at the villa rose

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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Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge 2012 – Completion

I participated in the Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge 2012 hosted at the Book Chick City. My participation level was TWELVE (12) mystery & suspense novels.

And I have completed my first challenge of 2012! I thought it would take me at least six months to finish 12 mystery & suspense books but I did it in five. So yay me! 🙂

So glad to have participated in the Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge 2012! Thanks to everyone in Book Chick City for hosting this fabulous challenge!

Completed Books:

1. The Big Bow Mystery. Israel Zangwill.

2. The Hound of the Baskervilles. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

3. At the Villa Rose. A.E.W. Mason.

4. Behind That Curtain. Earl Derr Biggers.

5. The Thirteen Problems. Agatha Christie.

6. The Body in the Library. Agatha Christie.

7. 4.50 from Paddington. Agatha Christie.

8.  In the Fog. Richard Harding Davis.

9. The After House. Mary Roberts Rinehart.

10. The Lodger. Marie Adelaide Belloc.

11. A Pocket Full of Rye. Agatha Christie.

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

Booking Through Thursday: Pet Peeve

This week’s Booking Through Thursday asks:

“What are your literary “pet peeves”?

I hate stupid characters in general but nothing irks me more than stupid heroines always walking into dangerous situations, relying on others to solve their problems and generally whining about their situation.

I dislike pretty, wallflower type heroines. For example, Celia Harland in At the Villa Rose by A.E.W. Mason. The only redeeming quality this character seems to have is being ‘dainty’ and ‘pretty’.

I dislike the use of excessively detailed violence and unnecessary sex scenes. The ‘Millennium Trilogy’  by Stieg Larsson is guilty on both accounts. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest all contain a lot of  unnecessary and in the end rather lame sex scenes. The explicit sexual violence, especially in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, left me feeling violated.

The Friday 56

The Friday 56 is a bookish meme hosted by Freda’s Voice.

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence that grabs you.
*Post it.
*Link up at Freda’s site

Today’s sentence comes from At the Villa Rose by A.E.W. Mason.

“And now violently the rancour of Helene Vauquier’s feelings burst out once more.

‘For her the fine clothes, the pleasure, and the happiness. For me – I could go to bed!’ ”

At the Villa Rose by A.E.W. Mason

At the Villa Rose by A.E.W. Mason was published in 1910. It features Mason’s creation Inspector Gabriel Hanaud.

A wealthy widow lies gruesomely murdered at her home with all her jewels gone. Her young companion has gone missing and is under suspicion. Inspector Gabriel Hanaud reluctantly agrees to investigate at the request of a friend.

Hanaud reminded me of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. I feel Christie must have been influenced by Hanaud while creating Poirot.

At the Villa Rose is quite polished when compared to other early detective fiction works. There are, of course, plot holes. Like an important document arriving just at the nick of time that clinches the case for the detectives. Why would the person in question even send this document to the detectives in advance, I wondered.

What I really didn’t like about the book was the concluding chapters. The story effectively ends at Chapter XIV. I feel one or two more chapters would have been sufficient to conclude the story but the ‘extremely’ detailed explanation takes up not one or two but seven full chapters. Some of the details where even a bit masochistic in tone, in my opinion.

The book is pretty exciting overall. The first few chapters are interesting in particular because not everyone’s motivations are clear. By the mid point when most of it becomes clear the excitement is still there. But after the Chapter XIV, I found excitement in only a few places like the final séance scene, which was eerie and kind of scary.

Celia Harland is the typical blonde, ‘damsel in distress’ type heroine. I have no patience with this type of characters. I especially got irritated by the way Mason kept describing her ‘prettiness’. This tendency increases as the book progresses. Her white shoulders and arms, her golden hair, her ‘daintiness’ is mentioned so many times that it gets ridiculous after a while. The way every man and woman kept discussing her beauty (her ‘white shoulders’ and arms get mentioned about a hundred times!) was just stupid!

Harry Wethermill was interesting. Julius Ricardo starts off as a suave gentleman but soon transforms into a stupid side kick with nothing much to do. I found this transformation jarring.

At the Villa Rose is a good read marred by a bad story structure. It would have worked better without the last few chapters.

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