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Group Challenges > Laurie's A Century of Crime Challenge

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message 1: by Laurie (new)

Laurie It's taken me a while to start this topic, but I am excited about tackling the challenge. I've decided on my books for each decade, but I know that I'll probably change my mind as I go so I won't post each one until I've read it. It will probably take me most of the allotted year to read these 10 mysteries since I have so many other kinds of books I want to read.

I've divided my decades the same as Bill has on this challenge since that's how I envisioned it from the start. So far I've completed two:

1914-1924 A Silent Witness by R. Austin Freeman read 7/12/14
1925-1934
1935-1944
1945-1954
1955-1964
1965-1974
1975-1984
1985-1994
1995-2004
2005-2014 A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny read 6/17/14

I enjoyed both books very much. Louise Penny's series had always caught my eye, but I hadn't ever gotten around to starting it. I am so glad I did because Inspector Gamache reminds me very much of Hercule Poirot (as others have noted in some reviews) and I enjoyed many Poirot novels while I was growing up.

A Silent Witness was also good, but it is doubtful that I will read another R. Austin Freeman simply because there are so many good authors out there, and I was not enthralled quite enough to try another of his. Professor Thorndyke is so like Sherlock Holmes that if that is the type of detective a reader enjoys, they would probably enjoy Freeman's books.

Next I think I will try Gorky Park published in 1981.


message 2: by Bill (new)

Bill Gorky Park is excellent, the whole series is very good in fact. Enjoy!


message 3: by Laurie (new)

Laurie I look forward to reading it. I've meant to for a long time.


message 4: by Laurie (new)

Laurie 1914-1924 A Silent Witness by R. Austin Freeman read 7/12/14
1925-1934
1935-1944
1945-1954
1955-1964
1965-1974
1975-1984Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith read 8/10/14
1985-1994
1995-2004
2005-2014 A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny read 6/17/14

I wish I could say I thoroughly enjoyed this, but truthfully it had some seriously slow parts that annoyed me. The storyline was great and Arkady Renko is an interesting and complex character, but I haven't decided if I will ready any more Renko books. Probably will but not anytime soon.


message 5: by Nancy, Co-Moderator (new)

Nancy Oakes (quinnsmom) | 8958 comments Mod
I personally love Dr. Thorndyke, but I am really into golden age detective fiction.


message 6: by Laurie (new)

Laurie I've completed my 1925--1934 decade and I enjoyed it very much. I've never read Ngaio Marsh before and I'll definitely read more of her novels.

1914-1924 A Silent Witness by R. Austin Freeman read 7/12/14
1925-1934 A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh read 9/10/14
1935-1944
1945-1954
1955-1964
1965-1974
1975-1984Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith read 8/10/14
1985-1994
1995-2004
2005-2014 A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny read 6/17/14


message 7: by Laurie (last edited Oct 10, 2014 03:05PM) (new)

Laurie For the 1995-2004 decade, I read Sharon Kay Penman's The Queen's Man and definitely enjoyed it. Penman is best known for writing historical novels set in the medieval period and this mystery is set accordingly in 1193. It was a nice departure from the modern day mysteries that I always read. No forensics or scientific help to solve whodunit. A fun, easy mystery which is part of 4 part series. Don't know if I'll continue to read them but only because of too many books I want to read instead.

1914-1924 A Silent Witness by R. Austin Freeman read 7/12/14
1925-1934 A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh read 9/10/14
1935-1944
1945-1954
1955-1964
1965-1974
1975-1984 Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith read 8/10/14
1985-1994
1995-2004 The Queen's Man by Sharon Kay Penman read 10/9/14
2005-2014 A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny read 6/17/14


message 8: by Laurie (new)

Laurie Finished my 6th mystery for this challenge in the 1965-74 decade. I had never read any of the Martin Beck series by Swedish author, Maj Sjowall, and have heard they are very good. I wasn't really that impressed by Roseanna, the first novel in the series, but I may continue on to see if I start to like them better. I will say that the premise was interesting, but it just didn't have enough going on. I certainly don't have to have all action in my mysteries, but a little more than this one had would be nice.

The premise of the novel was that an American woman was killed on a small cruise boat on a Swedish lake. She's found dead a few days later in the lake. It took weeks and weeks to discover who she was and another several months to figure out who could have even possibly killed her. This all took a long time to accomplish since things didn't happen quite so fast in 1963 when the story is set. I could see the huge advantage that computers and easy communication across the world give law enforcement now. So no action until the end, just lots of police sitting around and mulling over reports. But I'll give Beck another try sometime.

1914-1924 A Silent Witness by R. Austin Freeman read 7/12/14
1925-1934 A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh read 9/10/14
1935-1944
1945-1954
1955-1964
1965-1974 Roseanna by Maj Sjöwall read 10/26/14
1975-1984 Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith read 8/10/14
1985-1994
1995-2004 The Queen's Man by Sharon Kay Penman read 10/9/14
2005-2014 A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny read 6/17/14


message 9: by Laurie (new)

Laurie Finished my 7th book, The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey which was published in 1951. It was my first time I've read any of her novels and this is her most popular. And while I enjoyed the story, I'm not sure why it is so popular.

It begins with Inspector Grant laid up in the hospital with an injury to his leg and back which he got while chasing a criminal. He is bored, bored, bored and the books given to him by well-meaning friends just don't interest him. Finally his friend, Marta, gives him pictures of faces of criminals from history to look at since faces are one of his big interests. And when he comes upon the picture of Richard III, he doesn't at all think that this looks like the face of the evil king that he learned about in history. So he sets out to learn more and update his knowledge about the 15th century king. What he reads does not add up to the story of a man who had his nephews killed so that he could take the throne of his late brother. Grant must enlist the help of a young American historian to help with his research into what really happened 400 years ago.

This is a slow moving story since it all takes place in Grant's hospital room. It is really just lots of Grant reading and thinking about the history of Richard as a policeman evaluates the stories of witnesses. And of course discussing with Brent, his American researcher, what was found in the historical records. There are lots of people to keep straight in Richard's family and the various courtiers of Edward IV (the dead king), Richard and Henry VII (who defeated Richard and took the throne). Lots and lots of people and it gets confusing.

Ultimately it is interesting, but not the typical mystery that I read. I love history but this was a little hard to follow because names get thrown out by Grant and Brent, and I couldn't always remember who these people were if they hadn't been mentioned for a few chapters. The dialogue is kind of stilted and it is completely unbelievable to me that Brent was able to do the research that he did in such a short amount of time. I know there would be reams and reams of obscure texts and documents to look at, and it just isn't possible to find out everything in a few short weeks. And there was nothing that he wasn't able to find out. It was all there for each person he researched, and he researched a couple of dozen at least.

I enjoyed the character of Grant enough to try another novel, though I look forward to one in which he solves a current mystery. And about the title of this one, I have no clue what the daughter of time refers to, so I find the title strange.


1914-1924 A Silent Witness by R. Austin Freeman read 7/12/14
1925-1934 A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh read 9/10/14
1935-1944
1945-1954 The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey read 11/5/14
1955-1964
1965-1974 Roseanna by Maj Sjöwall read 10/26/14
1975-1984 Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith read 8/10/14
1985-1994
1995-2004 The Queen's Man by Sharon Kay Penman read 10/9/14
2005-2014 A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny read 6/17/14


message 10: by Helena (new)

Helena Greenfield | 81 comments I've actually been meaning to check out Josephine Tey. never read any of her novels and I've always wanted to. Must say Daughter of time is the one I was most curious about since it's so famous. Great review. Might check it out.


message 11: by Laurie (new)

Laurie Helena wrote: "I've actually been meaning to check out Josephine Tey. never read any of her novels and I've always wanted to. Must say Daughter of time is the one I was most curious about since it's so famous. Gr..."

I hope you enjoy it, and I'm sure I will read another Inspector Grant mystery at some point. I probably would have liked this one better if I up on medieval British history.


message 12: by Helena (new)

Helena Greenfield | 81 comments I think the novel actually generated a lot of controversy cos of the claims. I think I read somewhere (probably wikipedia lol) that even Churchill at the time discussed the novel at length (he was totally opposed to Richard II innocence I think). It's certainly an interesting idea and I really should read it. Bit the thought of it all being set in his room seems kinda daunting. I might get bored.


message 13: by Laurie (new)

Laurie RIP P.D. James

I've started reading Cover Her Face for the 1955-64 decade. I've read many of P. D. James's novels and really enjoyed them but strangely have never read this book which is the first of the series. I just discovered that James died on November 27th.

http://www.npr.org/2014/12/01/3677668...


message 14: by Laurie (new)

Laurie 1914-1924 A Silent Witness by R. Austin Freeman read 7/12/14
1925-1934 A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh read 9/10/14
1935-1944
1945-1954 The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey read 11/5/14
1955-1964 Cover Her Face by P.D. James read 12/6/14
1965-1974 Roseanna by Maj Sjöwall read 10/26/14
1975-1984 Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith read 8/10/14
1985-1994
1995-2004 The Queen's Man by Sharon Kay Penman read 10/9/14
2005-2014 A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny read 6/17/14

I feel kind of bad that I just can't give Cover Her Face more than 3 stars. But it was P D James first novel and, clearly, she improved greatly. The character of Dalgliesh in this story is so bland and uninteresting. She developed him into a very complex character, and it was a pleasure to read later books of this series. I'm not sure which book is the earliest in the series that I've ever read, but if this had been the first there would probably not have been a second for me.


message 15: by Laurie (new)

Laurie Finished Frost At Christmas today and I just hated it. Inspector Frost is supposed to be a kind of unorganized, sloppy mess who bumbles around and still manages to solve the crime. He reminded me of the detective in the old TV series, Columbo, except that Frost is a far less impressive detective. What was so awful is the depiction of all the women in the book. Most are just portrayed as sex objects and the rest are old crones. Even the mother of the missing girl is a prostitute who keeps meeting with men while her daughter is missing because as she says "she has to live".

The worst though is that Inspector Frost looks the other way when he and his sergeant discover that the local vicar has taken nude pictures of a 12 year old girl. The girl is very well-developed and apparently sexually active, so Frost says that the vicar hasn't done anything illegal. Child pornography was illegal in England in the 80s when the book was written, so this attitude is very anachronistic and sickening. I won't be reading another Frost novel.

This novel was one of the choices in the poll for the December/January read, but it didn't win. It is a good thing it didn't because I think it would cause some outrage for its treatment of females.

1914-1924 A Silent Witness by R. Austin Freeman read 7/12/14
1925-1934 A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh read 9/10/14
1935-1944
1945-1954 The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey read 11/5/14
1955-1964 Cover Her Face by P.D. James read 12/6/14
1965-1974 Roseanna by Maj Sjöwall read 10/26/14
1975-1984 Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith read 8/10/14
1985-1994 Frost At Christmas by R.D. Wingfield read 12/13/14
1995-2004 The Queen's Man by Sharon Kay Penman read 10/9/14
2005-2014 A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny read 6/17/14


message 16: by Laurie (new)

Laurie I have completed this challenge. I finished by reading Double Indemnity by James M. Cain who also wrote The Postman Always Rings Twice which I want to read. Double Indemnity is pretty good and a nice short book. You know from the very beginning that the narrator, Huff, will be so sorry he met the femme fatale.

1914-1924 A Silent Witness by R. Austin Freeman read 7/12/14
1925-1934 A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh read 9/10/14
1935-1944 Double Indemnity by James M. Cain read 2/12/15
1945-1954 The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey read 11/5/14
1955-1964 Cover Her Face by P.D. James read 12/6/14
1965-1974 Roseanna by Maj Sjöwall read 10/26/14
1975-1984 Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith read 8/10/14
1985-1994 Frost At Christmas by R.D. Wingfield read 12/13/14
1995-2004 The Queen's Man by Sharon Kay Penman read 10/9/14
2005-2014 A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny read 6/17/14


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