Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Tuesday Night Bloggers: Murder on Deck

The Tuesday Night Bloggers have decided to take a little different tack for the upcoming months...instead of featuring a particular author and their works each month, we're going to invest some time examining themes. This month's theme is Travel...murders while on holiday, murders on planes and trains and boats, murders by the seaside and murder in the mountains. However you might imagine a mystery taking place while traveling will be up for examination whether it be a trip to the islands, Britain's watering holes, or just a cross-country train journey.  Curtis over at The Passing Tramp has once again offered to host our weekly gatherings. Come and join us! 

The last TNB post I submitted looked at the dangers of train travel. This Tuesday, I'm going to take a peek at the perils aboard ship. You might think that a cruise or even a short jaunt on the river is just the thing to take you away from all your cares and troubles, but characters in a Golden Age mystery (and beyond) soon find that murder can follow you anywhere. It doesn't matter if you set out on a big ocean liner to cross the Atlantic as in The Case of the Blind Barber by John Dickson Carr or his alter-ego Carter Dickson's Nine and Death Makes Ten or if you plan a small boating party with friends as in the case of C. P. Snow's Death Under Sail, murder may come along as an unexpected guest. Agatha Christie, of course, couldn't resist staging her own watery crime and gave us the classic Death on the Nile. The ship is the Karnac and it comes equipped with sixteen suspicious passengers plus the famous Hercule Poirot and his friend Colonel Race. Before the journey is over three of those passengers will be dead and the rest will be regretting their decision to see Egypt from the deck of a boat. There are many examples of death aboard ship in the annals of Golden Age crime. I'm going to take a closer look at some Golden Age (and near-Golden-Age) that I have reviewed over the years on the Block.

First up, Inland Passage by George Harmon Coxe (1949). Knox Randall had taken a bruised heart and three thousand dollars with him to Florida. His plan included wine, women and song (well...good times, anyway)--enough to help him forget the girl back in New York who had bruised his heart. He is down to his last three dollars and forty cents when a newspaper ad catches his eye. A Mr. Perry Noland is looking for an experienced sailor to run his boat up north--payment of a small sum up front and whatever Randall can earn from taking on passengers for a pleasure cruise up the coast.

It sounds ideal to Randall and soon he has hired first mate/steward/cook to help with the duties and has rounded up a full complement of passengers. But all is not what it seems--from the initial hire to passengers traveling under assumed names to gangster-types following the boat by land. The owner of the boat is found shot to death and the first mate isn't long for this world either. Randall, an advertising businessman by trade, begins to wonder just what kind of a job he's taken on. He knows that there is some sort of sleight of hand going on beyond the murders and, having fallen for one of the passengers, he makes it his business to get to the bottom of things.

A very similar story takes place in Mary Robert's Rinehart's The After House (1914). Ralph Leslie, who has spent all his funds training to be a doctor, is just out of hospital and fresh out of cash. A bout of typhoid put him in the hospital and while he was recovering he watched a refit of Marshall Turner's schooner-turned-yacht. An intense longing for the sea takes hold of Leslie and as soon as he is discharged, he signs up as a steward for the yacht's first pleasure cruise. His job seems fairly easy, one could say smooth sailing, at first...until one sultry August night when his dream voyage becomes a nightmare of murder. One of the ship's officers disappears overboard. But the worst is yet to come. Before the night is over, three more will die at the hands of a murderer wielding an axe. With panic among the passengers and crew alike and a drunken owner in no condition to take charge, it is up to Leslie to remain calm enough to see the stricken boat back to shore and a murderer caught. IF he can stay alive long enough and that will prove to be no easy task.

And what have we learned here, class? No matter how low you are on cash; no matter how much the water may be calling your name....don't get on that boat. It's not going to be fun and it's not going to be pretty. Trust me.

An innocent little canoe trip through the pastoral reaches of the upper Thames is the subject of The Footsteps at the Lock (1928) by Father Ronald A Knox. The story starts out innocently enough. Two cousins, Derek and Nigel Burtell, set out their trip up the Thames. The goal is to give Derek a voyage in the great outdoors to restore his failing health. It also happens that Derek is shortly, upon his 25th birthday, to inherit 50,000 pounds from his grandfather. Insurance is also involved because, in view of Derek's frail condition, his life has been insured by the Indescribable Insurance Company in the event that he does not reach the celebrated day.

While the journey upstream is uneventful, the return trip does not go as planned. Nigel must leave the canoe at Shipcote Lock in order to take an exam at Oxford. While he is away, the canoe is found adrift below the lock, Derek has disappeared, and there is a jagged gash in the bottom of the canoe. The Indescribable Insurance Company immediately suspects foul play and sends Miles Bredon, a prime investigator, to investigate the circumstances. Is there a murderer along the banks of the Thames or has Derek met with an unfortunate accident? Most importantly, will the company have to acknowledge the claim? Further muddying the waters, Derek's cousin has disappeared as well.

Twenty-years later, Josephine Tey provided us with another fateful canoe trip in To Love and Be WiseIn which the beautifully handsome young photographer Leslie Searle teams up with writer Walter Whitmore for a canoe trip down the twisting Rushmere River to produce a book which will document the journey in words and pictures.There are rumors that the two men may be rivals in love for the affections of Liz Garroway and when Searle disappears from their riverside campsite one evening it looks like jealousy may have gotten the better of Whitmore. But as Inspector Grant of Scotland Yard soon finds out, all may not be quite as it appears and he will need all his detecting talents to unravel the mystery surrounding Searle's disappearance. 

Lesson two: Even relatives and colleagues may prove dangerous companions when taking a boat trip. No matter how carefully you choose your companions, be prepared for unpleasant surprises.

And finally, it wise to be prepared for one more unpleasant reality facing those who might think about climbing aboard ship in a mystery novel: Sometimes the boat doesn't even have to leave the harbor to be a risk--as we discover in Rufus King's Holiday Homicide (1940). Real estate magnate, Myron Jettwick, invites friends and family to his boat on New Year's Eve in preparation for a yachting trip to Tortuagas. He invites his ex-wife and step-son, his sister, a rival in real estate and her daughter, and is joined by secretary and the boat's captain and crew.  All goes well until his stepson Bruce (who is incidentally also his nephew) gets a telephone call at 3 am. The voice says that it is Jettwick and asks Bruce to come to his cabin. When Bruce gets there he finds Jettwick dead from a gunshot wound in the head. Rather than raise the alarm, Bruce goes back to his room to wait for someone else to discover the body. Once the murder is discovered, he belatedly remembers that he has left fingerprints on a mirror in Jettwick's cabin (a mirror which he used to see if the man was still breathing) and this sends him out on deck to have a good think while waiting for the police to arrive.

On the yacht anchored nearby is Cotton Moon, a wealthy private detective with a weakness for exotic nuts who will immediately put the reader in mind of one Nero Wolfe and his prize orchids. Moon comes equipped with a wise-cracking right-hand man--Bert Stanley, a jewel of a cook, and team of investigators that he can call on for extra legwork. Bruce absent-mindedly throws a rare sapucaia nut and hits Moon with it--gaining the detective's attention on two counts...the nut itself and the early morning antics of his neighbor dressed in pajamas and a robe while pacing in the New Year's snow. As soon as Moon hears the set-up...and Bruce's aunt Emma Jettwick dangles $30,000 plus expenses in front of him...he's on the case. There's a curious collection of botany books, hard and icy spots under the newly fallen snow, nut shells where they shouldn't be, and a mysterious black box that isn't where it should be. There's an ex-lover of Jettwick's ex to find and complainant in a robbery case to track down. Moon will hire a diver and filch a few important papers....and in the end will decide that the group really needs to take that trip to Tortuagas in order to bring the mystery to a close.

So...it looks like boats aren't any better for transportation during the Golden Age than trains. Maybe one should just pick up the old backpack (or haversack) and set out for a nice walking tour. Oh wait...I just consulted my good friend Harriet Vane and she tells me that might not be such a good idea either.... 

Other boat/ship-related vintage mysteries/espionage for your reading pleasure (links are my reviews except where noted):

Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers (1903)

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie (1924) -- in part
Charlie Chan Carries On by Earl Derr Biggers (1930)
Murder by Latitude by Rufus King (1930)
Mystery in the Channel by Freeman Wills Crofts (1931)
Murder on the Yacht by Rufus King (1932) 
The Virgin Kills by Raoul Whitefield (1932)
Mystery on Southhampton Water by Freeman Wills Crofts (1934) 
Death on the Cherwell by Mavis Doriel Hay (1935)
Death on the Bridge by Royce Howes (1935)
The Loss of the Jane Vosper by Freeman Wills Crofts (1936) 
Man Overboard! by Freeman Wills Crofts (1936) 
Found Floating by Freeman Wills Crofts (1937) 
Lady Killer by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding (1942)
The Five Passengers from Lisbon by Mignon G Eberhart (1946)
On the Hook by Richard Powell (1950)
One Murder Too Many by Edwin Lanham (1952)
Murder in Pastiche: or Nine Detectives All at Sea by Marion Mainwaring (1954)
Voyage into Violence  by Frances & Richard Lockridge (1954)
Dead Man's Shoes by Leo Bruce (1958)
Singing in the Shrouds by Ngaio Marsh (1958)
The Widow's Cruise by Nicholas Black (1959)

Short stories
"The Adventure of the Gloria Scott" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1893)
“The Ghost of John Holling” by Edgar Wallace (1924)
"Problem at Sea" by Agatha Christie (1935)
"The Boat Race Murder" by David Winser (1940)
"Two Bodies on a Barge" by Georges Simenon (1944)

Please feel free to comment below with any vintage (for my purposes, pre-1960) boat/ship (water journey)-related mysteries that you see that I've missed. I know I've read others--but I have managed to forget to label them appropriately and my middle-aged memory isn't producing them....


Monday, May 23, 2016

Challenge Goal Complete: Travel the World (Year Four

I started this journey back in 2012 (for 2013).  It was originally sponsored by Stacey over at Have Books, Will Travel as the Around the World in 80 Books Reading Challenge.  But something happened and her blog seems to have gone away. Tanya over at Mom's Small Victories has adopted it in partnership with I’m Lost in Books and Savvy Working Gal and renamed it the Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge. They have graciously allowed those of us who had started the journey with Around the World to claim the countries already "booked" and continue our trip from there.

My original commitment was five years to complete a voyage of 80 countries. I began on October 1, 2012 and my end date is September 30, 2017. And I decided to read books set in a particular country. If a book takes place in multiple countries, then I will use only one of them for the challenge. My commitment was the equivalent of 16 books each year in order to count the challenge towards that year's goal. That is to say, I must meet the following goals by the end of each year to count the challenge:
Year one = 16 books read Year two = 32 books read Year three = 48 books read Year four = 64 books read Year five = 80 books read

Additionally, I pledged to donate 80 books to my local library--pledge completed July 14, 2014.
Progress So Far:  
List of books read and location:
1. The Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime by Michael Sims, ed (11/5/12) [England]
2. The Bone Is Pointed by Arthur W. Upfield [Australia] (11/16/12)
3. The Three Evangelists by Fred Vargas  [France] (12/15/12) 
4. Plum Pudding Murder by Joanne Fluke [US] (12/19/12) 
5. The Man Who Went up in Smoke by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö [Hungary] (1/8/13)
6. Whip Smart: Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards by Kit Brennan [Spain] (2/9/13)
7. The Perfect Landscape by Ragna Sigurdardottir [Iceland] (3/12/13)
8. The Lady Vanishes (aka The Wheel Spins) by Ethel Lina White [takes place on train ride through the "Balkans" which could conceivable be part of several countries. I have arbitrarily decided that the bulk of the action takes place in Bulgaria] (3/17/13) 
9. The African Queen by C. S. Forester [Tanzania] (4/6/13) 
    Death in Zanzibar by M. M. Kaye [Tanzania] (6/25/13)
10. Blood Makes Noise by Gregory Widen [Argentina] (4/30/13) 
11. The Talking Sparrow Murders by Darwin L. Teilhet [Germany] (5/6/13) 
12. Finding Camlann by Sean Pidgeon [Wales] (5/18/13)
13. Death at Crane's Court by Eilis Dillon [Ireland] (5/23/13) 
14. The Curse of the Bronze Lamp by Carter Dickson [Egypt] (5/27/13) 
15. Murder on Safari by Elspeth Huxley [Kenya] (6/8/13)
16. Devoured by D. E. Meredith [Malaysia (& England)] (6/22/13)

Year One Challenge Goal met!
17. Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov [Russia] (6/23/13)
18. The Scarlet Macaw by S. P. Hozy [Singapore] (8/10/13)
19. The Monster of Florence by Magdalen Nabb [Italy] (8/17/13)
20. Andersen's Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen [Denmark] (8/20/13)  
21. Cold Earth by Sarah Moss [Greenland] (10/18/13)
22. Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell [Sweden] (1/5/13)
23. The Xibalba Murders by Lyn Hamilton [Mexico](1/18/14)
24. Exit Actors, Dying by Margot Arnold [Turkey] (2/4/14)  
25. Murder in the Vatican by Ann Margaret Lewis [Vatican City] (3/5/14) 
26. The Poisoned Island by Lloyd Shepherd [Tahiti (French Polynesia)] (3/8/14) 
27. The Coral Princess Murders by Frances Crane [Tangier, Morocco] (4/5/14) 
28. Decoded by Mai Jia [China] (4/5/14) 
29. Gale Warning by Hammon Innes [Norway/Norwegian Sea] (4/15/14) 
30. The Lady of Sorrows by Anne Souroudi [Greece] (4/26/14) 
31. 20.12 by Dustin Thomason [Guatemala] (6/6/14) 
32. DeKok & Murder in Ecstasy [Netherlands] (6/27/14) 

Year Two Challenge Goal Met!

33. The 7 Professors of the Far North by John Fardell [Arctic Circle] (6/29/14)
34. Murder at the Villa Rose by A. E. W. Mason [Monaco] (7/14/14)
35. The Tattooed Man by Howard Pease [Panama--one of major stops/scenes of action in the sea-faring tale] (7/17/14) 
36. The Dark Ring of Murder by Misa Yamamura [Japan] (11/19/14) 
37. A Dead Man in Trieste by Michael Pearce [Austria] (1/27/15)
38. Death Over Deep Water by Simon Nash [Malta] (2/8/15)
39. Into the Valley by John Hersey [Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands] (2/28/15) 
40. The Wilberforce Legacy by Josephine Bell [Trinidad & Tobago] (4/19/15)
41. Safari by Parnell Hall [Zambia] (4/21/15) 
42. Double Cross Purposes by Ronald A. Knox [Scotland] (6/3/15)
43. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood [Canada] (8/16/15)
44. Death in Kashmir by M. M. Kaye [India] (8/25/15)
45. The Bat Flies Low by Sax Rohmer [Egypt] (9/10/15)
46. The Albert Gate Mystery by Louis Tracy [France & Italy] (9/14/15)
47. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen [Poland] (9/14/15)
48. Black Alibi by Cornell Woolrich [Brazil] (9/23/15)

Year Three Challenge Goal Met!

49. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie [then--Yugoslavia in what is now present-day Croatia] 9/23/15 
50. Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters [Egypt] (9/28/15)
51. Paris in the Twentieth Century by Jules Verne [France] (10/11/15)
52. The Ghost Writer by John Harwood [Australia & England] (10/16/15)
53. In Spite of Thunder by John Dickson Carr [Switzerland] (11/7/15)
54. The Red Redmaynes by Eden Philpotts [England & Italy] (11/14/15)
55. The Girl in the Cellar by Patricia Wentworth [England] (1/9/16)
56. The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham [Hong Kong] (2/5/16)
57. The Bridal Bed Murders by A. E. Martin [Australia] (2/13/16)
58. The Bachelors of Broken Hill by Arthur W. Upfield [Australia] (2/22/16)
59. The Calcutta Affair by George S. Elrick [India] (2/28/16)
60. House of Darkness by Allan MacKinnon [Scotland] (3/7/16)
61. The Philomel Foundation by James Gollin [Switzerland & Germany] (3/11/16)
62. The Chalk Circle Man by Fred Vargas [France] (4/21/16)
63. Death in Cyprus by M. M. Kaye [Cyprus] (4/22/16)
64. The Family Tomb by Michael Gilbert [Italy] (5/10/16)

Year Four Goal Met!

Good Blood: Review

Good Blood (2004) by Aaron Elkins is the eleventh book to feature the "Skeleton Detective," Gideon Oliver. This time Oliver and his wife, Julie, are headed to Italy for a bit of R&R. Gideon plans to stay in the nicely civilized hotels while Julie joins their friend Phil Boyajian on one of his "On the Cheap" tours which involves far too many primitive stays in tents for Gideon's tastes. Phil also uses the time in Italy to drop in on his relatives--which he does once or twice a year (more than enough for him). His cousin just happens to be the Padrone Vincenzo de Grazia, latest heir in a long aristocratic lineage. Just prior to their arrival, the Padrone's only son is kidnapped in a violent undertaking that leaves the family's chauffeur and one of the kidnappers dead.

Phil recommends his friend Oliver to the local police official, Colonnello Tullio Caravale, but the policeman isn't too eager for outside help. At least not until the skeletal remains show up on a building site owned by de Grazia's company--then Gideon's expertise is welcomed. Welcomed by almost everyone. When the bones are identified as Dominico de Grazia, Vincenzo's father who was believed drowned in a boating accident, someone doesn't want Oliver to spend much time looking over the remains. An attempt is made to steal the bones and when that goes awry, Oliver himself is attacked. But when Oliver finally gets a chance to examine the bones closely he can't understand what all the fuss was about--there's nothing out of the ordinary beyond the evidence of damage to Dominico's femur (but everyone knew he limped and used a cane--so what good is that?) and that the family's patriarch was murdered by a kitchen knife. These facts doesn't seem to point towards anyone in particular. Oliver feels sure that he's missed something--but what? In the meantime, a ransom is paid, the kidnapped boy is returned, and there are clues that seem to lead to someone close to the de Grazia family. There are also pointers to a deep secret in the family's past--Caravale's detective work and Oliver's bone study come together for a surprise ending to this tale of murder and deception among Italy's upper-class.

Aaron Elkins is an author that I discovered back in the 80s when he debuted his "Skeleton Detective" series. I enjoyed the first several, but, as is the way of things, I soon got distracted by other books and other authors. Gideon Oliver is a very interesting detective--and the first forensic anthropologist that I met in fiction. Elkins is very adept at bringing in the technical terminology without overwhelming the reader and I come away feeling like I know a little bit more than I did when I started. I was also quite pleased that (due to a very personal experience *see below for explanation--but be warned, there may be a spoiler) I was able to identify the key bit of skeletal evidence before Oliver was allowed to recognize its significance. Go me! 

The setting is ideal and Elkins describes it perfectly. He also provides a cast of interesting characters--though I must say that I agree with Phil that his relatives would probably get on my nerves if I had to visit them for any length of time. Lots of tensions and reasons for murder. My only complaint lies in the fair play aspect--while the clue in the skeleton is clear for anyone with a bit of previous knowledge, there really aren't sufficient clues to determine the culprit definitely. One might have suspicions, but (unless I missed them) there aren't enough definite clues to back it up. Overall, a very enjoyable read--with interesting characters and plot and a good setting. This one earns a bit extra in the star department for that personal link I mentioned above. ★★★★

~~~~This counts for the "Forensic Specialist" category in the Mystery Reporter Challenge.

******Possible Spoiler!*********

*As mentioned above, this story took on a personal note when Oliver describes the damage to Dominico de Grazia's femur. He indicates that he believes it to be damage from a break or injury early in the patriarch's life--but as soon as I read the specifics, I thought to myself, That sounds like Perthe's Disease. Perthe's is a condition that cuts off blood flow to the hip joint--and it occurs most often in boys from the ages of 5-10 or 11. I got well-acquainted with that nasty disease when my son was diagnosed with it at the age of 10 1/2 (on the cusp of the upper-age limit). And he has that tell-tale limp described by those who knew Dominico. I can't tell you how pleased I was to have identified the proper cause of that damage before Oliver did. When I told my son (who's now 23) about it, he said, with his usual dry humor, "Well at least having the disease was good for something."

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Litmore Snatch: Review

Herbert Litmore is the rather prim owner of the local newspaper in the northeast coastal town of Harborough. Because of a youthful indiscretion of his own, he takes a rather dim view of those who aren't as scrupulous in their financial dealings and their interactions with the public as he has been since seeing the error of his ways. So, he has his editor run a series of editorials against the area's Fun Fairs. Litmore is quite sure that behind the simple, rigged games and the garish entertainments there must run a vein of organized crime and vice and he wants something done about it. This results in several anonymous letters warning Litmore that if the editorials don't stop then he will regret it.

The Chief Constable, Mr. Faidlaw, is his good friend and he asks his Superintendents to have a quiet word with the managers of the Fun Fairs in their districts. But before the officers can make much headway, danger strikes Litmore and his family. The Litmores' young son and his friend make a regular trip to watch a boxing match and about the time they are heading home it begins to rain. A man stops in a dark saloon car, calls the boys by name, says he knows their fathers, and offers them a ride home. He drops Jack Smead off as promised. But Ben doesn't make it home. 

Unfortunately, the police are hobbled by the boy's parents who fear that an overt investigation will prompt the kidnappers to hurt...or possibly kill their son. Mr. Faidlaw will regret the wasted time later, but he can't bring himself to force the frightened parents to put their son at risk. Before the kidnapper's demands are met and Ben is safely home (yay!), his officers make the most discreet inquiries they can. There are several suspects to choose from--three of the Fun Fair managers have a bit of a reputation and were very vocal (among their fellow managers) about the editorials and a cloud of suspicion also hovers over one of the police superintendents who was mysteriously unavailable the night of the kidnapping. But then there is also evidence that a woman may be involved. Faidlaw winds up calling in Scotland Yard when the suspicions surrounding Superintendent Jonnison become more public. 

The Yard's Chief Inspector Vine sets to work on the cold trail and with the aid of the local officers he soon has the perpetrator in his sights. But finding the necessary evidence may be a bit tricky. Fortunately, Vine has a trick or two up his sleeve that will suit the purpose.

Henry Wade's last mystery novel, The Litmore Snatch (1957), surprisingly does not involve a murder. I can't tell you how relieved I was for that. As soon as ten-year-old Ben Litmore was "snatched" on his way home from a boxing match, I feared the worst and I don't do well with the murders of children (or children in danger in any way, really). So I was very happy to see the ransom paid and Ben returned to his family at about the mid-point of the book. It allowed me to settle down and try to identify the culprit--but that proved to be more challenging than expected. I changed my mind several times and just barely settled on the proper culprit before the wrap-up began. Wade may have been on his last story, but he still managed to mystify in the midst of this pretty straight-forward police procedural. Highly entertaining kidnap caper. ★★★★

With that lone slice of bacon on the cover, this counts for the "Food" category on the Golden Vintage Scavenger Hunt card. It is also my third offering in the 1957 edition of Rich's Crimes of Century over at Past Offenses. If you have any 1957 crime fiction hanging out on your shelves, then come join us!

Semi-Charmed Summer 2016 Challenge

photo via @megtristao

After participating for a number of rounds, I missed the last few installments of the Semi-Charmed Book Challenge series. But now it's time for the Summer 2016 edition and, after checking my stacks for books that will work, I found books for most of the categories and I'm in. I'll just have to visit the library for a couple of titles.  The challenge starts on June 1 and runs through August 31. If you'd like to join in, hop on the link for full details and to sign up. 

Here are the categories and the books I intend to read (subject to change). I will confirm with a review link and a date once I've read them.

5 points: Freebie! Read any book that is at least 150 pages long. To Be Determined

10 points: Read a collection of short stories or essays. They may all be written by the same author, or the book may be an anthology from different writers; your choice! Bodies & Souls edited by Dann Herr & Joel Wells

10 points: Read an adult fiction book written by an author who normally writes books for children. Examples: J. K. Rowlinhttps, Judy Blume, Suzanne Collins, Rick Riordan, etc. - Submitted by SCWBC15 finisher Kelly E. The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne

15 points: Read a book set in Appalachia. - Submitted by SCWBC15 finisher Ericka B. (Try this list or this one for inspiration. And here’s a map if you have a book in mind and want to know if it fits the setting.) Midnight in Lonesome Hollow by Kathleen Ernst
15 points: Don’t judge a book by its cover! Read a book with a cover you personally find unappealing. To Be Determined (I'll have to see what unappealing covers I have on the stacks.)

20 points: Read a book that you have previously only seen the film (movie) of. - Submitted by SCWBC15 finisher Bevchen. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

25 points: Read a book with a punny title. The title can be a play on another book title, movie title or a common expression. Examples of such titles include Southern Discomfort, We'll Always Have Parrots or Bonefire of the Vanities. - Submitted by SCWBC15 finisher Jamie G. High Rhymes & Misdemeanors by Diana Killian

30 points: Read a microhistory. (Try this list or this one for ideas.) The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett

30 points: Read one book with a good word in the title, and one with a bad word. Note: This category is reeeeeeeally open-ended! Maybe you like turtles, so The Pearl that Broke Its Shell is a title with a "good" word. Similarly, the "bad" word could be a swear word or a literally negative word like “not” or “none,” or it could just be something you don’t like. Have fun with it! (Remember, you must read both books to get 30 points; this category is not worth 15 points per book.) Too Good to Be True by J. F. Hutton OR Good Blood by Aaron Elkins OR How Like an Angel by Margaret Millar and Bad For Business by Rex Stout OR The Devil in Bellminster by David Holland

40 points: Read two books that contain the same word in the title, but once in the singular and once in the plural. For example: Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter and The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer, or Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff and The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. (Remember, you must read both books to get 40 points; this category is not worth 20 points per book.)  The Singing Bone by R. Austin Freeman and A Rattling of Old Bones by Jonathan Ross