streets (1954)
“He came tearing down the street with this newspaper in his hand, looking back over his shoulder, and I figured he’d swiped it from some stand.”

This was a tough choice, but I’ll get to the others at some point.

Vintage Golden Card 2015-09-06

Margery Allingham – More Work for the Undertaker (1948)


Golden Age
Category: Spooky cover
Date Finished: August 30, 2015

Campion returns after three years to investigate a murder within a very idiosyncratic family. Lugg’s undertaker brother-in-law asks for the investigation so that things can be cleared up quickly and let him get back to his shady dealings. This one seemingly reverts back to a classic murder investigation for Campion, rather than a thriller of giant conspiracy, but the ending fails to follow through on this. The resolution did not seem to follow the rest of novel, and was rather a disappointment. The characters are well formed and interesting, but the book is somewhat slow-moving with no suspense.

Two to go:

Vintage Golden Card 2015-08-30

John Dickson Carr – Fire, Burn! (1957)


Golden Age
Category: Historical mystery
Date Finished: May 29, 2015

Ok, I continue to fall behind here. For my historical mystery, a tough category to fill for the Golden Age, I went with John Dickson Carr’s Fire, Burn! Carr, a master of the locked room, does another impossible thing here and sends his detective back from the 1950s to 1829, placing him there at the creation of the British police force and becoming the first police detective. For an unbelievable premise, this works rather well, tossing in the usual Carr romance as a prime focus and distracting somewhat from the science fiction element. Now, I’m not a big fan of novels set in the 1820s, but Carr’s detective, John Cheviot, is a man of the 1950s and not accustomed to the manners and moires of the era. An entertaining time travel.

Vintage Golden Card 2015-05-29

Edmund Crispin – The Moving Toyshop (1946)


Golden Age
Category: Academic Mystery
Date Finished: April 20, 2015

This one takes place in Oxford amongst the colleges. The reasons for moving the toyshop are a bit farfetched, but the allure of these is Gervase Fen’s character and the humor, as opposed to a realistic crime. So, why did this take me 15 days to read. A busy schedule, of course, but I also liked to slowly savor the dialogue and comedy. I was sad to see it end.

This fulfills another bingo. Four more books to go.

Vintage Golden Card 2015-04-20

Joel Townsley Rogers – The Red Right Hand (1945)


Golden Age
Category: Author whose first or last name begins with the same letter as mine
Date Finished: April 5, 2015

This is a classic novel that deserves the five stars it generally receives. The bizarre and confusing mystery barrels along until it seems that the main character is the murderer himself, before untwisting and resolving into a satisfying conclusion. Highly recommended.

Vintage Golden Card 2015-04-05

Ursula Curtiss – The Deadly Climate (1954)

Curtiss-Deadly Climate

Golden Age
Category: Outside My Comfort Zone
Date Finished: April 3, 2015

It is tough to find any golden age mystery that is outside my comfort zone, but a HIBK would be the closest thing. Whether this counts as HIBK is questionable. It is female suspense, where the murderer is after our main character who is believed to have witnessed the murder in question. She is trapped within the house with the murderer, but finds it difficult to leave. The suspense is strong and the story moves along, but it is dependent upon some coincidences and misunderstandings.

Vintage Golden Card 2015-04-03