The Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge

For the first time this year I am going to participate in the Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge at My Reader’s Block. The challenge is to read at least 8, and hopefully 16, pre-1960 classic crime novels in the following categories:

1. Colourful Crime: a book with a colour or reference to colour in the title (John Buchan’s Greenmantle)
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 (William Le Queux The Doctor of Pimlico)
4. Leave It to the Professionals: a book featuring cops, private eyes, secret service, professional spies, etc. (Ed McBain’s Cop Hater)
5. Jolly Old England: one mystery set in Britain (John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps)
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 (Nina Bawden’s The Odd Flamingo)
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 (William Stephens Hayward’s Revelations of a Lady Detective)
11. Malicious Men: a book with a man in the title (Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male)
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 (Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock)
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 (Agatha Christie’s Crooked House)
18. Murder on the High Seas: a mystery involving water (Erksine Childers’ The Riddle of the Sands)
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. (Michael Innes: The Journeying Boy)
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 seance, medium, hypnotism, or other psychic or “supernatural” characters/events (Charles Warren Adams’ The Notting Hill Mystery)
28. Book to Movie: one vintage mystery that has appeared on screen (feature film or TV movie). (Christianna Brand’s Green for Danger)
29. The Old Bailey: a courtroom drama mystery OR a mystery featuring a judge, lawyer, barrister, D.A., etc. (Cyril Hare’s Best Detective Stories)
30. Serial Killers: Books that were originally published in serial format, probably from the pulp era. Frank Packard’s works come to mind.
31. Killed in Translation: Works that originally appeared in another language and have been made available in English (works published in English post-1960 would be acceptable, provided the original was published pre-1960).
32. Blondes in Danger: A variation on “Colorful Crime”. Books that feature a blonde in the title role, like The Blonde Died First, or Blonde for Danger.
33. International Detectives. A variation on “World Traveler” but instead of the crime being set in another country, the detective is not from the US or UK. This may include Hercule Poirot as well as such notables as Judge Dee.
34. Somebody Else’s Crime: Read one book that someone else has already reviewed for the Vintage Mystery Challenge.
35. Genuine Fakes: Authors who wrote under a pseudonym (Andrew Forrester’s [James Redding Ware] The Female Detective)
36. Hobbies Can Be Murder: A mystery that involves a hobby in some way: stamp or coin collecting; knitting (a la Patricia Wentworth’s Miss Silver); bird watching; hunting (particularly the British hunt); scrapbooks; etc.
37. Get Out of Jail Free: This is a freebie category (Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley)

Wish me luck…

About pastoffences

Past Offences exists to review classic crime and mystery books, with ‘classic’ meaning books originally published before 1987.
This entry was posted in 2013 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge, Classic mystery book review, Information Received. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge

  1. Lots of luck Rich – and welcome to the club! This is my third participating in Bev’s Challenge and it’s always been great fun.


  2. Margot Kinberg says:

    I wish you well with this, Rich. It is an interesting challenge and I’ll be looking forward to reading your reviews as you go through it.


  3. Bev Hankins says:

    Welcome to the Challenge, Rich! I’m so glad you decided to join us. Can’t wait to see what you read.


  4. Jose Ignacio says:

    Good luck Rich – I look forward to your reviews.


  5. Moira says:

    That’s a hilarious collection of categories! Should be fun, and fun for us reading your reviews.


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