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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Agatha Christie – Postern of Fate (1973)

PosternofFate

Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Where — Set in a small village
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #109
TBR #76
Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge #5
Date Finished: July 29, 2018

Tommy and Tuppence Beresford purchase an old house in a small, seaside village. Tuppence soon finds a clue to a pre-World War I murder in some old children’s books left behind, and starts digging into what turns out to have been an old espionage case. Soon she is discovering old clues left in various places in the house and her gardener is murdered.

Either Tuppence is going senile or I am. Or more likely Christie was as this one tends to ramble around a bit, contain large portions of unimportant dialogue, give obvious clues and then ignore them for 100 pages, and then fizzle with a complete dud of a resolution. This could have used a much tighter edit. No satisfactory resolution is given to either the 60-year-old mystery or the 1973 one. The early one is never clearly pictured, as old characters remain hazy with nobody remembering them fully, while the new one just brings in a new character in the final pages to be the murderer. The 60-year-old timeline is also never kept quite straight, as 90-year-old characters are mentioned as too young to remember the old case, while its resolution is thought to be a possible embarrassment to current politicians. Tommy’s secret service friends never reveal what they know, and apparently there is no such thing as an archives, so everyone just wonders around in a fog.

Christie’s classic mysteries were never this sloppy or dumb. Like Poirot’s last case, Elephants Can Remember, this one is filled with references to their past cases. Although it is fun to have a final visit with Tommy and Tuppence, this is a sad final chapter in their story. I will say that it read well, being all read in one day despite being overlong at 276 pages. Of course, it had to sit on my shelf for 36 years before I got to it, in part probably due to the ugly cover.

And with that, we’ve finished the Silver Age Just the Facts Challenge. Now, free will selection, though I should save mysteries until next year’s challenge, I suppose.

Just the Facts Silver Card 2018-07-29

Robert van Gulik – The Chinese Nail Murders (1961)

ChineseNailMurders

Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Why — It made a “best of” list
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #108
TBR #75
Date Finished: July 28, 2018

Judge Dee is now the magistrate of a far northern frontier district and again has three mysteries to solve. The first involves the headless corpse of a wife, her missing husband, and her two brothers. Eventually, this case leads into the murder of a famous boxer, and the reopening of an old investigation into the murder of a disagreeable woman’s husband.

The intertwining of these mysteries is very well done, the period and setting is effectively portrayed for Western audiences and the mysteries themselves are interesting. The difficulty for me remains the similar names, but it helped to read more of it in one sitting than I did the last one. This novel made the list of Anthony Boucher’s Best Crime Fiction for 1962.

Just the Facts Silver Card 2018-07-28b

Mignon Eberhart – Family Fortune (1976)

FamilyFortuneDBC

Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Why — Out of your comfort zone
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #107
TBR #74
Date Finished: July 28, 2018

During the Civil War, a young Southern-sympathizing West Virginia woman is heir to part of a plantation, but is denied control due to being underage, despite her undocumented marriage to a Southern cousin. While other brothers are fighting the war, her Northern-sympathizing brother is mean to her. Boo hoo. He is murdered, her jewels are stolen, and someone tries to kill her, unfortunately unsuccessfully.

Awful, awful, awful dreck. Why a Lincoln, Nebraska native like Eberhart writes this pro-Southern, Gone-With-the-Wind wannabe stuff is the biggest mystery here. This came out the same year that Roots was published, but here all the slaves are happy, none are mistreated, and all the bad characters are pro-Union. What a missed opportunity for Eberhart to write something accurate. Instead she buys into Southern states rights, glorious lost cause myths. What mystery elements there are in this story are only lightly addressed, as the main character spends chapters upon chapters bemoaning her situation and fretting over every possibility. Badly written and badly plotted and firmly on the wrong side of history.

Just the Facts Silver Card 2018-07-28a

Agatha Christie – Elephants Can Remember (1972)

ElephantscanRemember

Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Where — At a Country House
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #105
TBR #72
Date Finished: July 25, 2018

After a prospective mother-in-law quizzes Ariadne Oliver about the death of her godchild’s parents in an apparent murder-suicide 15 years before, Ariadne brings in Hercule Poirot to dig into the old mystery. They piece together the story from bits and pieces remembered by various parties.

The deaths took place at a country house, so even though none of the current action of Poirot and company takes place there, I’m counting it against that category. This is a very strange Christie in that the ending is clearly telegraphed through much of the story, with no surprise ending or twist. Ariadne Oliver’s quirks are on display for much of this mystery, but few of Poirot’s are. It reads quickly enough, but it is nowhere near the high standards expected from Christie. A sad fizzle to Poirot’s career in his last written appearance by Christie.

Just the Facts Silver Card 2018-07-25a

John D. MacDonald – Slam the Big Door (1960)

SlamtheBigDoor

Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Where — On an island
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #104
TBR #71
Date Finished: July 24, 2018

After the death of his wife, a lonely and depressed man, Mike Rodenska, joins his friend and the friend’s second wife in a beach house on a Florida key. Also staying there is the friend’s newly divorced stepdaughter, all part of the somewhat pointless social scene. The friend is tied up in a big land development deal about to go bust, while a blackmailing woman who was tied up in the friend’s divorce from his first wife has also shown up and is causing the friend to stray again. Can Mike pull his friend out of trouble again?

It is probably a stretch to call this a mystery, though obviously marketed as such to all of us who expect that from MacDonald. There is some death and violence, and the possibility of some crime, but this is primarily a novel about inner strength and recovery from grief. The usual MacDonald moralizing is here, though differing from standard 1960 societal morality. Some of his usual topics again appear, including the theme of humans, especially women, as animals. He looks on women admiringly, but is a little too dehumanizing and objectifying, though miles ahead of most 1960s hardboiled detective fiction. Still, he writes exceptionally well and tells an engrossing story, even if the voices never vary greatly from one story to the next.

Just the Facts Silver Card 2018-07-25

Jonathan Kellerman – Blood Test (1986)

BloodTest

Vintage Silver Age Mystery
Just the Facts Category: Where — In a hospital/nursing home
Cloak and Dagger Challenge #103
Date Finished: July 23, 2018

Psychologist Alex Delaware is brought in by his surgeon friend to consult on a childhood cancer case. The family of the child is objecting to the treatment and soon disappear from the hospital with the boy. Knowing that the boy is facing certain death without treatment, Delaware consults with his cop friend, Milo Sturgis, and begins digging around in Hollywood and in the small California farming town where the family is from. This leads him to two dead parents, a dead doctor, a strange cult, a horticulturist, and some deep, dark family secrets.

I’m surprised at the popularity of Kellerman’s works, but perhaps this one isn’t typical of them. The writing here is pedestrian, competent but not exciting, with rather mopey characters. Delaware stumbles around, breaking and entering, until he finds the criminals, mostly through trial and error with very little deduction. There are many extraneous details and subplots that prove pointless. I doubt I’ll read any others of his works unless I really need to complete some difficult category, such as hospitals.

Just the Facts Silver Card 2018-07-23