Sunday, November 11, 2012

An Update on the 2012 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge


Unfortunately, my last post on the 2012 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge was something of a resignation. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I decided that it was impossible for me to continue the challenge with the themes I had chosen at the start of the year. I then promised that I would finish the Challenge, but under new themes. I have finally chosen the themes and rearranged my previous reads to fit them. The results are most interesting, if I say so myself. So, without further ado, I present to you the new-and-improved reading lists for the 2012 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge.

Lethal Locations

The Castleford Conundrum by J. J. Connington
Death in Harley Street by John Rhode
Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie
L'Assassin habite au 21 (The Murderer Lives at No. 21) by S. A. Steeman
The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
The Spanish Cape Mystery by Ellery Queen
Cherchez Le Homme

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
Cop Hater by Ed McBain
Hamlet, Revenge! by Michael Innes
Smallbone Deceased by Michael Gilbert
Six crimes sans assassin (Six Crimes Without a Murderer) by Pierre Boileau
The Tau Cross Mystery by J. J. Connington


Ladies and gentlemen, I have some very sad news. I hate to do this, but there is simply no way I can complete the 2012 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge as I’d intended.

When I set out to do the challenge, I had my reading scheduled, all neat and tidy. But things happened. I got hired in the local car factory’s paint shop over the summer, and was instantly so busy that I lost almost 1/3 of my year’s reading time. Once that was over, I did some renovation work around the house, mainly painting. (I took two weeks of my time after school to surprise my parents by painting the rooms downstairs while they were away.)

So now we’re in November, and when I went to order some of the items from the library system, I made a shocking discovery. While I was working away, the library got rid of most of the items I had intended to read as part of the challenge, including most of the Gladys Mitchell books I had set aside for this purpose. (Also, I just found out that Michael Gilbert’s The Black Seraphim is ineligible for the Challenge, giving me yet another hole.)

I could order these books online and read them all once they came in, but really, that would leave me without any enjoyment of the books themselves, scrambling to meet a deadline. Plus with final exams coming up, I have some more important things on my mind than reading mysteries, as blasphemous as that may sound.

I will complete the Reading Challenge, but I will do so by rearranging my reads from early this year to fit some of the pre-arranged themes. But unfortunately, it’s just not going to go as originally planned. This move will allow me some greater freedom as a reader, which will come in particularly handy come exam season.

On the bright side, the two themes I initially set out to complete have appeared surprisingly often on the blog for ineligible books. For instance, Donald E. Westlake's God Save the Mark appeared seven years too late for eligibility, but a review is coming out soon. Westlake also wrote a book called Humans in which God decides to wipe out humanity... but in Westlake's hand, even the Apocalypse can't run smoothly. (It's a book I might end up reading this year, though I'm not quite sure.) What about Keigo Higashino's Salvation of a Saint? Later on, I will be reading Devil in a Blue Dress for a class. So in a way, the themes will live on...


  1. Oh, Patrick, I'm sorry to heat things aren't working out quite as planned. I know how that is...there were a few books that I planned on for a couple of other challenges that the library mysteriously culled at some point between my putting them on my list and being ready to read them.

    I absolutely understand that sometimes you just have to rearrange...I'll be interested to see your final themes list once you get things arranged. And good luck on those exams!

  2. I've been putting off posting one of these notices myself for weeks now. I really should've never asked who were actually interested in reviews of foreign mysteries.

    1. TomCat, I know that I was personally very interested in your reviews. They remind me of my attempts to review French detective stories. Nobody ever seems to read these reviews, but you never know who might read them one day-- I like to delude myself along those lines. Either way, I get to read some very good detective stories, so at least I win in the situation.

  3. I feel your pain Patrick (especially about the library getting rid of their stock - horrible!). I am doggedly getting there with my three challenges for the lovely Bev but will probably have to stretch all the way to her stragglers 6 January 2013 deadline to get all 24 reviews done!

  4. Congratulations on being able to rearrange and complete two themes! I'm so glad you joined me for the challenge. I'm sorry I didn't get around to peek at the reviews as often as planned (this has been a year of doing a lot of what I didn't want to do and not nearly enough of what I wanted to do). With two themes, you qualify for an automatic prize....if you'd like to see what I've got stashed in the prize vault, then send me an email at phryne1969 AT gmail DOT com and I'll set you up with a prize list to choose from.