20 Books of Summer 2020

It’s that time again and Cathy of 746Books is once more hosting the 20 Books of Summer Challenge which is great.   I love this challenge even though I usually fall far short of my goals.  I’ve been thinking about what to read this summer, but so far have made no decisions.  Except I do plan to try for 20, rather than the far more sensible 15 or 10 or 5…

my-post (1)

I’ll be figuring this out and post my list here when I do.

May 29 – Well, that took a while. I didn’t think it would be that hard, but I do have a problem deciding sometimes, of the thousands of books I’d like to read, which do I want to read most? I’ve only decided on 17, but that leaves some wiggle room so I’m not going to spend more time trying to figure out the last three. I have been meaning to read some of these for years. It would be quite a triumph to finish even these 17, my reading has been so non-existent. The other thing is, I’m cheating and starting today. Why spend the weekend reading things that don’t count to start on Monday? I’m working on Monday. (And I know I’m fortunate to be doing so.)

So, I started just after midnight last night, meaning today with The Problem of the Green Capsule by John Dickson Carr. A book I read the first few pages of some time ago. Not sure when. But I thought it would be a good one to begin with. Relatively easy and hopefully engaging.

So here’s the list:

  1. The Problem of the Green Capsule
  2. Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – I’ve loved the other three of his in this group. Not sure why I’m taking so long with this one.
  3. The Golden Box – second in the Jean and Pat Abbott mysteries. I started it once and misplaced it. I’ve enjoyed two out of three that I’ve read.
  4. At Lady Molly’s – fourth in the Dance to the Music of Time
  5. The Black Gloves – second or third Gwyneth and Constance Little books. I enjoyed the Grey Mist Murders. Humorous mysteries are fun.
  6. A Hoarse Half-Human Cheer – has been on a previous 20 Books list I believe.
  7. Weekend at Thrackley – I liked another Alan Melville book
  8. The Hare with the Amber Eyes – been on my list forever. Something about a banking family and netsuke.
  9. The Love-Charm of Bombs – ditto. 4 or 5 British writers during the Blitz
  10. Love Lies Bleeding – I think this is the next Gervase Fen.
  11. Lincoln in the Bardo – it’s been so long for some of these I don’t remember why. Lincoln’s son and the Tibetan Book of the Dead. I believe it’s a bit weird?
  12. Greenmantle – a John Buchan book. Sequel to The 39 Steps, I think.
  13. The Baker Street Irregulars -Anthony Boucher
  14. The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. – you wouldn’t know it from reading this blog, but I am a Neal Stephenson fan behind in my work
  15. Murder on Wheels – second Hildegarde Withers
  16. The Loser – Thomas Bernhard was in a list of the best short novels according to some site
  17. The Bat – Mary Roberts Rinehart: I saw the old Vincent Price movie not too long ago, so I thought, why not read the book?
  18. The Sealed Message – Fergus Hume: I added this accidentally on my Kindle and then thought, well, why not?

But something is wrong because I added 4 and am still at 18, so I must have forgotten 3. One was Gawain and the Green Knight, which I’m not sure about. But there are two others. I’ll have to find the list.

Thanks, Cathy, for hosting! I hope you, dear reader, will join us in this challenge! It’s very flexible, read as many or as few as fits your schedule. Make a list. Then abandon it, or switch a few out. It officially starts Monday so you have time to figure out what you’d like to have read by September 1!

The Case of the Black Twenty-Two

Brian Flynn’s second Anthony Bathurst mystery is a lot like his first.  A decent mystery brought down a little by Bathurst being a bit annoying and Flynn’s fondness for exclamation marks.   Bathurst thinks himself the greatest thing since sliced bread and almost everyone in the book thinks so, too, even though this is only his second mystery.  The inspector from Scotland Yard does not arrest him for withholding evidence.  Everyone falls in with his plans without knowing a thing about them.  They do what he says and are handsomely rewarded in the end with the mystery solved and the criminal(s) ready for the clink.

However, the mystery itself isn’t bad.   First off there’s a young lawyer who’s engaged to look at some items a millionaire wants to buy in a sale.  These items once belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots, a particular interest of said millionaire.  On his way to see the items on display at the auction house, the lawyer, Daventry, stops for a spot of lunch.  There an incident at a nearby table makes him think a couple is interested in Mary’s former belongings, too.   He goes to see them and a good thing, too, because they are stolen that night and a night watchman is killed.   Meanwhile, at the millionaire’s not at all humble abode, the millionaire gets his head bashed in.   Coincidence?  Connection?  What has all this got to do with Mary, Queen of Scots and what does ‘the black twenty-two’ even mean?   All these questions are answered in time by the man of the hour, Anthony Bathurst.

I am glad that Brian Flynn’s works are being resuscitated.   Dozens of new mysteries from the Golden Age are nothing to sneeze at and Flynn’s writing isn’t bad.   I just wished I liked it a bit better.  It and Bathurst.  He’s got the ego of Poirot without the experience, nor with Christie’s tendency to poke fun at the Belgian detective.  The man wraps everyone around his little finger and his plan at the end for exposing the criminals is pretty much absurd.  There is no way I can figure out that the solution should have been clear to the armchair detective following along.  I prefer stories where you can, at least theoretically, figure it out.  I will probably keep reading nonetheless.  There aren’t too many Golden Age mysteries to go through that I will turn up my nose at these.