As 2022 comes to a close, it’s time to say goodbye to this year’s vintage mystery challenge, hosted by Bev at My Reader’s Block. This year we played Scattergories and had to read at least eight vintage mysteries to correspond with the various categories listed. I chose the Golden Age version of the challenge, which means all the mysteries I read had to be published before 1960, and I ended up reading 11 books:
- Genuine Fakes: Nicholas Blake, Thou Shell of Death (1936) — The author’s name is a pseudonym for Cecil Day-Louis.
- Staging the Crime: Leo Bruce, Case with Four Clowns (1939) — The book is set in a traveling circus, which is part of the entertainment world.
- Repeat Offenders: Georgette Heyer, Death in the Stocks (1935) — Heyer is one of my favorite authors, and this book was a reread for me.
- Jolly Old England: Agatha Christie, The Moving Finger (1942) — The novel is set in a quintessential English village.
- World Traveler: Ngaio Marsh, Vintage Murder (1937) — The book is set in New Zealand, not the US or UK.
- Murder by Numbers: Craig Rice, Eight Faces at Three (1939) — There are two numbers in the title.
- Book to Movie: Agatha Christie, Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? (1934) — There’s a recent adaptation by Hugh Laurie, currently available to stream on BritBox, which I very much enjoyed.
- Wicked Women: Francis Duncan, Behold a Fair Woman (1954) — The word “woman” is in the title.
- Amateur Night: Anthony Berkeley, Jumping Jenny (1933) — Amateur detective and mystery novelist Roger Sheringham is the main sleuth, though he’s actually trying not to catch the murderer.
- Things That Go Bump in the Night: John Dickson Carr, Castle Skull (1931) — The spooky word “skull” is in the title.
- Calendar of Crime: Mary Kelly, The Christmas Egg (1958) — A holiday is in the title.
Of these, the clear winner for me is Eight Faces at Three, a delightful The Thin Man-esque romp whose wisecracking, hard-drinking protagonists more than make up for any issues with the plot. I also very much enjoyed both of the Agatha Christies, which were rereads for me and which I liked even though I remembered who the bad guys were. The worst book of the challenge was Case with Four Clowns, which is just a slog — the murder doesn’t even happen till the last 30 pages! But I did like most of my picks for this challenge, and I’m excited to explore more vintage mysteries in 2023!