Tuesday, June 29, 2010

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where are You?

I am in Wisconsin in the 1800s, with some sort of amalgalm of Anne of Green Gables(red hair) and Laura Ingalls Wilder (pioneer) and getting ready for some tomboy adventures. (Caddie Woodlawn, Carol Ryrie Brink)

Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment, write a post, spread the word.

BOOK: The Brontes Went to Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson

The Brontes Went to Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson, 188 pages

1930s Mini-Challenge; 20-10 Challenge: Book Bought New in 2010

Oh, how times have changed! When one of the sisters, Deidre, finally meets one of the people she and her family have imagined knowing for years, Judge Toddington and his wife take it in stride, with a somewhat bemused attitude. The fact that Deidre knows where Toddy ate yesterday, about their servants, and has had 'conversations' with them does not strike them at as odd. Today, we'd be screaming stalker, and blocking their Facebook access.Granted, Toddy and his wife seem to need the Carne sisters and their mother to liven up their lives. I'm just saying, it takes a complete time adjustment to imagine a world where this behaviour would be considered just 'eccentric.'

Another time warp effect was the table knocking and ghosts. In the early part of the 1900s, seances and the occult were very fascinating, so I can see why it would be found in a book written in 1931. However, I found this aspect a touch harder to understand. Again though, Toddy and the Carnes envelope this reality seamlessly into their lives. But the poor governess! Her belief in reality, like most of us when we aren't reading books, is mocked and made fun of. She really just was trying to teach the Sheil and protect her from what she felt was odd behaviour.

Deidre, her mother, and the other sisters live an idyllic life and this book was a sweet, humorous look at a different time, 1930s London, with imaginative, and unique characters. I'm not sure what I expected when I read it, but it was different from that. Maybe reading it soon after seeing Toy Story 3 allowed me to appreciate the whimsical. People who can live so happily in their imaginations, like Andy and Bonnie in the movie and the Carnes in the book, can make a less imaginative person envious.

also reviewed by:
chris at book-a-rama
katherine at a girl walks into a bookstore
jenny at jenny's books
nymeth at things mean a lot

Monday, June 28, 2010

BOOK: Tainted Blood (Jar City) by Arnaldur Indridason

Tainted Blood (Jar City) by Arnaldur Indridason, 338 pages
 translated by Bernard Scudder

Thrillers and Suspense Challenge; A- Z Author Challenge

Oddly, I've managed to leave the last Indridason I have left to read as the first that had been translated. (My understanding is that it is the third written in the series. Publishers!) I kind of enjoyed going back to the beginning, and meeting Erlender, Sigundur, and Elinborg as they are first introduced. Erlender is dealing with Eva Lund, his junkie estranged daughter, Sigunder is just beginning his relationship with his partner, and Elinborg has always dealt with Erlender with a mixture of respect and astoundedness. It's been like finding old home movies of people from before you knew them.

The mystery is, as is often the case, built on an old crime. Erlender follows his instinct that this crime (a man found murdered in his flat, with a note over him) had something to do with a forty year old rape. It leads him to a genetic mapping project, perfect for the relatively homogeneous Icelandic population. The setting is dark, raining, and gloomy - just like Erlendur. The only negative I have about this book is now I have run out of Indridason's to read, and must wait for a new translation. There are at least four more to be translated. Is someone getting on that?

also reviewed:
nan at letters from a hill farm
kerrie at mysteries in paradise

ps loving Bloggers new compose mode! strikeout, pictures where I want to place them, and size them, undo!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

CHALLENGE: The Four Month Challenge, Part 4

hosted by Martina at She Read a Book for the fourth time!
July 1 - October 31, 2010

The idea is to read and gather as many points as you can. A book can only count for one category. My aim is to try to get 200 points - or 4 out of 5 in each category. But it is the summer, so it's all just for fun. After 4 times, I really can't stop now.

My ideas are in italics, if it's been read, it is bolded. Here's where the updates go.

Total points = 160 points

5-Point Challenges:
Read a chick-lit book - Heart of the Matter, Emily Giffin,
Read a book with a proper name in the title - Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Jeff Lindsay
Read a historical fiction book- The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, Wayne Johnson
Read a book with a one word title- February, Lisa Moore
Read a book made into a movie- Barney's Version, Mordecai Richler

10-Point Challenges
Read a book with a Civil War theme (any country.)- ?
Read a Biblical fiction book- ?
Read a hardcover book-  Spies of the Balkan, Alan Furst
Read a book about a king or queen- King Leary, Paul Quarrington
Read a book set in France- Death in the Truffle Wood, Pierre Magnan

15-Point Challenges:

Read a book by an author you’ve never read before- Catherine O'Flynn, The News Where You Are
Read a biography or autobiography- Invincible Louisa, Cornelia Meigs
Read a book with a number in the title- Five Quarters of an Orange, Joanne Harris
Read any book and then post a review- Burnt Shadows, Kamila Shamsie
Read any book but read it outside- The Girls, Lori Lansens

20-Point Challenges:

Read a book in a series AND the one after itAugust Heat and The Wings of the Sphinx by Andrea Camilleri
Read a book that was a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction- The Good Earth
Read a book considered Christian fiction-
Read a book from The Modern Library Top 100- Death Comes for the Archbishop, The Angle of Repose
Read a book by an author born in July, August, September or October-  Alexander McCall Smith (August 24) The Full Cupboard of Life

Saturday, June 26, 2010

BOOK: The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness, 522 pages

It's the End of the World Challenge; 2nds Challenge; Young Adult Challenge

Very dark and quite violent; but war always is.
Middle book of Chaos Walking Trilogy, after The Knife of Never Letting Go.

Todd and Viola have been separated and are working on opposite sides of the warring factions, which just goes to show that you cannot judge a person for the role they might play in a war. There are reasons why each person does what they have to do to survive can't be known.

Young adult book that reads very quick, due to the cliff-hanging, page-turning, action-packed plot, and characters that are growing and maturing, the kind of characters you cheer for and hope that all will turn out alright.

Next in series: Monsters of Men, I'm first in line once my library gets it. It's on order right now.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

BOOK: The Cruellest Month by Louise Penny

The Cruellest Month, by Louise Penny, 372 pages

Winner of the Agatha Award, Best Novel 2008

Thriller and Suspense Challenge; A - Z Title Challenge

Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surette returns to the idyllic village of Three Pines in rural Quebec. But it isn't as idyllic as it originally seems, as another murder has occurred. One of the town members was killed as the regular characters in the series, plus some extras, have a seance in the bad house in the village. It's one of those moments where you want to scream at the book - are you crazy? having a seance in a possibly haunted house? You all belong in teen slasher movie.

Anyway, the gang from Three Pines (Ruth, the angry poet; Myrna, the bookstore owner; Clara and Peter, the artists; Olivier and Gabri, who own the B&B) helps Gamache, who is also dealing with the fall out of an internal police case from several years ago. Someone in the Surette is out to get him, and the politics of that situation is the one I liked more than the actual mystery. Gamache and his team, and how he manages the team are the parts of the book I really like.

Gamache pulls a Poirot at the end and assembles all the participants of the seance at the scene of the murder and then talks out the motives of each, and eventually explains who the murderer actually is. I found this very strange and not at all how I imagine a real police officer solves a crime. It just didn't fit with a police mystery - maybe a private eye or amateur sleuth. However, even with the ending, another great read from Penny.

also reviewed by:
jen forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts
booklogged at A Reader's Journal
joy at thoughts of joy

next in the series: The Murder Stone

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

GAME: The Bookword Game

What should we call a book that is great while you are reading it, you like it fine and you are enjoying it fine, BUT after you put it down, it's really hard to pick back up and get back into again?

It's called a Fickle-Me-Now book, not The Woman in White, as was my experience from January to April.

This is the time when I would announce our next suggestion, but Suey and I have decided once again to take the summer off from the Bookword Game. And it is now summer, woo-hoo!

If you have any moments during the next couple of months when you think of a book or situation that needs a word, please let Suey or me know. We welcome all new ideas!

See you in September.

CHALLENGE: Paris in July

BookBath and Thyme For Tea have decided to come together to host a blogging experience to celebrate [their] love of all things French and Parisian - "Paris In July".

There will be no rules or targets in terms of how much you need to do or complete in order to be a part of Paris In July - just blog about anything French and you can join in. Some ideas for the month might include;

- Reading a French book - fiction or non-fiction
- Watching a French movie
- Listening to French music
- Cooking French food
- Experiencing French art, architecture or travel

What a great idea! I won't get to Paris anytime soon, so a virtual tour will have to do.

I am hoping to read Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky. I picked it up on the lending shelf in the library. I know, you are wondering, what shelf isn't a lending shelf in the library? The library I am talking about is a high school library, full of young adult novels. We teachers have created our own lending library shelf back in the AV room, where we can place our own books, and then just borrow on our honour.

Other interesting ideas - a mystery by Fred Vargas, Gourmet Rhapsody, Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier.
Maybe a movie? I've seen Amelie, and The Advocate; what's another recent/well-known French movie I haven't seen? I meant to see Coco. A rewatching of Moulin Rouge perhaps?
Ratatoullie, La Vie en Rose

As for food, I'm sure I can manage some French toast and French fries or poutine - but maybe that only counts as French-Canadian?

I'll make my son practice his French while school is out so when he gets back to his immersion class in September, he'll still be familiar.

Ce que j'ai fait:
1. Read Death in the Truffle Wood by Pierre Magnan (A Mystery in Provence)
2. Read short story by Emil Zola: The Death of Olivier Becaille
3.  Read Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky 
4. Read Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
5. watched "Ratatouille" the Pixar movie

Monday, June 21, 2010

BOOK: A Little Yellow Dog by Walter Mosley

A Little Yellow Dog by Walter Mosley, 308 pages

Historical Mysteries Challenge; Colourful Challenge;

Easy Rawlins, that cool cat who starred in the Denzel movie, Devil in a Blue Dress from 1995, has turned over a new leaf. He's not living the street, he's got a real job as a supervisor of custodians at a school in East LA, in the 1960s. One morning before school starts, he has a steamy encounter with a teacher. She leaves her dog with him as she takes off after a body turns up in the school yard. Easy is drawn into a world he thought he left behind.

I read Devil in a Blue Dress years ago, and although A Little Yellow Dog is the 5th in the series, I didn't feel confused at all. I am usually more rigid about reading a series in order, but this worked. Mosley does a wonderful job of giving enough background to situations and characters so that I never felt confused. He also writes a tight, hardboiled mystery with a nuanced, lead character. I like that we are in Easy's head and we get to hear his logic. So many noir mysteries leave me unsure of what just happened or what that interaction was about, but this was just right. Crap, now I have another mystery series I'd really like to read more of.

Easy Rawlins and Mouse (Don Cheadle from the movie) are two characters who've got quite a past, and are trying to live their life, making tough decisions. They are so close to a violent, criminal world and make choices all the time. As Africa-American men in 1960s LA, a lot of choices are made for them and they deal with the cops too much. They make for a great story.

This is the last book for the Historical Mystery Challenge. I've still got a list I'd like to read but I have really enjoyed picking books for this challenge. I've started two new series, read the second in two others, and filled in a gap on a series where I've read over 15. Thanks for hosting to AF Heart over at Mysteries and My Musings, I've taken a few more off the TBR.

1. The Green Mill Murder - Kerry Greenwood 1920s
2. Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear 1920s
3. Bethlehem Road - Anne Perry 1880s (Victorian)
4. The Tale of Hill Top Farm - Susan Wittig Albert 1910s
5. A Little Yellow Dog - Walter Mosley 1960s

What is your favorite historical mystery series?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

GAME: The Bookword Game (sticky post)

Suey put our new Bookword out there last week:

What should we call a book that is great while you are reading it, you like it fine and you are enjoying it fine, BUT after you put it down, it's really hard to pick back up and get back into again?

The nominees:
Book Quoter suggests sticky-back book
raidergirl3 suggests Fickle-Me-Now book
Jan von Harz suggests a capricious read
I'm going to add another one too - a waity book (originally I thought weighty book)

Come on by the blog and vote - I've got rhubarb squares freshly made if you vote!
Results next week here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where are You?

Still time to vote for the Bookword Game, come on by my blog.
In reading, I decided to visit Los Angeles in 1960s and meet up with that cool cat, Easy Rawlins. He just got stuck with a dog after a steamy encounter with the dog's owner. (A Little Yellow Dog, Walter Mosley)
Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment, write a post, spread the word.
ps - computer problems may cause an interuption in service around raiderland this week. I'll see ya when I see ya.

Friday, June 11, 2010

BOOKS: several graphic novel reviews

Blankets by Craig Thompson, 377 pages

graphic novel challenge

First love and coming of age in a midwestern high school, set in a strongly religious home. Church camp has the same bullies and outcasts you'd find at any camp. Thompson's autobiographical memoir was a good read, but not one that I identified with, but I imagine there is a demographic that would love this one. I have a younger male cousin who lists this as one of his favorite books. It is impressive what can be conveyed in this format; the feelings and experiences are presented in such a novel way.

The Arrival by Shaun Tan,

graphic novel challenge; Australian author challenge

No words on the pages at all, but stunningly beautiful drawings to chronicle the experience of an immigrant to a strange land. I kept thinking the surreal world would begin to resemble something familiar, but it stayed strange. The world is meant to symbolize the unknown of all immigrants. I'm in too much of a hurry and I have always read too fast to appreciate a book like this that needs to be savoured and studied.

Pyongyang by Guy Delisle, 176 pages

graphic novel challenge; North Korea

Guy Delisle is sent to North Korea and this book is his account of his time spent in the very isolated country. I liked parts, but then the story would jump suddenly as if pages were missing, although they weren't. I found the book interesting by parts, and confusing by parts. I'm not planning any trips to North Korea any time soon, that's for sure.

(I read this quite a few months ago so this was my lasting impression)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

BOOK: Truth by Peter Temple

Truth by Peter Temple, 387 pages

Aussie Author Challenge; Published in 2010 (review copy from Random House Canada)

Truth is described as the sequel to The Broken Shore, Temple's acclaimed novel (CWA Golden Dagger 2007), but I'm gathering it is more of a parallel book. Same location, with some overlapping characters. I decided to read Truth first and I don't think I missed much. I didn't know some of the characters, like Joe Cashin from The Broken Shore or Jack Irish who has his own series, as well as I would if I'd read some of his other books, but it seemed ok and they made small cameos only.

Stephen Villani, head of the Victoria homicide squad is having the worst week of nearly any character I've read. Mind you, he's not the nicest guy around, very much cop, manly guy, but he's having some midlife crisis stuff, trying to solve several brutal murders that happened close together, his family is shit, and his childhood, which he is brooding, on left much to be desired. The forest fires threatening his beloved forest, and his distant father, are at the front of his mind. Stephen was the best part of the book, as I was torn between feeling sorry for him and hoping he'd get some issues straightened out, and with thinking he's an ass for the decisions he's made, especially with his family. (Am I reading about Villani, or is it Erlender from Iceland or Montalbano from Capri?)

The plot was a bit complicated, and I found the dialogue very 30s noir, hard-boiled cop, with a twist of Aussie slang to further confuse me. I've read his writing described as 'elliptical.' However, it also left me feeling very immersed in modern Australia, like I was watching a Law and Order, Victoria style. I like the police procedural style of mystery, so that the reader discovers information with Villani, although sometimes we have to wait a bit for the detail. Villani will have an idea, or see a name, and we are left in suspense to find out, but not too long. With his position as Head of Homicide, Villani is running in a higher social scene than he is accustomed. At this level, I worried that Villani was almost out of his league.

Characters were introduced without a lot of background, and at times I would have loved one of those character guides you see in the front of some books. Until I read The Broken Shore, I won't know if it's Temple's style to write that way, or if they are from other books. I also really liked one of Villani's team, an Aborigine cop named Dove, and their growing friendship. I'd look forward to more with the two of them.

Overall, a terrific new mystery author I've discovered, and I am really looking forward to reading The Broken Shore and hopefully running into Villani in a minor role. Truth is fast paced and complex, and another new author I want to read more of.

also reviewed:
Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

Still taking suggestions at Sueys for the latest Bookword at Sueys. Head on over and add your two cents.

We got an email from my son's junior high school about a reading program available for the summer. It's called Sync YA Literature, and they are making young adult titles available for download, free, over the summer. It's a mix of classic and new young adult titles. I'm trying to remember to go back to get some of these titles, for my son. What a great program! I don't listen to a lot of audio books, but the combination of summer and young adult sounds great.

In reading, I am heading to Three Pines, a small village in Quebec. Lovely spot, other than the occasional murder that seems to occur. Luckily, Inspector Gamauche will save the day.
(The Cruelest Month, Louise Penny)

Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment, write a post, spread the word.

Monday, June 7, 2010

BOOK: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, 256 pages

1930s Mini Challenge (published in 1934); 20-10 Charity Book buy

This is what a classic mystery is all about. Poirot is at his best, most condescending self. Condescending is the wrong word - he humours his 'helpers' in the investigation. And he just trusts his little grey cells to decipher the clues, and to ask the questions that are right in front of him.

Christie doesn't write a single extra word - this is tight, has all the clues, and the most excellent locked room case. The train is stuck in the snow, and someone has been murdered. Best mystery ever!

(I'm sure I read this years ago, but I have no recollection of it. I'm going to have to revisit some of Christie's best mysteries.)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

CHALLENGE: Thriller and Suspense Reading Challenge

Hosted by Book Chick City There is still time to sign-up, even as late as me.
Runs: January - December 2010
Read: 12 Thriller, Suspense or Mystery books

I'm starting as of now, June 6.
The list of mysteries I have here that I want to read includes:
  • The Broken Shore, Peter Temple
  • Truth, Peter Temple
  • The Cruelest Month, Louise Penny (Canadian)
  • Birds of a Feather, Jacqueline Winspear
  • Pardonable Lies, Jacqueline Winspear
  • August Heat, Andrea Camilleri
  • Tainted Blood, Arnaldur Indridason
  • The Oxford Murders
  • Darkly Dreaming Dexter, Jeff Lindsay
  • A Little Yellow Dog, Walter Mosely
  • Pretty in Ink, Karen E Olson
  • The Full Cupboard of Life, Alexander McCall Smith
  • Fear the Worst, Linwood Barclay (Canadian)
  • Murder on the Leviathan
  • The Calling, Inger Ash Wolf (Canadian)
1. Truth - Peter Temple 06/07
2. The Cruelest Month - Louise Penny 06/13
3. A Little Yellow Dog - Walter Mosley 06/19
4. Tainted Blood (Jar City) - Arnaldur Indridason 06/27
5. Birds of a Feather - Jacqueline Winspear 07/13
6. Death in the Truffle Wood - Pierre Magnan 07/14
7. August Heat - Andrea Camilleri 07/15
8. The Full Cupboard of Life - Alexander McCall Smith 07/22
9. The Silence of the Rain - Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza 08/12
10. The Wings of the Sphinx - Andrea Camilleri 08/14
11. Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay 09/10
12. The Darkest Room - Johan Theorin 10/13

Thursday, June 3, 2010

BOOK: Motorcycles & Sweetgrass by Drew Hayden Taylor

Motorcycles & Sweetgrass by Drew Hayden Taylor, 346 pages

Countdown: 2010 title; 3rd Canadian Book Challenge

Much of this fun novel read like a movie or television show. Once I realized that Taylor had been a writer on The Beachcombers and North of 60, it made sense. A realistic, yet not depressing look at life on a reserve in Ontario, it also blends some magical, mythological elements.

A mysterious stranger arrives into town after being summoned by a dying matriarch. Her daughter, the chief, needs some fun in her life, and Nanabush or Trickster, from Anishnawbe legend, certainly spices up her life. He arrives and shakes up Otter Lake just as they are trying to decide what to do with a recent land acquisition.

Some great characters populate this book:
  • Wayne, the hermit brother, who is inventing a native martial arts based on animals
  • Dakota, most of her native heritage is in her name, with a crush on John, the stranger
  • Sammy, the survivor of Residential school, but just barely
  • the raccoons, holding a severe grudge against Nanabush, and out for revenge
  • the Indian Motorcycle, a dramatic character in its own right

I'm not supposed to quote from the ARC copy I had, but surely these great lines won't be changed?

[The Indian Motorcycle] wasn't just cool, it was cool squared, maybe even cubed. p 47

Who was this man? Nobody in his family was cool enough to know a guy like this, Virgil thought. p 47

It seemed her son just needed a good kick in the pants, but Ms Weatherford explained it in less abusive terms. p 126

The other horrible thing he realized was that it wasn't even nine o'clock yet, and there was so much more day left for things to go wrong. p 217

She hated appearing on television, felt she looked too haggard and worn, like a character from a Margaret Laurence novel. p 253

A book that readers looking for a Canadian book, a mythological book for Once Upon a Time, or just a fun, unique read should look for Motorcycles & Sweetgrass. I was sent this book as part of Random House's New Faces of Fiction, and I would certainly look for another book by Taylor. He's off to a great start!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

BOOK: Generation A by Douglas Coupland

Generation A by Douglas Coupland, 297 pages

It's the End of the World Challenge

Coupland's first book, Generation X, is so iconic, that phrases from it have become part of our vocabulary, including the title. I liked how he even used the phrase McJobs he made popular, in this, his latest novel. This title, Generation A, comes from a line Kurt Vonnegut used at a graduation commencement.

Generation A is slightly science fiction, slightly dystopian as it takes place in the slight future. Five young people around the world have been stung by bees, who are believed to be extinct. Technology and digitalization play a big role with the a couple of the characters involved in satellite imagery even as they are stung. The word spreads immediately. The stingees are collected by Hazmat suited medical types who want to examine them indepthly. Coupland has the five main characters alternately narrate the novel, reminiscent of his Generation X. I had no problem keeping the characters straight and liked the different perspectives.

Usually when I read other blogger's reviews, and they make comments on the writing, mentioning phrases they liked and I don't usually notice this myself. Except for Coupland. He has phrases that just catch my fancy, generally humourous. Maybe that's it, I notice funny more than beautiful. The one I remember, since I only had the book on 7 day library loan and it is long since returned, was the line that I hope I am remembering correctly - He was heterosexual, but only by the slimmest of margins. The book is full of great Coupland lines, so even when the book didn't grab me completely, the writing kept me amused.

I did particularly like how much deference Coupland gives to the act of reading. Even within all the digital references, reading and the way the brain reacts while reading, is an idealized thing.

also reviewed:
chris at bookarama
jackie at farmlanebooks
yann martel as suggested to Stephen Harper

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where are You?

There is still time to vote at Suey's for the latest Bookword. Go now.

June has to be the craziest month around this house. Between end of school busyness - like socials, field trips, final exams, graduation (I have to go every year, and am involved in the planning) and then the summer sports starting - baseball or soccer most nights, along with general overall nice weather that it is nice to be out in, it just doesn't get any busier. Still I manage to find some time to read, while watching a ball try-out or before falling asleep. I put together a new deck swing this weekend and am looking forward to July days of absolutely nothing to do by lay on the deck, watch the kids play, and read.

In reading, I am in Otter Lake, somewhere in Canada. A man on a motorcycle has arrived to fulfill a promise to the dead grandmother of the local chief. (Motorcycles and Sweetgrass, Drew Hayden Taylor)

Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment, write a post, spread the word.

BOOK: Vintage Murder by Ngaio Marsh

I am posting a stop on the Classics Circuit today- the golden age of detective fiction. Authors like Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Dorothy Sayers and Ngaio Marsh wrote great detective novels in the 1930s that have lasted until today, and are still as popular as ever. Ngaio Marsh's books are in new release at my local book store, as are Georgette Heyer mysteries. I've read nearly all the Agatha Christie books back in my teens. I thought I'd try a new author and travel to anther part of the world at the same time.

Vintage Murder by Ngaio Marsh, 256 pages

1930s Mini-Challenge; Global Reading Challenge: New Zealand

1. Starring Detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn. I think I'm going to like him. He reminds me of Inspector Gamauche of Three Pines by Louise Penny. Smart and subtle and gets a great read on people very quickly. Alleyn is on holiday from Scotland Yard in New Zealand. Alleyn stars in 33 books. I like finding a new detective to read about, but 33 sounds like a lot of books.

2. Vintage Murder was set in New Zealand, where Ngaio Marsh was born and lived. Marsh was also a theatre director, and Vintage Murder is set within a traveling theatre troupe. The troupe is touring from England, and they meet up with Inspector Alleyn in New Zealand on a train. Apparently, Marsh set many of her books in the theatre.

3. "a murder committed in a closed environment by one of a limited number of suspects"
Wikipedia states that the Golden Age of Detective Fiction is based on this premise. I did not know that. Vintage Murder is a classic then, because someone in the troupe must have murdered Alfred Myer, co-owner of the Carolyn Dacres Comedy Company. He's murdered at a party, with only the troupe in attendance. Luckily, Alleyn was there too.

4. Much of the detecting involves figuring out who was where, when, and what motive they might have. Alleyn, working with the local police, even makes a spreadsheet, included in the book, to organize the data. Gotta like a spreadsheet from the 1930s.

5. The local police are somewhat in awe of Alleyn and let him have free reign. He is quite aware of not stepping on toes and is very respectful. Nice international cooperation.

6. I have never been good at figuring out who the murderer is. I fall for every red herring. I know to not suspect the most obvious suspect, but that's about it. I'm always surprised and pleased with the endings of mysteries. Sadly, even when I've read the book already, I probably still don't know who the murderer is. I'm the perfect reader for mysteries that way.

7. A little awkwardness in the periodness of the book. There is a Maori character in the book, and while written in language of the day, some of it is that awkward, uncomfortableness of thinking - was it really acceptable to write about people this way? To use these descriptions? Marsh is respectful Dr Rangi Te Pokiha, but some unenlightened phrases are used.

8. I know I shouldn't compare, and I should judge this book on its own merits, but, I read Murder on the Orient Express very soon after reading Vintage Murder, and the Marsh pales next to the Christie. I liked the Marsh, and I wouldn't not read another one, but I've now got a hankering to reread a lot of those Agatha Christie books I read as a teenager. She really is the master. Vintage Murder was a perfectly acceptable murder mystery, with great characters that follows the classic style, but Murder on the Orient Express was a 'wow' read that really sets the standard.

Also on the tour today, Notes from the North is reviewing The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie. Ooh, I bet that's a good one! It was recently voted best Christie mystery in a very unscientific poll of readers of Kerrie's Mystery in Paradise blog.