Just the Facts, Ma’am 2018 – Wrap-Up

It’s time for the end of the year wrap-up. Both golden age and silver age cards were filled with 48 books each for a total of 96 books.

Just the Facts, Ma’am Golden Age Challenge

Just the Facts Golden Card 2018-06-09

Who
Edmund Crispin – Love Lies Bleeding (1948) – An Academic
A.A. Fair – Spill the Jackpot (1941) – Crime-Solving Duo
John Creasey – The Toff and the Deadly Parson (1944) – An amateur detective
Miriam Borgenicht – Don’t Look Back (1956) – In the Medical Field
Owen Dudley – Murder for Charity (1957) – A Journalist/Writer
George Harmon Coxe – Murdock’s Acid Test (1936) – An Artist/Photographer
Edward S. Aarons – Assignment Angelina (1959) – Retired from or in the Armed Services
Earl Derr Biggers – The Black Camel (1929) – Matriarch/Patriarch of family

What
Kenneth Robeson – River of Ice (1940) – Pseudonymous author
Patrick Quentin – The Man With Two Wives (1955) – Number in the title
Frank Castle – Murder in Red (1957) – Color in the title
David Alexander – Die, Little Goose (1956) – An animal in the title
Richard and Frances Lockridge – Hanged for a Sheep (1942) – Means of Murder in title
Brett Halliday – When Dorinda Dances (1951) – Reference to a man or woman in title
Charles Williams – Gulf Coast Girl (1955) – Book published under more than one title
Agatha Christie – Mrs. McGinty’s Dead (1952) – Title Contains two words beginning with same letter

When
Craig Rice – The Right Murder (1941) – During a recognized holiday
W.C. Tuttle – Bluffer’s Luck (1937) – A historical crime
John K. Butler – At the Stroke of Midnight (1940-1942) – Time/Date/etc in Title
Georges Simenon – Maigret and the Millionaires (1958) – Timing of crime is crucial
Hilda Lawrence – Blood Upon the Snow (1944) – During a weather event
Donald Hamilton – The Steel Mirror (1948) – During a trip/vacation/cruise, etc.
Clayton Rawson – Death from a Top Hat (1938) – During a performance of any sort
Phoebe Atwood Taylor – Figure Away (1937) – During a special event: birthday, village fete, etc.

Where
Agatha Christie – Funerals Are Fatal (1953) – At a Country House
Georges Simenon – Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett (1931) – On a mode of transportation
Agatha Christie – Evil Under the Sun (1941) – On an Island
Agatha Christie – Cat Among Pigeons (1959) – At a school
Craig Rice – The Thursday Turkey Murders (1943) – Set in a small village
Richard Sale – Passing Strange (1942) – In a hospital/nursing home
Erle Stanley Gardner – The D.A. Draws a Circle (1939) – Features a courtroom scene
Rufus King – Murder By the Clock (1929) – In a locked room

How
G.G. Fickling – This Girl for Hire (1957) – Death by drowning
Stewart Sterling – Five-Alarm Funeral (1942) – Crime involved fire/arson
Erle Stanley Gardner – The D.A. Calls It Murder (1937) – Death by poison
Georges Simenon – Maigret’s Holiday (1948) – Death by strangulation
John Creasey – If Anything Happens to Hester (1959) – Death by knife/dagger/etc.
Edward Ronns – Point of Peril (1956) – Death by shooting
Clarence Budington Kelland – Death Keeps a Secret (1953) – At least two deaths with different means
Peter Cheyney – They Never Say When (1945) – Death by blunt instrument

Why 

Stanley Ellin – The Eighth Circle (1958) – It won an award of any sort
Ellery Queen – Tragedy of X (1932) – It made a ‘best of’ list
Georges Simenon – Maigret Meets a Milord (1931) – Has been read/reviewed by a fellow challenger at any time
Maxwell Grant – Road of Crime (1933)/Crooks Go Straight (1935) – Has been on your TBR list
Ione Sandberg Shriber – Pattern for Murder (1944) – Out of your comfort zone
Ross Laurence – The Fast Buck (1953) – An author you’ve never tried
Craig Rice – The Wrong Murder (1940) – It’s by an author you’ve read & loved before
Leslie Charteris – Follow the Saint (1938) – Book made into tv/film/play

Just the Facts, Ma’am Silver Age Challenge

Just the Facts Silver Card 2018-07-28a

Who
Ellery Queen – The Campus Murders (1969) – An Academic
Agatha Christie – By the Pricking of My Thumbs (1968) – Crime-Solving Duo
Robert Colby – In a Vanishing Room (1961) – An amateur detective
Michael Crichton – Drug of Choice (1970) – In the Medical Field
Max Allan Collins – The Baby Blue Rip-Off (1983) – A Journalist/Writer
George Harmon Coxe – The Reluctant Heiress (1965) – An Artist/Photographer
Michael Avallone – The Living Bomb (1963) – Retired from or in the Armed Services
George Harmon Coxe – The Silent Witness (1973) – Matriarch/Patriarch of family

What
Ellery Queen – Cop Out (1969) – Pseudonymous author
Michael Crichton – Scratch One (1967) – Number in the title
Margaret Truman – Murder in the White House (1980) – Color in the title
Michael Avallone – The Birds of a Feather Affair (1966) – An animal in the title
Brett Halliday – Shoot to Kill (1964) – Means of Murder in title
Robert Colby – Lament for Julie (1961) – Reference to a man or woman in title
Michael Innes – The Crabtree Affair (1962) – Book published under more than one title
Brett Halliday – The Careless Corpse (1961) – Title Contains two words beginning with same letter

When
Agatha Christie – Hallowe’en Party (1969) – During a recognized holiday
Robert van Gulik – The Chinese Lake Murders (1960) – A historical crime
Harry Kemelman – Sunday the Rabbi Stayed Home (1969) – Time/Date/etc in Title
Thomas B. Dewey – The Girl Who Wasn’t There (1960) – Timing of crime is crucial
Max Allan Collins – Nice Weekend for a Murder (1986) – During a weather event
Ellery Queen – The Madman Theory (1966) – During a trip/vacation/cruise, etc.
Dick Francis – Dead Cert (1962) – During a performance of any sort
Richard S. Prather – The Trojan Hearse (1964) – During a special event: birthday, village fete, etc.

Where
Agatha Christie – Elephants Can Remember (1972) – At a Country House
Charles Williams – The Sailcloth Shroud (1960) – On a mode of transportation
John D. MacDonald – Slam the Big Door (1960) – On an Island
Leonard Holton – Flowers By Request (1964) – At a school
Agatha Christie – Postern of Fate (1973) – Set in a small village
Jonathan Kellerman – Blood Test (1986) – In a hospital/nursing home
Bill S. Ballinger – Not I, Said the Vixen (1965) – Features a courtroom scene
Michael Innes – Appleby and Honeybath (1983) – In a locked room

How
John D. MacDonald – The Drowner (1963) – Death by drowning
Charles Williams – And the Deep Blue Sea (1971) – Crime involved fire/arson
Brett Halliday – The Corpse That Never Was (1963) – Death by poison
Richard Deming – Anything But Saintly (1963) – Death by strangulation
Carter Brown – A Good Year for Dwarfs? (1970) – Death by knife/dagger/etc.
William Campbell Gault – The Cana Diversion (1982) – Death by shooting
Louis Trimble – The Surfside Caper (1961) – At least two deaths with different means
Carter Brown – The Never-Was Girl (1964) – Death by blunt instrument

Why
Fletcher Flora – Killing Cousins (1960) – It won an award of any sort
Robert van Gulik – The Chinese Nail Murders (1961) – It made a ‘best of’ list
Agatha Christie – The Pale Horse (1961) – Has been read/reviewed by a fellow challenger at any time
Henry Kane – Never Give a Millionaire an Even Break (1963) – Has been on your TBR list
Mignon Eberhart – Family Fortune (1976) – Out of your comfort zone
Robert Colby – Kim (1962) – An author you’ve never tried
William Campbell Gault – The Bad Samaritan (1980) – It’s by an author you’ve read & loved before
Leslie Charteris – The Saint on TV (1968) – Book made into tv/film/play

Thanks to Bev for running a great contest, which is a big motivation to keep me reading.

 

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Stanley Ellin – The Eighth Circle (1958)

EighthCircle

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Why — It won an award of any sort
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #76
TBR #48
Date Finished: June 9, 2018

Murray Kirk, managing partner of a large private detective agency, is used to running his business from behind his desk, signing contracts and working with clients, while his staff runs background checks and other investigations in a professional manner. The case of a young policeman, framed for taking a bribe by a local mobster, is brought to him by the policeman’s lawyer and the policeman’s girlfriend. Murray takes the case and gets personally involved in order to prove the lawyer wrong and to win away the girlfriend.

An Edgar-winning novel from Ellin, this story is much more concerned with the changes that Murray Kirk undergoes than it is on solving a mystery or telling a typical hardboiled private-eye story. This is a very satisfying, moving story, though not fast-moving or a quick read. It definitely is very atypical for a late 1950s private detective novel.

And that finishes the Just the Facts Golden Age challenge.

Just the Facts Golden Card 2018-06-09

Donald Hamilton – The Steel Mirror (1948)

SteelMirror

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: When — During a trip/vacation/cruise, etc.
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #65
Date Finished: May 22, 2018

A chemist, John Emmett, heading cross country from Washington to San Francisco, hitches a ride with a young woman after his car breaks down in Illinois. She is heading from Chicago to Denver to find a displaced person now teaching at a small college in Colorado. They both had been prisoners of the Nazis and she hopes that he can prove that she did not betray her fellow French Underground members. She claims to have lost her memory of that torture, which has placed her under the care of a psychologist and his nurse who are now also in pursuit of her. There has also been a murder in Chicago and she may have been involved, leading to the police and F.B.I. becoming involved. The Colorado college is also a myth as the professor is really at a secret government base in New Mexico, revealing secrets of Nazi science, which has Communist agents also sticking their noses in.

This is a very exciting trip across the country, which I could not put down, and it is nice to see Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska featured. Emmett doubts his own courage, after avoiding service during the war, and is resentful of the young woman, who is also doubting her courage and her sanity. The touchiness between the two, the uncertainty of who is telling the truth, and the breakneck pace all help this novel. Hamilton’s hero here, conflicted as he is, is still an amateur involved in the espionage world, unlike his Matt Helm stories where Helm tries to stay coldly professional, and largely unconflicted, but always seems to get involved with people.

Just the Facts Golden Card 2018-05-22

Stewart Sterling – Five-Alarm Funeral (1942)

FiveAlarmFuneral

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: How — Crime involved fire/arson
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #60
Date Finished: May 18, 2018

Fire Marshall Pedley investigates a series of arsons and associated deaths by a couple of hired arsonists. Somehow the fires are tied to a society girl and her father who runs a charity organization, as well as to a strange, black railroad lantern, holding a fire that won’t go out. Pedley fights fires and races against time before there are more murders.

The first in the Fire Marshall Pedley series, this one has a much tougher Pedley character than I remember from reading the second in the series, Where There’s Smoke. Here he isn’t terribly sympathetic, especially when encountering a gay character. The action and prose very clearly show Sterling’s pulp background, with logic taking a backseat to action. It is rather exciting, though.

Just the Facts Golden Card 2018-05-18

Agatha Christie – Cat Among Pigeons (1959)

CatAmongPigeons

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Where — At a school
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #58
TBR #38
Date Finished: May 17, 2018

When the games mistress is found shot to death in the sports pavilion, the English girls boarding school is all upset. Some of the intrigue is related to missing jewels belonging to the deposed and now deceased young ruler of a Middle Eastern country, though there are perhaps other motives among the various staff and students at the school. Hercule Poirot makes a late appearance after a second murder to straighten things out.

There are some surprises here and some very good Christie characters, though it really improves when Poirot finally arrives in chapter 17. Perhaps Christie was tiring of Poirot, but he really is the most original and interesting of the characters here, even after all of his appearances. The work itself is comfortably entertaining, but not one of her best.

Just the Facts Golden Card 2018-05-17

George Harmon Coxe – Murdock’s Acid Test (1936)

MurdocksAcidTest

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Who — An Artist/Photographer
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #55
TBR #37
Date Finished: May 12, 2018

Kent Murdock and his newlywed wife Joyce are off on their honeymoon to the Caribbean, where they have been invited to stay on the remote island “resort” belong to the father of Joyce’s college friend. Also staying at the cabins on the island are an assortment of families, including a fugitive mobster, a plantation owner and his brother, a restless wife, and various other girlfriends, nieces, nephews, sons, and thugs. There are no actual resort activities other than drinking, it seems. When the plantation owner is bumped off, Kent is nominated as the investigator due to their isolation from police forces and due to his limited experience as a crime photographer for his Boston newspaper. Kent has to prove himself, hence his Acid Test, and rush the investigation along in order to get back to his newspaper where he has been called back urgently from his honeymoon.

There are quite a few similar characters here, so the character guide at the front of this Dell Mapback edition was necessary. From having read so many of the later books in this series, Murdock seems much more a post-war, 1950s character to me than a mid-1930s one. The atmosphere in the first few chapters reminded me of a 1930s B-movie set in a tropical location. The casual racism, especially of the island owner who inadvertently has to host a person of color as a paying resident, is difficult for a modern reader, though typical of its time. The Joyce character, who later completely disappears from this series, has little to do here, despite being prominently featured in the preceding book in this series. Overall, this is an adequate mystery, but by no means the best of Coxe’s works.

Just the Facts Golden Card 2018-05-12

Craig Rice – The Right Murder (1941)

RightMurder

Vintage GoldenAge Mystery
Just the Facts Category: When — During a recognized holiday
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #53
Date Finished: May 6, 2018

Following on the heels of The Wrong Murder, John J. Malone and Jake and Helen Justus attempt to solve the right murder and win their bet of a Chicago casino and nightclub. Unfortunately, Jake and Helen start the book on their honeymoon, during which they fight and return separately to Chicago, unbeknownst to each other. Malone has to keep them separate, as well as solve the murder of a man who stumbles into the bar he is in on New Year’s Eve, where the man dies with a knife wound in his back. This murder is involved with Mona McClane, the woman who bet her casino with Jake that she could shoot someone down with witnesses and have it be unsolved. Also involved are her houseful of characters, including someone using the same name as the dead man.

This mystery is a bit less satisfying than The Wrong Murder, in part due to Jake and Helene being absent or separated during much of the early action. The plotting also is a bit off, as there are a few points that seem to exist only to create an entertaining scene, rather than logical steps a murder would take, such as digging up and moving a 20-year-old corpse, in the dead of winter, and then leaving the grave open on the estate grounds for Jake to fall into. The humor remains, as does the immense amount of alcohol, with much of the focus on Malone, despite the cover blurb above that this is a “Jake Justus Mystery.”

Just the Facts Golden Card 2018-05-06