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2014 50 Book Challenge - Page 39

post #571 of 2324
Clockwise counting 40/50: Anthony Berkeley - The Poisoned Chocolates Case (1929)

One of the classic mysteries of a bygone era. A notorious upper class womanizer receives a sample box of liqueur chocolate addressed to him at his club. He doesn't like chocolate but a fellow club member who has lost a bet with his wife owes the same wife a box of chocolates. The gift box is transferred to the other club member who brings it home to his wife. After indulging in five or six pieces, each which have an unusually strong taste of alcohol and almond, the wife falls acutely ill and dies shortly thereafter. The police fails to get to the bottom of the case and labels the murder the act of a madman.

A society of criminologists are conducting meetings on a regular basis and they decide to solve the case. The six members of the society conducts independent research and each presents his or her conclusions and a theory on 6 consecutive nights of meetings.

This is a very technical puzzle and doesn't have any of the literary pretensions of Dickson Carr or Dorothy Sayers. Enjoyable as entertainment and skilfully narrated on a technical level but inferior to the true masters of the genre. I think.
post #572 of 2324
What's cool is we will have 3 50 book readers. I'm slowing down due to viewing old episodes of Deadwood and Mad Men. But I'll still make 100. I'm queued up for 95.
post #573 of 2324
Clockwise counting 41/50: Agatha Christie - The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)

I have read a pile of Agatha Christie mysteries in the distant past and my favourite is probably And Then There Were None (1939). This one is however on the list of the 1001 books you must read before you die so it had extra appeal. Like most of Christie's books, it is a highly technical thing with lots of clues and lose ends and everyone having something to hide but only one murderer. Christie specialised in surprise endings and this one is no different. 

Among the golden age mystery writers Christie was by far the most successful with billions of books sold. My personal favourite is however John Dickson Carr who is less technical but with more atmospheric exuberance. I would also rate Arthur Conan Doyle higher, although he may belong to an earlier generation.

9 to go.
post #574 of 2324
51. This is How, Augesten Burroughs (2012)

Augusten Burroughs dispenses advice on a host of subjects, many of which he has no qualifications at all on. Mostly maudlin crap; hopefully nobody will take him seriously.
post #575 of 2324
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

Clockwise counting 41/50: Agatha Christie - The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)
I have read a pile of Agatha Christie mysteries in the distant past and my favourite is probably And Then There Were None (1939). This one is however on the list of the 1001 books you must read before you die so it had extra appeal. Like most of Christie's books, it is a highly technical thing with lots of clues and lose ends and everyone having something to hide but only one murderer. Christie specialised in surprise endings and this one is no different. 
Among the golden age mystery writers Christie was by far the most successful with billions of books sold. My personal favourite is however John Dickson Carr who is less technical but with more atmospheric exuberance. I would also rate Arthur Conan Doyle higher, although he may belong to an earlier generation.
9 to go.

That book was awesome.
post #576 of 2324
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

That book was awesome.

Did you read And Then There Were None or Murder on the Orient Express? Mandatory Christie and I think even better than Ackroyd. I am on to another mystery now, a Dickson Carr, need to get a few more easy ones in there before end of the year. Got to reach 50 but.... I have to work too.
post #577 of 2324
52. Swimming Home, by Deborah Levy (2011)

Another from the Booker shortlist. Being independently published, Levy's novel is a rare bird for a major prize race.

Two couples are holidaying in a villa near Nice, one of which has a teenage daughter. They taken in an unstable young woman to give her a roof over her head, with serious unforeseen consequences.

I could see this making a really good arthouse movie, and generally enjoyed it. It is a bit slight however and some of the character development is a bit shallow, so I'd say Hilary Mantel is still the rightful winner IMO so far.
post #578 of 2324
89. Get Capone 1980 Jonathan Eig I am fascinated with gangsters which means I'm fascinated with Capone. Had never read an entire book about his life and found it interesing but not compelling, like Isaacson's book on Steve Jobs, or even Bush's auto which came out last year (yes I did say that). Thumbs sideways.
post #579 of 2324
90. The Day Before Midnight Stephen Hunter Bad guys Russians. Good guy American designer of missile. Renegade Russian and his Merry band of Commando Ruffians take over missile silo to fire a missile at Russia so they will send theirs and kill us. Designer of missile, Delta Force and Rangers foil the nasty plot. Pretty good.
post #580 of 2324
Clockwise counting 42/50: John Dickson Carr - The Plague Court Murders (1934)

A fake psychic is murdered during a seance. He is found alone in a sea of blood in a small stone house with bolted and locked windows and doors. A classic locked room mystery that can only be solved by Sir Henry Merrivale, one of Dickson Carr's two genius problem solvers. This one has got a lot of nice touches but due to a sometimes feverishly confusing narrative, it can't be counted as one of Dickson Carr's best efforts. 
post #581 of 2324
91. Master Sniper Stephen Hunter 1980 A German sniper with a Top Secret infrared brand new rifle is commissioned to assassinate a 6 yr. old Jewish heir who's the object of a convoluted scheme to steal 100m. This is Hunter's first novel. I rather liked it and would highly recommend it to any other thriller aficionados.

I'm thinking about retiring after this year.
post #582 of 2324
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post

.
I'm thinking about retiring after this year.

And do what? Don't joke about serious matters, no one can retire until 1001!
post #583 of 2324
Clockwise counting 43/50: Roberto Bolano - 2666 (2004)

The posthumously published 2666 is considered Bolano's magnum opus and it is a fabulously well written and interesting novel, albeit with a plot that raises many more questions than it provides answers. It can maybe be seen as a chronicle of evil as well as a story of disappearance. The evil is in the backdrop of nazi Germany as well as a long series of gruesome sexual murders in a Mexican border town. The disappearance is mainly that of the celebrated and elusive German novelist Benno von Archimboldi and towards the end of the book, that of his nephew. The main characters are enigmatic and seems sprung out of some modern myth. The plot creates and leaves more lose ends than you normally get away with but for some strange reason accept when it comes to Bolano. 

The book is divided into few parts, essentially five different stories only losely connected through one of the two angles: the Mexican crimes or the elusive German author. Of the five parts, number one is superior and if the 900 pages of this book had lived up to the promise created by the first 160 pages, this would possibly have been a perfect modern masterpiece. The 2nd and 3rd parts are quite disconnected from the rest of the book while the 4th part is a rather sickening chronicle of Mexican mass murders. The final part is excellent and eventually presents the amazing story of the elusive von Archimboldi who in the very last sentence of the book packs his bags and leaves for that horrible centre of evil in northern Mexico. 

The title has no explanation whatsoever. The biblical reference of 666 points to the evil we are exposed to through much of these 900 pages and 2666 sounds like a future date but no one really knows and we can't ask Bolano who is dead. Mystifyingly labyrinthine literature for the modern age.
post #584 of 2324
Clockwise counting 44/50: Graham Greene - The Confidential Agent (1939)

Two rival agents from civil war-time Spain, one loyalist and one rebel, come to England to try to sign up a contract for a much needed coal purchase. The main character, called D, finds himself in a Kafkaesque nightmare in which everything goes wrong and everyone seem to be against him. D represents the left leaning government while the opponent agent, called L, represents the rebelling wealthy land-owner class. 

This novel is full of paranoia, has some excellent descriptions of dismal 1930s England and a peculiar love story. It may not be rated one of Greene's best achievements but it is damn good anyway. I have read many Greene novels but still have a pile left to enjoy. He is doubtlessly one of my 20th century favourites.
post #585 of 2324
Quote:
Originally Posted by clockwise View Post

And do what? Don't joke about serious matters, no one can retire until 1001!

I will never reach 1001 being hooked on thrillers.
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