Saturday, January 2, 2021

2021 CHALLENGE: Vintage Scattergories - Vintage Mystery Challenge 2021



The Vintage Mystery Challenge on My Reader's Block has always been one of my very favorite challenges. Bev has hosted it since 2011, which is the first year I joined the challenge and I've done it most years since then. I love it. 

Read all the detail of the Vintage Mystery Challenge on the main challenge page. The idea is to read at least eight vintage mysteries, either from the Golden Age of mysteries (those published prior to 1960) or the Silver Age of mysteries (those published from 1960 to 1989). Yes, Bev recognizes that the dates are somewhat arbitrary. Yes, you can sign up to do both the Golden and Silver Ages. 

Each year, Bev makes some kind of game out of it. This year the game is Vintage Scattegories. Participants are to read one book from at least eight of the following categories. I'm signing up for both the Golden Age and Silver Age to try to read 16 books. It's a big motivator for me that Bev also hosts the Mt. TBR Challenge and my plan is to read 16 vintage mysteries already on my shelves!


1. Colorful Crime: A book with a color or reference to color in the title
2. Murder by the Numbers: A book with a number or quantity in the title
3. Amateur Night: A book with a detective who is not a P.I.; Police Officer; or other official investigator (Nurse Keate, Father Brown, Miss Marple, etc.)
4. Leave It to the Professionals: A book featuring cops, private eyes, secret service, professional spies, etc.
5. Jolly Old England: A mystery set in the United Kingdom
6. Yankee Doodle Dandy: A mystery set in the United States
7. World Traveler: A mystery set in any country except the U.S. or U.K.
8. Dangerous Beasts: A book with an animal in the title
9. A Calendar of Crime: A mystery with a date/holiday/year/month/etc. in the title
10. Wicked Women: A book with a woman in the title--either by name (Mrs. McGinty's Dead) or by reference (The Case of the Vagabond Virgin)
11. Malicious Men: A book with a man in the title--either by name (Maigret & the Yellow Dog) or by reference (The Case of the Haunted Husband)
12. Murderous Methods: A book with a means of death in the title (The Noose, 5 Bullets, Deadly Nightshade, etc.)
13. Staging the Crime: A mystery set in the entertainment world (theatre, musical event, pageant, Hollywood, etc.)
14. Scene of the Crime: A book with the location of the crime in the title (The Body in the Library, Murder at the Vicarage, etc.)
15. Cops & Robbers: A book that features a theft rather than murder
16. Locked Rooms: A locked-room mystery
17. Impossible Crimes: Any other impossible crime (locks not necessary)
18. Country House Criminals: A standard (or not-so-standard) Golden Age-style country house murder
19. Murder on the High Seas: A mystery involving water
20. Planes, Trains, & Automobiles: A book with a mode of transportation in the title
21. Murder is Academic: A mystery involving a scholar, teacher, librarian, etc. OR set at a school, university, library, etc.
22. Things That Go Bump in the Night: A book with something spooky, creepy, gothic in the title (The Skeleton in the Clock; Haunted Lady; The Bat; etc.)
23. Repeat Offenders: A mystery featuring your favorite series detective or by your favorite author or reread an old favorite
24. The Butler Did It...Or Not: A mystery where the butler is the victim, the sleuth...(gasp) the criminal...or is just downright memorable for whatever reason.
25. A Mystery by Any Other Name: Any book that has been published under more than one title (Murder Is Easy--aka Easy to Kill [Christie]; Fog of Doubt--aka London Particular [Christianna Brand], etc.)
26. Dynamic Duos: A mystery featuring a detective team (Holmes & Watson; Pam & Jerry North; Nero Wolfe & Archie Goodwin, or a little-known team that you introduce to us)
27. Size Matters: A book with a size or measurement in the title (Death Has a Small Voice; The Big Four; The Weight of the Evidence; etc.)
28. Psychic Phenomena: A mystery featuring a seance, medium, hypnotism, or other psychic or "supernatural" characters/events
29. Book to Movie: A book that has appeared on screen (feature film or TV)
30. The Old Bailey: A courtroom drama mystery OR a mystery featuring a judge, lawyer, barrister, district attorney
31. Serial Killers: Books that were originally published in serial format (from the pulp era) OR a book that includes three or more deaths--all committed by the same person.
32. Killed in Translation: A work that originally appeared in another language and has been made available in English--original publication date determines Gold or Silver Age--OR if your native language is not English, then a work that originally appeared in English which you read in your native language.
33. Blondes in Danger: A variation on "Colorful Crime." A book that features a blonde in the title (The Blonde Died First; The Case of the Black-Eyed Blonde) or another shade of hair color (The Case of the Substitute Brunette)
34. International Detectives: A variation on "World Traveler"--but instead of the crime being set in another country, the detective is not from the U.S. or U.K.
35. Somebody Else's Crime: Read a book that someone else has already read for the challenge.
36. Genuine Fakes: Read a book by an author who wrote under a pseudonym (Josephine Tey [Elizabeth Mackintosh]; Nicholas Blake [Cecil Day Lewis]; etc.)
37. Hobbies Can Be Murder: A mystery that involves a hobby in some way: stamp, coin, book collecting, etc; knitting; birdwatching; hunting; etc.
38. Snatch & Grab: Read the first book you pick up off your shelf or TBR stack/s
39. I've Got You Covered: Pick a book to read based on the cover
40. Get Out of Jail Free: One per customer. You decide what special category the book fits and it counts--the only thing not accepted is "It's a vintage mystery!" The genre/time period is a given.


I'm not sure yet which Golden Age vintage mysteries I will read, but some possibilities lurking on my shelves include:

  • Murder by the Numbers: Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers FINISHED
  • Amateur Night: The Wisdom of Father Brown  By G. K. Chesterton FINISHED
  • Jolly Old England: 
  • Yankee Doodle Dandy: Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler*
  • Dangerous Beasts: Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie FINISHED
  • Staging the Crime: Final Curtain by Ngaio Marsh
  • Cops & Robbers: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins FINISHED
  • Locked Room: The Incredulity of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton FINISHED
  • Murder is Academic: Gaudy Night  by Dorothy L. Sayers FINISHED
  • Repeat Offenders: Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers FINISHED
  • A Mystery by Any Other Name: Funerals are Fatal by Agatha Christie (aka After the Funeral and Murder at the GallopFINISHED
  • Country House Criminals: Peril at End House by Agatha Christie FINISHED
  • Dynamic Duos: The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle FINISHED


Likewise, I don't know for sure which Silver Age vintage mysteries I'll pick and my choices are fewer, but I could round up these suspects:

  • Murder by the Numbers: Twice Shy by Dick Francis FINISHED
  • Amateur Night: Dead Cert by Dick Francis FINISHED
  • Jolly Old England: At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie
  • Yankee Doodle Dandy: Split Images by Elmore Leonard FINISHED
  • World Traveler: Passenger to Frankfurt by Agatha Christie FINISHED
  • A Calendar of Crime: March Violets by Philip Kerr FINISHED
  • Wicked Women: Little Drummer Girl by John Le Carre
  • Murder is Academic: The Theban Mysteries by Amanda Cross FINISHED
  • Repeat Offenders: Whip Hand by Dick Francis FINISHED
  • Killed in Translation: The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö FINISHED
  • Hobbies Can be Murder: Reflex by Dick Francis FINISHED


Updated November 29, 2021. 


Farewell, My Lovely as an option. I realize I read it fairly recently. The Long Goodbye is the Chandler book I want to read, but I don't know if I will get to it for this year's challenge.

Touch by Elmore Leonard as a Yankee Doodle Dandy "Silver" option because I read Split Images instead.

The Amateur by Robert Little as a World Traveler "Silver" option because I read Passenger to Frankfurt instead.

Innocent Blood by P. D. James because I replaced it with Whip Hand by Dick Francis. 


  1. So glad you're joining me for some mystery categories!

    1. I love this challenge Bev! Thanks for always hosting it!


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