Agatha Christie – A Holiday for Murder (1938)


Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Broken Object
TBR #80
Date Finished: October 16, 2017

A very unhappy family of three brothers and their wives gathers for Christmas at the old manor house with their difficult and curmudgeonly invalid father. As commonly happens, a long-lost brother, an unknown niece, and a stranger from South Africa show up as well. The father is slain in a bloody and violent encounter in a locked room. The local police bring in Poirot to investigate.

Perhaps there are too many suspects, or perhaps it is the lack of a sidekick character, but Poirot does not shine in this novel as much as he does in other stories. He does not brag about himself, only shows off his moustaches once, and only complains about British heating systems twice. The Christmas aspect is not emphasized as much as I expected. I was expecting the twist ending and the time element tricks, but I was kicking myself for not taking the time to go back and figure out the murderer. The characters are well drawn, but this does seem a slight work for Christie, though few can measure up to even her slight works.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-10-16


Lawrence Block – No Score (1970)


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

2017 Mt. TBR Checkpoint #3


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.


The Spider – Pulp Doubles 11


Death and the Spider (January 1942) and Scourge of the Yellow Fangs (April 1937) by Grant Stockbridge

Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Newspaper
Date Finished: September 12, 2017
TBR #77

Two Spider pulp novels are collected in this 2009 reprint. The 1937 story has a standard yellow peril in Chinatown setting as the Spider faces off against the Man from Singapore. Nita and Richard Wentworth are almost to be married, with Wentworth promising to give up his Spider identity and leave the crime fighting business, leading him to undertake much more action as Wentworth than as the Spider in this story.

The 1942 story features Mar-lar-delan, an ancient lama of Tibet, who may really be Death itself, who uses hypnosis to cause visions in his opponents, causing friends to appear as foes and vice versa. The Spider nearly loses all of his assistants in this 100th novel in the Spider series.

These are both certainly action-packed, with the Spider being one of the more violent pulp heroes. I find myself slogging through these, rather than enjoying them, however.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-09-12

Agatha Christie – Ordeal By Innocence (1958)


Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: Nurse
Date Finished: September 9, 2017
TBR #76

Two years after a murder has been committed and resolved, a witness returns to England with proof that the convicted man, who later died in prison, was innocent. Expecting a positive reaction, he is surprised as the various family members now are themselves suspected of the murder and suspicious of the others, with the innocent suffering as much as the guilty.

Thought by some to be one of Christie’s best of her 1950s works, I found myself wishing for a genius detective to appear, rather than this psychological study of innocence and guilt. Still, a solid work with a satisfactory resolution.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-09-09

Frank Gruber – The Whispering Master (1947)


Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: A Door
Date Finished: September 3, 2017
TBR #75

Johnny Fletcher and Sam Cragg, a bit short of funds, get involved with Johnny’s complicated check kiting scheme involving new bank accounts and hock shops. In the meantime, the woman across the air shaft is strangled and the prize master disc for a dead crooner’s new records is flung across to their room. Seeing the possibility of a large payoff, Johnny investigates the record company and the murder.

I was not prepared for how funny this mystery was. The only Frank Gruber work I’ve read before was a western, which was not a comedy, so expected something much more serious here. This reads very much like a Craig Rice, especially a Bingo and Handsome story. This series began earlier and ran longer and I will certainly read more. The mystery itself is not intensely complicated, but the strength here is the characters and the wackiness.


Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-09-03

Helen MacInnes – Pray for a Brave Heart (1955)


Vintage Golden Age Mystery
Scavenger Hunt Category: A Tree
Date Finished: August 30, 2017
TBR #74
Follow the Clues step #75: from Prey to Pray

An ex-soldier, formerly of the Reclaimed Property Division, is asked to help in the search for some lost diamonds that are suspected of being sold to fund Communist work. The mission takes him to Bern, Switzerland, where he becomes entangled with a underground group smuggling dissidents out of Communist territories.

It took me a little while to get into this one, but once I found sufficient time to devote to extended reading, I found it enjoyable. This one straddles the border between WWII and Cold War espionage, as does our hero, who has professional experience, but in this case is acting as a amateur investigator. There are some women characters, both competent and bumbling, who add interest, though the treatment is somewhat typical of 1955. There is also some attention to the setting of both Bern and the small Swiss town where the final action takes place.

I’ll make this my final step in the Follow the Clues challenge and get to work on finishing the cover scavenger hunt.

Vintage Golden Scavenger 2017-08-30