TBR Special – The Murder Mystery Mayhem Challenge…

Adding how many books to the TBR?!??

Yesterday I reviewed Martin Edwards’ excellent book on the development of the crime novel – The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books. It will not surprise those of you who’ve read any of my TBR posts to learn that I found this book an irresistible excuse for a brand new spreadsheet! But what’s the point of a new spreadsheet without a new challenge to go with it? So here it is…

The challenge is to read and review all 102 of the books Edwards includes on his main list. Yes, 102. Don’t ask me why a book called “…100 Books” actually lists 102, but the spreadsheet never lies, so 102 it is! However, I’m off to a flying start since I’ve already reviewed five of them on the blog, so this means I only have to add 97 to my TBR or wishlist…

I’ve decided not to list all 102 Books up front. The book has only just been published and somehow it seems unfair – almost like a major spoiler. So instead I’m going to start today with a batch of ten – the five I’ve reviewed and five others that I already own but haven’t yet read. Once I get to the end of this batch, I’ll list another batch, and so on. I’ll be adding an index page shortly where I’ll put links to all the books as I review them, so gradually – very gradually – it will grow to become a complete list. I’ll be reading them in totally random order as and when I acquire them, but on my index page I’ll organise them in the order and under the subject headings in the book. I reckon it will take me a minimum of four or five years to read them all, so if you can’t wait to know all 102 of the titles, then you’ll have to buy the book!

So here goes with the first ten…

(titles link to my review)


The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Book No: 1

Subject Heading: A New Era Dawns – here Edwards discusses some of the books that came out before the Golden Age proper got under way, showing how they influenced the development of the genre.

Publication Year: 1902

Edwards says: “Atmospheric and gripping, The Hound of the Baskervilles is the best of the four long stories about Holmes…”

* * * * *

The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes

Book No: 10

Subject Heading: A New Era Dawns

Publication Year: 1913

Edwards says: “The strength of The Lodger derives from its focus on the tensions of domestic life rather than lurid melodrama.”

* * * * *

Murder of a Lady by Anthony Wynne

Book No: 31

Subject Heading: Miraculous Murders – locked room mysteries and impossible crimes.

Publication Year: 1931

Edwards says: “The puzzle is cleverly contrived, and the explanation is not – as is often the risk with a locked-room mystery – a let-down.”

* * * * *

Green for Danger by Christianna Brand

Book No: 63

Subject Heading: The Long Arm of the Law – books where the detective is a police officer rather than a gifted amateur.

Publication Year: 1944

Edwards says: “…we are told that ‘Inspector Cockrill was anything but a sweet little man’. He has been described… as ‘one of the best loved “official” detectives in the whole of the crime and mystery genre’.”

* * * * *

The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie

Book No: 72

Subject Heading: Multiplying Murders – early examples of the serial killer novel.

Publication Year: 1936

Edwards says: “This novel is one of Christie’s masterpieces, and has been much flattered by imitation, although elements of the brilliant central plot idea were borrowed by Christie herself, for instance from a short story by GK Chesterton…”



The Eye of Osiris by R Austin Freeman

Book No: 9

Subject Heading: A New Era Dawns

Publication Year: 1911

Edwards says: The Eye of Osiris blends elements of a real-life murder in Boston, Massachusetts, with forensic science, Egyptology and romance. The result is a memorable challenge for Dr John Thorndyke, an expert in medical jurisprudence, and the first major scientific detective to appear in twentieth-century crime fiction.”

* * * * *

Some Must Watch by Ethel Lina White

Book No: 38

Subject Heading: Murder at the Manor – country house mysteries.

Publication Year: 1933

Edwards says: “Helen, aged nineteen, takes a position quaintly described as a ‘lady-help’ with the Warren family at their lonely country house… Its remoteness makes working there an unattractive proposition for anyone who is not desperate – but Helen is desperate… Ethel Lina White builds the tension with unobtrusive skill as a ruthless murderer closes in on Helen…”

* * * * *

Death at the President’s Lodging by Michael Innes

Book No: 52

Subject Heading: Education, Education, Education – crimes set in schools, colleges and universities.

Publication Year: 1936

Edwards says: “Michael Innes announced his arrival as a detective novelist characteristically, with a quotation, a paradox, a baroque scenario and a touch of humour. Umpleby has been shot, little piles of human bones have been scattered around his corpse, and on the oak panels of his study, someone has chalked a couple of grinning death’s heads.”

* * * * *

Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate

Book No: 65

Subject Heading: The Justice Game – crimes involving members of the legal profession.

Publication Year: 1940

Edwards says: “…despite Raymond Postgate’s unrelenting focus on the haphazard workings of the English justice system, he also fashions a fascinating story that combines exploration of human nature with a teasing mystery. The first and longest of the book’s four sections presents studies of the twelve members of a jury convened for a murder trial. The jurors are a varied bunch, and one of them has got away with committing a murder.”

* * * * *

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

Book No: 95

Subject Heading: Across the Atlantic – a look at what was happening in American crime fiction.

Publication Year: 1950

Edwards says: “The uncertain post-war world was ready for crime fiction that explored the ambiguities of guilt and innocence, and Highsmith’s subtle and ambitious writing paved the way for gifted successors such as Ruth Rendell, who wanted to take detective stories in a fresh direction.”

* * * * * * * * *

I hope you’ll join me on my journey through early crime fiction. And if you’re planning to read The Story of Classic Crime and perhaps some of the 102 Books, do let me know – I’d love to see what you think of them too.

Murder, mystery and mayhem!
Life would be so much duller without them!

68 thoughts on “TBR Special – The Murder Mystery Mayhem Challenge…

    • I know! I can’t think of a better combination, except perhaps coffee and cake! 😉 Haha – the everlasting TBR problem – but I must admit adding 97 books all at once is a record even for me!


  1. I love this idea, FictionFan! And you’ve made such a good start that I can’t see a problem with adding 97 more books *She says snickering, but knowing she will probably do a similar thing.* *Sigh*


    • Hahaha! But the pain of the massive increase in the TBR is balanced by the joy of an excuse for a new spreadsheet! And at least these older books tend to be a bit shorter… or that’s what I tell myself anyway… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When you mentioned the number of books to be added to your list, I suddenly felt like the woman in the illustration (who has either fainted or been murdered; I’ll go with fainted). Wow! Yay, team? I’m cheering you on though I’ve fainted from the challenge of looking at you taking on that challenge.


    • She’s swooning… much as I did when I saw the length of my new spreadsheet! However it should be fun… and these older books are always shorter than modern ones. Or so I keep telling myself anyway… 😉


  3. Umpleby has been shot, little piles of human bones have been scattered around his corpse, and on the oak panels of his study, someone has chalked a couple of grinning death’s heads.

    Sounds like a domestic to me . . .

    Good luck with the challenge!


    • Thank you – I’m hoping it’ll be fun! 😀 Oh, that’s a pity – I do find these older books variable in quality but there’s something about that old-fashioned style that always makes me quite enjoy them anyway… fingers crossed!


  4. Great idea. Luckily, I’ve read all of these except the White – which I may have read in my youth but don’t remember. You’ll enjoy this one!


    • I suspect you might find you’ve read most of the 100. Although I didn’t list them, there’s another half-dozen or so that will be re-reads for me though from long before I started blogging and reviewing. But several of the authors are familiar names even to me – thankfully he hasn’t gone for too many obscure or hard to get books. Should be fun I hope – and a bit lighter than the Russian challenge!


  5. I didn’t know Strangers on a Train was written by Patricia Highsmith! I finished The Talented Mr. Ripley last week and it was my first Highsmith. I wasn’t sure which of her books to read next. 😀


    • I only found out via blogging too, and it’s been on my TBR now for a good couple of years – so this challenge at least means it’s been shoved up my priority list. It’ll be my first Highsmith… 😀


  6. Your a glutton for punishment 🙂 I’ve some of the books you’ve listed, including Death at the President’s Lodging, which I did enjoy (gave it 4* on Goodreads). Good luck – this should keep you busy for a while!!


    • Hahaha – I know! But I couldn’t resist the lure of a shiny new spreadsheet! And I think I’ll love this challenge – I’ve been enjoying all these BL books more than most modern crime for a while now. Glad to hear you enjoyed Death at the President’s Lodging – I find I enjoy most of them even though the quality is variable. I think I just like that more old-fashioned style of writing… 😀


  7. These sound really interesting, but NO WAY am I adding 102 more books to my TBR. No, no, no! I’m just going to slink away now and refuse to sign up for any more challenges, regardless how fascinating they might be. Gee, FF, I admire you for tackling this one (and be sure to keep us updated on your progress, okay?!)


    • What?! Not adding them all?! I’ll just need to see if I can sneakily get you to add them one at a time as I go along then… Hahaha! I can never resist a challenge – especially one that gives me an excuse for a brand new spreadsheet! And there’s no such thing as too many books, right? Right?!?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Haha – I spent most of yesterday acquiring all the old ones I could find as downloads and my TBR has gone stratospheric already! You wait – resistance is futile! And just think… a whole new spreadsheet awaits you… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh, that would be fun – let me know if you do decide to! It’s only 102 books – that’s not really a lot, right? And probably a lot of them will be quite short! Hahaha – I knew you’d be pleased. It broke the 200 mark spectacularly yesterday as I added some of the ones I could find for download… 😀


  8. Good luck with this! It sounds very tempting, but with the current size of my own TBR I think I’ll just have to watch and admire your progress instead. 🙂 I do have a copy of Verdict of Twelve, though, so I’ll be reading that one soon anyway.


    • Thank you! Haha – my own TBR was already out of control but I simply couldn’t resist the lure of a new spreadsheet! Seriously though, I’ve been loving all these BL re-issues – even though the quality is variable there’s something about that older style of writing that I really enjoy. Verdict of Twelve looks interesting – hope we both enjoy it! 😀


  9. I will NOT be joining you in this crazy challenge, but I wish you all the best in it, and I can’t wait to read the reviews. BTW I loved Hound of the Baskervilles, I studied it in a few different years of schooling, and it remains one of my favourite books of all time!


    • Hahaha – well, I shall be trying to tempt you approximately another 102 times, so we’ll see if you can hold out! 😉 Oh, The Hound of the Baskervilles is brilliant, isn’t it? He’s such a great story-teller and that one really shows the Holmes/Watson friendship at its best. I went to Dartmoor once and spent all my time hoping to hear a ghastly howling coming over the mire… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. To travel murderously and hopefully is better than to arrive at a chocolate laced with arsenic, as the ancient proverb has it

    The Highsmith is wonderful, and I am SO pleased that you might be heading towards the upper reaches of 300 TBRs, sometime soon. With autumn on its way you have chosen the perfect season for a large selection of bump-em-offs


    • Haha – there may be a point halfway through when arsenic-laced chocolate sounds merciful… stand by ready with the soothing words of comfort… 😉

      I’m looking forward to the Highsmith – my first, and it’s been on the TBR for years, so this is a good excuse to bump it up. And however challenging this challenge might turn out to be, I’m pretty sure it’ll be less challenging than the Russian challenge!!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. An ambitious project – good luck finding copies of some of the titles – Middle Class Murder for example, or Hendon’s First Case.

    I think I’ve hit eighteen of them over on my blog, with a few more read in my pre-blog days. It’s a great list, if a little skewed towards the British Library output – The Z Murders is pretty poor, to be honest – but there’s a lot of quality on it. Enjoy.


    • Ha! My theory is that it’ll take me so long to read them all, surely somebody will have re-issued the more obscure ones by then! Or else I’ll cheat by swapping in some of the zillions he mentions in the chapter intros as replacements… 😉

      Oh, are you going to try to read them all too? What fun! I’ve got a few that will be re-reads from pre-blogging days too, but only half a dozen or so, I think. The thing about these older books is that somehow I tend to enjoy reading them even if the quality is pretty variable – there’s something about that old-fashioned style of writing that appeals to me. 😀


      • I wasn’t intending to. Even as a Rhode fan and collector, I’m not sure I can afford £80 on Hendon’s Last Case. But I’ll do some of them, certainly…

        Dammit, now I’m already thinking about doing the whole lot. Curses…


    • Hurrah! So glad you’re joining in! I’ve checked out all the titles now and it looks as if about 80 of them are readily available at reasonable prices, and hopefully with the current upsurge in interest in classic crime some of the rest might come back into print soonish. Will you be blogging reviews?


  12. Ooh, a new challenge, how exciting! I will follow your progress with interest FF, as I am sorely tempted to join you! I’ll finish my 2 ongoing challenges first though *laughs hysterically before breaking into sobs* Happy reading!


    • Hehe! This will be my fourth on-going challenge amounting to some 280 books amongst them all – but on the upside I’m nearly finished with the Russian list. If only I can stop myself doing a French Revolution one next year…

      Liked by 1 person

  13. This sounds amazing! I am currently reading Edwards’ book The Golden Age of Murder, and this one might have to go on the TBR too. And I love the idea of your spreadsheet–can’t wait to read your reviews of these books.


  14. I think i must read murder of a lady and eye of osiris! The first for its scottish setting and upper class allure ( as a US citizen, irresistable!). Looking forward to devouring all the murder at the manor suggestions!the second because who can pass up anything wrapped with the shroud of egypt and archaeology?


    • I thoroughly enjoyed Murder of a Lady and thought he did the whole Scottish thing very well – which he should have done since if I remember rightly. he was Scottish himself. Ha! Yes, The Eye of Osiris sounds like fun – I’m kinda hoping for a mummy’s curse… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I don’t read a lot of crime fiction, but this sounds like a lot of fun! You’re going to be tempting me into a new genre that I have no time for!
    Did you like the book that Edwards called a “let-down”? (Murder of a Lady)
    ‘Some Must Watch’ sounds good to me – I like the isolation factor.


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