Monday, 13 February 2012

The Mystery Challenge

In previous Blogs, I've discussed my 2012 challenge plans and highlighted the books I've read so far in 2012. As in 2011, I've picked a few challenges to guide my reading somewhat in 2012. Some of the challenges are carry-overs from 2011 as I was unable to complete them in one year; in fact, I never thought I would be able to do so and planned to have them as long term goals. They include;

a. Around the World in 80 books - a very straight-forward challenge, being that you read 80 books set in 80 different countries. Thus far, I've managed to visit 18 countries and have enjoyed doing so:

Visiting Burma
1. England - Above Suspicion by Lynda Laplante
2. US of A - The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
3. Java - Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 227, 1883 by Simon Winchester
4. Canada - Blackfly Season by Giles Blunt
5. Norway - The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo
6. India - Ragtime in Simla by Barbara Cleverly
7. Switzerland - Pilgrim by Timothy Findley
8. Burma - Burmese Days by George Orwell
9. France - The Night of the Generals by Hans Hellmut Kirst
10. Australia - On the Beach by Nevil Shute
11. Russia - Deadlock by Iris Johansen
12. Italy - Dressed for Death by Donna Leon
13. Greece - Spies of the Balkans by Alan Furst
14. Cameroon - The Crystal World by J.G. Ballard
15. Scotland - The Wasp Factory by Iain M. Banks
16. Israel - Knights of the Black and White by Jack Whyte
17. Sweden - Shadow by Karin Alvtegen
18. Netherlands - DeKok and the Death of a Clown by A.C. Baantjer

I started this challenge Jan 2011, so you can see, I do tend to focus on certain countries, England particularly, as many of the mysteries I like are set in Britain.

51 State Challenge
This year, in a similar vein, I started two new challenges; The USA in 51 Books and The UK Challenges Challenge. On a purely educational note, I think the latter will be the easier to track, as I do have a basic knowledge of the US states as I had to memorise the State capitals in my early school years. The UK Counties challenge will be somewhat more problematic as, even though the challenge organiser nicely provided a list of all the UK counties, I think it'll be somewhat more difficult for me to identify the small towns into their particular counties. But I'm always one for a list and a challenge, so I'm kind of looking forward to it. I've only got one US state so far; that being Texas as I've just started reading is Nevada Barr's Track of the Cat. I've read a few of the Anna Pigeon mysteries. They feature Anna Pigeon, of course, a US Park Ranger and the novels are set in the varied US National Parks throughout the US of A. This is the first in the series. As to my UK Counties challenge, I've managed to visit the London surroundings - Five Roundabouts to Heaven by John Bingham and Surrey - The Blood-Dimmed Tide by Rennie Airth. I will persevere with both and I think I'll be helped in both with this year's Individual Challenge. :0)

Of course, there is one of my first ever challenges, that I've plugged away at since Jan 2011. This is the Author's A to Z Challenge, once again, self-explanatory, in that you have to read books by authors whose names end in one of the letters of the alphabet. I've actually been quite successful with that challenge. I am only missing I, Q, U, V, X, Y and Z. I think those letters may be somewhat problematic, unless I specifically go out and buy books by those specific authors. Looking through my TBR shelf, I can only see a V so far, that being Dead-Eye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut. Of course, I do have confidence that I will find others.

Mystery Books Challenge

Anyway, what I started out to post about was this year's Individual Challenge. My aim, this year, is to make a serious dent in my Mystery book list. Of my unread shelves of books, I imagine that 50% or more are mysteries. I do like a good mystery and every time I find a new author, I find myself starting a new series. My plan this year is to work my way alphabetically through my mystery books and reading one of each author. I like this challenge and I'll be interested to see where I end up in December. At the moment, I've read or am reading 7 mysteries. (Remember that this is just one of my challenges.) I have to admit that my first book wasn't properly alphabetical, as I had to start while the missus and I were spending the holidays in the UK. But it was a B at least. My first book was John Bingham's Five Roundabouts to Heaven. The perceptive of you will notice that, yes, some of my challenges do occasionally overlap. So far my list is as follows -

1. John Bingham - Five Roundabouts to Heaven (finished 10 Jan 2012, 3 stars)
2. Rennie Airth - The Blood-Dimmed Tide (finished 12 Jan 2012, 3 stars)
3. Margery Allingham - Black Plumes (finished 21 Jan 2012, 4 stars)
4. Karin Alvtegen - Shadow (finished 28 Jan 2012, 4 stars)
5. Kingsley Amis - Riverside Villas Murder (finished 3 Feb 2012, 4 stars)
6. A.C. Baantjer - DeKok and the Death of a Clown (finished 12 Feb 201, 3 stars)
7. Nevada Barr - Track of the Cat (started 12 Feb 12)
(As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I have commented on all of the books I've so far completed in January at the post linked here, if you're interested.)

I'm very excited about this challenge, with the opportunity of refreshing my memories on some of my favourite mystery writers; Giles Blunt, Sue Grafton, Jane Haddam, Donna Leon, Janet Evanovich, Kathy Reichs and Karin Slaughter, to name a few. Also, in the past few months, I've purchased books by new authors for me and this will be an opportunity to finally check them out and see if I need to buy the rest of the series. I'm particularly interested in -

New Authors

Lee Childs - 61 Hours (Jack Reacher series)
Colin Cotterill - The Coroner's Lunch (Dr Siri Paibour mysteries)
Caroline Graham - The Midsomer Murders series
Tarquin Hall - Case of the Missing Servant (Vish Puri mysteries)
Peter James - Dead Simple (DS Grace mysteries)
Laurie R. King - The Beekeeper's Apprentice (Mary Russell/ Sherlock Holmes mysteries)
Henning Mankell - Faceless Killers (Wallander mysteries)

At any rate, I'm looking forward to working my way through these books, along with my other challenges. It's been a great year of reading so far. I'll keep you posted each month on my progress.

Keep on reading!


  1. I have a suggestion for the missing "U" in your A-Z challenge --
    I loved John Updike's Rabbit series :)

  2. Thanks for the suggestion, BookGirl. It's a series I've looked at many times and have never tried. They made a movie out of one of the books, did they not? I'll have to get the first book and try it out. Thanks again. :0)


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