2013 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge

Vintage Challenge 2013

The indefatigable and always welcoming Bev of My Reader’s Block is already laying out the groundwork for her 2013 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge, which as always focuses on mystery fiction published pre-1960 to be eligible for inclusion. I’ve had a great time this year with her current challenge (you can read all my reviews, so far, here) and so have signed up for next year. For 2013 Bev has decided to once again up the ante by asking those undertaking the challenge to select at least 8 from a list of nearly three dozen categories. Currently there are 30 listed to choose from though Bev says she is open to suggestions to add more. I have highlighted my 13 choices so far in red (my hope is to get through them all but as I haven’t finished the 2012 Challenge yet …)

The suggested Vintage Themes for 2013, and my 13 choices, are:

Vintage Categories:

1. Colorful Crime: a book with a color or reference to color in the title
2. Murder by the Numbers: a book with a number, quantity in the title
3. Amateur Night: a book with a “detective” who is not a P.I.; Police Officer; Official Investigator (Nurse Keate, Father Brown, Miss Marple, etc.)
4. Leave It to the Professionals: a book featuring cops, private eyes, secret service, professional spies, etc.
5. Jolly Old England: one mystery set in Britain
6. Yankee Doodle Dandy: one mystery set in the United States
7. World Traveler: one mystery set in any country except the US or Britain
8. Dangerous Beasts: a book with an animal in the title (The Case of the Grinning Gorilla; The Canary Murder Case; etc.)
9. A Calendar of Crime: a mystery with a date/holiday/year/month/etc. in the title (Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, Holiday Homicide, etc.)
10. Wicked Women: a book with a woman in the title–either by name (Mrs. McGinty’s Dead) or by reference (The Case of the Vagabound Virgin)
11. Malicious Men: a book with a man in the title–either by name (Maigret & the Yellow Dog) or by reference (The Case of the Haunted Husband)
12. Murderous Methods : a book with a means of death in the title (The Noose, 5 Bullets, Deadly Nightshade, etc).
13. Staging the Crime: a mystery set in the entertainment world (the theater, musical event, a pageant, Hollywood, featuring a magician, etc)
14. Scene of the Crime: a book with the location of the crime in the title (The Body in the Library, Murder at the Vicarage, etc.)
15. Cops & Robbers: a book that features a theft rather than murder
16. Locked Rooms: a locked-room mystery
17. Country House Criminals: a standard (or not-so-standard) Golden Age country house murder
18. Murder on the High Seas: a mystery involving water
19. Planes, Trains & Automobiles: a mystery that involves a mode of transportation in a vital way–explicitly in the title (Murder on the Orient Express) or by implication (Death in the Air; Death Under Sail) or perhaps the victim was shoved under a bus….
20. Murder Is Academic: a mystery involving a scholar, teacher, librarian, etc.  OR set at a school, university, library, etc.
21. Things That Go Bump in the Night: a mystery with something spooky, creepy, gothic in the title (The Skeleton in the Clock, Haunted Lady, The Bat, etc.)
22. Repeat Offenders: a mystery featuring your favorite series detective or by your favorite author (the books/authors you’d read over and over again) OR reread an old favorite
23. The Butler Did It…Or Not: a mystery where the butler is the victim, the sleuth….(gasp) the criminal….or is just downright memorable for whatever reason.
24. A Mystery By Any Other Name: any book that has been published under more than one title (Murder Is Easy–aka Easy to Kill [Christie]; Fog of Doubt–aka London Particular [Christianna Brand], etc.)
25. Dynamic Duos: a mystery featuring a detective team–Holmes & Watson, Pam & Jerry North, Wolfe & Goodwin, or….a little-known team that you introduce to us.
26. Size Matters: a book with a size or measurement in the title (Death Has a Small Voice, The Big Four, The Weight of the Evidence, etc.)
27. Psychic Phenomena: a mystery featuring a séance, medium, hypnotism, or other psychic or “supernatural” characters/events
28. Book to Movie: one vintage mystery that has appeared on screen (feature film or TV movie).
29. The Old Bailey: a courtroom drama mystery (Perry Mason, anyone? Witness for the Prosecution…etc.) OR a mystery featuring a judge, lawyer, barrister, D.A., etc.
30. Get Out of Jail Free: This is a freebie category.  One per customer.  You tell me what special category the book fits (“It’s got an awesome cover!”…”First book I grabbed off my shelf”) and it counts.  Only thing I won’t take is “It’s a Vintage Mystery!”–that’s a given. :-)

But don’t just sit there – why don’t you take part too? You can sign up here.

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14 Responses to 2013 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge

  1. Sergio, categories one to 17 look relatively simple to me in terms of finding the relevant titles though I occasionally like reading country house mysteries and court room dramas so long as they are gripping enough to sit through. Good luck with the 2013 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge, Sergio. I look forward to reading your reviews.

    • Thanks very much mate – are you thinking of maybe joining in too?

      • I’m afraid not, Sergio. I lack the courage. My daily routine and my hectic schedule, especially commuting to and from work, leaves me with very little time to read books, leave alone those linked to challenges and once in I’d hate to opt out. I’m playing safe. But it’s going to be fun reading the many reviews by other participants.

        • I know exactly what you mean – ‘Challenge’ is definitely the right word! And if it’s not fun it’s not worth it – thanks very much for the support though, much appreciated (makes it sound like a marathon instead of spending reading, i.e. doing my favourite thing…).

  2. Jeff Flugel says:

    I started out with the full intention of joining in on Bev’s 2012 Reading Challenge, but things rapidly fell by the wayside. Time permitting, I’ll try and make more of a go at it next year. At any rate, I’ll look forward to your reviews per usual, Sergio!

    • Thanks Jeff – I think you have more than a handful in terms of things to do at the mo Jeff – though the sheer number of available categories is enticing – I’m aiming for one a month and anything beyond that is a bonus – and Bev is just the nicest Challenge host you could want, always helpful in terms of suggesting possible titles that might the parameters (I usually get stuck).

  3. Sergio – Oh, that looks like a fun challenge. I give you a lot of credit for taking it on. I will be really interested to see what you think of the books you’ve chosen.

  4. Aw, Sergio, you have me blushing. Thanks for the kind words. I love hosting this challenge–it has introduced me to some of the nicest people in the blogging world. Vintage mysteries seem to attract the best folks.

    And for your followers who think perhaps 8 books are too many….there is the Mini-Challenge level of just 4 books. Can I tempt you with that? :-)

  5. TracyK says:

    Glad to see you are joining in on this challenge. Maybe your picks for the challenge will help me pick some. I want to fit in an Ellery Queen this year, and a John Dickson Carr (based on some of your posts for the Crime Fiction Alphabet). This challenge was the one that lured me into challenges AND motivated me to start blogging so I could participate more easily, so it tops my list.

    • I know exactly how you feel TracyK – I would love it if I could somehow manage a post for every single category but I am definitely playing it safe this year – I’ve got 3 weeks left and I am still behind! But enjoying it greatly, none the less.

  6. Patrick says:

    I thought over it long and hard but I finally decided I just won’t be able to pull this one off next year. Instead I will attempt to go through the James Bond series all over again– let 007 go out with all guns firing when I eventually get to the only unread-by-me adventure.

    • The Bond series is certainly so worth revisiting (too often ignored in favour of the film in my view). It is hard to argue with your choice chum – my favourites remain CASINO ROYALE and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, with LIVE AND LET DIE and GOLDFINGER close behind. Incidentally, the ‘Young Bond’ books by Charlie Higson are well above average

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