agatha christie

Vintage Mystery Challenge 2012 – Completion

I participated on the Vintage Mystery Challenge 2012 hosted by the wonderful Bev Hankins of My Readers Block.

I had chosen to read from two Vintage Themes (16 books). The themes were,

Deadly Decades: 8 books, one from each time period plus one of your choice (Pre-1900s; 1900-09; 1910-19; 1920-1929; 1930-1939; 1940-1949; 1950-59).

Golden Age Girls: 8 books by female authors OR 8 books with female detectives.

And drumroll, please! I completed the challenge last month! It took me on an average two books per month. I could have done it faster but I didn’t want to. I wanted to savour it as much as possible. But here we are at the end of the road.

Once again, I’d like to thank Bev for hosting this challenge! 🙂

Completed Books:

Deadly Decades: 

Pre-1900s: The Big Bow Mystery. Israel Zangwill. (1892)

1900-09: The Hound of the Baskervilles. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. (1902)

1910-19: At the Villa Rose. A.E.W. Mason. (1910)

1920-1929: Behind That Curtain. Earl Derr Biggers. (1928)

1930-1939: The Thirteen Problems. Agatha Christie. (1932)

1940-1949: The Body in the Library. Agatha Christie. (1942)

1950-59: 4.50 from Paddington. Agatha Christie. (1957)

Decade of my own choice: 1900-09: In the Fog. Richard Harding Davis. (1901)

Golden Age Girls: 8 books by female authors.

1. The After House. Mary Roberts Rinehart.

2. The Lodger. Marie Adelaide Belloc.

3. A Pocket Full of Rye. Agatha Christie.

4.  The Old Man in the Corner. Baroness Orczy.

5. The Moving Finger. Agatha Christie.

6. Evil Under the Sun. Agatha Christie.

7. Death And The Dancing Footman. Ngaio Marsh.

8. The Beckoning Lady. Margery Allingham.

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Top 10 Tuesday: Top Ten Posts I Think Give You The Best Glimpse of ME

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created & hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s Top 10 is all about us, the bloggers. It’s about posts that showcase our true self, posts we would want people to read if they want to get to know us better, posts that we are proud of and posts that are close to our heart.

1. Happy Birthday Agatha Christie!: Agatha Christie is undoubtedly my favourtie mystery writer. Last year I did a post  celebrating her 121st birthday. What would have the world been like if she had never been born? For me, imagining a world without Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Parker Pyne, Mr.  Quin is impossible!

2. For the Love of Short Stories: Short stories are not popular with everyone. I for one love them! For me it takes considerable skill on the part of a writer to convey emotions that require a whole book to play through in just a few short pages. So, I did an entire post in praise of short stories.

3. What’s Your Literary Wall of Shame?: Every reader has books they want to read, books they are ashamed to admit they haven’t read yet. I opened up about my literary wall of shame and strangely had fun doing it!

4. Dickens and Collins: 7th February 2012 was the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens. To mark the occasion I participated in  Charles Dickens Month and made Dickens related posts all month long. My favourite from these posts was a post called Dickens and Collins, contemporaries, friends and two of my favourite Victorian authors.

5. My Welcome Home posts: In these posts I discuss books that I’ve brought home. I’m a cautious book buyer. Most books that I read are borrowed from libraries and other sources. So, any book that makes my home its home is special to me. Among these posts one of my favourites is my Welcome Home post featuring books of September & October 2011. It contained some of my personal thoughts on reading and the idea of ‘fun’. It is a post that is close to my heart.

6. A Bookish Inheritance: The love of books runs in my family but only on one side. I did a post on this called A Bookish Inheritance which remains one of the very few personal posts I did in this blog.

7. London Lavender: I really love it when I don’t expect anything from a book but the book totally surprised me by becoming a favourite. London Lavender was one such a book. I loved reading it and reviewing it!

8. Girl in Hyacinth Blue: I normally don’t read books I don’t know anything about. I’m also not much of a fan of contemporary books. I picked up Girl in Hyacinth Blue rather reluctantly but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise!

9. The School for Scandal and Other Plays: I had never even heard of Sheridan when I chanced upon a collection of his plays and it took me less than an hour into the book to realize that I had found one of my all time favourite playwrights in him.

10. About Me: And of course the About page of my blog. It is not much but it does give everyone a pretty basic idea about me and what this blog is about.

Quote It Saturday

Quote It Saturday is hosted at Freda’s Voice.

Add as many quotes as you wish, from whom ever you wish. It can even be lyrics to a song.
Just tell us who it is. Anonymous welcome too.
Don’t forget to Link up at Freda’s site.

Today’s Quotes come from The Mysterious Mr.Quin.

Love can make devils of men as well as angels. – The Man from the Sea.

* Mr. Satterthwaite put away the little set speech he had prepared, and hastily rummaged for sympathy and friendship in the bottom drawer of his mind. – The Face of Helen.

~ Agatha Christie from The Mysterious Mr.Quin

Booking Through Thursday: One Or Many?

This week’s Booking Through Thursday asks:

“Series or Stand-alone?

I prefer stand-alones to series, although I have enjoyed reading a series or two from time to time. The Harry Potter series for example. But I mostly favour stand-alones. I have read all of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books and almost all of her Hercule Poirot books but they can be read as stand-alones in my opinion so I don’t think they count as series.

Death And The Dancing Footman by Ngaio Marsh

Death And The Dancing Footman by Ngaio Marsh was published in 1942. It is the eleventh book in Marsh’s Inspector Roderick Alleyn series.

The mischievous owner of Highfold Manor has been busy planning the ultimate weekend party. He hopes to bring together a group of people who, at best, have an uneasy relationship with each other, then sit back and enjoy the fireworks. What he doesn’t know is that it’s going to be an extremely long weekend, a weekend no one will ever forget.

I enjoyed Death And The Dancing Footman much better than my last Marsh novel, Opening Night. The women in Death And The Dancing Footman are, for one, much less stupid. Also, the dialogues are much better.

Death And The Dancing Footman is set in Highfold Manor at Dorset. As the party is all assembled there a terrible storm starts, leaving the roads deep in snow and the mansion is totally cut off from civilization. I am very fond of cosy mysteries set in isolated places with no way out.  Christie’s And Then There Were None, Evil Under the Sun and Cyril Hare’s An English Murder come to mind. But somehow I didn’t enjoy the atmosphere of Highfold Manor as much as I should have.

The mystery is good. I suspected almost everyone by turns.

The narrative does go a bit slowly. I do get that they are stuck in a snowbound mansion in the middle of nowhere. But still the time between the beginning & the crime and from the crime to its solution feels like an eternity.

Among the characters I found Jonathan Royal to be really irritating. He is childish, selfish and even harmful at times. Why would anyone want to be his friend is beyond me. Aubrey Mandrake was another childish, whiny sort of character. All the members of the Compline family are uniformly bland.

Detective Roderick Alleyn doesn’t really do much. He shows up after more than half of the book is over. He asks a few questions and solves the thing pretty easily. I’m still not sure how he hit upon the solution to the mystery.

As I have mentioned earlier the women in this book are not stupid, which is a relief for me. Almost all of them are strong characters, whether good or evil. Although I was annoyed by everyone falling in love with Chloris Wynne just because she is blonde and beautiful. She does however admit that she is not a natural blonde, which made her more likeable.

I don’t like too much romance in my mystery. One of the romances did begin to annoy me mostly because of the man but the woman sort of redeemed it.

The ending was satisfying but I do have a few qualms about the character of the murderer. I feel that the motive behind the crime abruptly changes the character of the murderer. It doesn’t really make sense.

Even though I did have some problems with Death And The Dancing Footman, I overall enjoyed the book. It is a nice, satisfying cosy mystery.