harrygbutler aims for 75+ in 2016 -- Part 3

Talk75 Books Challenge for 2016

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harrygbutler aims for 75+ in 2016 -- Part 3

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Edited: Jul 5, 2016, 9:50am

Irises at Schreiner's Iris Gardens, Salem, Oregon.

Welcome to my third thread for 2016. I’m Harry, and I’ve joined in the 75 Books Challenge for the first time in 2016. By training I'm a medievalist, by occupation an editor; my taste in reading runs to Golden Age and earlier mysteries, pulp detective and adventure fiction, Late Antique and medieval literature, and westerns, among others. I also have a fondness for collections of cartoons and comic strips. A fairly recent discovery for me is the appeal of late nineteenth and early twentieth century popular fiction, including regional fiction such as the novels of Joseph Crosby Lincoln about Cape Cod and the Scottish stories of J. J. Bell. I usually have a few books going at once.

My wife Erika and I live in eastern Pennsylvania with three cats — Elli, Otto, and Pixie — and a dog, Hildy. My other interests include model railroading, gardening, and birding.

I hope to provide some sort of comment on all the books I read, though probably not full-blown reviews.

Books completed in the third quarter

Books completed in the second quarter

Books completed in the first quarter

Edited: Jul 5, 2016, 9:47am

Books completed in the first quarter of 2016

1. Gesta principum Polonorum (The Deeds of the Princes of the Poles)
2. The Day the World Ended, by Sax Rohmer
3. The Wedding-Chest Mystery, by A. E. Fielding
4. The Green Toad, by Walter S. Masterman
5. The Man from Scotland Yard, by David Frome
6. The House of a Thousand Candles, by Meredith Nicholson
7. The Life of Moses, by Gregory of Nyssa
8. The Crimson Alibi, by Octavus Roy Cohen
9. Black John of Halfaday Creek, by James B. Hendryx
10. Murder Ends the Song, by Alfred Meyers
11. Ipomadon (anonymous)
12. Three Byzantine Saints, trans. by Elizabeth Dawes & Norman Baynes
13. Information Received, by E. R. Punshon
14. Thirteen Guests, by J. Jefferson Farjeon
15. Prince Valiant, Vol. 1: 1937-1938, by Hal Foster
16. Uncle William, by Jennette Lee
17. The Hog's Back Mystery, by Freeman Wills Crofts
18. The Parlement of the Thre Ages (anonymous)
19. The King of Elfland's Daughter, by Lord Dunsany
20. Something Fresh, by P. G. Wodehouse
21. The Legend of Duke Ernst, trans. by J. W. Thomas and Carolyn Dussère
22. The Mayfair Mystery, by Frank Richardson
23. The Three Taps, by Ronald Knox
24. Keziah Coffin, by Joseph C. Lincoln
25. On Wealth and Poverty, by Saint John Chrysostom
26. Ywain and Gawain (anonymous)
27. The Green Dragon, by J. Jefferson Farjeon
28. Generydes (anonymous)
29. Death Under Sail, by C. P. Snow
30. Blood of the North, by James B. Hendryx
31. The Mysterious Affair at Styles, by Agatha Christie
32. The Days of Auld Lang Syne, by Ian Maclaren
33. Athelston (anonymous)
34. Departmental Ditties and Ballads and Barrack-Room Ballads, by Rudyard Kipling
35. Thebaid: A Song of Thebes, by P. Papinius Statius
36. The Nursing Home Murder, by Ngaio Marsh
37. Prince Valiant, Vol. 2: 1939-1940, by Hal Foster
38. The History and Topography of Ireland, by Gerald of Wales
39. The Whispering Ghost, by Stephen Chalmers
40. Moralia, Volume II, by Plutarch
41. Octovian (anonymous)
42. Lad: A Dog, by Albert Payson Terhune
43. The Black Coat, by Constance Little and Gwenyth Little
44. Jim, by J. J. Bell
45. The Lord of the Isles, by Sir Walter Scott
46. The Secret Adversary, by Agatha Christie
47. Doctor Syn, by Russell Thorndike
48. The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien
49. The March Hare Murders, by E. X. Ferrars
50. The Lives of Simeon Stylites, translated by Robert Doran
51. The Guns of Navarone, by Alistair MacLean
52. Resorting to Murder: Holiday Mysteries, ed. by Martin Edwards
53. The Temple of Glas, by John Lydgate
54. Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions
55. Bat Wing, by Sax Rohmer
56. Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, by Alice Caldwell Hegan
57. Panic in Box C, by John Dickson Carr
58. The Murder on the Links, by Agatha Christie
59. Prince Valiant, Vol. 3: 1941-1942, by Hal Foster

Edited: Jul 5, 2016, 9:48am

Books completed in the second quarter of 2016

60. Cartoon Cavalcade, ed. by Thomas Craven
61. Moralia, Volume III, by Plutarch
62. Tales of a Wayside Inn, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
63. Jonathan and David, by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps
64. More Cartoon Classics from Medical Economics
65. Insurance Thrillers: Sinister Mysteries Centering About Insurance Frauds Originally Published in The Weekly Underwriter During 1932
66. The Hand of Power, by Edgar Wallace
67. A Study in Scarlet, by Arthur Conan Doyle
68. Pirates of Venus, by Edgar Rice Burroughs
69. The Cut Direct, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
70. Sackett’s Land, by Louis L’Amour
71. The Moving Target, by Ross Macdonald
72. Three Alliterative Saints’ Hymns: Late Middle English Stanzaic Poems
73. Rose o’ the River; The Old Peabody Pew; Susannah and Sue, by Kate Douglas Wiggin
74. Ruggles of Red Gap, by Harry Leon Wilson
75. The Man in the Brown Suit, by Agatha Christie
76. The Temptress, by Carter Brown
77. Fashioned for Murder, by George Harmon Coxe
78. Death in the Box, by Marcus Magill
79. The Life of Saint Columba, by Adomnan of Iona
80. Poirot Investigates, by Agatha Christie
81. Heroes of the French Epic: A Selection of Chansons de Geste
82. Silver Chief, Dog of the North, by Jack O'Brien
83. Mariken van Nieumeghen (anonymous)
84. Arsenic for the Teacher, by "Oliver Keystone" (James H. Mantinband)
85. Lin McLean, by Owen Wister
86. Rose's Last Summer, by Margaret Millar
87. The Vizier of the Two-Horned Alexander, by Frank R. Stockton
88. Hot Water, by P. G. Wodehouse
89. The Black Piano, by Constance and Gwenyth Little
90. The Light Princess and Other Fairy Tales, by George MacDonald
91. Belief and Faith, by Josef Pieper
92. Spring Harrowing, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
93. World Trigger 1, by Daisuke Ashihara
94. Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare
95. With Taro and Hana in Japan, by Etsu Inagaki Sugimoto and Nancy Virginia Austen
96. Murder on "B" Deck, by Vincent Starrett
97. Freckles, by Gene Stratton-Porter
98. The Z Murders, by J. Jefferson Farjeon
99. Strange Doings on Halfaday Creek, by James B. Hendryx
100. The House of Terror, by Edward Woodward
101. The Gyrth Chalice Mystery, by Margery Allingham
102. The House Without the Door, by Elizabeth Daly
103. The Postmaster, by Joseph C. Lincoln
104. Dr. Sam: Johnson, Detector, by Lillian de la Torre
105. The Chronicle of the Czechs, by Cosmas of Prague
106. Behind the Monocle and Other Stories, by J. S. Fletcher
107. The Harvester, by Gene Stratton-Porter
108. The Secret of Chimneys, by Agatha Christie

Edited: Oct 6, 2016, 3:07pm

Books completed in the third quarter of 2016

109. The Man in the Tricorn Hat, by Delano Ames
110. Happy Island, by Jennette Lee
111. Death in the Blackout, by Anthony Gilbert
112. Prince Valiant, Vol. 4: 1943-1944, by Hal Foster
113. Eight Skilled Gentlemen, by Barry Hughart
114. Son of Charlemagne: A Contemporary Life of Louis the Pious (anonymous)
115. R. Holmes & Co.: Being the Remarkable Adventures of Raffles Holmes, Esq., Detective and Amateur Cracksman by Birth, by John Kendrick Bangs
116. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie
117. Pussy Meow: The Autobiography of a Cat, by S. Louise Patteson
118. The Blue Ice, by Hammond Innes
119. Our Village, by Joseph C. Lincoln
120. Anabasis, by Xenophon
121. Day of the Giants, by Lester del Rey
122. archy and mehitabel, by Don Marquis
123. Shell Scott's Seven Slaughters, by Richard S. Prather
124. The Burning Hills, by Louis L'Amour
125. Wee Macgreegor Enlists, by J. J. Bell
126. The Diplomat and the Gold Piano, by Margaret Scherf
127. Scotland Yard: Department of Queer Complaints, by Carter Dickson
128. Mike at Wrykyn, by P. G. Wodehouse
129. Bede: On the Temple, by Bede
130. Walk Softly, Witch, by Carter Brown
131. Prince Valiant, Vol. 5: 1945-1946, by Hal Foster
132. Missing or Murdered, by Robin Forsythe
133. Black Beadle, by E. C. R. Lorac
134. Moralia, Volume IV, by Plutarch
135. The Sign of the Four, by Arthur Conan Doyle
136. The Case of the Angry Actress, by E. V. Cunningham
137. Ghost and Horror Stories, by Ambrose Bierce
138. The Coming of the Law, by Charles Alden Seltzer
139. The Polo Ground Mystery, by Robin Forsythe
140. Richard Coer de Lyon (anonymous)
141. Three Treatises on the Nature of Science, by Galen
142. Enter the Saint, by Leslie Charteris
143. Taliessin Through Logres, The Region of the Summer Stars, and Arthurian Torso, by Charles Williams
144. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
145. Dark Canyon, by Louis L'Amour
146. Helena, by Evelyn Waugh
147. The Civil War (Pharsalia), by Lucan
148. Tales of the Long Bow, by G. K. Chesterton
149. Home Sweet Homicide, by Craig Rice
150. Confessions, Augustine of Hippo
151. Force 10 from Navarone, by Alistair MacLean
152. Moralia, Volume V, by Plutarch
153. Adventures of Bindle, by Herbert Jenkins
154. Three Thirds of a Ghost, by Timothy Fuller
155. Pollyanna, by Eleanor H. Porter
156. Enter Sir John, by Clemence Dane and Helen Simpson
157. Mike and Psmith, by P. G. Wodehouse
158. Overland Red: A Romance of the Moonstone Cañon Trail, by Henry Herbert Knibbs
159. The Intrusive Tourist, by Mrs. Baillie Reynolds
160. Two and Two Make Twenty-Two, by Gwen Bristow and Bruce Manning
161. Jean of the Lazy A, by B. M. Bower
162. The Scarlet Thumb, by Jermyn March
163. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle
164. Prince Valiant, Vol. 6: 1947-1948, by Hal Foster

Jul 5, 2016, 5:03pm

Happy new thread, pretty picture at the top!

Jul 6, 2016, 4:41pm

>5 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita! The display gardens at Schreiner's were just gorgeous. We had missed some of the early bloomers, but it must have been the peak time for many of the varieties.

Edited: Jul 6, 2016, 4:45pm

109. The Man in the Tricorn Hat, by Delano Ames

July TIOLI Challenge #1: Read a book with an article of clothing in the title

Juan Llorca is “the man in the tricorn hat” — a member of Spain’s Civil Guard who looks with fondness on Madrigal, the village (now tourist destination) where he is posted. He is enamored of Julia Fairfax, a mysterious Englishwoman who has been living in Madrigal for some time, painting. The arrival of an American millionaire with niece and son in tow leads to murder, possibly connected with art forgery and smuggling, with Julia Fairfax the principal suspect. Llorca, our flawed but engaging narrator, seeks to solve the crime and, if possible, to clear Mrs. Fairfax’s name.

I liked the writing and Llorca, as well as many of the other characters, although Julia Fairfax stayed a bit insubstantial. I’ll be glad to pick up the other mysteries in this series if I come across them. Recommended.

Jul 6, 2016, 11:41pm

Happy new thread, Harry

Jul 7, 2016, 9:41am

>8 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul!

Jul 7, 2016, 9:42am

This morning we learned why the lettuce seedlings in the planter in the bay window have been looking so flattened.

Jul 7, 2016, 2:21pm

^ LOL!

Edited: Aug 26, 2016, 7:44pm

110. Happy Island, by Jennette Lee

July TIOLI Challenge #12: Read a book where one or more words in the title have either a good or bad undertone

Happy Island is a reasonably entertaining sequel to Uncle William, which I read and liked earlier this year. This second book chronicles the year following the events of the first, with a focus largely on the building of a home on the island. There is a romance, but it occupies a fairly slight part of the story; more attention is given to the positives of the slower-paced life on the island. Uncle William tangles with a fish warden and with a real-estate speculator, and it is no surprise that he comes out the victor in their contests.

Recommended, but only to those who have read Uncle William.

Edited: Jul 8, 2016, 4:17pm

111. Death in the Blackout, by Anthony Gilbert

July TIOLI Challenge #15: Read a book set in Great Britain when the country is at war

A meeting with a befuddled neighbor (whom he nicknames “Tea-Cosy” — hence the original title, The Case of the Tea-Cosy's Aunt) draws lawyer Arthur Crook into a mystery. Evidence suggests that the neighbor’s aunt came to call while he was out, but if so, she has departed, oddly leaving her hat behind. The next morning, the aunt is found to have been murdered, and the neighbor has disappeared. Investigations by Crook suggest the aunt may have been involved in blackmail. If so, was she killed by a victim? And what happened to the valuable pearl necklace she brought with her to London?

I thought this was an entertaining mystery, with some interesting variations on standard plot elements — though at least one twist wasn’t a surprise, perhaps because it was set up too far along in the book. I’ll certainly be on the lookout for other Arthur Crook mysteries by Anthony Gilbert.


Jul 8, 2016, 4:27pm

Jul 14, 2016, 4:37pm

>10 harrygbutler: how considerate of you to provide a comfortable lounge for tuxedo cat...

Jul 14, 2016, 5:28pm

>14 drneutron: >15 fuzzi: She doesn't even care if the lettuce has just been watered.

Edited: Jul 14, 2016, 5:40pm

112. Prince Valiant, Vol. 4: 1943-1944, by Hal Foster

Prince Valiant returns home to Thule, where he helps his father fend off some challenges to his throne. But Val can’t stop thinking about the “witch” of the Misty Isles, and the volume closes with the opening stages of the lengthy story (apparently it took about 18 months when first published) “The Winning of Aleta.”


Edited: Jul 14, 2016, 6:49pm

113. Eight Skilled Gentlemen, by Barry Hughart

July TIOLI Challenge #11: Read a book which means you finish something

Several years ago I read the first two books by Barry Hughart chronicling the adventures of Master Li and his assistant Number Ten Ox, Bridge of Birds and The Story of the Stone. I enjoyed those humorous mysteries set in a fantasy version of China. Unfortunately, the third book had already gone out of print by the time I had discovered the first two, and it was costly to obtain. Time has remedied that, however, and I was recently able to get a copy of the third and final volume, Eight Skilled Gentlemen.

In this novel, a vampire ghoul attacking in broad daylight draws Master Li and Number Ten Ox into an investigation of murders of prominent men being committed — at least apparently — by demons, and perhaps in some way tied to smuggling as well. The story was fairly engaging and amusing, but the mystery was weak; I spotted the villain the moment he appeared, though it took most of the book for our detectives to do so.

Eight Skilled Gentlemen was not originally to be the last in the series, but apparently lackluster sales led to its cancellation, and the author has shown no interest in writing more.

Recommended only to those who’ve read the first two with enjoyment and would like to complete the series.

Jul 14, 2016, 10:36pm

Edited: Jul 18, 2016, 11:36pm

>19 fuzzi: I'll be reading another one this month, Vol. 5, for your challenge.

Edited: Jul 21, 2016, 7:12pm

114. Son of Charlemagne: A Contemporary Life of Louis the Pious (anonymous)

July TIOLI Challenge #2: Read a book about a person or thing who is related in some way, by blood or society, to a famous person, name the relationship

The emperor Charlemagne’s son and successor, Louis the Pious, ruled the Frankish empire from his father’s death in 814 until his own death in 840, save for a period when he was deposed in the early 830s. He early on appointed his sons to positions of power in ruling the empire, and the latter part of his reign was marked by civil wars brought about at least in part by Louis’ own efforts ensure that his youngest son, Charles the Bald, would get a share of the realm. Though his life ended on a high note, with Louis victorious over his recalcitrant children, the seeds of fragmentation and decline had been sown, and a civil war erupted after his death that ended with a compromise that saw his sons effectively splitting the empire.

This contemporary biography of Louis was written by an unknown author, but one with some standing at court. It provides a good account of Louis’ reign, from the perspective of a supporter, but not one blind to the emperor’s faults.

Edited: Jul 21, 2016, 7:18pm

115. R. Holmes & Co.: Being the Remarkable Adventures of Raffles Holmes, Esq., Detective and Amateur Cracksman by Birth, by John Kendrick Bangs

July TIOLI Challenge #10: Read a book with an acronym or abbreviation in the title

This is an amusing collection of short stories from 1905, written by American humorist John Kendrick Bangs, best known, I think, as the author of A Houseboat on the Styx. These stories of crime star the son of Sherlock Holmes, who also happens to be the grandson of Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman (whose fame has diminished somewhat, but who enjoyed long-lasting popularity in various countries, and notably in the Netherlands, where the last magazine issue of “Lord Lister” appeared in January 1968). His twin ancestry means that Raffles Holmes inclines both to the commission and to the detection or prevention of crime, and the narrator, his “Watson,” spends a good deal of time worrying about which side will dominate.


Jul 20, 2016, 7:31pm

It must be "Pastiche Month"---I have Arsene Lupin Contre Herlock Sholmes on the shortlist. :D

Jul 21, 2016, 8:33am

>23 lyzard: Sounds fun! I've liked the early pastiches I've read, but in general I'm not tempted by the vast quantities of more modern Sherlock stories.

Edited: Jul 21, 2016, 7:17pm

116. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie

July TIOLI Challenge #9: Read a book which fits into one of the group challenges (as found on the 75ers wiki)

The final twist in Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is famous enough that even I recalled the identity of the killer (though ordinarily I’m quite capable of forgetting the culprit pretty quickly after I finish up reading a mystery). Thus the pleasure in tackling this novel was in spotting the clues that an attentive reader could have used to figure out what was really going on. I doubt I would have done so had I been one of the original readers, though, as it was cleverly done.

Highly recommended, especially for someone who doesn’t know the twist.

Jul 21, 2016, 7:37pm

117. Pussy Meow: The Autobiography of a Cat, by S. Louise Patteson

July TIOLI Challenge #8: Read a book with a type (or cousin of) a canine or feline in the title

A portrait of the “author.”

Pussy Meow: The Autobiography of a Cat is a book that has its heart in the right place, though it falls a bit short in execution. Published in 1901, this account of a number of cats, as narrated by one, was inspired by the impact of Black Beauty and Beautiful Joe and intended “to breathe out the joys, the sorrows and the longings of a misunderstood and much maligned fellow-creature, and to secure for her the consideration which humanity owes to the dumb”—to induce better attitudes toward cats at a time when they had a bad press in popular culture. Unfortunately, the writing isn’t very good. Part of the problem may have been the author’s desire to make a book that could appeal to both children and adults, and part the mini-lectures to refute superstitions and erroneous notions (e.g., that cats steal people’s breath) or to drive home the plight of those that are cruelly treated by people or just by circumstances. The author does not shrink from acknowledging disease and death. Still, I found the book readable and pressed on to the end.

Not really recommended.

Jul 22, 2016, 10:29am

118. The Blue Ice, by Hammond Innes

TIOLI July Challenge #5: Read a book that has one of the words “ice” or “cream” or a flavor of ice cream in the title or author’s name

When I was younger the novels of Hammond Innes seemed to be everywhere — tales of adventure with titles like The Wreck of the Mary Deare and The Doomed Oasis. I never got around to reading any then, but I recently picked up The Blue Ice, and I’m glad I did. Set in the early postwar years (it was published in 1948), the novel involves a hunt for the location of a valuable deposit of thorite found by a monomaniacal prospector somewhere in Norway. Protagonist Bill Gansert is induced to take his yacht there to check out the possibility; he brings with him three people interested in the mineral or the prospector, George Farnell, or both. Secrets, attempted murder, and violence beset the voyage, especially during a stop at a Norwegian whaling station on one of the islands. There appears evidence that Farnell may have been murdered. The story builds to a somewhat gruesome climax after an exciting account of a trek on skis up and over the snowy mountains by a glacier at night.

I’ll be looking for more by Innes. Recommended.

Jul 22, 2016, 1:19pm

119. Our Village, by Joseph C. Lincoln

TIOLI July Challenge #22: Read a book in which you find an eating description

Our Village is a collection of gentle, nostalgic pieces chiefly describing times and conditions of village life on Cape Cod in the late 1800s, covering topics like clambakes, school, village characters, and Christmas. This was a bit different from the novels I’ve ready by Joseph C. Lincoln, but suffused with the same attitudes. Touching at times. I quite liked it.


Edited: Jul 22, 2016, 2:32pm

120. Anabasis, by Xenophon

TIOLI July Challenge #16: Read a book in which the main character is away from home

Xenophon’s famed story of the Ten Thousand — Greek mercenaries who had served the Persian Cyrus in a rebellion against his brother Artaxerxes, which ended with Cyrus’s death in battle, and their escape through hostile territory and their return to Greek lands, was a compelling read. After treachery results in the death of their commanders, the Greeks select new leaders, among them Xenophon, who had not accompanied the troops in any official capacity; together with the others, he leads them north to the Black Sea in the face of local resistance and adverse conditions. The trip occupies surprisingly few days, but once the Greeks reach the shores of the sea, despite continued hostility around them, the diversity of interests of the band threaten destruction as individuals and groups pursue their own goals. And what will the Spartans, who control Greek territory, do with this group?


Jul 23, 2016, 10:44am

121. Day of the Giants, by Lester del Rey

TIOLI July Challenge #4: Read a book which retells a myth from any mythological tradition EXCEPT Greek or Roman

Freakishly cold weather is plaguing the Earth, with most crops failing, and a winter of likely unrest and starvation looms, with war claiming even more lives. Women on horseback are being seen in the skies as well. Farmer Leif Svensen is preparing for the coming bleak season when he meets a mysterious stranger and he and his twin brother find themselves battling neighbors and carried away to a fantastic realm of the Norse gods, who look to the pair to take part in the upcoming battle with the giants in Ragnarök, the end of days.

Day of the Giants is fast-moving, fairly entertaining fantasy (not really science fiction — there are no flying saucer attacks like what is shown on the cover of my copy). Recommended.

Jul 24, 2016, 9:53am

Seven books were among my birthday loot this year, including four reprints of old mystery novels:
Antidote to Venom, by Freeman Wills Crofts
Black Beadle, by E.C.R. Lorac
Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway Volume 5: The B & O Era, by Mike Zollitsch
Missing or Murdered, by Robin Forsythe
The Polo Ground Mystery, by Robin Forsythe
Richard Coer de Lyon, an anonymous Middle English romance
The Treason Trust, mystery stories by Arthur B. Reeve

Jul 24, 2016, 12:49pm

>27 harrygbutler: I think I have read everything by Innes at least twice, Harry. Tales from my youth.
The Strange Land and Wreckers Must Breathe would be my favourites. Him and Alistair MacLean and Desmond Bagley.

I trust happy birthday wishes are in order?

Edited: Jul 24, 2016, 3:46pm

>33 harrygbutler: Just a few days ago, thanks!

I hadn't read Alistair MacLean until quite recently, though of course I'd seen movies based on his novels. Desmond Bagley is unfamiliar; I'll have to keep an eye out for his books.

Jul 24, 2016, 6:13pm

>31 harrygbutler:

Happy birthday---nice haul!

I remember you bringing the release of The Treason Trust to my attention a while back; I'll be interested to hear your report on the contents.

Edited: Jul 24, 2016, 9:04pm

>34 lyzard: Thank you! I'll be sure to share my thoughts on The Treason Trust once I get to it, probably sometime after I try out Robin Forsythe with Missing or Murdered.

Jul 24, 2016, 10:05pm

Among the real successes in our backyard gardening have been our blackberries. They're at last ripening in some quantity, so tonight we had our first real dessert of the summer from them: blackberry pie (from scratch) served a la mode with some homemade vanilla ice cream. Delicious!

Jul 24, 2016, 10:35pm

Jul 25, 2016, 6:05am

I've just finished Prince Valiant, Vol. 5: 1945-1946, completing a sweep of the TIOLI challenges for July!

Jul 31, 2016, 12:20pm

122. archy and mehitabel, by Don Marquis

TIOLI July Challenge #17: Read a book with two or more characters in the title

Don Marquis’s lasting contribution to literature is the poetry of Archy, a cockroach inhabited by the transmigrated soul of a free-verse poet. Archy types his poems by hurling himself headfirst against each key, and he thus is unable to operate the shift key and so includes no capital letters in his verse. The poems offered up a mix of observations about life and hardship, with satire (some blunted by the years) and occasional pathos. Particularly entertaining are the accounts of the adventures of Mehitabel the cat, who was Cleopatra in a past life, and whose amorous escapades and injuries leave her bloody but unbowed, and always a lady; “toujours gai” is her motto.

Marquis first introduced the tales of the lower inhabitants of the city 100 years ago, in his newspaper column with the New York Evening Sun. They apparently enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in the mid-1950s, as there were a couple albums of recordings of material based on the poems in 1953-1955, and there was a short-lived Broadway play, Shinbone Alley, starring Eddie Bracken as Archy and Eartha Kitt as Mehitabel, in 1957.

I first encountered the poems in archy and mehitabel published in 1955, when I was a child, as it was among the books to be found at my grandparents’ house. I doubtless was first attracted by the illustrations by George Herriman (famous for the comic strip Krazy Kat). I liked the poetry then, but I’m not sure I ever read the volume straight through at the time. I just did that this month (in the very copy that I had read in as a child), and I quite enjoyed it.


Title page.


Edited: Jul 31, 2016, 2:19pm

Five or so quarts of blackberries from the back yard today: half for pie or cobbler, half for blackberry shrub.

Jul 31, 2016, 5:48pm

Gorgeous berries! Yum, yum.

On our recent road trip to Chicago, we stopped at a railroad museum that I think you would enjoy. In a small town in Indiana, not far from the interstate, is a place called the Linden Depot Museum. It is run entirely by volunteers, yet it's a worthwhile stop. They not only have a caboose you can explore, assorted rail items like signals, and a small depot museum with lots of artifacts, but behind the museum, in a boxcar, is a model railroad that is wonderful! It's not large, but has four trains that run around mountains, by a circus, and by a carnival. All the carnival rides light up and work, and the detail of the circus is fantastic.

You might want to put it on your "to do" list. :)

Jul 31, 2016, 6:23pm

>40 harrygbutler: Those blackberries look so good! I'm drooling.

Aug 1, 2016, 11:13am

>41 fuzzi: >42 thornton37814: We've been very fortunate in our blackberries. I tend to just grab a couple to eat when I feel like a quick little snack while out in the yard, and often they're quite sweet. We may even get enough to make it worthwhile to make some jelly this year.

>41 fuzzi: Thanks for the tip! We've stopped at similar local museums in our travels and have often found them to be little gems.

Aug 1, 2016, 11:15am

123. Shell Scott’s Seven Slaughters, by Richard S. Prather

TIOLI July Challenge #3: Read a book with a 7 or seven in the title

I’ve always enjoyed Richard S. Prather’s detective novels starring Shell Scott, the ex-Marine with the white hair. The stories are fast-moving and have a touch of humor that seems absent from the work of many of his contemporaries publishing in the 1950s and '60s. Shell Scott’s Seven Slaughters is a collection of seven short stories featuring the detective, and on the whole they’re pretty successful. I probably liked “The Double Take” best, but really the only one I didn’t much care for was “The Butcher.” Recommended, but they won't be to everyone's taste.

Aug 1, 2016, 2:28pm

124. The Burning Hills, by Louis L’Amour

TIOLI July Challenge #6: Read a hot book

Louis L’Amour’s novels are pretty consistently entertaining, and The Burning Hills was no exception. The novel, first published in 1956, moves at a rapid pace, from an opening in which Trace Jordan, wounded and on the run from vengeance-seeking cowboys, gives them the slip temporarily and finds shelter in a ruin on a concealed cliff shelf; through the ministrations of Maria Christina Chavero that save his life; to their escape together through the desert as he whittles down the numbers pursuing, but without animosity, save toward those who had killed his partner. Some aspects of the story, such as the romance, are rather rushed. Still, it’s a quick read, and I’ll likely return to it again someday. Recommended.

Edited: Aug 1, 2016, 4:37pm

125. Wee Macgreegor Enlists, by J. J. Bell

July TIOLI Challenge #19: Read a book about or referencing WW1

J. J. Bell’s amusing and sometimes sentimental tales of early-twentieth-century life in Scotland have been favorites of mine since I discovered them. Perhaps his most famous character was “Wee Macgreegor,” a young lad who has some fun times. A similar set of stories deal with young Christina. In Wee Macgreegor Enlists, Macgreegor and Christina are both older and are on the cusp of getting engaged, as he joins the Highlanders to go to France as part of the B.E.F. during World War I. The book chronicles the course of their romance and of Macgreegor’s early days as a soldier, with much of the humor provided by Macgreegor’s friend Willie Thompson.


Aug 2, 2016, 12:33pm

126. The Diplomat and the Gold Piano, by Margaret Scherf

July TIOI Challenge #20: Read a book that mentions a musical instrument in the title

A “free” redecorating of the apartment of the UN ambassador from the young nation of Gaad appears to have been designed to embarrass the diplomat and perhaps even undermine the national government. When the decorator ends up strangled the next day, could the diplomat be to blame? Henry and Emily Bryce had done some of the furniture work for the decorator, and they are drawn to investigate her murder. Who was the odd “beige man” seen in the vicinity? Who has been watching them from an apartment across the way?

The Diplomat and the Gold Piano is the last of the series chronicling the Bryces. It is another amusing mystery from Margaret Scherf. Recommended.

Aug 3, 2016, 5:51pm

127. Scotland Yard: The Department of Queer Complaints, by Carter Dickson

July TIOLI Challenge #14: Insert Your Book Title in the Blank: On my summer vacation I am going to visit ________________

This collection of short stories by Carter Dickson (John Dickson Carr) features Colonel March, the head of Department D-3 at Scotland Yard, specializing in mysteries that fall outside the usual. Thus the reader is confronted with cases of a shooting by an invisible man, a killer who left no tracks in newly-fallen snow, a killing in a room that didn’t exist, and the like. The stories are overall OK but sometimes seem rushed; I think Carr/Dickson was better with the space of a novel to work with. Recommended.

Aug 3, 2016, 6:37pm

128. Mike at Wrykyn, by P. G. Wodehouse

July TIOLI Challenge #21: Reward yourself by reading a book that you've been hoarding for at least a year

It is a bit difficult for me to review Mike at Wrykyn. On the one hand, it is by P. G. Wodehouse, and rewritten by him in 1952 from a portion of an earlier novel, so it is quite well-written and consistently amusing. On the other hand, it is the story of a young cricket prodigy’s first term at Wrykyn, a public school, and how he makes good, so cricket terms and matches get a good deal of space, and I don’t particularly understand the game. Still, it is a tribute to Wodehouse’s skill that despite my ignorance I was kept interested and didn’t even skim the accounts of play.


Aug 7, 2016, 10:09am

>49 harrygbutler: P.G. Wodehouse is on my list to read, sometime.

Aug 8, 2016, 9:35am

>50 fuzzi: His stuff is fun. I was a fan of his short stories (particularly the Mr. Mulliner tales) first, and then turned to his novels. I didn't originally warm to Jeeves and Wooster, but found some non-series (or short series) books good, as well as those I tried in the Blandings Castle series. Erika is also a fan, so we gradually acquired the reprints from Overlook Press, but I have a long way to go to have read them all.

Aug 8, 2016, 10:13am

129. Bede: On the Temple, by Bede

July TIOLI Challenge #13: Read a book where the title includes a building or a part of one

Although the writings of the Venerable Bede are frequently quite approachable, On the Temple, with its heavy reliance on number-based allegorical interpretation, was not a congenial read for me. The ingenuity of the possible interpretations he assigns to specific attributes of Solomon’s temple, both fittings and dimensions, is appealing, however (so long as one approaches them as useful points of departure for discussion of spiritual truths), if not always persuasive. I’m happy to have read it, but I doubt I’ll revisit it as a whole.

Aug 8, 2016, 10:29am

>51 harrygbutler: I tried a Jeeves book once, didn't "get into" it. I may try some short stories.

Aug 8, 2016, 12:45pm

130. Walk Softly, Witch, by Carter Brown

July TIOLI Challenge #18: Read a book in which a character is a mental health professional

In his first case, private detective Danny Boyd is hired by the young wife of an aging Broadway actor to ensure that he is committed “for his own good.” Because of her husband’s acting ability, she fears he could fool any psychiatrist called in to examine him, so Boyd must come up with a way to overcome that hurdle. He does so, and the husband ends up in an asylum. Boyd has second thoughts, however, and returns to see about springing the fellow – only to discover that he has escaped. Boyd also learns that someone has been murdered, and the actor is the prime suspect…though there are plenty of other possibilities. An OK introduction to the series.

Aug 8, 2016, 3:30pm

131. Prince Valiant, Vol. 5: 1945-1946, by Hal Foster

July TIOLI Challenge #7: Read a book that includes a long trip or voyage

Volume 5 of Fantagraphics’ gorgeous reprints of Prince Valiant is largely given over to the remainder of “The Winning of Aleta,” including the siege and capture of the city of Saramand, whose ruler has captured Aleta. The pair eventually make their way first to Camelot, where Val contributes to King Arthur’s defeat of the Saxons, with the help of some woodsmen reminiscent of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, and then go on to Thule, where Aleta sets out to take the measure of her father-in-law by disguising herself as a servant while Val goes to deal with a rebellious former friend of his father.


Edited: Aug 26, 2016, 7:41pm

A sale at the Book Garden, in Cream Ridge, N.J., prompted a visit today that netted a number of books, mostly mysteries:

Adventures of Bindle, by Herbert Jenkins

Short Stories (humorous legal fiction, I believe, based on the other book I've read about Tutt & Tutt)
By Advice of Counsel, Being Adventures of the Celebrated Firm of Tutt & Tutt, Attorneys and Counsellors at Law, by Arthur Train

Mystery and Crime
The Will and the Deed, by Dorothy Ogburn
The Scarlet Thumb, by Jermyn March
Too Many Crooks, by E. J. Rath (This may be a humorous novel, as the silent film of the same name cowritten by the author was a comedy.)
Dead Men Do Tell, by Keith Trask
Two and Two Make Twenty-Two, by Gwen Bristow
By Foul Means, by Patrick Leyton
Why Murder the Judge? by Claude Stuart Hammock
Dark Hollow, by Anna Katharine Green
The House on the Downs, by G. E. Locke

Aug 15, 2016, 10:42am

Catching up on threads here.

>26 harrygbutler: Patteson's sequel, Letters from Pussycat-ville is cute. It's got an online edition: LETTERS

>28 harrygbutler: Nice cover too!

>39 harrygbutler: *big grin* Love it.

>40 harrygbutler: Do you use alcohol or vinegar for your blackberry shrub? Do you use the hot or the cold method? We need to talk.

Aug 16, 2016, 11:14am

>57 2wonderY: Thanks for stopping by!

I didn't even know there was a sequel to Pussy Meow! I'll have to take a look. Thanks for the tip!

I use vinegar for my shrubs, and usually the hot method (I thought the cold method didn't really deliver the goods when I tried it): about a week of soaking the fruit in vinegar in a bean pot, stirring once or twice daily, and then straining and cooking together with sugar to form the shrub. I usually just drink it mixed with club soda and use it undiluted on my salads. Last year I made several varieties. I really liked strawberry shrub, but this summer local strawberries were impossible to find. Blueberry shrub just reminds me that I like blueberries better in small quantities. :-) Plum had no real flavor. Peach was good, but a bit too much -- it worked better as a salad dressing than as a drink for me.

Have you made switchel? I tried that last year as well, but found it a bit too cloying.

This year I'm also trying a quick-and-easy approach to shrub-making. A local Polish deli has several types of fruit syrups, so I recently got a bottle of raspberry syrup and have been mixing single glasses of syrup, vinegar, and club soda to make a quick refreshing drink. Tasty, but not as developed a flavor. I've now got a container full of syrup and vinegar mixed waiting in the fridge to try after they've had time to blend. I may try blending them over heat at some point. Aside from the ease -- no straining of seeds! -- the possibility of more unusual flavors (e.g., currant) makes it appealing.

Aug 16, 2016, 4:57pm

132. Missing or Murdered, by Robin Forsythe

Missing or Murdered is the first of Robin Forsythe’s five Algernon Vereker mysteries. Our amateur detective protagonist, an artist, is drawn to investigate the vanishing of his friend Lord Bygrave, a member of the government who had departed on a weekend trip and not returned. There doesn’t seem to be any particular reason for a voluntary disappearance, though a number of people involved seem to think it possible. On the other hand, there are several potential suspects if Lord Bygrave has in fact been murdered: a nephew whose engagement did not meet with his approval, and whose fiancée is a maid at the inn where Lord Bygrave stayed the night before he disappeared; an unpleasant personal secretary with financial troubles; a mysterious woman from the past. A pleasing aspect of the story was the good relationship between Vereker and the police inspector investigating the disappearance. It was good that they both arrived at the proper explanation of the mystery at the same time, at least narratively.

I got the Dean Street Press reprint last month as a gift from my parents, together with the second (The Polo Ground Mystery). I’ve liked them well enough that I’ll likely get the rest, though I think Dean Street would benefit from having another round of proofreading of the volumes.


Aug 24, 2016, 10:00am

133. Black Beadle, by E. C. R. Lorac

An unsavory man, possibly a blackmailer, is struck and killed by an automobile belonging to Barry Revian, one of two noted political figures (the other Gilbert Mantland) in contention for an important post. Before the murder, the victim had shown interest in Revian, and he had also been approached by Mark Garlandt, who opposes Revian because of the latter’s antisemitism. The killing bears a distinct resemblance to a similar death during the First World War, though in that instance Revian had a solid alibi; in this new case, his whereabouts at the time of the crime are less certain. Chief Inspector Macdonald’s investigation uncovers others who might have had reason to be happy in the death of the victim, and he must thread his way through (well-meaning) attempts to confuse the issue. An OK mystery, but I didn't care for many of the trappings.

Aug 24, 2016, 10:49am

134. Moralia, Volume IV, by Plutarch

I continued my reading of Plutarch’s Moralia with the fourth volume of the Loeb edition, comprising the following: “Roman Questions”; “Greek Questions”; “Greek and Roman Parallel Stories”; “On the Fortune of the Romans”; “On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander”; and “Were the Athenians More Famous in War or in Wisdom?” Overall I think this volume worked quite well; the anecdotes that illustrate most of the discussions were brief and interesting, and the first two pieces in particular offered a window into cultural practices and the explanations offered for them. The parallel stories were of interest as well, given Plutarch’s grand scheme to do parallel biographies of Greeks and Romans (only partially fulfilled).


Aug 26, 2016, 3:00pm

135. The Sign of the Four, by Arthur Conan Doyle

August TIOLI Challenge #3: Read a book set in the 19th century

Romance comes to 221B Baker Street in The Sign of the Four, the second Sherlock Holmes novel. Mary Morstan comes to see the detective with a strange story of her father’s disappearance 10 years before and her receipt of a pearl once per year for the last several years, with the latest accompanied by a letter telling her that she is a wronged woman and asking for a meeting — hence her desire to engage the detective. The meeting with Thaddeus Sholto, a son of her father’s only known friend in England (who died shortly before Miss Morstan began receiving the pearls), reveals her father’s fate, but the discovery that Thaddeus’s brother Bartholomew has been murdered extends the case, which is found to have its roots in the Indian Mutiny some 30 years before.


Aug 26, 2016, 6:03pm

136. The Case of the Angry Actress, by E. V. Cunningham

August TIOLI Challenge #10: Read a book that has a blurb from a newspaper on the front or back cover

In The Case of the Angry Actress (original title Samantha), police detective Masao Masuto is called to the scene of the death of a prominent film producer. All signs point to a natural death from a heart attack in his bedroom, but one of the guests at the dinner party the producer and his wife were hosting firmly claims that it was murder. He says that he heard a woman (whose voice he couldn’t recognize) threatening the host because of a sordid past event involving an aspiring actress named Samantha, so that even if it was a heart attack, it had been induced. There is enough out of the ordinary that Masuto pursues an investigation despite being urged to let things stand, and someone else who had been a guest at the dinner party — and who was implicated in the affair of Samantha — is murdered. Masuto works out who did it but lacks proof, so stages an opportunity for the culprit to make a try for a putative witness, leading to a confrontation on a studio lot.

They can’t all be winners. Mostly unpleasant people in this one, and the writing wasn’t particularly engaging. I won’t be seeking out the rest of this series. Not recommended.

Aug 26, 2016, 7:27pm

137. Ghost and Horror Stories, by Ambrose Bierce

August TIOLI Challenge #5: Read a book featuring ghosts or the supernatural

“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” is certainly the most famous story in this collection of weird tales by Ambrose Bierce, with its memorable “twist” ending. Still, I think I preferred those that were, or at least were presented as, ghost stories and strange events in popular folklore. Some were distinctly creepy.


Aug 27, 2016, 10:59pm

138. The Coming of the Law, by Charles Alden Seltzer

August TIOLI Challenge #9: Read a Western

The Coming of the Law, by Charles Alden Seltzer, is an interesting western published in 1912. Kent Hollis, a successful newspaper editor, comes to the small western town of Dry Bottom to settle the estate of his estranged father, owner of a ranch and a little newspaper, who had died of drink. Hollis learns from largely powerless federal judge J. Blackstone Graney that his father had been contending with a corrupt group that wanted his ranch, led by Big Bill Dunlavey. Hollis had already encountered Dunlavey upon his arrival in town, when he found Dunlavey bothering a young woman, Nellie Hazelton, and knocked him down with a single punch. Young Hollis resolves to continue his father’s battle to defeat the lawless elements in the area and ensure “the coming of the law.” There follow various conflicts, a drought, and romance.

I found this consistently engaging. A particularly interesting aspect is the relatively small space given over to gunplay, or indeed violence of any sort, and the protagonist’s interest in avoiding private vengeance in the interest of law and order. Recommended.

Aug 27, 2016, 11:21pm

139. The Polo Ground Mystery, by Robin Forsythe

August TIOLI Challenge #15: Read a book that mentions a summer Olympic sport

Another part of my birthday loot, The Polo Ground Mystery is the second of Robin Forsythe’s Algernon Vereker mysteries, and a bit weaker than the first. The amateur detective’s involvement in the case of a financier murdered on his private polo ground is less well-motivated; he opts to investigate because the mystery catches his interest. Once again he enjoys a friendly rivalry with Inspector Heather of the police. Suspects include the victim’s second wife, who was unhappy in her marriage; other houseguests, including a ballerina involved with the financier and men enamored of her; the gamekeeper who found the body, and whose daughter has something to hide; a discharged employee in the neighborhood; and possibly a victim of business machinations. Vereker winds his way through a variety of sidepaths and uncovers some secrets, but are they leading him to an accurate reconstruction of the crime and the identity of the killer?

Fairly entertaining, though I’m of two minds about whether the ending was truly satisfactory. Recommended.

Aug 28, 2016, 1:31am

Loving the vintage crime reviews, Harry. I really ought to get back to reading a few of them myself. Have you read any Francis Iles?

Aug 28, 2016, 9:57am

>64 harrygbutler: argh! A book bullet. Thanks...I think?!

Aug 28, 2016, 8:52pm

>67 PaulCranswick: I'm glad you're enjoying them, Paul. I haven't read Iles yet; I do have a copy of Before the Fact kicking around somewhere, and I expect to get to it eventually. Are there others you'd recommend?

>68 fuzzi: You're welcome! :-)

Aug 28, 2016, 8:53pm

140. Richard Coer de Lyon (anonymous)

August TIOLI Challenge #11: Rolling Challenge: Read any book where a word in the title has one more or 1 less letter than the previous book on the list

Richard Coer de Lyon, dating to the early fourteenth century or earlier, and possibly derived from an Anglo-Norman original, was another birthday gift from my parents. It is a Middle English romance that focuses on the adventures of the famous English king, and particularly his activities in the Holy Land during the Third Crusade. It exists in two distinct versions, one more closely tied to actual history and the other filled with elements of the fantastic. This latter, which makes Richard’s mother a demon and has the king engage in cannibalism, for example, serves as the basis for this edition, published as part of the Middle English Texts series of the Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages (TEAMS).

I thought the poem moderately entertaining, though I found myself wishing I could read the more historical version instead. The edition was weakened by the notes, which were rather too reliant on a single recent interpretation of the work to be as helpful as they might have been. Recommended, but not strongly.

Edited: Aug 28, 2016, 11:22pm

141. Three Treatises on the Nature of Science, by Galen

August TIOLI Challenge #8: Read a book with the word Science in the title

This volume brings together three treatises of varying length by the famous Roman physician Galen: “On the Sects for Beginners,” “An Outline of Empiricism,” and “On Medical Experience.” In them, he deals with an important philosophical and medical debate at the time concerning the nature of medical knowledge. The two main camps of disputants, the Rationalists and the Empiricists, respectively argued for (in brief) knowledge based on medical theory and deduction and knowledge based solely on observed phenomena, rooted in philosophical skepticism. Significantly, in practice the two groups were apparently quite similar. Centuries of debate led to the rise of the Methodists, who sought to develop a compromise position that made room for both theoretical reasoning and experience. Galen’s approach is similar, as it is clear he sees the justice in some criticisms made by the members of the opposing schools of thought, though he himself also sees the value in both experiential observation and theoretical reasoning.

I first read this 30 years ago for a course that covered medieval medicine, but I had forgotten its content. It is unlikely I’ll read it again, but I think it could have appeal to people interested in questions of epistemology.

Aug 28, 2016, 11:24pm

I just wrapped up my 150th book for the year, Saint Augustine's Confessions! It was also the last book needed to complete a sweep of the TIOLI challenges for August.

Aug 30, 2016, 12:20pm

A TIOLI sweep and 150 books, way to go!

Aug 31, 2016, 4:51pm

>73 fuzzi: Thank you! I was a bit surprised when I realized that I would hit the 150 mark this month.

Aug 31, 2016, 4:51pm

142. Enter the Saint, by Leslie Charteris

August TIOLI Challenge #4: Read a book by an author with a unisex given name

This collection of three novellas serves to some extent as an introduction to the Saint, his methods, and his assistants, though it is second in the series. In the first, “The Man Who Was Clever,” the Saint takes on a criminal and his organization and along the way offers an opportunity for escape and reform to a young fellow who had gotten involved in the gang. The second, “The Policeman with Wings,” gives a good deal of space to the Saint’s chief lieutenant, Roger Conway, in sorting out a kidnapping and a cache of stolen diamonds; in the third, “The Lawless Lady,” much of the narrative is focused on another lieutenant, Dicky Tremayne, who has infiltrated a gang but fallen in love with its criminous leader, Audrey Perowne. This latter in particular reveals how ruthless Simon Templar can be.


Aug 31, 2016, 5:04pm

143. Taliessin Through Logres, The Region of the Summer Stars, and Arthurian Torso, by Charles Williams

August TIOLI Challenge #12: Read a book that has a title that refers to hot weather: summer, drought, desert, etc. to match the "dog days of summer"

Inkling Charles Williams’ Arthurian lyric poetry, comprising “Taliessin Through Logres” and “The Region of the Summer Stars,” is a difficult body of work likely made more difficult by the poet’s death before he finished the cycle. Highly allusive and packed with meaning, it is rendered slightly more accessible in this edition, which includes Williams’ own incomplete prose study of Arthur and the Grail, edited by C.S. Lewis, and an essay by Lewis that provides additional interpretive assistance and suggests an order for reading that may assist the reader in understanding. The best approach, then, might be to read through the whole volume and then, after finishing Lewis’s essay, go back and reread the poems in the suggested order. Still, I’m not sure even then this is truly successful.

I may revisit this sometime, but not soon. Not recommended for a general reader.

Aug 31, 2016, 5:12pm

144. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

August TIOLI Challenge #7: Read a book where a young person is the main character

Easily the best novel I read all month, and one of the best for the year so far, Treasure Island is a terrific tale of adventure: From the terror that claims the life of the half-crazed sailor staying in the inn run by young Jim Hawkins’ family, to a hair’s-breadth escape from villains in search of the papers removed from the dead sailor’s body, through mutiny and murder and treasure-hunting, and the machinations of that charming villain Long John Silver, Stevenson’s able writing sweeps the reader along.

Highly recommended.

Aug 31, 2016, 8:17pm

>77 harrygbutler: I loved that book as a child, might pick it up for a reread!

Sep 1, 2016, 7:38am

>77 harrygbutler: *grin* I'd just ordered the audio version. Looking forward to revisiting that excellent author.

Sep 1, 2016, 12:25pm

>79 2wonderY: Kidnapped was pretty good, read that last year, I think.

Sep 1, 2016, 2:45pm

>79 2wonderY: Enjoy, Ruth! I don't think I'm going to wait too long before reading another Stevenson.

>80 fuzzi: Kidnapped is likely to be the next one of his I tackle, though I might go for The Master of Ballantrae.

Sep 11, 2016, 2:46pm

145. Dark Canyon, by Louis L'Amour

August TIOLI Challenge #2: Read a book where part of the title or author’s name coincides with part of a name from a list of musicians playing at festivals this summer in Colorado

Dark Canyon is a fast-paced story of a young outlaw who tries to go straight, acquiring a ranch with the backing of his former comrades, and the struggles he faces to make good. Young Gaylord Riley joins up with the Colburn gang after rescuing Jim Colburn from death at the hands of cheating gamblers. But Riley isn’t really the outlaw sort, and the others eventually persuade him to chart another course, bankrolling his effort to leave the outlaw life behind. Of course, all does not go smoothly as Riley moves into an area where Martin Hardcastle is seeking a way to destroy rancher Dan Shattuck, who had rejected Hardcastle’s suit of his niece with contempt. Riley clashes with Shattuck over Riley’s decision to bring in shorthorn cattle (before this, only Shattuck had such cattle), and Hardcastle engineers indications that Riley may be a rustler. Riley’s outlaw friends are around as well.

Though there are some minor plot holes, they don’t get in the way of an enjoyable read. Recommended.

Sep 14, 2016, 2:39pm

146. Helena, by Evelyn Waugh

August TIOLI Challenge #16: Read a book with a one-word title starting with H

Evelyn Waugh’s Helena is an engaging historical novel about the life of the mother of Constantine the Great, first Christian Roman emperor and founder of Constantinople. At times serious, at times comic (Helena’s father is impliedly the “Old King Cole” of nursery rhyme fame), the story of Helena’s conversion to Christianity and her archaeological dig in search of the Cross in Palestine is consistently interesting, though I was a bit surprised to find that the finding of the Cross occupied such a small portion of the novel. Recommended.

Sep 14, 2016, 3:19pm

147. The Civil War (Pharsalia), by Lucan

August TIOLI Challenge #6: Read a "bucket list" book

The Roman poet Lucan’s account of the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great has for many years been on the edge of my reading — allusions and echoes have been common among many authors and works I read, though I’ve been alerted only by notes and explicit citations. Last month I finally acquired the Loeb dual-language edition of The Civil War (perhaps better known as the Pharsalia) and gave it a go, reading the translation but referring to the Latin on the facing page.

I found it an intriguing poem, in particular because of its explicit animus toward Caesar — presumably reflecting Lucan’s own falling out with Nero, which eventually led to the poet’s involvement in an unsuccessful conspiracy against the tyrant and compelled suicide in 65 A.D. Lucan’s death left the poem unfinished, with nine books complete and part of a tenth done, from the beginning of the internecine strife to Pompey’s defeat at Pharsalos, his flight to Egypt and murder there, Cato’s march through Libya with the remnants of the Republican force, and Caesar’s arrival in Egypt.


Sep 15, 2016, 7:23am

148. Tales of the Long Bow, by G. K. Chesterton

August TIOLI Challenge #14: Read a book which has both a preposition and a homophone in the title

Tales of the Long Bow is an episodic novel or story cycle concerning a group of men who act out idiomatic expressions literally. For example, the first story tells of a man who contrives to actually eat his hat — he makes it possible by wearing a cabbage on his head for long enough (weeks) to establish that it is indeed serving as his hat; others tackle “when pigs fly” and “white elephant sale” and “setting the Thames on fire.” Their antics appear lunacy to more staid (and morally corrupt) members of the ruling class. Matters build to a head and issue in an English civil war, or more properly a revolution.

The stories tackle some of Chesterton’s favorite themes — the paradoxical, what truly constitutes lunacy and sanity, the importance of the small landowner, and the importance of tradition, among others — but I found it a weaker than usual work, with the characters overall less well-crafted, the links between the tales somewhat murky, and the ending rather too convenient. Recommended only for Chesterton completists.

Sep 15, 2016, 12:18pm

A place for Pixie, found today at a local thrift shop.

Sep 15, 2016, 1:10pm

That is quite perfect. And it's obvious Pixie thinks so too.

Sep 15, 2016, 5:46pm

>87 2wonderY: Thanks! Each of the cats has now tried it out — it seems to be a hit.

Edited: Sep 15, 2016, 5:48pm

149. Home Sweet Homicide, by Craig Rice

August TIOLI Challenge #13: Read a book which starts with an order!!

Widow Marian Carstairs works night and day as a writer of mysteries (using various pseudonyms) to keep the wolf from the door for her three children: Dinah (14), April (12), and Archie (10). Her children wish that she wouldn’t have to work so hard, and think that the publicity from solving a case in cooperation with the police might make that possible. The perfect opportunity arises when they hear two shots and find their next-door neighbor murdered. The children resolve to investigate on their mother’s behalf. And after seeing that handsome police lieutenant Bill Smith is in charge of the investigation, they also resolve to do what they can to fix their mother up with him.

Home Sweet Homicide is a fun mystery. Though the narrative does give attention to various characters, the focus consistently returns to the children and their efforts to solve the case, without forgetting that they are indeed children (however idealized). Recommended!

Sep 16, 2016, 4:21pm

150. Confessions, by Augustine of Hippo

August TIOLI Challenge #1: Read the memoirs, biography or autobiography of someone whom you admired but is no longer alive

I first read Saint Augustine’s Confessions in college 30-odd years ago. It’s an impressive memoir, in its first nine books recounting and reflecting on the youthful Augustine’s journey through a variety of dead-ends — most notably Manichaeism — and sinful pursuits until his conversion in his early 30s. The remainder of the work comprises considerations of the power of memory, knowledge, and grace, followed by extended meditations on the first two verses and then the first chapter of Genesis. I’m glad to have reread it again.


Sep 26, 2016, 11:17am

151. Force 10 from Navarone, by Alistair MacLean

September TIOLI Challenge #8: Read a book whose cover has you seeing red

The slam-bang sequel to The Guns of Navarone begins just moments after the conclusion of the previous book, as the survivors are needed for another urgent mission, this time to rescue a trapped force of Yugoslav partisans. They are given scant time to rest (a recurring theme in this novel), but their numbers are augmented with a few new additions, as they are sent into occupied territory, where they are promptly captured by the Germans, whom they try to convince they are British defectors. The action is never interrupted for long, as the twisty plot leads to a spectacular conclusion.


Sep 26, 2016, 11:28am

152. Moralia, Volume V, by Plutarch

Volume V of Plutarch’s Moralia was a very interesting volume, containing the treatises “Isis and Osiris” (which provides insight into the knowledge and interpretation of Egyptian religion in the early centuries AD), “The E at Delphi” (an intriguing discussion of just why that letter existed alone in an inscription at the site), “The Oracles at Delphi No Longer Given in Verse” (with a mundane explanation why this is so but a broader discussion of oracles and deities), and “The Obsolescence of Oracles” (which contains the famous anecdote about a mysterious voice telling a sailor to proclaim that great Pan is dead when he comes opposite a specific spot, and when he did so, the proclamation was met with lamentations from the shore).


Edited: Sep 27, 2016, 6:06pm

153. Adventures of Bindle, by Herbert Jenkins

September TIOLI Challenge #7: Read a series book by an author you've never read before

Adventures of Bindle, by P. G. Wodehouse publisher Herbert Jenkins, is a humorous episodic novel or collection of interrelated stories set during World War I. It is one of a series published about a century ago, beginning in 1914, recounting the adventures of the Cockney Joseph Bindle among his friends and family. He is an irreverent fellow, but his irreverence serves to puncture the posing of the ostentatiously (and perhaps only outwardly) pious, as in the story “The Air-Raid.” He is fond of playing jokes as well (though they aren’t all equally amusing). He is fond of his niece, however, and endeavors to ensure that she may wed the young soldier whom she loves.

Overall the episodes were entertaining, though variable in quality. I’d pick up others should I come across them, and I’d definitely like to track down Jenkins’ stories of Malcolm Sage, Detective.

Sep 27, 2016, 6:06pm

154. Three Thirds of a Ghost, by Timothy Fuller

September TIOLI Challenge #9: Read a book with a title describing an unlikely possession

Author George Newbury is shot while delivering a speech to a crowd gathered to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Bromfield Bookstore in Boston, and the murderer — who must have fired from the back of the room — disappears, apparently unseen. Harvard instructor and amateur sleuth Jupiter Jones happens to be on hand for the festivities; he gets involved by aiding a mystery woman to escape through the basement, and then by finding a gun and speculating on the source of the shot. He is also suspicious of the dead man’s secretary, but there are other suspects to be considered as well, including members of the prominent Still family, who are the subject of the next of Newbury’s scandalous novels. A convenient fire, an unexpected second murder, the reappearance of a missing book, and breaking and entering all play a role in the mystery.

Three Thirds of a Ghost, the third of the Jupiter Jones series (but the first I’ve read), is mildly amusing. The mystery is OK if you just let yourself go along for the ride.

Sep 27, 2016, 6:55pm

>91 harrygbutler: though slightly different from the book, the movie version of Force 10 From Navarone is a worthy sequel to the excellent The Guns of Navarone movie.

Sep 28, 2016, 7:35am

>95 fuzzi: Thanks for the reminder! I've seen the movie a couple times, but it has been quite a while.

Sep 28, 2016, 7:35am

155. Pollyanna, by Eleanor H. Porter

September TIOLI Challenge #2: Read a book with a title whose entirety describes a woman or girl

I read Pollyanna for the first time this month, though of course when I was younger I had seen and liked the Disney movie starring Hayley Mills. Recently left an orphan by the death of her minister father, Pollyanna comes to live with her aunt, who takes her in from a sense of duty, not out of affection; indeed, Aunt Polly is a person who has shut herself off from such tender feelings. The unwelcome young girl, who had hoped for more, begins to have an impact on some of those whom she meets, with her influence thrown into especially sharp contrast when circumstances make it seem well-nigh impossible for her to continue to play the “glad game” herself.

Pollyanna is a character all too often dismissed as espousing a facile optimism. Yet the hardships the characters face are serious in this first book — lifelong invalidism, crippling injury, grinding poverty, and more — and the burdens are not so much overcome as lightened by the playing of the game. Recommended.

Oct 2, 2016, 8:12pm

156. Enter Sir John, by Clemence Dane and Helen Simpson

September TIOLI Challenge #7: Read a series book by an author you've never read before

Stage manager Novello Markham is awakened by the sound of knocking down in the street, where the acting company’s manager, Gordon Druce, is hammering at the door of a nearby building. Though Markham sees a policeman apparently on the way to deal with the disturbance, that policeman is gone by the time Markham’s wife, Doucebell Dearing, comes to the window. Shortly thereafter, Druce’s wife, the actress Magda Warwick, is discovered murdered in a room in that house; also discovered there is another actress, Martella Baring, who had not been on good terms with the victim. Circumstances look black for Baring, and she is arrested, tried, and convicted in short order. However, famed actor-manager Sir John Saumarez takes an interest in the case and in the convicted woman, and, believing her innocent (and despite her apathy), he undertakes to investigate more thoroughly, enlisting the assistance of Markham and Dearing. There are grounds for suspicion regarding the other actors in the company, and what of the vanishing copper?

I found this an OK mystery. I didn’t think Sir John as charming as he was intended to be, and the heroine remained essentially a cipher throughout, so it was difficult to feel very involved in the case. I doubt I’ll seek out the other two books in which Sir John appears, though I won’t avoid them. Not particularly recommended.

Oct 3, 2016, 9:07am

157. Mike and Psmith, by P. G. Wodehouse

In this sequel to Mike at Wrykyn, the cricket prodigy’s poor academic performance at Wrykyn leads his father to send him to a new school, Sedleigh — a school of distinctly lesser status with regard to the sport. Upon his arrival, Mike immediately encounters another student similarly unwillingly transferred to Sedleigh: Psmith (the “P” is silent). Various youthful hijinks ensue.


Oct 3, 2016, 9:59am

158. Overland Red: A Romance of the Moonstone Cañon Trail, by Henry Herbert Knibbs

September TIOLI Challenge #5: Read a book where the first (non-article) word in the title starts with a vowel

Overland Red: A Romance of the Moonstone Cañon Trail is a modern-day western (set at the time it was published, in 1914). The novel opens with an account of the last days of a prospector who discovers a rich claim. The scene then shifts to the Moonstone Cañon, where Louise Lacharme, who lives on a ranch with her aunt and uncle, meets the hobo Overland Red and his young traveling companion, Collie, while she is out riding one day. The young woman makes a deep impression on both men. When a deputy arrives to arrest Overland on a false charge (he is accused of murdering the prospector), Overland makes his escape, but Collie stays to assist in getting care for the accidentally injured deputy and is arrested for his troubles. He is released at the urging of Louise’s uncle and takes a job on his ranch. Meanwhile, Overland encounters a easterner (apparently suffering from tuberculosis), and the two of them head out to search for gold, despite opponents who wish to jump the claim. The paths of the characters continue to intertwine, as the tale builds toward a climactic battle and some revelations as to the identities of both the consumptive easterner and the prospector who died at the beginning of the book.


Oct 5, 2016, 3:13pm

159. The Intrusive Tourist, by Mrs. Baillie Reynolds

September TIOLI Challenge #6: Read a book with the word "nine" in the title OR a 9-letter word in the title or author's name

Mrs. Baillie Reynolds’ The Intrusive Tourist is closer to a thriller than a mystery, and perhaps more of a romance than either. Vanora May, sister of the current holder of the manor of Malyon, Sir Rodney May (though they live in a different house nearby), encounters a stranger seeking access to the old castle. She grants the man access to the house as she is going in on an errand, but while they are touring it, he displays inordinate interest in one area of the house, and then locks her in the library while he searches the wing that had caught his eye. The stranger is Gerard Athered, whose grandfather was convicted of the murder of John Otway, a close friend of the Mays’ grandfather, and sent to Australia; Gerard is certain of his grandfather’s innocence and is eager to search Malyon for documents that will prove this. Vanora opposes allowing him to search — in part because of their initial fracas, in part because uncovering the past may bring unwanted attention to a crime of their ancestor, and may even put ownership of Malyon in question — and persuades her brother to forbid Athered access to the castle, even when he stays on. A rich American family rents Malyon, and they seem to quickly end up on good terms with Athered. Plots and counterplots abound before the deadly secrets of Malyon are revealed.

I’m interested in reading more by Mrs. Reynolds, despite the limited mystery element. Recommended.

Edited: Oct 6, 2016, 9:08pm

160. Two and Two Make Twenty-Two, by Gwen Bristow and Bruce Manning

September TIOLI Challenge #1: Read a book with a word repeated at least once in the title

Major Jack Raymond, Andrew Dillingham, and Linton Barclay, investigating drug smuggling into Louisiana, have suspicions of the owner of the island resort Paradise Island, Brett Allison, and of Eva Shale, who has money from some unknown source, though Andrew has fallen in love with Eva. At the opening of the novel, with a tropical storm in the offing that has driven most guests away, Andrew’s eccentric grandmother, Daisy Dillingham, flies in unexpectedly. Despite the dangers of the storm, Eva announces that she must return to the mainland that night, increasing suspicions about her. Barclay persuades Eva to stop by his cottage for a drink before she leaves. Later, Major Barclay goes to the cottage and discovers that Barclay has been murdered. He believes, and it seems likely, that Eva killed Barclay, but Daisy Dillingham disagrees, as does Brett Allison, who, acting in the place of the police, aims to get at the truth of the crime. It seems more than one person went to the cottage, and others had opportunity as well; the inquiry reveals a number of secrets, and concludes with a couple twists.

I found this mystery much better than the last I read by Bristow and Manning, The Invisible Host. Not exactly plausible, but an OK early-talkie B-movie sort of mystery.

Oct 6, 2016, 6:07pm

>98 harrygbutler:

I found the attitude of the "heroine" so off-putting that it unbalanced the book for me---were we supposed to feel so sorry for the murderer? I did like Novello Markham and Doucebell Dearing, though, and wished the story was more about them!

Sir John is only a minor supporting character in Printer's Devil (aka "Author Unknown"), which is a weird comedy-drama about the publishing world; "weird" also described Re-Enter Sir John, although I think it's better than Enter Sir John.

>101 harrygbutler:

I have one of Mrs Baillie Reynolds' books around somewhere---picked it up on impulse, and have no idea whether it's a mystery, and thriller, a romance, or all three---maybe time to find out?

Oct 6, 2016, 9:08pm

>103 lyzard: I can understand that. I do think we were supposed to sympathize with the murderer, given the positive comments of other characters and the way it all played out, save in the murderer's apparent willingness to allow another to be punished for the crime. Thanks for the tidbits about the other two books. I shan't seek them out, but I may give them a try if they come to hand.

I gather Mrs. Reynolds' books tend more toward the romantic, but I liked The Intrusive Tourist well enough to read more. I'm glad the Crime Club opted to publish it, as otherwise I doubt I'd have been likely to find and try one of hers.

Oct 6, 2016, 9:09pm

161. Jean of the Lazy A, by B. M. Bower

September TIOLI Challenge #2: Read a book with a title whose entirety describes a woman or girl

Jean of the Lazy A is another modern-day western, set at the time of its first publication, in 1915, and it is rather more of a mystery than an ordinary western. Aleck Douglas, Jean’s father, is convicted on circumstantial evidence of the murder of cowboy Johnny Croft, who had made threats against both Aleck, owner of the Lazy A ranch, and his brother Carl, owner of the adjacent Bar Nothing; he is sentenced to several years in prison. Convinced that her father is innocent, Jean resolves to raise money to fight for her father’s freedom and to locate Art Osgood, who left the vicinity shortly after the crime, and whom she believes to be key to overturning the conviction. Jean gets her chance when a crew of movie people make use of the Lazy A (which has been left untenanted while Jean lives with her uncle during her father’s imprisonment) for a western picture and she catches the eye of the cameraman and the director. Throughout she is supported and aided by the former top hand of the Lazy A, Lite Avery.

The culprit was fairly obvious, and the resolution no real surprise, but B. M. Bower’s pleasing style carried me along. Recommended.

Oct 7, 2016, 4:54pm

162. The Scarlet Thumb, by Jermyn March

September TIOLI Challenge #8: Read a book whose cover has you seeing red

Juan Karslake has inherited Danesthorpe Hall, being the unexpected (and previously unknown) recipient of the legacy from his great-uncle, instead of local Nicholas Storrington, who remains as estate agent, the role he had occupied for his great-uncle as well. Karslake seems in fear of something, as he adds locks to gates hitherto open and is on the lookout for strangers. And his interest in local beauty Clover Willoughby prompts jealousy as well. Then a body, apparently that of Karslake (but unrecognizable), is found dead in the Hall: Did his enemies catch up with him? Did he commit suicide? If murder, who had the opportunity?

A rather muddled mess, with few likeable characters. Certainly not a fair-play mystery, as one character finds an important clue (but conceals it, from the reader and from the police), and the “twists” are mostly obvious. Not recommended.

Oct 7, 2016, 5:00pm

163. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle

September TIOLI Challenge #5: Read a book where the first (non-article) word in the title starts with a vowel

The first collection of Sherlock Holmes short stories, Adventures of Sherlock Holmes contains some of the most famous, including “A Scandal in Bohemia,” “The Red-Headed League,” “The Five Orange Pips,” and “The Speckled Band.” I had forgotten how many don’t really deal with crime, and how modest Holmes’ success is in some of them. Well worth the time.

Highly recommended.

Oct 7, 2016, 5:26pm

164. Prince Valiant, Vol. 6: 1947-1948, by Hal Foster

September TIOLI Challenge #10: Read a book that has a "ruling" word in the title or author's name

In the sixth volume of the collected Prince Valiant comics, Viking sea king Ulfrun abducts Aleta, and Val sets out in pursuit, following the raider all the way across the Atlantic, and up the Saint Lawrence River and to the environs of the great Niagara, before defeating him. Val and Aleta, together with their followers, must stay through the winter, and their son, Prince Arn, is born there. Spring brings with it a return voyage to Britain, where Val again comes to the assistance of King Arthur, this time dealing with a treacherous petty king.

This was another beautiful volume of high adventure. Recommended.

Edited: Oct 7, 2016, 5:31pm

And with Prince Valiant, Vol. 6: 1947-1948, which I finished reading on September 30, I concluded the third quarter with 56 books finished in the quarter and 164 books completed for the year! Time to start a fourth-quarter tally.

Edited: Oct 7, 2016, 5:41pm

I've now started my fourth-quarter thread: Here

Oct 7, 2016, 6:50pm

I'd love to reread the Prince Valiant books. Wish my library had them.

Oct 7, 2016, 6:55pm

>111 fuzzi: Is there any chance you could get them via interlibrary loan? I've been able to get some hard-to-find books from other libraries here in Pennsylvania in the past.

Oct 16, 2016, 7:12pm

>112 harrygbutler: I might try. Right now I'm on a library book binge, with too many sitting here unread...