2012 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge

The indefatigable and always welcoming Bev of My Reader’s Block is already laying out the groundwork for her 2012 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 already signed up for next year. For 2012 Bev has decided to mix it up a bit by asking those undertaking the challenge to select one theme (or more) which has to be followed through with a minimum of 8 books during the entirety of next year.

This is an exciting development and I’ve already decided on a couple of her suggested themes that I’m going to sign up for and what some of those books will probably be. For the full list, keep reading beneath the fold …

The suggested Vintage Themes for 2012 are:

  1. Colorful Crime: 8 books with colors in the title
  2. Murder by the Numbers: 8 books with a number in the title
  3. Occupational Hazards: 8 books with a “detective” who is not a P.I.; Police Officer; Official Investigator (Nurse Kate, Father Brown, Miss Marple, etc.)
  4. Perilous Policemen: 8 books with a policeman as the primary investigator
  5. Lethal Locations: 8 books that are all about place (for instance: country houses, hospitals, schools or even particular cities/countries)
  6. Dangerous Beasts: 8 books with an animal in the title (The Bat; The Canary Murder Case; etc.)
  7. 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)
  8. Golden Age Girls: 8 books by female authors OR 8 books with female detectives
  9. Cherchez le Homme: 8 books by male authors OR 8 books with male detectives
  10. Murderous Miscellany: Choose your own theme. Get creative–surprise us! The only stipulation is that the theme cannot be reading books by a single author.

I am definitely open to suggestions but for the moment I have made the following (partial) selections to go with my three themes, to which under Murderous Miscellany I am adding ‘Amnesia’. This is all subject to change, but for now …

Golden Age Girls

  1. Margery Allingham: Dancers in Mourning (1937)
  2. Leigh Brackett: The Tiger Among Us (1957)
  3. Christianna Brand: The Crooked Wreath (1946; aka Suddenly at his Residence)
  4. Georgette Heyer: Why Shoot a Butler? (1933)
  5. Patricia Highsmith: Strangers of a Train (1950)
  6. Helen McCloy: Alias Basil Willing (1951)
  7. Ngaio Marsh: False Scent (1959)
  8. Margaret Millar: Do Evil in Return (1950)
  9. Craig Rice: Home Sweet Homicide (1944)

Lethal Locations: School

  1. The Case of the Gilded Fly (1944) by Edmund Crispin
  2. Darkness at Pemberley by (1932) by TH White
  3. Death at the President’s Lodgings (1932) by Michael Innes
  4. Landscape with Dead Dons (1956) by Robert Robinson
  5. Murder at School by (1931) by James Hilton
  6. Murder on the Blackboard (1932) by Stuart Palmer
  7. Last Seen Wearing (1952) by Hilary Waugh
  8. Miss Pym Disposes (1948) by Josephine Tey

Murderous Miscellany: Amnesia

  1. The Black Curtain (1941) by Cornell Woolrich
  2. The Black Angel  (1943) by Cornell Woolrich
  3. Fallen Angel (1952) by Walter Ericson (aka Howard Fast)
  4. The House of Dr Edwardes (1927) by Francis Beeding
  5. The Manchurian Candidate (1959) by Richard Condon
  6. The Ministry of Fear (1943) by Graham Greene
  7. Puzzle for Fiends (1946) by Patrick Quentin
  8. The Screaming Mimi (1959) by Fredric Brown
  9. Traitor’s Purse (1941) by Margery Allingham

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 2012 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge

  1. Love your tentative line-ups! And I’m so glad you’re taking advantage of the do-it-yourself category, I’m hoping to see some interesting lists–and amnesia is a good one. Who knows, maybe I put together a panel of judges to award a prize for the most ingenious miscellaneous category.

    A few suggestions to round out your “School” theme (if you haven’t read them already):
    A Question of Proof by Nicholas Blake (1935)
    An Oxford Tragedy by J. C. Masterman (1933)
    Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers (1936)
    Landscape with Dead Dons by Robert Robinson (1956)
    Death at Half-Term (British title)/Curtain Call for a Corpse (US)–original pub date 1939

    • Thanks very much for the suggestions and the comments Bev – I’ve never read ‘Landscape with the Dead Dons’ so i shall definitely see if I can finally lay my hands n a copy. Can’t believe it’s another 2 months to go though …

      • I found Landscape by chance at our Library’s used bookstore. Academic-related books are one of my….um…obsessions?

        Yeah, that’s one of the down-sides to putting together the challenge and my lists so soon. Now I’m chomping at the bit wanting to get started on them. Never mind that I still have several challenges to finish for this year. 🙂

        • Fascinating Bev – I must admit, I just happened to have a lot of books on the shelves that i either hadn’t read or hadn’t looked at in ages which seemed to have a similar background so I plumped for that. I had assumed that although always sub genre, perhaps that the campus mystery only really emerged more recently (I am thinking of Jane Langton and the like) but am of course enjoying being proved wrong on this!

          • One of things I’m waiting for is to see if someone hosts another TBR-style challenge. I’m currently working on finishing two for 2011–but I was very conservative on my commitments for them. If I don’t run across one by late December I’m contemplating hosting one myself–and aim bigger. I’m going to try very hard to stick closer to reading my own books (and maybe conquering some of the mountains I have stacked around my back room).

            Re: Campus mysteries–Just thought of another author: Timothy Fuller (Harvard Has a Homicide; Keep Cool, Mr. Jones, Reunion with Murder, etc. Late 30s and the 1940s). I’ve read the three named–they’re fun, light-weight little mysteries.

          • Never read Timothy Fuller – thanks very much for another great suggestions. I have never entered a TBR challenge but the attraction is easy to understand of course! They recently published a survey here in the UK that a third of the books on people’s shelves were said to be unread – now, in my case that would probably be fairly conservative, but then I would have to quote Harlan Ellison’s great novella, ‘Paladin of the Lost Hour’ – Who’d want a shelf full of books you’d already read? Of course, that is meant ironically – In truth I would want two houses to live in – one with the books I love and one just to handle the TBR pile!

  2. PS: One more…
    The Weight of the Evidence by Michael Innes (1943)

    • Thanks for this suggestion – if I can I want to try and do one book per author, but you can see that this is probably going to be a problem under ‘amnesia’ as Woolrich did rather a lot of good ones!

      • Both Innes books are good, but I actually like Weight better than President’s Lodgings. I tend to like his quirky ones, though.

        • I must admit, I’m not a huge Innes fan (most recently read Appleby’s End and found it a bit of a chore), so thought I’d start from the beginning – I’m a big fan of Crispin and Blake and so on so feel that perhaps I need to give him a second go. It’s been a long time since I read books like Hamlet, Revenge and find that I can remember next to nothing about them but probably because I read too many too quickly when I first got into mysteries in my teens – it’s partly why I;’m enjoying your challenges and taking the opportunity to put some thoughts down for posterity (or the blog equivalent which presumably has a shorter half-life …)

  3. Got impatient (looking at all my piles…) and have decided to host my own TBR challenge. This, of course, will not prevent me from signing up for others….If you want incentive to knock out some of your own TBRs, then keep your eyes peeled. Challenge going up soon.

  4. neer says:

    You have been very creative in your choice for the last category, Sergio. Following your blog now.

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