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harrygbutler aims for 75+ in 2016 -- Part 4

75 Books Challenge for 2016

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Edited: Oct 7, 2016, 5:45pm Top

Welcome to my fourth 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 fourth quarter

Books completed in the third quarter

Books completed in the second quarter

Books completed in the first quarter

Edited: Oct 7, 2016, 5:38pm Top

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: Oct 7, 2016, 5:38pm Top

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 20, 2016, 11:18pm Top

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

Edited: Dec 30, 2016, 8:06am Top

Books completed in the fourth quarter of 2016

165. Romance in the First Degree, by Octavus Roy Cohen
166. Hidden Creek, by Katharine Newlin Burt
167. Murder on Halfaday Creek, by James B. Hendryx
168. Timothy’s Quest, by Kate Douglas Wiggin
169. Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "Trick or Treat", by Carl Barks
170. Defiance Valley: The Complete Northwoods Stories of Frederick Nebel, Volume 1, by Frederick Nebel
171. The Great Pearl Secret, by C. N. Williamson and A. M. Williamson
172. Uneasy Money, by P. G. Wodehouse
173. Railroad Stories: Avalanche!, by E. S. Dellinger
174. The Chinese Gold Murders, by Robert van Gulik
175. Warfare and Politics in Medieval Germany, ca. 1000: On the Variety of Our Times, by Alpert of Metz
176. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle
177. Just Around the Coroner, by Stuart Brock
178. Kiowa Trail, by Louis L'Amour
179. Death in Ecstasy, by Ngaio Marsh
180. The Big Four, by Agatha Christie
181. Thankful's Inheritance, by Joseph C. Lincoln
182. Mrs. M‘Lerie, by J. J. Bell
183. The Mounted Police Novels, Volume 1: Philip Steele of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police and The River's End, by James Oliver Curwood
184. Report for a Corpse, by Henry Kane
185. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
186. Red Harvest, by Dashiell Hammett
187. Ghosts I Have Met, by John Kendrick Bangs
188. Hrafnkel’s Saga and Other Stories (anonymous)
189. Death in the Doll’s House, by Hannah Lees and Lawrence Bachmann
190. The Unfinished Clue, by Georgette Heyer
191. She Shall Have Murder, by Delano Ames
192. Dutch Romances, Volume I: Roman van Walewein, by Penninc and Pieter Vostaert
193. Doctor Dogbody’s Leg, by James Norman Hall
194. Prince Valiant, Vol. 7: 1949-1950, by Hal Foster
195. The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner
196. Scott's Lady of the Lake, by Sir Walter Scott
197. Police at the Funeral, by Margery Allingham
198. The Asey Mayo Trio, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
199. Histories of the Monks of Upper Egypt and the Life of Onnophrius, by Paphnutius
200. The Heliand: The Saxon Gospel (anonymous)
201. The Shadow Rider, by William Colt MacDonald
202. Six Seconds of Darkness, by Octavus Roy Cohen
203. Psmith in the City, by P. G. Wodehouse
204. The Haunting of Low Fennel, by Sax Rohmer
205. Merovingian Mortuary Archaeology and the Making of the Early Middle Ages, by Bonnie Effros
206. Out of Control, by Baynard Kendrick
207. The Mystery of the Blue Train, by Agatha Christie
208. Wind, Sand and Stars, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
209. Fallon, by Louis L’Amour
210. Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Color Sundays: "Call of the Wild", by Floyd Gottfredson
211. My Late Wives, by Carter Dickson
212. Best Max Carrados Detective Stories, by Ernest Bramah
213. Idylls and Rambles: Lighter Christian Essays, by Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.
214. Scotland Yard Can Wait, by David Frome
215. Letters of a Self-Made Diplomat to His President, by Will Rogers
216. Perceptions of the Past in the Early Middle Ages, by Rosamond McKitterick
217. Sovereignty and Salvation in the Vernacular, 1050-1150, trans. by James A. Schultz
218. The Black House, by Constance and Gwenyth Little
219. The Mystery of the Cape Cod Tavern, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
220. On the Spot, by Edgar Wallace
221. The Seven Dials Mystery, by Agatha Christie
222. Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson
223. After the Western Reserve: The Ohio Fiction of Jessie Brown Pounds, ed. by Sandra Parker
224. Did She Fall?, by Thorne Smith
225. Christmas Days, by Joseph C. Lincoln
226. Grey Mask, by Patricia Wentworth
227. Two Against Scotland Yard, by David Frome
228. State and Society in the Late Bronze Age: Alalaḫ Under the Mittani Empire, by Eva von Dassow
229. Roads, by Seabury Quinn
230. Riders of the Shadows, by Jackson Cole
231. Of All Things, by Robert Benchley
232. The Murder That Had Everything!, by Hulbert Footner

Oct 7, 2016, 6:51pm Top

Whew, that'salottabooks!

Oct 7, 2016, 8:29pm Top

Happy New Thread, Harry!

Oct 8, 2016, 12:00pm Top

>6 fuzzi: Yep. I'm a bit surprised myself.

>7 lyzard: Thanks, Liz!

Oct 8, 2016, 12:07pm Top

Happy new thread Harry. Leading the way amongst rookie threads this year unless I am much mistaken.

170 books done also places you very highly in terms of books read.

Have a great weekend.

Oct 8, 2016, 1:33pm Top

>9 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! Have a great weekend, too!

Oct 10, 2016, 6:01pm Top

165. Romance in the First Degree, by Octavus Roy Cohen

Ex-soldier Jerry Franklin, injured in Tunisia, returns to New York and accepts an unusual job for his old boss, Warren Cameron: Cameron’s son, Alan, and his wife Linda have been worried about something recently, and they refuse to discuss the matter. Because Alan and Jerry were close friends, Mr. Cameron hopes that Jerry will be able to secure Alan’s confidence. Jerry is unsuccessful in that, but learning that Alan and Linda have made an appointment at a deserted tavern out on Long Island, Jerry decides to follow them out there. When he arrives, there is no sign of the couple, but he stumbles across a murdered man in the darkened room, then is jumped by someone. More murders follow as Jerry, with the help of Sandy, Alan’s younger sister, tries to discover just why the first man was killed, how he was connected to Alan and Linda, what importance a scrapbook devoted to one young actress might have, and why Alan and Linda no longer seem worried, all while he aims to conceal their involvement because he doesn’t believe them to be murderers.


Oct 10, 2016, 6:32pm Top

166. Hidden Creek, by Katharine Newlin Burt

I found this early western — first published in 1920 — a bit of slog. Hidden Creek tells the story of young Sheila Arundel, who upon her artist father’s death in a garret accompanies an acquaintance — his last client, Sylvester Hudson — out west to the town of Millings. There she meets, among others, Jim Greeley, the son of the local banker; a cowboy, Cosme Hilliard, who has a hidden past; and Hudson’s son Dickie. Sylvester Hudson is a brute, but he has an artistic vision for the Aura, his hotel and bar, and Sheila eventually agrees to serve as the hostess (but no more) there. After a final break with his father, Dickie leaves town, and in the aftermath of other events there Sheila also leaves, taking refuge up on Hidden Creek with Christina Blake, a woman whom she had met in Millings and who had offered her a place with her should she decide to leave the Aura. Cosme Hilliard learns that she is there and comes a-courting. Various adventures and deaths follow before the final, somewhat-unexpected resolution.

I never warmed to this book or to the characters. It reminded me somewhat of works I read by the Naturalists such as Frank Norris back in my youth; too many people were too unpleasant, and too many unpleasant things happened. Some of the scenic descriptions were well done, but that was about all that I really found engaging. Not recommended.

Oct 10, 2016, 7:37pm Top

167. Murder on Halfaday Creek, by James B. Hendryx

October TIOLI Challenge #2: Read a book with murder in its title

More fun in the frozen North, as Black John Smith helps those in need and metes out justice to wrongdoers, all while securing a tidy profit for himself. Highly recommended.

Oct 11, 2016, 4:14am Top

Happy new thread Harry, you have been reading a lot :-)

Oct 11, 2016, 10:18am Top

>14 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita. I see that you've been reading quite a bit as well.

Edited: Oct 11, 2016, 10:24am Top

168. Timothy’s Quest, by Kate Douglas Wiggin

October TIOLI Challenge #6: Read a book in which someone experiences an unusual childhood, name the unusual circumstances

After the death of the woman paid to care for him and his fellow orphan, called Lady Gay, young Timothy flees the squalid city with Lady Gay and faithful mutt Rags, seeking a better life and a mother for the little girl (and, if possible, also a mother for Timothy). Timothy’s Quest is a sentimental tale, and not as good, I’d say, as the other stories I’ve read by Wiggin. I liked it well enough, but I wouldn’t recommend it as the first of her books to try.

Edited: Oct 11, 2016, 10:32am Top

169. Walt Disney's Donald Duck: "Trick or Treat", by Carl Barks

October TIOLI Challenge #13: Read a book with a Halloweeny creature in the title or story

This volume in the fine series of reprints of Donald Duck comic book stories penned by Carl Barks was a gift from my wife Erika that I saved to read in the run-up to Halloween, as the first few stories within are centered on that holiday. Plenty of amusing antics with Donald and his nephews, Uncle Scrooge, Daisy, and more. Highly recommended.

Oct 12, 2016, 5:22pm Top

170. Defiance Valley: The Complete Northwoods Stories of Frederick Nebel, Volume 1, by Frederick Nebel

October TIOLI Challenge #14: Read a book with orange lettering on the cover of the edition you are reading

Defiance Valley is the first in a planned series reprinting the pulp “northern” stories of Frederick Nebel, better known for his work in the hard-boiled genre for Black Mask and Dime Detective magazines. This volume contains early work, mostly for North West Stories, including his first published story, “Trade Law.” His inexperience shows in the stories, though his narrative skill develops rapidly, and I enjoyed most of them. Recommended.

Oct 13, 2016, 5:44pm Top

171. The Great Pearl Secret, by C. N. Williamson and A. M. Williamson

October TIOLI Challenge #9: Read a book where one of the words in the title can be changed to different word by either changing a letter, adding a letter, or deleting a letter

The Great Pearl Secret is a melodramatic novel by husband and wife team Charles Norris Williamson and Alice Muriel Williamson, best known for their “motoring romances” in the early years of the 20th century. At the heart of the story is the theft of an heirloom pearl necklace, traditionally given by Dukes of Claremanagh to their brides. The current duke has wed the wealthy heiress Juliet Phayre, but when he gives her the necklace, she spots that the pearls are fake; the necklace is clearly a copy, which surprises the duke as well as his wife. Gossip had linked the duke and the Russian dancer Lyda Pavoya, and a catty “friend” tells Juliet that she had seen the dancer wearing the pearls (or what looked like the pearls) in Paris. Pavoya is known to have visited the duke the afternoon he gave his wife the fake necklace: Could she have stolen them, perhaps with an eye toward humiliating the duke’s bride? Why does the duke appear to be covering for her? Juliet calls on her cousin Jack Manners to investigate.

I thought this a bit heavy going. Not particularly recommended.

Edited: Oct 13, 2016, 6:58pm Top

172. Uneasy Money, by P. G. Wodehouse

October TIOLI Challenge #12: Read a book with a negation in the title (not, un-, isn't, etc.)

Unambitious Lord Dawlish (Bill) is quite content with the modest income he receives as secretary for his club, but his fiancée, actress Claire Fenwick, is keen for him to obtain more and thinks that he is held back by excessive scruples. When Bill is left a large sum by a chance acquaintance, he conceals the inheritance from Claire and heads off to America as Bill Chalmers (his name before he succeeded to the title) to attempt to give half the money to Elizabeth Boyd, the woman he considers the deceased millionaire’s rightful heir (as she had been the principal legatee in the previous will). When Elizabeth spurns the offer, Bill is unsure what to do, but a chance encounter with Nutcombe Boyd, Elizabeth’s brother, results in an invitation to Flack’s, the farm where Elizabeth and Nutcombe live and Elizabeth keeps bees, and he sees an opportunity to ingratiate himself and convince her to take the money.

An amusing tale, though there are some rather unsympathetic characters and at least one scene that is a bit jarring in the overall farcical context. OK for Wodehouse fans, I’d say, but unlikely to be a favorite.

Oct 14, 2016, 8:45pm Top

176. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

October TIOLI Challenge #4: Read one of LT's 250 most-reviewed books

Young Meg Murry is unhappy — she’s a misfit in school, and her father has been missing for more than a year. Together with her odd younger brother Charles Wallace and a new friend Calvin O’Keefe, she is called upon to make a strange journey to rescue her father.

Erika and I both read this book in the last couple weeks; she says she liked it just as she did when she was 12. Recommended.

Oct 14, 2016, 10:56pm Top

Interesting mix of reading there Harry.

Oct 15, 2016, 9:49am Top

>22 PaulCranswick: Within the limits of the sorts of books I like (or think I'd like), I try to ensure I'm reading a variety of genres at the same time. That way I don't get in a rut — maybe several ruts, but not just one. :-)

Oct 15, 2016, 10:03am Top

177. Just Around the Coroner, by Stuart Brock

October TIOLI Challenge #5: Read a book with a 4 word title

Private eye Peter Cory is sent by his money-grubbing boss, Boldman, to look into jewel thefts at a “swank hotel.” The hotel is owned in part by two brothers, Paul and Nick Cotten, who are at least a trifle shady; Cory had clashed with them when they ran a crooked gambling ship 10 years before. The third partner, Mike Padoulis, is a former bootlegger. Cory’s girlfriend, Terry James, runs a gift shop in the hotel; other persons of interest include Paul Cotten’s wife Francine, hotel manager Chester Quarles, and thug Slats Kneeland. Shortly after Cory moves in, but after he has encountered the principal characters, Nick Cotten is found murdered, though the murder weapon, a knife, is missing; Terry later reveals that she has the knife, which she says she found. The body was discovered by Francine Cotten while Cory is investigating an empy room on the same floor, one that had been occupied by a Mrs. Knowlton, who had made a scene while leaving the hotel shortly before. Cory begins investigating the murder after different interested parties offer him cash to do so — and to pin it on someone else. A second murder follows.

Just Around the Coroner reads a lot like the script of an OK film noir; I think I’d have preferred watching it to reading it, but it is OK. The ending isn’t all that surprising. Mildly recommended.

Oct 15, 2016, 10:14am Top

178. Kiowa Trail, by Louis L’Amour

October TIOLI Challenge #7: Read a book with a one or two word title and a total of 10 letters

Young Tom Lundy, who has come up from Texas with his sister Kate’s herd, dares to try going to the part of town forbidden to trail-riding cowboys in order to meet a pretty girl, and he is murdered for it. Kate vows vengeance on the town that killed her brother, and with the aid of her foreman, Conn Dury, she sets out to destroy the town — which despises the Texas cattlemen though it needs their business to survive — by preventing herds from reaching the town and by building an alternative that will cater to the cattle drives.

Kiowa Trail is a fast-moving novel, with an interesting first-person narrative incorporating extended reminiscences. Some of the story seemed a bit underdeveloped; more could have been done with the new town, for example. Still, I liked it. Recommended.

Oct 15, 2016, 7:51pm Top

We traveled an hour southwest today to go to a library book sale in Media, Pennsylvania, then visited a few thrift stores on our way home. Animals were prominent in my purchases at the book sale: The Island Stallion, The Black Stallion Challenged, The Black Stallion and the Girl, and A Highland Collie were joined by Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and "Skin o' My Tooth": His Memoirs, by His Confidential Clerk. At one of the thrift stores I added The Argyle Case to my haul.

I'm particularly happy to have gotten The Island Stallion, as Walter Farley's stories about Flame were favorites when I was a boy.

Oct 15, 2016, 8:29pm Top

179. Death in Ecstasy, by Ngaio Marsh

October TIOLI Challenge #3: Read a book where a main character has to decide what is true

Nigel Bathgate attends a cult religious ceremony on a whim, and in the midst of the service one of the participants, Cara Quayne, is murdered with poison. Chief Detective-Inspector Roderick Alleyn is soon on the scene, where he must sort through the suspects: the unsavory but compelling priest, Jasper Garnette, who seems to be supplying attendees with drugs; the six surviving initiates — American Samuel J. Ogden, dilettante Raoul de Ravigny (who was enamored of the victim), widow Dagmar Candour (who was jealous of the victim’s relationship with Garnette), young drug addict Maurice Pringle, his fiancée Janey Jenkins, and old Ernestine Wade; and perhaps one of the acolytes. There were a couple of significant comments by Alleyn during the course of the investigation pointed clearly to the culprit: one I spotted immediately (though I didn’t think it definitive) (when Alleyn tells a suspect that he doesn't expect to charge the suspect with a particular crime {not murder}), but the other (during a discussion of which suspect various fictional detectives would choose) I recognized only upon reflection at the end — the key was remembering that Alleyn is a police officer.


Edited: Nov 16, 2016, 4:22pm Top

180. The Big Four, by Agatha Christie

October TIOLI Challenge #10: Read a book with at least three different vowels in the title

In this novel, Poirot and Hastings confront a group of sinister villains, the Big Four, who are aiming to sow anarchy and take over the world. In a series of fairly discrete episodes, they learn the identities of the villains and aim to thwart their activities, with more or less success, while the cabal makes many attempts to put them out of the way.

Once again Christie treads in Edgar Wallace territory with only modest success. Readable but slight. Recommended for those who want more Poirot and Hastings.

Oct 15, 2016, 9:45pm Top

181. Thankful’s Inheritance, by Joseph C. Lincoln

October TIOLI Challenge #11: Read a book that's been sitting in a pile for at least 6 months

Widow Thankful Barnes endeavors to turn the house she inherited from her Uncle Abner into a boarding house, but she encounters a variety of obstacles: a tight-fisted lender who insists on a short term and may not extend her mortgage; an overbearing wealthy neighbor who wants to force her to sell the property to him so that he can tear it down for a better view from his estate; her own generosity; foul weather that sends happy summer boarders home early; and the “haunting” of one room. She is helped, however, by her cousin Emily Howes, who has better business sense, and receives unexpected assistance from another quarter; she is also supported by the devotion of maidservant Imogene and by the friendship of neighborly Captain Obed Bangs.

Thankful’s Inheritance is quite a pleasant, often comic, novel of Cape Cod. Recommended.

Edited: Oct 16, 2016, 10:45pm Top

With Thankful's Inheritance, I've completed a sweep of the October Take It or Leave It challenges.

(Edited because I realized I inadvertently skipped a few reviews. They'll show up below.)

Oct 16, 2016, 8:34am Top

>30 harrygbutler: Well done a TIOLI sweep :-)
I am working towards it too, it is doable this month.

Oct 16, 2016, 6:25pm Top

>31 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita! Good luck on your sweep, too!

Oct 16, 2016, 10:52pm Top

173. Railroad Stories: Avalanche!, by E. S. Dellinger

October TIOLI Challenge #1: Read a book with a one-word weather forecast on page 33

This volume contains three railroad-centered adventure stories from the pulps. The stories themselves were fairly interesting, with “Avalanche!” focused on a young man who was the sole survivor of an avalanche on a rail line that killed his father. Unfortunately, this reprint edition was marred by an unacceptable number of typographical errors, relics of OCR processing, I believe, and a lack of proofreading. I’m particularly disappointed because a second volume has been published, but as much as I’d like to read the stories, I don’t want to struggle through the same level of incoherence owing to errors. Not recommended.

Oct 16, 2016, 11:00pm Top

174. The Chinese Gold Murders, by Robert van Gulik

October TIOLI Challenge #15: Read a book by a Dutch or Flemish author

The Chinese Gold Murders is the first of Robert van Gulik’s Judge Dee mysteries in chronological order, though not the first published. It provides an excellent introduction to the judge and his assistants, as well as the typical structure of the novels, with more than one investigation occurring simultaneously. In this novel, Judge Dee, in his first post, investigates the murder of his predecessor, the disappearance of a bride, other murders, thefts, and smuggling.

I’m glad to be making another trip through these mysteries. Recommended.

Oct 17, 2016, 10:17am Top

175. Warfare and Politics in Medieval Germany, ca. 1000: On the Variety of Our Times, by Alpert of Metz, by Alpert von Metz

October TIOLI Challenge #8: Read a book with a painted or sculpted human image on the cover

Alpert of Metz’s De diversitate temporum provides an account of the strife between Wichmann, count of Vreden, and Balderich, count of Drenthe, and his wife Adela of Hamaland in the period around the year AD 1000. Though the focus is on the feud between these relatively minor nobles, this small history provides insight into the role of the emperor in the vicinity of the lower Rhine during the last years of the Ottonian dynasty, the tangled and shifting web of political alliances, religious issues, and more. Recommended for those interested in the period or the history of the Holy Roman Empire or the Low Countries, but probably not of great appeal for a general reader.

Oct 17, 2016, 1:06pm Top

182. Mrs. M`Lerie, by J. J. Bell

October TIOLI Challenge #1: Read a book with a one-word weather forecast on page 33

J. J. Bell’s Mrs. M‘Lerie is a collection of humorous episodes involving an older Scottish woman, with most featuring her friend Mrs. Munro as well. Mrs. M`Lerie is somewhat naïve and provincial, so some of the humor derives from her encounters with the unusual, such as a live canary or a zoo. Though the author’s sketches of her life are humorous, it is a gentle humor all in all, tinged with sympathy for his subject.

I didn’t find the book quite so engaging as others by J. J. Bell, such as Wee Macgreegor, perhaps because the Scots dialect was more opaque — though that probably increased its appeal to its original Scottish audience if, as I suspect, the book is derived from pieces that appeared in newspapers there. I was glad to learn that a metal kitchen sink is known as a “jawbox,” though. Recommended only for those not put off by dialect in their reading.

Edited: Nov 19, 2016, 10:30am Top

183. The Mounted Police Novels, Volume 1: Philip Steele of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police and The River's End, by James Oliver Curwood

October TIOLI Challenge #3: Read a book where a main character has to decide what is true

This volume, the first in a four-book series from Leonaur Press, reprints two of James Oliver Curwood’s novels set in western Canada. The first of the two novels in the book, Philip Steele of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police, has at its heart conflicts between justice and the law, seen in the context of a few love stories. The second, The River’s End, sees a fugitive adopting the identity of the Mountie who had been sent to capture him when that officer dies of a frozen lung. Though the charade seems successful, what will he do when the dead Mountie’s sister shows up — and when he finds himself falling for her?

Unfortunately, the first novel in this volume was made difficult to read by poor editing; there were many typographical errors and incorrect words that were likely relics of scanning and OCR processing. The second novel was in much better shape. I thought the stories were just OK, so all in all, I don’t think I’d recommend them.

Oct 19, 2016, 12:54pm Top

184. Report for a Corpse, by Henry Kane

October TIOLI Challenge #5: Read a book with a 4 word title

Report for a Corpse is a collection of stories starring private eye Peter Chambers that first appeared in Esquire magazine. Chambers is a fairly standard post-WW2 PI, with a touch of humor and a police lieutenant friend, Louis Parker — not particularly memorable, but serviceable. The stories were pretty good, with one clear clue fairly early on (more obvious in some stories) to allow the reader to see how Chambers determines the guilty party, though he also explains his reasoning (often to Lieut. Parker). Perhaps the best of the lot was “Suicide Is Scandalous,” which had a final twist that I did not expect, though it was fairly set up earlier. Recommended.

Oct 19, 2016, 1:33pm Top

Aiming for a double TIOLI sweep, Harry? ;-)

Edited: Oct 19, 2016, 2:05pm Top

>39 FAMeulstee: We'll see! I've been wondering just how close I can get, but I won't be surprised if I can't quite manage it. :-)

Edited: Oct 20, 2016, 3:56pm Top

185. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

October TIOLI Challenge #4: Read one of LT's 250 most-reviewed books

The classic children’s story The Little Prince has a lot of wisdom on offer in its account of a downed aviator's meeting with the eponymous character, who has come to Earth from his little planet. It is well worth reading, though I much prefer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s books for adults: Southern Mail, Wind, Sand, and Stars, and Night Flight, for example.

Oct 20, 2016, 8:11pm Top

186. Red Harvest, by Dashiell Hammett

October TIOLI Challenge #7: Read a book with a one or two word title and a total of 10 letters

Red Harvest was Dashiell Hammett’s first novel, built out of stories featuring his Continental Op detective. It is an episodic novel, in which the nameless middle-aged detective first solves the murder of the client who brought him to Personville (known as “Poisonville”). Then, on the strength of a contract with another client, he sets out to take down the crooks who have corrupted the city and effectively made it subject to their rule. Along the way, more and more bodies pile up as he sets the leaders against each other, and the Continental Op himself becomes a wanted man.

Hammett’s spare prose is effective, and the novel moves along at a fast clip. Recommended.

Oct 21, 2016, 3:40pm Top

187. Ghosts I Have Met, by John Kendrick Bangs

October TIOLI Challenge #13: Read a book with a Halloweeny creature in the title or story

Fantasy played a large part in the works of American humorist John Kendrick Bangs, with his hit novel “The Houseboat on the Styx” and its sequel, “The Pursuit of the Houseboat,” being prime examples. It is thus no surprise that he tackled ghost stories as well. “Ghosts I Have Met, and Some Others” includes seven tales, chiefly humorous, though the final story, “Carleton Barker, First and Second,” is a straightforward tale of a man with a doppelganger. “Ghosts That Have Haunted Me,” the lead story, is pretty funny, as is “The Mystery of Barney O’Rourke.” Curiously furniture plays a key role in two other tales: “The Mystery of My Grandmother’s Hair Sofa” sees that sofa giving evidence of haunting; “The Dampmere Mystery” has a mattress doing so. “The Exorcism That Failed,” in which the narrator is beset by a ghost who blames him for shoving him during Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, went on rather too long, though the resolution was amusing. And “Thurlow’s Christmas Story,” in which an author is tempted to use an admirer’s story to overcome writer’s block, just didn’t click for me. A fairly good collection nonetheless. Recommended.

Edited: Oct 21, 2016, 8:07pm Top

A bit of a disappointment in my latest book order, where three of the books did not match their descriptions or had descriptions that were too incomplete to indicate the issues that likely would have kept me from ordering them. One I expect I'll hold onto anyhow (I received a paperbound copy though it was listed as hardcover, but the price was low enough, and the condition of the book good enough, to keep it).

The abbreviated haul:

Histories of the Monks of Upper Egypt & the Life of Onnophrius, by Paphnutius
The Exploits of Dr. Sam: Johnson, Detector, by Lillian de la Torre (just one more to get for the series)
Lonesome Land, by B. M. Bower
Milo Talon, by Louis L'Amour (a hardcover edition to replace an old paperback)

Oct 21, 2016, 8:23pm Top

188. Hrafnkel’s Saga and Other Icelandic Stories (anonymous)

October TIOLI Challenge #8: Read a book with a painted or sculpted human image on the cover

I found this collection of short Icelandic tales of modest interest. The title story is the longest, with the most developed action, but the account of feud and vengeance is on the whole unsatisfying. The tale of “Thorstein the Staff-Struck” is better, with a certain wry humor and a more pleasing resolution to a feud. The feuding in “Ale-Hood” isn’t particularly compelling. The remaining stories deal with individuals’ interactions with Scandinavian royalty: “Hreidar the Fool” relates the account of the title character’s service with King Magnus the Good of Norway and scoring off King Harald Hardradi (co-king of Norway at the time); “Halldor Snorrason” tells of his relations with King Harald after their return from service in the Byzantine Empire; in “Audun’s Story” the title character earns rewards for himself by taking a captured polar bear as a gift to King Svein Ulfsson of Denmark (and by not giving the bear to King Harald Hardradi); and in “Ivar’s Story,” King Eystein Magnusson of Norway helps the Icelandic court poet Ivar get over a disappointment in love. OK, but not particularly recommended.

Oct 22, 2016, 4:37am Top

>45 harrygbutler: Well you managed to unearth another one there that I haven't heard of before, Harry. Not quite a ringing endorsement but Scandinavia is a part of the world I find fascinating.

Have a splendid weekend.

Oct 22, 2016, 9:01am Top

>46 PaulCranswick: I recall enjoying the longer sagas more, Paul, but it has been a long time since I have read them, so my tastes may have changed. Perhaps it is time to locate one of them and give it another go.

Oct 22, 2016, 9:01am Top

189. Death in the Doll’s House, by Hannah Lees and Lawrence Bachmann

October TIOLI Challenge #14: Read a book with orange lettering on the cover of the edition you are reading

A young girl is the only witness to the murder of her mother and shooting of her father (possibly self-inflicted). Can a doctor find a way to get the girl to reveal what she saw? And will he regret what he learns? This is a briskly paced mystery, much more readable than I had expected, set near Philadelphia. Recommended.

Oct 22, 2016, 2:09pm Top

>26 harrygbutler: nice haul!

If you decide to rehome A Highland Collie, would you consider me? :) It's been on my wishlist for a while.

I loved The Island Stallion books, and most of The Black Stallion series.

Oct 23, 2016, 12:36pm Top

>49 fuzzi: Sure, if I decide to get rid of it (but I do tend to hold onto books rather firmly unless I dislike them). I'll keep an eye out for another copy in my booksale visits, too.

I don't think I read quite all the books in the Black Stallion series, but I read many of them multiple times. I think the island was a big part of the draw for me with The Island Stallion.

Oct 23, 2016, 12:37pm Top

190. The Unfinished Clue, by Georgette Heyer

October TIOLI Challenge #12: Read a book with a negation in the title (not, un-, isn't, etc)

Those of Georgette Heyer’s mysteries that I have read are quite good — well-plotted, with a reasonable number of suspects, well-drawn characters, and an effective resolution. The Unfinished Clue certainly works well; at a couple points during the course of the novel I suspected the culprit, but I didn’t decide on the person definitively, as there were effective red herrings. I was also surprised by the twist in the resolution, which tied in with the title; I suspect that had I paid more attention to the interactions of the murderer and one of the other characters I would have caught on earlier. The romance seemed a bit underdeveloped, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying the novel; an amusing aspect was the way various people kept being surprised that the inspector from Scotland Yard wasn’t an oaf but seemed a gentleman, especially given how flawed the “gentlemen” among the suspects were shown to be. Recommended.

Oct 24, 2016, 12:30pm Top

>50 harrygbutler: thank you! I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask...nothing ventured...

>51 harrygbutler: I've read some Georgette Heyer, and enjoyed them.

Oct 25, 2016, 9:48am Top

>52 fuzzi: I think I now have all of Heyer's mysteries, though I don't think I've read them all. It is unlikely I'll read her romances.

Oct 25, 2016, 9:48am Top

191. She Shall Have Murder, by Delano Ames

October TIOLI Challenge #2: Read a book with murder in its title

Elderly Mrs. Robjohn is a fixture at the local solicitor’s office where Jane Hamish works; she is a client who regales anyone who will listen with tales of people out to get her. Then she is found dead, apparently the victim of an accident — but Jane’s fiancé, Dagobert Brown, maintains it was murder and sets out to investigate. It turns out that pretty much everyone in the office might have had a motive, and the opportunity, to murder Mrs. Robjohn. An OK mystery, with interesting enough amateur detectives that I’ll likely read the others in the series. Recommended.

Oct 25, 2016, 2:48pm Top

192. Dutch Romances, Volume I: Roman van Walewein, by Penninc and Pieter Vostaert

October TIOLI Challenge #15: Read a book by a Dutch or Flemish author

The medieval Roman van Walewein is one of several Middle Dutch Arthurian romances published with a facing-page translation by Boydell & Brewer as part of the excellent Arthurian Archives series. In this enjoyable 11,000-line poem, a magic chess set flies into King Arthur’s court one day and then flies away again, and his nephew Walewein (better known as Gawain) volunteers to retrieve it. His quest takes him to the court of King Wonder, who owns the chess set and is willing to give it to Walewein provided the knight retrieves for him the Sword with Two Rings. Seeking the sword, Walewein comes to the castle of its possessor, King Amoraen, who will let Walewein have it if the knight gets for him the maiden Ysabel, daughter of King Assentijn, who lives in faraway Endi. While journeying there, Walewein is stymied by a fiery river, but a fox offers to show him the way, provided he arranges for the spell that has turned him into a fox to be broken. Walewein agrees and is guided to a dark tunnel that leads safely under the river. The knight must then overcome the defenders of the 12 gates of the castle, but after initial success he is taken prisoner. More twists await. Lots of fun, but the portion by Pieter Vostaert, who completed the unfinished poem by Penninc, does not measure up to the quality of the first part. Recommended.

Oct 25, 2016, 2:51pm Top

193. Doctor Dogbody’s Leg, by James Norman Hall

October TIOLI Challenge #10: Read a book with at least three different vowels in the title

James Norman Hall, co-author of Mutiny of the Bounty, penned these Munchausen-like tall tales, which belong to the sub-genre of tavern or club tales (see, e.g., Lord Dunsany’s Jorkens stories). The first several focus on different, incompatible accounts of how Napoleonic-era English ship’s surgeon Feadle Dogbody lost one of his legs (for example, chopped off by a guillotine, or eaten by wolves while protecting Catherine the Great of Russia). By the latter part of the volume, the focus is on the tale itself (for example, how a wax dummy commanded a ship’s guns, or how women convicts being carried to Botany Bay took over the transport ship), and the loss of the leg is practically an afterthought. These are amusing stories, and I wish there were more. Recommended.

Oct 25, 2016, 3:19pm Top

194. Prince Valiant, Vol. 7: 1949-1950, by Hal Foster

October TIOLI Challenge #9: Read a book where one of the words in the title can be changed to different word by either changing a letter, adding a letter, or deleting a letter

In Volume 7 of Fantagraphics’ reprints of Prince Valiant, Val and Gawain are sent, together with aspiring wizard Oom Fooyat, to deal with reports of black magic in a distant fief, where sits the Castle Illwynde. Then a fairly routine trip to Hadrian’s Wall turns into a desperate campaign by Val’s outnumbered force to put an end to Pictish raids across the wall into England, and Aleta must lend a hand. The northern battles are followed by a return to Thule on the ship of old companion Boltar the Viking, and the king of Thule at last meets his grandson. Recommended.

Oct 25, 2016, 3:25pm Top

195. The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner

October TIOLI Challenge #6: Read a book in which someone experiences an unusual childhood, name the unusual circumstances

Orphans Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny, intent on staying together and on avoiding their grandfather, whom they believe a mean man likely to hate them, create a home for themselves in an abandoned boxcar near Silver City. Henry finds day work with kindly Doctor Moore, and the good doctor provides other opportunities for the children. Enjoyable, but rather simplistic; I might try the original version, which apparently was longer and more complex, someday. Recommended for children.

Oct 25, 2016, 4:10pm Top

196. Scott’s Lady of the Lake, by Sir Walter Scott

October TIOLI Challenge #11: Read a book that's been sitting in a pile for at least 6 months

Set during the reign of James V of Scotland — thus in the early sixteenth century — Sir Walter Scott’s narrative poem “The Lady of the Lake” is an engaging adventure. As it opens, a wandering hunter, who has lost his companions while pursuing a stag, comes to the shore of Loch Katrine, where the maid Ellen appears in answer to his horn, believing it her father’s call. The wanderer, James Fitz-James, is given shelter on an island in the loch for the night and takes his departure in the morning. That day sees the return of Ellen’s father, the outlawed James of Bothwell, and Malcolm Graeme, her beloved, as well as Roderick Dhu, chief of Clan Alpine, who shelters the fugitives under his mother’s care and loves Ellen himself. Battle with royal forces seems likely, and Roderick calls on the weird hermit Brian to send forth the Fiery Cross to summon the clan for war. The wanderer, smitten by Ellen as well, returns to the wilds but is thought a spy, and he must fight Roderick.

The interest of the poem is enhanced by the variation given by the short songs, laments, and ballads incorporated within the overall tale. Recommended.

Oct 25, 2016, 4:11pm Top

And with Sir Walter Scott's The Lady of the Lake, I've completed a double TIOLI sweep for October!

Oct 25, 2016, 5:20pm Top

>60 harrygbutler: WOW! Congratulations Harry.

From the TIOLI thread: how is your dog Hildy doing?

Oct 25, 2016, 5:40pm Top

>61 FAMeulstee: Thanks again, Anita!

And thanks for asking about Hildy! She was sick for a few days a couple weeks ago, and the lab work and an ultrasound revealed possible pancreatitis, low blood protein levels, and assorted other indicators of some sort of issue in her intestines. The first treatments haven't really changed things, so tomorrow I take her for an endoscopy so they can try to pinpoint the exact problem so they can identify an effective treatment -- even if just in managing a chronic condition.

Oct 25, 2016, 9:33pm Top

>62 harrygbutler: sorry to hear that Hildy has not been well, but congratulations on the double-sweep!

Oct 25, 2016, 10:15pm Top

>63 fuzzi: Thank you, on both counts!

Oct 26, 2016, 9:07am Top

First frost this morning. I guess it's time to put row cover cloth over the cool-weather crops we have going -- lettuce, radishes, kale -- since I haven't gotten around to making cold frames.

Oct 27, 2016, 5:31am Top

How did Hildy's endoscopy turn out?

Oct 27, 2016, 7:24am Top

>66 FAMeulstee: We won't have full results until next week, but they were already able to make some changes to her treatment regimen that should help. Thanks for asking!

Oct 31, 2016, 10:13am Top

To our surprise, we still have strawberries — not just fruit, but blossoms — on our everbearing plants. I harvested a few ripe strawberries yesterday, and unless the plants are blasted by a heavy frost, I guess we can expect at least a few even in November.

A couple of the plants, showing both a flower and ripening strawberries.

These plants were survivors of some we had tried in a raised bed, where they were only moderately happy. This spring I moved them to a narrow bed along the fence between our driveway (and a narrow strip of grass) and the neighbor's yard, and they really seem to like the location.

Oct 31, 2016, 10:15am Top

I tried to get in some additional seasonal reading, with the stories by Bram Stoker in Dracula's Guest and Other Tales of Horror, but I just didn't find the stories or the style congenial. I've abandoned the read and will be getting rid of the book.

Nov 1, 2016, 9:10pm Top

An update on our dog Hildy: She has a couple intestinal and lymphatic disorders that are chronic and will need to be managed going forward, with various medications and a prescription diet, but fortunately they found no cancer and nothing too severe to be treated. Hildy herself is doing well, though the steroid she is on is making her exceedingly thirsty and hungry.

Nov 2, 2016, 5:30pm Top

>70 harrygbutler: Happy to read Hilda's problems can be treated. Give her a hug!

Nov 2, 2016, 5:33pm Top

>71 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita! Will do.

Nov 2, 2016, 10:54pm Top

Nov 3, 2016, 4:57pm Top

>73 fuzzi: Indeed!

Nov 5, 2016, 8:09am Top

197. Police at the Funeral, by Margery Allingham

October TIOLI Challenge #5: Read a book with a 4 word title

Several family members — adult children, nephew, grandniece — live in the home and under the authority of Great Aunt Caroline. When Uncle Andrew disappears, Joyce Blount comes to Albert Campion for assistance, though her fiancé, lawyer Marcus Featherstone, thinks there’s nothing really in the matter. Then Uncle Andrew turns up shot, and Aunt Julia is poisoned. Is someone stalking the inhabitants of Socrates Close, and if so, who will be the next victim? Campion unravels the mystery; the twists were rather effective, and the culprit a surprise. Recommended.

Nov 5, 2016, 11:14am Top

>75 harrygbutler: I am thinking about including Margery Allingham in next year's BAC Challenge, Harry.

Have a great weekend.

Nov 5, 2016, 3:41pm Top

>76 PaulCranswick: I have many more of Allingham's Campion books to read, so I'd be likely to take part for that bit of the challenge, at least.

Have a great weekend, too, Paul!

Nov 5, 2016, 4:24pm Top

A trip to Pulp Adventurecon in Bordentown, N.J., this morning netted me 19 books, nearly all mysteries, and most of those Dell mapbacks:

The Unicorn Murders, by Carter Dickson
The Judas Window, by Carter Dickson
Dead Center, by Mary Collins
Only the Good, by Mary Collins
Juliet Dies Twice, by Lange Lewis
Nobody Wore Black, by Delano Ames
No Crime for a Lady, by Zelda Popkin
Death and Taxes, by David Dodge
Death of a Bullionaire, by A. B. Cunningham
The Cat Saw Murder, by D. B. Olsen
Dangerous Ground, by Francis Sill Wickware
The One That Got Away, by Helen McCloy
Lament for the Bride, by Helen Reilly
Three Women in Black, by Helen Reilly
Ghost of a Chance, by Kelley Roos
The Corpse with the Floating Foot, by R. A. J. Walling
Crimson Friday, by Dorothy Cameron Disney
Frank Merriwell's Air Voyage; or, Heroes Undaunted, by Burt L. Standish
The Shadow Annual #2: The Black Master, The Shadow's Shadow, and The Death Giver, by Maxwell Grant

Nov 7, 2016, 10:15am Top

198. The Asey Mayo Trio, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor

November TIOLI Challenge #5: Read a book where the author's first and last name have the same number of syllables

In The Asey Mayo Trio, the Cape Cod detective tackles mysteries involving a woman murdered in a house that is being moved, a new teacher found dead in a carriage when it arrives at a private school, and an astronomer bludgeoned to death with a meteorite. The first novella, “The Third Murderer,” is probably the strongest; it is certainly the most memorable, with the body found in an oven of a house that was being moved from one town to another. On the whole, though, I think these three stories are a bit less effective than the full-length novels. The red herrings are somewhat perfunctory, and the usual dashing around is hurried, as the novella form doesn’t give the scope necessary to really build the oddness.

Recommended, but I wouldn’t start with this volume as an introduction to Asey Mayo.

Nov 8, 2016, 8:05am Top

199. Histories of the Monks of Upper Egypt and the Life of Onnophrius, by Paphnutius

November TIOLI Challenge #3: Read a book you acquired in Aug/Sept/Oct of 2016

The two works in this volume — “Histories of the Monks of Upper Egypt” and “The Life of Onnophrius” — provide a window into religion near the southern frontier of fourth-century Roman Egypt. Much of the focus is on the ascetics who went up into the desert, away from the fertile Nile, to practice their devotion by living as hermits (including the Onnophrius of the second work, who is venerated as Saint Onuphrius), but the author Paphnutius (who may have lived into his nineties and been visited by John Cassius in AD 395) also relates the coming of Christianity to the town of Philae, south of Aswan, which had long been a center of Isis worship, with information on the first four bishops of the town. Recommended.

Nov 8, 2016, 11:31am Top

200. The Heliand: The Saxon Gospel (anonymous)

November TIOLI Challenge #12: Read a book that is translated in at least one other language

In the wake of Charlemagne’s conquest and forcible conversion of the Saxons, an unknown author, presumably a Saxon, crafted a remarkable epic poem, in traditional Germanic alliterative style in the Old Saxon language. The Heliand (“savior”) is a verse paraphrase of the gospels for the newly Christian folk; at around 6,000 lines (some have been lost), it is nearly double the length of the more famous (at least among English speakers) Beowulf. The author’s remarkable achievement includes presenting Christ and the disciples as a Germanic leader and his household troop, using familiar terminology so that the Saxon audience could gain an understanding of this faith with its unfamiliar Mediterranean origin.

The translation I read unfortunately leaves a bit to be desired. It’s often rather pedestrian and unmusical. I think the volume would have benefited greatly from including the Old Saxon text, too, so that the reader could consult the original when the English translation was clunky or too Latinate. Despite that criticism, I’m glad to have finally read it. Recommended.

Nov 10, 2016, 5:23pm Top

This week has been fairly productive in terms of book finds:

Nov 11, 2016, 11:20am Top

201. The Shadow Rider, by William Colt MacDonald

November TIOLI Challenge #4: Read a book about or set in Mexico

Dale Stephens, the “Gila Shadow,” is on the run from a posse when hunger drives him to the Golden Cactus for a meal that he cannot pay for. A stranger, Pascal Santiago, helps him out of that tight spot, and in turn Stephens, with the help of two cowpunchers he recruits in the cantina, assist Santiago in escaping an ambush prepared by his enemy, the bandit known as “El Gato Montés.” Santiago then recruits Stephens to go in search of his son, Ramon, who has disappeared while on the track of some stolen silver. While searching, he encounters some of those who had ambushed Santiago, and the ensuing fight leads to imprisonment under the threat of death. The first-person narrative is handled reasonably well, in a plot with some strong and distinctive characters and a rather unusual final battle. I’ll pick up more westerns by William Colt MacDonald when I see them. Recommended.

Nov 11, 2016, 1:00pm Top

>83 harrygbutler: hmm. Looks interesting. Was it fairly clean? Some westerns can be rather, er, explicit about sex.

Nov 11, 2016, 2:21pm Top

>84 fuzzi: It's clean. Based on the copyright date, it was likely first published in 1942, possibly in one of the pulp western magazines. There is a bit of a romance, but nothing racy.

Nov 11, 2016, 2:49pm Top

>85 harrygbutler: thanks! I'll keep an eye out for it.

Edited: Nov 11, 2016, 3:28pm Top

>86 fuzzi: You're welcome! I guess I should note that it's a "modern" western, though I don't know that is set as late as 1942, with automobiles and a machine gun as well as horses.

Edited: Nov 11, 2016, 4:44pm Top

202. Six Seconds of Darkness, by Octavus Roy Cohen

November TIOLI Challenge #10: Read a book where the title can complete the sentence "I am thankful for..."

In another of the mysteries starring detective David Carroll (I read the first, Crimson Alibi, earlier this year), the private detective is placed in charge of investigating the murder of a local campaigner for cleaning up civic corruption, including in the police force. Could the murder have something to do with the reform movement? Or is the reason more personal? Police Commissioner Clement Hall suspected Hamilton was in love with his ward, Eunice Duval; he certainly objected to her romance with artist Vincent Harrelson. The book gets off to a galloping start, with each of the first three chapters ending with the arrival of someone at police headquarters to confess to shooting Hamilton; the fourth chapter sees police chief Barrett Rollins arrive with injured burglar Red Hartigan, who has been found with a gun on the premises but who denies he committed the murder.

The actual culprit is fairly obvious, and Carroll’s suspicions of that character will be clear to the reader quite early on. Still, it is a fairly entertaining story, and one that once again indulges the author’s propensity to end each chapter with some sort of exclamation, and frequently one in italics as well, as in the first four chapters:

Chapter One: “No. Can’t you understand what I came here for? I came here to give myself up! I killed Mr. Hamilton!

Chapter Two: “You see,” he explained slowly, “that is the revolver I used when I killed him!”

Chapter Three: “I just came to give myself up, sir. About an hour ago I quarreled with Mr. Hamilton – and I killed him!

Chapter Four: “Red Hartigan,” he exulted, “is the man who murdered Mr. Hamilton!”

Nov 13, 2016, 8:40pm Top

Hildy is adapting reasonably well to the new regime of a restricted diet, medications, and injections, though I think she'd be really happy to get a pork chop.

Nov 14, 2016, 9:29am Top

>89 harrygbutler: awww...what a face! What breed is she (if you know)?

Nov 14, 2016, 1:26pm Top

>90 fuzzi: We're not sure, as we adopted her as an adult, though she looks quite a bit like a rat terrier, so that is probably at least part of her ancestry.

We've had her a little more than three years, and per the vets, she was about 5 when we took her in. I was working one day in the home office, when I glanced out the window and saw this small dog come trotting into our yard. She was captured with the help of a neighbor. Erika and I kept the dog while efforts were made to find her owner, with no success, and we decided to adopt her. (At the time we had been discussing getting a dog, so it was providential that she arrived when she did.) We were lucky, as Hildy had clearly received at least some training and thus is generally a well-behaved dog.

Nov 14, 2016, 4:29pm Top

Glad to read Hildy is doing well, she looks adorable!
Nice story how she came nto your life :-)

Nov 14, 2016, 6:39pm Top

She reminds me a little of my Kyrie, who was a Boston Terrier and ?? cross. We had her for over 15 years, and she loved to sit on the couch/chair as does your Hildy.

Nov 15, 2016, 1:41pm Top

>93 fuzzi: Did Kyrie also burrow underneath any throws or afghans that might be available? Hildy seems to be perpetually chilly, and she now has blankets of her own in various spots around the house. Much of the time she is invisible because she has rolled herself up in a ball beneath them.

Nov 15, 2016, 1:46pm Top

>94 harrygbutler: I can't recall that she burrowed on her own, but she loved snuggling under our blankets on the bed.

Nov 16, 2016, 4:06pm Top

Otto and his latest box.

Nov 16, 2016, 6:26pm Top

That's a cat for you...they sure do love their boxes.

Nov 18, 2016, 7:34pm Top

>97 fuzzi: Yep. We try to leave at least one empty box around for them to play with, at least until it gets too beat up.

Edited: Nov 18, 2016, 7:36pm Top

A 30%-off sale at a local thrift store yielded a few books:

Singing in the Shrouds, by Ngaio Marsh
The Critter and Other Dogs, by Albert Payson Terhune
and the two volumes of Raymond Chandler's work from the Library of America:
Stories and Early Novels
Later Novels and Other Writings

Nov 24, 2016, 8:32am Top

>99 harrygbutler: nice mix!

I've read the Terhune one, though I don't own it, must have read it online through Open Library or Gutenberg. It's worth a read.

Nov 24, 2016, 10:56am Top

I am thankful that you decided to join the group in 2016.

Nov 24, 2016, 7:55pm Top

>100 fuzzi: Good to know about the Terhune book. Thanks!

Nov 24, 2016, 7:55pm Top

>101 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul. It has been an enjoyable time.

Nov 30, 2016, 1:03pm Top

203. Psmith in the City, by P. G. Wodehouse

Challenge #15: Read a book without a photograph on the cover

In the next book dealing with Mike and Psmith (who were met in Mike at Wrykyn and Mike and Psmith), the two end up employed at a bank whose manager, John Bickersdyke, has it in for Psmith in particular. With Psmith taking the lead, the two young men aid Bickersdyke’s suffering subordinate, Mr. Waller, and have assorted adventures. Once again cricket looms large, in the opening and in the resolution of the plot. Humorous and entertaining, but probably more effective if one has already read the previous novels. Recommended.

Nov 30, 2016, 2:52pm Top

204. The Haunting of Low Fennel, by Sax Rohmer

November TIOLI Challenge #14: ROLLING CHALLENGE: Read a book that starts with the beginning letters of THANKSGIVING

The Haunting of Low Fennel is a mixed collection of short stories by Sax Rohmer, encompassing horror, fantasy, adventure, and crime and mystery. Standouts include the title story, dealing with a house with a sinister history; “The Blue Monkey,” whose unnamed detective and narrator certainly seem familiar, and which has a pleasing unusual mystery at the center, involving a porcelain figure apparently coming to life; and “The Turquoise Necklace,” a tale of generosity repaid. Recommended to those who like Rohmer, though this might be a reasonable way to try his work out.

Dec 1, 2016, 5:25pm Top

205. Merovingian Mortuary Archaeology and the Making of the Early Middle Ages, by Bonnie Effros

Challenge #13: Read a book with a date on pages 11, 20 or 16

Merovingian Mortuary Archaeology and the Making of the Early Middle Ages is a historiographical survey of archaeological and historical work on Gaul (including the Low Countries and the Rhineland) under the Franks. Though of some value in bringing together summaries of work in a field I don’t really know, unfortunately, for me its weaknesses outweighed its benefits. In part that is because it didn’t really match my expectations: I had anticipated history informed by archaeology, but instead got critiques of historical and archaeological work with little in the way of positive interpretations, and those too often claiming something “must have” been this way, with the opinion often essentially unsupported. Moreover, despite ostensible attentiveness to dating (including a mention of something as “predating the focus of this discussion” — though in reference to Sidonius Apollinaris, who died around AD 480; the discussion of the north-south graves at Frénouville in Normandy just a few pages later didn’t apply the same weight to the fact that these graves date from the late third to late fourth centuries and thus are even earlier), the author jumped back and forth, juxtaposing material from quite early and quite late in the roughly 300-year Merovingian period. Even more disappointing was evidence of the desperate need for an editor; the writing and the arguments were weakened by awkward and unclear phrasing, repetitiveness, and assorted other problems. The flaws make me disinclined to seek out other books in this series from the University of California Press. Not recommended.

Dec 2, 2016, 9:42am Top

206. Out of Control, by Baynard Kendrick

November TIOLI Challenge #8: Read a book in which one of the characters is either blind or deaf

In Out of Control, blind detective Duncan Maclain matches wits with a killer who had successfully murdered one person a couple years before the start of the book. The narrative focuses on the murderer’s point of view — an unfortunate choice, I think, as the reader spends far too much time with someone who is not sympathetic. I was glad to put this one behind me.

I’ve now read three of the books in Baynard Kendrick’s Duncan Maclain series, and although they are well constructed, I don’t find myself really warming to either the style or the character. For all their flaws, I prefer the two minor movies starring Edward Arnold in the role.

Dec 2, 2016, 12:45pm Top

Interesting premise, a blind detective. There was a television series in the 1970s with a blind detective, "Longstreet".

Dec 2, 2016, 2:02pm Top

>108 fuzzi: Apparently Maclain was an inspiration for the Longstreet character.

Dec 5, 2016, 2:19pm Top

Most of the squirrels that visit our back yard and raid the bird feeders are regular Eastern gray squirrels, but we do have one black squirrel who comes by as well. Here it is on the side fence after getting a snack from one of the feeders.

Dec 5, 2016, 3:11pm Top

>110 harrygbutler: wow, what a cutie!

Info about black squirrels here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_squirrel

Dec 5, 2016, 3:41pm Top

>107 harrygbutler:, >108 fuzzi:, >109 harrygbutler:

I'm reading Ernest Bramah's Max Carrados books at the moment. It isn't clear whether he, Clinton Stagg's Thornley Colton or Isobel Ostrander's Damon Gaunt was the first blind detective, because of short-story first publication. However, they all appeared around the same time, 1913 - 1915.

I haven't read Thornley Colton, but I enjoyed Ostrander's At One-Thirty. The Carrados stories are interesting but the detective basically has super-spidey-senses which negate the whole point of his being blind.

Dec 6, 2016, 6:24pm Top

>111 fuzzi: Thanks. I was pleasantly surprised by the photo, as I had to take it using my point-and-shoot camera's zoom and could only somewhat guess at what I would get.

>112 lyzard: I've recently reread the Dover collection, Best Max Carrados Detective Stories. I like them, but I do find his sense of touch in particular to be rather exaggerated. I read the Coachwhip reprint of the Thornley Colton stories a few years ago, but neither the detective nor the stories made a sufficient impression for me to recall them now; I'll likely reread them at some point (perhaps when they would fit another TIOLI challenge). I hadn't heard of At One-Thirty; I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

Edited: Dec 10, 2016, 7:25pm Top

207. The Mystery of the Blue Train, by Agatha Christie

November TIOLI Challenge #7: Read a book where the author's initials make a recognizable short form

American Ruth Van Aldin Kettering, daughter of a millionaire and unhappily married to Derek Kettering, is murdered while traveling to the south of France aboard the Blue Train, and the famous ruby the Heart of Fire, which she had with her, has disappeared. Hercule Poirot happens to be traveling on the same train, and he takes an interest in the crime. Also aboard is Katherine Grey, who has recently inherited a large sum of money and is on her way to spend some time with some grasping relatives. She met the unfortunate Mrs. Kettering aboard the train, and also Poirot, and she perhaps saw the victim’s estranged husband, who has been entangled with the dancer Mirelle, on the train, too. Who wanted to kill Mrs. Kettering, and why? Are the theft and the murder separate crimes, or just one?

I found this a rather disappointing entry in the Poirot series, with weak characterization that left me with little sympathy for the various parties. I was surprised by the solution to the mystery, but aside from pleasure in watching Poirot’s efforts I wasn’t particularly engaged along the way. Worth reading, but a lesser effort.

Dec 10, 2016, 8:34pm Top

208. Wind, Sand and Stars, by Antoine de Saint Exupéry

November TIOLI Challenge #6: Read a book whose title includes a heteronym or homonym

Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s memoir, Wind, Sand and Stars, offers a series of philosophical reflections amid recollections of persons, places, actions, and events — chiefly connected with the early years of aviation, but also including an extended section set during the Spanish Civil War. Standout elements include the account of how Guillaumet walked out of the Andes after a crash there, and the chapter on the wreck of Saint Exupéry and his mechanic in the Sahara while attempting a long-distance journey from Paris to Saigon. And there is concentrated charm and sadness in the brief interlude, “Oasis.” The elegiac tone of the work as a whole, which I have found common to other works by Saint Exupéry as well, is driven home by the fact that many of the other pilots discussed had been killed in the course of their profession, and perhaps reinforced by knowledge that the author himself would be killed while flying for the Free French in World War II just a few years later. Recommended.

Edited: Dec 11, 2016, 11:41am Top

209. Fallon, by Louis L’Amour

November TIOLI Challenge #11: Read a book with "Fall" or "Autumn" in the title

If Louis L’Amour’s Kiowa Trail (which I read in October) is the story of the death of a town, Fallon is a tale of one’s rebirth and redemption. Gambler Macon Fallon, on the run from the friends of a man whom he had killed in a fair fight, encounters bogged-down settlers heading for a mining camp to the west. In this forlorn group he sees the possibility of a massive con to rebuild his finances by crafting the illusion of a gold strike at a nearby ghost town, Buell’s Bluff, which had boomed and then gone bust when the original “strike” was found to be a swindle. He leads the settlers to the abandoned site, which he renames “Red Horse,” and sets about crafting a prosperous town as a “front” to ensure the success of his planned fraud. But as he works to develop the town, he keeps putting off cashing out and moving on, though he faces challenges from nature, nearby outlaws, the townsfolk themselves, and even the return of Iron John Buell, the crook behind the original gold rush scam there.

This story of a flawed man who yet builds something good is perhaps my favorite Louis L’Amour novel; I’ve read it many times. Recommended.

Dec 11, 2016, 4:22pm Top

210. Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Color Sundays: "Call of the Wild", by Floyd Gottfredson

November TIOLI Challenge #1: Read a book whose cover pictures at least one bird whose beak faces the book spine

This collection of Mickey Mouse Sunday comic strips from the early 1930s offers both one-shot gag strips and extended stories, including the cover tale, “Call of the Wild.” They feature Mickey, Minnie, Horace Horsecollar as Mickey’s best pal, Clarabelle Cow, Pluto, and others, including Donald Duck and an early iteration of Goofy, at the time known as “Dippy.” I found them amusing, and I’m looking forward to reading the next volume. Recommended.

Dec 11, 2016, 8:08pm Top

First candy of the season finished: 12 dozen buckeyes!

Dec 12, 2016, 6:10pm Top

211. My Late Wives, by Carter Dickson

November TIOLI Challenge #7: Read a book where the author's initials make a recognizable short form

Actor Bruce Ransom receives a play telling the story of Roger Bewlay, a Bluebeard who had disappeared several years before after mystifying police by causing the bodies of his victims to vanish without a trace. Intrigued, Ransom, whose own past is murky, decides to head off into the countryside to test whether the plot of the play, which turns on mistaken identity and rumor, is realistic. But it appears that Ransom may not be simply playing a part, as he betrays knowledge of details known only to the police, one witness, and the murderer: Is it possible that he is the missing Bewlay? Sir Henry Merrivale is on hand to unravel the mysteries, including the disappearing bodies.

My Late Wives is a lesser effort in the Merrivale series. Recommended for completists only.

Dec 12, 2016, 7:51pm Top

>115 harrygbutler: I have also read Wind, Sand and Stars recently and concur with your views on it, Harry. I think that the tone is created for him a little by our foreknowledge of his end though, don't you think.

I hadn't realised I hadn't commented here for fully three weeks. Another couple of weeks and you'll possibly reach 3x75 this year for a stellar reading 2016.

Dec 13, 2016, 2:15pm Top

>120 PaulCranswick: Thanks for stopping by, Paul! I may reread either Southern Mail or Night Flight soon.

I should hit 225; 250 is likely out of reach unless I do little but read the rest of the year.

Dec 13, 2016, 2:15pm Top

212. Best Max Carrados Detective Stories, by Ernest Bramah

November TIOLI Challenge #8: Read a book in which one of the characters is either blind or deaf

Among the flood of idiosyncratic investigator that peopled stories in the early twentieth century was Ernest Bramah’s blind detective Max Carrados,. This Dover edition draws stories from each of the three collections of Carrados stories, and run from the detective’s introduction in “The Coin of Dionysius,” when he is sought out by Mr. Carlyle, the private investigator, for counsel on a rare coin and ends up unraveling the mystery, through cases dealing with theft, deception, sabotage, and murder, including “The Knight’s Cross Signal Problem,” involving a train wreck; “The Disappearance of Marie Severe,” concerned with the apparent kidnapping (and possibly killing) of a child; the tragedy of “The Poisoned Dish of Mushrooms”; and “The Ingenious Mr. Spinola,” in which Carrados confronts a card-playing automaton. Throughout, Carrados displays keen powers of investigation and a well-nigh miraculous ability to compensate for his loss of sight (e.g., he can read regular printed works by touch). Recommended.

Edited: Dec 13, 2016, 3:36pm Top

213. Idylls and Rambles: Lighter Christian Essays, by Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.

November TIOLI Challenge #9: Read a book of essays

This is a good collection of essays by a former professor of mine. They cover matters both light and serious, but in all cases aiming to look beyond the incidental and ephemeral to the eternal. Fr. Schall looks to Samuel Johnson (passages from both The Idler and The Rambler serve as epigraphs) and G. K. Chesterton (the subject of another of his books) in his efforts, and brings together a wide range of other reading as well. Recommended.

Dec 14, 2016, 10:24pm Top

214. Scotland Yard Can Wait, by David Frome

November TIOLI Challenge #13: Read a book with a date on pages 11, 20 or 16

Chief-Inspector Lord of Scotland Yard gets a surprise while seeing his mother-in-law off on a trip abroad: He spots ex-convict Sprat Marlin, whose early release the detective had obtained in the hope the crook would lead police to stolen money. Marlin had given the police the slip after his release, but this chance encounter puts them back on his trail — a short one, as Marlin is soon murdered. The body is first discovered by young attorney Jerry Drake, who blunders onto the scene of the crime while the killer is still there and ends up with a key that seems to be what the villain wants. Drake does not take the key to the police (though he knows he should), and he endeavors to conduct his own inquiries into the suspicious behavior of various persons connected with the household of Sir John Bailey, including Sir John’s butler, whom Drake had seen meeting the victim before the murder; Sir John’s brother Philip, who had been suspected of collusion in the theft for which Marlin was convicted; and Sir John’s ward, Hal Franklin. At the same time, others who had been connected with Marlin are in the hunt for the missing money as well. Recommended.

Edited: Dec 15, 2016, 2:47pm Top

215. Letters of a Self-Made Diplomat to His President, by Will Rogers

November TIOLI Challenge #2: Read a book with something political in the title

In 1926, humorist Will Rogers headed to Europe, and he chronicled much of his trip in a series of open letters to President Calvin Coolidge published in the Saturday Evening Post. He borrowed his title from the 1902 bestseller Letters of a Self-Made Merchant to His Son, which had also first appeared in the magazine. Most of the material is topical, focused on the League of Nations, European war debt, and prominent members of governments both domestic and foreign, and unfortunately that timeliness that rendered the letters of interest when first published robs them of much of their humor and impact now: It is hard to really appreciate a joke about, say, Vice President Charles G. Dawes or Senator William Borah without more familiarity than a modern reader is likely to have. Though some of the incidents and anecdotes have a more perennial quality, on the whole I don’t recommend this book.

Dec 15, 2016, 4:08pm Top

I had the same trouble with Finley Peter Dunne's "Mr Dooley" columns: most of them were so topical as to be inexplicable.

Dec 16, 2016, 5:48pm Top

>126 lyzard: Good to know. I'm used to missing some topical allusions and humor in older works, but it can be a challenge when those make up nearly the whole work.

Dec 16, 2016, 5:48pm Top

216. Perceptions of the Past in the Early Middle Ages, by Rosamond McKitterick

Perceptions of the Past in the Early Middle Ages, based on a series of lectures that author Rosamond McKitterick delivered at the University of Notre Dame, is an engaging look at the sophisticated ways in which Carolingian authors made use of the past, including both Roman and Frankish elements of their history, to address their own concerns in the ninth and tenth centuries. Recommended to those interested in early medieval history.

Dec 16, 2016, 9:20pm Top

217. Sovereignty and Salvation in the Vernacular, 1050-1150, trans. by James A. Schultz

This is an anthology of some of the earliest Middle High German poems, with facing-page translations. The poems themselves are of varying quality and interest, in part perhaps because not all are complete, but they are worth reading: the Ezzolied, sung on a pilgrimage in the 1060s, and which survives in two versions; the Annolied (and the portion of the Kaiserchronik that is based on it), on history and the eleventh-century Archbishop Anno of Cologne; the Lob Salomons (“Praise of Solomon”); and the Historia Judith, containing accounts of the three youths in the fiery furnace and of Judith and Holofernes. Recommended.

Dec 17, 2016, 1:52am Top

>129 harrygbutler: I'll bet no one else has that one on their hit-list Harry!

Have a great weekend.

Dec 18, 2016, 1:11pm Top

>130 PaulCranswick: It's not likely to be a bestseller, I'll grant you. I hope you had a great weekend, too, Paul.

Edited: Dec 18, 2016, 1:21pm Top

218. The Black House, by Constance and Gwenyth Little

December TIOLI Challenge #2: Read a book with a title consisting of a colour and an object

Henry Debbon unusually arrives early for work — before even his boss, Claude Boster — and while he is at his desk, before anyone else has shown up, a strange man comes into the office and barges past Henry and into Claude’s office. But when Claude arrives, the man apparently has disappeared. Later that morning, Claude reveals to Henry that he fears for the safety of his step-daughter Diana at the hands of an escaped convict, who may have been the man Henry saw that morning. He assigns Henry the job of protecting Diana, and to keep her safe, Henry ends up taking her up to his aunt’s black-painted house in upstate New York, where it appears that his deceased aunt is still making her presence felt. This novel by the Littles is fairly amusing, though the mystery is not all that strong. Recommended.

Dec 19, 2016, 6:36pm Top

219. The Mystery of the Cape Cod Tavern, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor

Eve Prence, owner of the Cape Cod Tavern, claims that someone is trying to kill her — and an apparent spill down the stairs suggests that may be the case. But she is known to be willing to do a lot to get publicity for her inn, so her claim is met with some doubt. Still, Asey Mayo does ask Kay Adams, who is visiting to meet her nephew’s fiancée Anne Bradford (whom Eve implies may be behind the attempts), to keep an eye on Eve while he has to be away. Unfortunately, however, Eve is murdered during that absence — stabbed while sitting in the room with the young and blind Norris Dean, listening to the radio. There are ample indications that others staying at the inn might have reason to murder the victim, but the time of the killing seems to exclude nearly everyone but Anne. A fairly fast-paced, engaging mystery. Recommended.

Dec 19, 2016, 8:34pm Top

220. On the Spot, by Edgar Wallace

On the Spot is a grim story about Chicago mobster Tony Perelli and his downfall. It reminded me of movies like “Little Caesar” and “Public Enemy.” It moves along at a rapid clip, but the lack of sympathetic characters gets a bit wearying. Not as fun as the usual Edgar Wallace novel.

Edited: Dec 20, 2016, 1:59pm Top

221. The Seven Dials Mystery, by Agatha Christie

December TIOLI Challenge #11: Read a book with "eve" in the title

Gerry Wade, among the guests staying at the Chimneys, an estate rented by Sir Oswald and Lady Coote, is notorious for oversleeping. His fellow guests aim to play a prank on Wade by setting up eight alarm clocks to shock him awake early in the morning. The prank is a failure, however: Wade is found dead, apparently of an overdose. Was it accident, suicide, or murder? Why is one of the eight clocks missing from the room, with the remainder lined up in a row? And what are the Seven Dials? Lady Eileen Brent, daughter of the owner of Chimneys (which had featured as well in the earlier Christie novel The Secret of Chimneys), partners with Jimmy Thesiger, who had been a member of the house party when Wade met his end, to investigate.

The Seven Dials Mystery is a fairly entertaining novel in the vein of, say, Edgar Wallace’s thrillers, with a moderately effective effort to conceal the identity of the chief villain: I was suspicious but uncertain for much of the book, and I completely missed the identity of an accomplice. The secret society reminded me a bit of G. K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday as well, though I like that novel better (maybe it’s time to reread it). Recommended.

Edited: Dec 20, 2016, 3:08pm Top

222. Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson

December TIOLI Challenge #4: Read a book with a number(s) in the first sentence

After the death of his father, young David Balfour makes his way to the house of his uncle, whom he has never met. He finds his Uncle Ebenezer a gloomy and suspicious miser, and apparently intent on doing him harm. David’s youthful naïveté betrays him, however, and he finds himself shanghaied and serving as a cabin boy. After the ship inadvertently hits and sinks a smaller vessel, David takes the part of the rescued Jacobite Alan Breck Stewart, whom the ship’s captain and crew plan to rob and murder, leading to more adventures.

Kidnapped is an engaging tale with a sympathetic protagonist, reminiscent of some of the novels of Sir Walter Scott, but not so compelling a work as Treasure Island. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, Catriona. Recommended.

Dec 20, 2016, 3:09pm Top

223. After the Western Reserve: The Ohio Fiction of Jessie Brown Pounds, ed. by Sandra Parker

After the Western Reserve is a collection of short stories and one novel by late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century Ohio author Jessie Brown Pounds, a member of the Disciples of Christ whose stories were published in that group’s journals. The short stories were a mixed bag, but I did enjoy “The Little School Mis,’” about a teen who goes to teach a group of youths and meets resistance; “Children’s Day at Slocum’s Corners,” which explains what happened the year before; and “The Ingleside Missionary Collection,” an account of how a minister overcame local resistance to giving.

The novel included in the volume, Rachel Sylvestre: A Story of the Pioneers, from 1904, is a historical tale of the early years of the Western Reserve in Ohio (the 1820s) and of the Disciples of Christ (called “Campbellites,” after their leaders, Thomas and Alexander Campbell), as seen in the lives of brothers Stephen and Joseph Arrondale and their family and neighbors, and in the unfortunate family of Sylvestres, including sisters Rachel and Martha. It is narrated by Joseph and includes some comments on what life was like in small villages then, as well as the main narrative.

I liked enough of the short stories, and the novel, well enough that I’d be willing to try other works by Pounds, if I should happen to come across them. Unfortunately, this edition, published by Bowling Green State University Popular Press, is marred by an inordinate number of typos, including in the title of the novel (“Rachel” is misspelled “Rachael”). So the author is recommended, if the subject matter seems at all of interest, but I’d suggest tracking down better copies (Rachel Sylvestre is available scanned as an online e-book).

Dec 21, 2016, 10:06am Top

224. Did She Fall?, by Thorne Smith

In Thorne Smith’s murder mystery Did She Fall?, an unpleasant woman who is using blackmail to ensure her marriage to an eligible bachelor, Barney Crewe, falls to her death over a cliff. Was she pushed by her illicit lover, Lane Holt, or by her fiancé’s brother Daniel, while they struggled, or by a different victim of her blackmail who had already tried to kill her once, or was it an accident? Criminologist Scott Munson, Daniel’s friend, undertakes the investigation, grimly promising not to spare the guilty, whoever they may be. A pair of policemen, both named Timothy Shay, are on hand for comic relief.

I found the mystery a bit of a disappointment, at least in part because the cover and back cover blurbs endeavored to play up the comedy, calling it “prankish” and “the maddest murder story in a millennium, written with speed, zest, and humor” — to draw in those who enjoyed Smith’s Topper and other humorous tales. Unfortunately, this book is a relatively sober affair, and not a particularly distinguished mystery, either.

Dec 21, 2016, 3:47pm Top

>138 harrygbutler: I do love the old "Pocket Books" icon. :)

Dec 23, 2016, 11:27pm Top

Wouldn't it be nice if 2017 was a year of peace and goodwill.
A year where people set aside their religious and racial differences.
A year where intolerance is given short shrift.
A year where hatred is replaced by, at the very least, respect.
A year where those in need are not looked upon as a burden but as a blessing.
A year where the commonality of man and woman rises up against those who would seek to subvert and divide.
A year without bombs, or shootings, or beheadings, or rape, or abuse, or spite.


Festive Greetings and a few wishes from Malaysia!

Dec 24, 2016, 3:33pm Top

Best wishes, Harry!

Dec 24, 2016, 5:21pm Top

>139 fuzzi: It is fun, isn't it? I think I'll try to scan other logos from my books and add them to my threads in the coming year.

Dec 24, 2016, 5:22pm Top

>140 PaulCranswick: Thank you, Paul!

>141 lyzard: Thanks, Liz!

Dec 25, 2016, 7:18am Top

Merry Christmas!

Dec 25, 2016, 10:19am Top

>142 harrygbutler: I like that idea!

Merry Christmas.

Edited: Dec 27, 2016, 2:44pm Top

225. Christmas Days, by Joseph C. Lincoln

Joseph C. Lincoln’s Christmas Days tells the story of two brothers, Rogers and David, from a seafaring family (the Days) during the mid-nineteenth century, by means of three separate episodes, set at Christmas in the 1850s, the 1860s, and the 1870s. The vignettes give the reader a window into some of the activities and concerns of the times, with a dollop of romance and some conflict, too, as well as a sense of what is gained and what is lost as time passes. Recommended.

My copy was a gift copy in the year it was published (1938). It has the following inscription:
From Mother
Christmas 1938

I think it would have made a good gift.

Dec 27, 2016, 8:37pm Top

>146 harrygbutler: I love seeing inscriptions in used books, but I also feel sad, wondering why the book was given away. :(

Dec 27, 2016, 9:35pm Top

>147 fuzzi: I know what you mean. It's especially noticeable when the book or the inscription is recent, I think.

Dec 27, 2016, 9:36pm Top

226. Grey Mask, by Patricia Wentworth

December TIOLI Challenge #2: Read a book with a title consisting of a colour and an object

Charles Moray returns to England four years after being jilted by Margaret Langton. At loose ends when a friend backs out of dinner plans, he visits his home, which has been looked after by caretakers while he has traveled. He is surprised to find the doors unlocked, and even more surprised to find the house in use — by criminal conspirators, including a man wearing a grey mask — apparently planning a kidnapping. He puts aside plans to report the malefactors to the police when he witnesses Margaret reporting to the grey-masked leader, though he doesn’t hear what they say to each other. Thus begins a desperate attempt by Charles to uncover just what connection Margaret has to the crooks, and eventually also to safeguard the intended victim, Margot Standing, and if possible uncover the gang and its leader as well.

In this, the first of Patricia Wentworth’s Miss Silver detective series, the professional detective has a fairly small, though important, role in advancing the plot. The focus is on Charles and to some extent Margaret and Margot in a book that is rather more thriller than mystery. The identity of the criminal mastermind was pretty obvious from the start, but it didn’t detract from the story. Recommended.

Edited: Dec 27, 2016, 10:38pm Top

Many of Patricia Wentworth's novels, including the Miss Silver stories, are thrillers as much as (or more than) mysteries.

Dec 28, 2016, 11:52am Top

>150 lyzard: I thought this one worked reasonably well, so I'll be interested in reading more.

Edited: Dec 28, 2016, 11:56am Top

227. Two Against Scotland Yard, by David Frome

A man flags down the car bearing jeweler George Colton, his wife Louise, and their chauffeur Oliver Peskett back from a visit at the home of wealthy widow Mrs. Royce. He shows a gun and demands that George exit the car and hand over a case containing jewels belonging to Mrs. Royce that were to be appraised the next day. When Louise tries to shoot the bandit, he in turn shoots George twice, killing him. Inspector Bull is put on the case by Scotland Yard, and as he begins his investigation of what apparently was an inside job, he finds that nearly everyone, including Mrs. Royce’s nephew Mark and George’s daughter Agatha, the appraiser Steiner, and the staff at George’s shop, likely knew George would be bringing the jewels back to London that evening.

The mystery focuses on the work of Inspector Bull. His interested friend, the mild Mr. Pinkerton, is an observer and occasionally — including in the end — plays a more active role, at times somewhat frustrating, at times helpful. Recommended.

Dec 28, 2016, 3:07pm Top

228. State and Society in the Late Bronze Age: Alalaḫ Under the Mittani Empire, by Eva von Dassow

The Middle Eastern city of Alalaḫ, located in what is now Turkey, flourished in the Bronze Age. Archaeological excavations on the site (Tell Atchana) uncovered substantial numbers of cuneiform tablets from two distinct periods that give a glimpse of the city’s life and history. In the Late Bronze Age (around the mid-fifteenth century B.C.), Level IV in the excavations, Alalaḫ was the center of a minor kingdom under the control of the empire of Mitanni. This volume takes a look at the surviving documents that give evidence of social classes and their organization and development. Using groups of census-type records and lists of persons assigned to military duty, the author identifies how a quadripartite structure for Alalaḫ’s free inhabitants evolved during the reign of Niqmepa, son of the kingdom’s founder, Idrimi (an exile apparently connected with the ruling family of a previous kingdom, Ḫalab (= Aleppo), which had controlled Alalaḫ). According to an autobiography on his statue, Idrimi had gained control of the city and its environs with the help of a group of outsiders, the ḫabirū, and their presence is clear in the earlier part of Niqmepa’s reign as well, as a sort of parallel to the groups of locals. By later in Niqmepa’s reign, however, the ḫabirū appear to have been absorbed, and the following four classifications seem to have evolved:
  • ḫupše — the peasantry, owing particular labor service to the state

  • ḫaniaḫḫe — the poor, not owing that service, perhaps because they no longer owned land

  • eḫelle — craftsmen, in the service of the king or the palace, or nobles (but note that members of the ḫupše and ḫaniaḫḫe classes also sometimes had craft occupations listed)

  • maryanni — nobles, with their status in some way connected with owing chariot service

Many personal names and some relationships can be gleaned from the surviving documents, but there are few that contribute directly to a history of the kingdom. The context of the earlier census documents in particular, with associated lists of troops, indicate war, or at least preparation for war, but the specific conflict is unknown.

State and Society in the Late Bronze Age: Alalaḫ Under the Mittani Empire was published in the series Studies on the Civilization and Culture of Nuzi and the Hurrians. It is rather too specialized for a general reader, with the author devoting a good deal of time to arguments in detail with fellow specialists — warranted given the likely audience, but it certainly made some of the book a slog for this non-expert.

Dec 28, 2016, 3:11pm Top

>151 harrygbutler:

I'm only a couple ahead of you. I think the third book, Lonesome Road, is the strongest so far.

Dec 28, 2016, 3:24pm Top

>154 lyzard: I'll look out for that one. I'll probably be reading one a month for a while, so I should get to it in February. Perhaps we'll be able to manage a shared read of one of the later ones a little later in the year.

Dec 29, 2016, 1:10pm Top

229. Roads, by Seabury Quinn

Seabury Quinn’s novella, Roads, first published in the January 1938 issue of the pulp magazine Weird Tales, is the story of Santa Claus. It tells of how an ex-gladiator from Germania, Claudius (Claus), first saves a young family from Herod’s soldiers during the Massacre of the Innocents and is told that he has a destiny serving the infant. In the second episode, a little more than three decades later, Claus is present during the Cruxifixion and rescues a courtesan trapped in an earthquake — and the two learn that they have a shared destiny. The third portion of the story extends over time, and includes their encounter with and befriending of the elves. An interesting pulp take on Santa’s origins, and a quick read for Christmastime. Recommended.

Dec 30, 2016, 10:05am Top

230. Riders of the Shadows, by Jackson Cole

After a cattle inspector and a lawman are brutally gunned down in the town of Largos, apparently by the outlaw known as the Whispering Lobo, Texas Ranger Jim Hatfield comes to town on his horse Goldy to investigate the crimes, as well as the other goings-on that seem to be leading to a range war. Things happen quickly as the Lone Wolf, as the ranger is known because of his propensity to work by himself, stirs things up, and he faces more shootings, kidnapping, rustling, night raids, and more.

The action never really lets up in this novel, presumably first published in the long-running Popular Publications pulp magazine Texas Rangers in 1937 — and that’s a source of one of the weaknesses of the story, as the frenetic pace rushes past developments that really don’t make all that much sense, and there are some inconsistencies as well. The writing is at best fair, with many patches overwritten. So this one isn’t particularly recommended, but I’ll likely try others, as more than one writer served as author “Jackson Cole” during the character’s run, and I expect their output varied in quality.

Edited: Dec 30, 2016, 11:12am Top

231. Of All Things, by Robert Benchley

Robert Benchley’s Of All Things is an early collection of humorous pieces, including discussions of coal heating, gardening, learning to drive, passengers and backseat drivers, and more, as well as a few parodies of popular magazines of the time. The volume is only moderately successful: Some of the essays go on too long, some are weakened by a nearness to similar later humor (however effective they might have been originally), and the parodies suffer from the fact that their targets are either gone or radically changed. I did find a few items still amusing, including “A Romance in Encyclopaedia Land” and “The Most Popular Book of the Month,” but overall I’d recommend Benchley’s later books — and his movie shorts — instead.

Edited: Dec 30, 2016, 2:37pm Top

232. The Murder That Had Everything!, by Hulbert Footner

The Murder That Had Everything! was one of my Christmas gifts this year, and I plunged right into it. In this entry in Hulbert Footner’s Amos Lee Mappin series, the author-sleuth is asked by wealthy young Peggy Brocklin to find her missing fiancé, René Doria (though he has been missing but a short time). Inquiry swiftly reveals that the missing man was a womanizer with a secret apartment for his rendezvous, and an assumed name. Further investigation finds a sordid setting and murder, as well as several suspects: Mrs. Vosper, the woman who had been with Doria in his hideaway that night; Mr. Vosper, the cuckolded husband; Peggy’s father, who hated Doria; Peggy’s cousin, who had hoped to marry her; Doria’s (ex-?) wife, Rose; her new boyfriend, Slim Markoe; and perhaps more.

This was an OK mystery, though Footner’s Unneutral Murder was better. The murderer was fairly obvious, but it was interesting following Mappin’s investigation as he brought it home to the guilty party. (Note: The illustration on the cover of the Coachwhip edition I read — seen above — plays a role in the investigation.) Recommended.

Dec 30, 2016, 2:39pm Top

And with The Murder That Had Everything!, number 232 for the year, I think I'm done!

Come visit on my new thread for 2017: http://www.librarything.com/topic/243932.

Dec 30, 2016, 6:15pm Top

>160 harrygbutler: get another book read, join us in a reading marathon, here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/244595#

Dec 30, 2016, 7:21pm Top

>161 fuzzi: I may join in, but I've got some longer books that I've been reading in fits and starts, and I'll likely concentrate on those — and I doubt I'll have time to finish any of them.

Dec 30, 2016, 8:51pm Top

>162 harrygbutler: glad to see you drop by, anyway. :)

Dec 30, 2016, 10:23pm Top

>163 fuzzi: Thanks! Now I just have to figure out where a couple of the books are hiding. :-)

Dec 31, 2016, 6:51am Top

Looking forward to your continued company in 2017.
Happy New Year, Harry

Dec 31, 2016, 11:41am Top

Thanks, Paul! Happy New Year!

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2016

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