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Moonlight Reader

Lawyer, mother, avid reader. Game host extraordinaire! Partner in crime to Obsidian Black Plague! My bookish weaknesses include classics, fantasy, YA, and agreeing to read more books than is even remotely possible.

Currently reading

The Golden Age of Murder
Martin Edwards
Hollow Man
John Dickson Carr
A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914 to 1918
G.J. Meyer
Progress: 33 %

Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 528 pages.

The Golden Age of Murder - Martin Edwards

Starting it! 

Detection Club Bingo: UPDATES


Links to the book lists - courtesy of Themis-Athena


The 100 books: The 100 books individually highlighted by the author.


Chapters 1 through 5: (Chapter 1: A New Era Dawns; Chapter 2: The Birth of the Golden Age; Chapter 3: The Great Detectives; Chapter 4: Play Up! Play Up! and Play the Game!; Chapter 5: Miraculous Murders)


Chapters 6 & 7: (Chapter Six: Serpents in Eden; Chapter Seven: Murder at the Manor)


Chapters 8 through 10: (Chapter Eight: Capital Crimes (London mysteries); Chapter Nine: Resorting to Murder (detectives solving crimes while on vacation); Chapter Ten: Making Fun of Murder)


Chapters 11 through 15: (Chapter Eleven: Education, Education, Education; Chapter Twelve: Playing Politics; Chapter Thirteeen: Scientific Enquiries;; Chapter Fourteen: The Long Arm of the Law; Chapter Fifteen: The Justice Game


Chapters 16 through 20: (Chapter 16: Multiplying Murders; Chapter 17: The Psychology of Crime; Chapter 18: Inverted Mysteries; Chapter 19: The Ironists; Chapter 20: Fiction from Fact)


Chapters 21 through 24: (Chapter Twenty-One: Singletons; Chapter Twenty-Two: Across the Atlantic; Chapter Twenty-Three: Cosmopolitan Crimes; ChapterTwenty-Four: The Way Ahead)


Updated 3/24/18


I checked off Chapter 6, Serpents in Eden, with the Patricia Wentworth Miss Silver mystery Poison in the Pen and Chapter 4, Play Up! Play Up! and Play the Game by finally finishing The Hog's Back Murderer by Freeman Wills Croft. 


Updated 3/6/18


I am currently working on a buddy read with Tigus for Chapter 4 (Play Up! Play Up! And Play the Game!) with The Hogsback Murder. Admittedly, however, Kill Your Darlings has taken up a lot of my reading time!


As promised, I put together a bingo card for The Detective Club, based on the chapter headings in Martin Edward's The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books.


Each number refers to the relevant chapter in The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books. The images are either a detail from the cover image of a book mentioned in the chapter, with the exception of #3, and I couldn't resist an image of Hercule Poirot for a chapter called The Great Detectives!


1. A New Era Dawns: image: cover detail from The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

2. The Birth of the Golden Age: image: cover detail from The Mystery of the Red House by A.A. Milne

3. The Great Detectives: image: Hercule Poirot as played by David Suchet

4. Play Up! Play Up! and Play the Game!: image: cover detail from The Hog's Back Mystery by Freeman Croft
The Hog's Back Mystery by Freeman Wills Croft

5. Miraculous Murders: image: cover detail from Miraculous Murders anthology, edited by Martin Edwards
Murder of a Lady by Anthony Wynne
Also read:
Miraculous Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards (anthology)

6. Serpents in Eden: image: cover detail from Serpents in Eden anthology, edited by Martin Edwards
Poison in the Pen by Patricia Wentworth
7. Murder at the Manor: image: cover detail from Murder at the Manor anthology, edited by Martin Edwards

8. Capital Crimes:  image: cover detail from Capital Crimes anthology, edited by Martin Edwards
Murder in Piccadilly by Charles Kingston
Also read:
Murder in the Museum by John Rowlands
Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie

9. Resorting to Murder: image: cover detail from Resorting to Murder anthology, edited by Martin Edwards

10. Making Fun of Murder: image: cover detail from Ask A Policeman by The Detection Club

11. Education, Education, Education: image: cover detail from Death on the Cherwell by Mavis Doriel Hay
Death on the Cherwell by Mavis Doriel Hay

12. Playing Politics: image: cover detail from The End of Andrew Harrison by Freeman Wills Croft

13. Scientific Enquiries:image: cover detail from Death of an Airman by Christopher St. John Sprigg

14. The Long Arm of the Law: image: cover detail from anthology of the same name, edited by Martin Edwards

15. The Justice Game: image: cover detail from Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate
Somebody at the Door by Raymond Postgate

16. Multiplying Murders: image: cover detail from The Z Murders by J. Jefferson Farjeon
The Z Murders by J. Jefferson Farjeon (read 1/12/18)

17. The Psychology of Crime: image: cover detail from Payment Deferred by C.S. Forester

18. Inverted Mysteries: image: cover detail from Portrait of a Murderer by Anne Meredith

19. The Ironists: image: cover detail from Family Matters by Anthony Rolls

20. Fiction from Fact: image: cover detail from  The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey

21. Singletons: image: cover detail from Darkness at Pemberley by T.H. White

22. Across the Atlantic: image: cover detail from Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

23. Cosmopolitan Crimes:image: cover detail from Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon 

24. The Way Ahead: image: cover detail from The Beast Must Die by Nicholas Blake
25. Free Square: I've used an image of The Detection Club mascot, Eric the Skull, for the free square. My plan for this square is to read a holiday/Christmas mystery.

Detection Club Bingo - Chapter 4

The Hog's Back Mystery - Freeman Wills Crofts

The Hog's Back Mystery is identified by Martin Edwards in The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books in Chapter 4, "Play Up! Play Up! And Play the Game!, as an example of the fair play mystery, where the author drops all of the clues needed to solve the mystery. As an added bonus, Crofts included a "clue finder" in the final chapter, where Inspector French walks the reader through the solution.


I've settled on three stars for this one. The first half of the book was really a two star read for me - I struggled with the pace and felt that it really dragged. I rarely take more than a couple of days to read a book, unless it is weighty non-fiction, so the fact that I started this all the way back on March 3 is pretty telling. I've finished at least 5 books since then, all of which were started after March 3.


However, the second half of the book was a four star read, and it flew by. I picked the book up again today, and within a few pages had gotten to a third disappearance, and suddenly I was completely engaged, and finished it in about an hour. 


I think that part of my issue with the book was really Crofts's focus on the "fair play" aspect of the mystery. He obviously wanted to use the clue finder technique, but to me, that bogged things down in unnecessary explication and tedious detail, to the detriment of character development. I had a terrible time even remembering who all of the characters were - I found them all fairly flat and interchangeable. 


Except for Inspector French, who I really liked a lot. There were also some little details that Crofts brought into the story to humanize him that I appreciated, such as the brief scene where he and his wife take a day trip out to the shore that was just so charming:

"They enjoyed every minute of it and found the breath of sea air invigorating and wholly delightful. These excursions counted for a great deal in both their lives. Though married for more years than French cared to contemplate, he and his wife remained as good pals as ever they had been."

I always love it when I see glimpses of good marriages in crime fiction, because they are so rare. All too often fictional detectives are depicted as dysfunctional cheating alcoholics with their lives in turmoil, so Inspector French's simple, prosaically happy marriage was a breath of fresh air that added some much needed complexity to his character.


It has long been clear to me that character depth and development is just as important to my enjoyment of a book as a compelling plot or a surprising twist. I will definitely give Crofts another go on the strength of my affinity for French, but for my money, he could forgo some of the tedious clue dropping and just get on with the story.

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle

A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet #1) - Anna Quindlen, Madeleine L'Engle

I decided to reread after seeing the new Ava DuVernay adaptation with my daughter. I read the book as a child of the 1970's - probably a bit more than decade or so after the initial 1963 publication, around 1977, when I was 11. I fell in love with the book then, seeing much of myself in Meg Murry, the ordinary, often grumpy, young woman. I revisited L'Engle in 2015, and found that, while some of her books had not held up with reread, many of them did. 


This book is part of my personal canon, one of the books that shaped my childhood and had a part in making me who I am today.

A Wrinkle in Time is a bit of a period piece, to be sure. Girls today are stronger, more self-aware, more cognizant of the pressures of an often sexist society, and more willing to buck convention in order to be authentic to themselves. Not all girls, of course, but some girls. Our culture, today, at least struggles to understand these pressures and to acknowledge that they exist, even if we often fail to genuinely confront them.

The DuVernay adaptation succeeds in a way that, after reading alot of L'Engle, and a fair amount about L'Engle, I believe that she would appreciate. Casting Meg Murry as a biracial young woman was an inspired decision, the relocation of the plot to a more diverse location in California, the addition of Charles Wallace as an adopted child, to me really work to illuminate some of the themes that L'Engle was writing about - alienation and dangers of extreme social conformity in particular. 

There are parts of the book that are quite different from the movie, of course. In the book, the Murry's have two additional children, a set of male twins who are effortlessly socially competent. They are capable of fulfilling society's expectations with little work. Meg, on the other hand, is prickly, defensive, occasionally angry, and fearsomely intelligent - all things which 1963 America couldn't really cope with in girls. Heck, we still struggle with girls who are prickly, defensive, occasionally angry and fearsomely intelligent. 

A Wrinkle in Time shines light into dark places. For that alone, it's worth reading.

Detection Club Bingo - Chapter 6

Poison in the Pen (The Miss Silver Mysteries) - Patricia Wentworth

Poison in the Pen is mentioned by Martin Edwards in The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books in Chapter 6, Serpents in Eden, as an example of the mystery taking place in a rural setting


The English village is one of the most noteworthy settings for a classic mystery - it's depths have been plumbed by pretty much every mystery author, from Wilkie Collins (in the Moonstone) to Louise Penny, whose Three Pines mysteries are nominally set in Canada, but share all of the characteristics of the quirky, rural English village, often look into precisely this phenomenon. The combination of the rural setting and the closed circle leaves lots of scope for psychological analysis, and the juxtaposition of rural peace and murderous violence makes for interesting interactions between characters and investigators.


Poison in the Pen centers around a series of "poison pen" letters that are being received by various villagers on the eve of the wedding of the niece of the local gentry, which result in the suicide of a young woman who drowns herself in the manor-house pond (or is it a suicide? dun dun dun). As is always the case, there is much more simmering beneath the surface of the bucolic village than meets the eye: resentment, infidelity, insanity, and utterly banal evil. Wentworth uses many of the stock character types that are seen in this type of mystery. Miss Silver herself is a Jane Marple analogue, easily underestimated.


I liked this one much better than Grey Mask, which I previously read, and which felt much more cartoonish than this one - apparently middle aged British ladies should NOT write international criminal mastermind mysteries because they are invariably silly. It shares similarities to Christie's The Moving Finger, which also relies on the poison pen letter trope. The relationship between Miss Silver and Frank Abbot of Scotland Yard is intriguing. I enjoyed it, but Wentworth still isn't up to Christie's standard. Which is why she is the Queen.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One - Ernest Cline

I was vaguely aware of this book when it came out, and bought a copy of it back when it was new but never read it. Since the book has been adapted for film, my son - who really isn't much of a reader - decided that he wanted to read it based upon the fact that he liked the trailer. I grabbed the audiobook for him, narrated by Wil Wheaton, and he and my husband proceeded to read it.


This book is getting a lot of hate online - a lot of the people I follow on twitter are openly contemptuous of both Cline and Spielberg. And, in a way, I do get that. This book celebrates gamer culture in a way that is very white and very male, even if it does purport to have a number of diverse characters. I grew up in the 1980's and the culture checking is very much of a specific kind - D & D, Rush, Star Wars - the stuff that appealed to young white, somewhat socially inept, males. Of course, the primary theory behind the book is that the puzzle was created by an individual who was a young, white, socially inept male during the 1980's, so I didn't perceive this as especially sinister.


I'll talk about the book from all three perspectives. My 17 year old son loved it. He really enjoyed the concepts and found it tons of fun from start to finish. As I said, he is not a reader, so whenever he finds something that he has enjoyed reading, I am excited for him. He is super-excited for the movie, which again is something that I find delightful. 


My husband is 52. He also very much enjoyed it. He is not especially interested in gamer culture, didn't play D&D growing up, and his attraction to classic geek interests is quite minimal - he was a multi-sport athlete growing up. He loved the references to the 1980's pop culture and felt like the book was basically nostalgia for sport.


I also enjoyed the book for the nostalgia factor. I'm not a gamer, and am definitely more of a geek than my husband is, although my interests lean strongly fantasy over science fiction. I turned 14 in 1980, graduated high school in 1984 and college in 1989, so I am right in the wheelhouse for 1980's culture checking. I do feel like Cline's treatment was superficial. There was a lot of other stuff going on in the 1980's that is overlooked because it doesn't really fit neatly into the geek narrative, both in publishing and in other media. I was definitely not a geek in the 1980's - I was a very ambitious, very focused young woman and Cline's 1980's retrospective doesn't have a place for me. But that's sort of the point of the book.


It's an easy read - I finished it in under 3 hours (which impressed the hell out of my kid, btw). Some of the gaming parts really drag, and by the end I was tired of the entire thing and skimmed the final battle to get to the win. I can recommend it for what it is - a 1980's nostalgiafest with significant weaknesses. It was fun, but not great. 


It did, however, make me want to dust off my copy of War Games to watch with my son. I think he'll love it. 

YA space opera with a unique format

Illuminae - Jay Kristoff, Amie Kaufman Gemina - Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff, Marie Lu Obsidio (The Illuminae Files) - Jay Kristoff, Amie Kaufman

I read Illuminae back when it was released and really enjoyed. Then I bought Gemina when it was released, and held onto it in anticipation of the release of Obsidio, which came out last Tuesday. I read all three of them over the weekend.


The good: 


You know how lots of reviewers will use phrases like "COMPULSIVELY READABLE," in all caps, like they are yelling at you? I would say that these books qualify, They are fast moving, exciting and heart-pounding. There is a lot going on, and things happen fast.


The format is very interesting, and is best experienced reading the physical book. Each page is an individual design triumph. The style is sort of "found footage," with analyst notes, chat logs, schematics, and other such elements. It's fun to experience, and gave me, as a reader, a sense of strong engagement.


One of my favorite "characters" in the books was AIDAN, who is the AI that shows up in all three books - always learning, always protecting, and ultimately experiencing love of a sort. The arc of AIDAN is fascinating.


The meh:


There is a lot of YA romance in these books. Each installment has its primary couple, and those relationships, and the innuendo and banter that go along with them, frankly, grow a bit wearisome. This is a common failing, in my opinion, with YA fiction. I frequently find that the romance elements leave me cold, with or without the damned love triangle. Only Gemina has anything that approximates a love triangle, but even so, I found the cute sort of overwhelming.


While the format is a strength, it can also be a weakness. I did notice that the stories dragged a bit in the middle, before they really gear up for the conclusion, and some of the pages require a little bit too much work to read.




However, overall, I really liked this series, and I think that it has significant reread potential. The books are amazing physical objects and I am glad that I own them. They sustained my interest in the series through to a satisfying conclusion. I would definitely read more by Kristoff and Kaufmann. 

F is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton

F is for Fugitive  - Sue Grafton

Mayday, Mayday, Kinsey Millhone is in mortal peril.




This was not my favorite installment in the series, although I still found it enjoyable. Kinsey spends most of this book away from home, where her apartment has been destroyed by a bomb in the E is for Evidence.


At the beginning of F is for Fugitive, Bailey Fowler has been captured after decades on the lam. He escaped shortly after pleading guilty to a lesser form of murder in the death of his friend, Jean Timberlake, who was also reviled as the town floozy at the ripe young age of 17. Kinsey is hired by Bailey's father to clear Bailey's name after all this time.


Sue Grafton appears to have  rather bleak outlook on humanity. Most of the characters in this book are a mess, and the entire Fowler family is flat out batshit crazy. We have Ann, the long-suffering daughter, who has been caring for her fucked up parents since Bailey disappeared. We have Royce, the patriarch, who is dying, but who is also just sort of a shitty person. We have the mother, Oribelle Fowler, who is a narcissistic hypochondriac. I might have killed her myself, given half a chance.


In addition, every adult male in the town seems to have been sexually abusing Jean Timberlake before her death, and no one really seems interested in actually solving the case. Probably because they are afraid that, when the truth comes out, their dark secret will be exposed. All in all, they're a bunch of fucking assholes who belong in jail.


The identity of the killer is...not very convincing. And Kinsey almost dies. Again.

Kill Your Darlings: Game status!

Red Game:


All game elements have been solved.


Suspect: Arthur Conan Doyle

Victim: Severus Snape
COD: antique hunting rifle
Crime Scene: the Orient Express

Victim: Easy Rawlins
COD: revolver
CS: the Dark Tower

Victim: Katniss Everdene
COD: arsenical toothpaste
CS: Pemberley


Yellow Game:


Game status:

Murderer: Stephen King

Victim: unknown
COD: bow and arrow
Crime Scene: Watts, LA

Victim: Ariadne Oliver
COD: run over by a carriage
CS: the Dark Tower

Victim: Lydia Bennet
COD: unknown
CS: Green Dragon Pub

Victim: John Watson
COD: unknown
CS: the Hob, District 12


Green Game:


Game status:

Murderer: Harper Lee

Victim: unknown
Cause of death: unknown
Crime Scene: Planet Camazotz

Victim: Samwise Gamgee
Cause of Death: beaten in a dark alley
Crime scene: Gryffindor Common Room

Victim: Easy Rawlins
COD: antique hunting rifle
Crime Scene: unknown

Victim: The Gunslinger
Cause of death: unknown
Crime scene: unknown


April buddy read?

Agatha Christie - Laura Thompson

Since we are winding down to the end of Kill Your Darlings, is anyone interested in an April buddy read of this new'ish biography (at least, new to the US)?

I need this book in my life right now

Have you ever had that experience where you hear about something, and it sounds bananas and glorious and bright and beautiful and exactly what you need to get you through the dumpster fire that is the Trump era?


Well, today, I heard about this:



Plot summary:


For everyone nostalgic for the Obama/Biden administration, HOPE NEVER DIES re-casts the president and vice-president as amateur sleuths in a quirky mystery-adventure.

He’s an honest man in a city of thieves. He has no patience for guff, foolishness, or malarkey. He is United States Vice President Joe Biden. And when his favorite railroad conductor dies in a suspicious accident–leaving behind an ailing wife and a trail of clues–“Amtrak Joe” unwittingly finds himself in the role of a private investigator. To crack the case (and uncover a drug-smuggling ring hiding in plain sight), he’ll team up with the only man he’s ever fully trusted–the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama. Together they’ll plumb the darkest corners of Wilmington, Delaware, where enemies lurk around every corner. And if they’re not careful, the blood on the tracks may be their own.

This quirky, comic mystery begins six months after the 2016 presidential election, as Obama and Biden are struggling to define their post-White House identities–and question what truly remains of their legendary bromance. Published as a trade paperback original and designed to echo tough-guy thrillers (think JACK REACHER, LETHAL WEAPON, TRUE DETECTIVE), HOPE NEVER DIES is essentially the first published work of Obama/Biden fanfiction–and a terrific beach read for anyone distressed by the current state of affairs in Washington, DC.


And it is glorious.

Results are posted!

I'll try to put together an overview post tomorrow morning, but every game has solved at least one complete crime at this point, and Red Game is down to one missing crime scene! Once they figure out where Doyle poisoned Katniss, the Red Game will be finished!


Way to go to all the players! The successful plays are coming fast and furious at this point!

All Bibliokillers Identified!

Congratulations to all of the players! 


Results are available in the bingo group!

Green Game: additional materials



In order to make things easier for myself, I decided to create a post with all of the additional materials for each game. I will be adding the newest ephemera to the top of the post, so that the materials appear in order - from newest to oldest - in the post, and will be republishing once I add something.


Tuesday, March 13



Saturday, March 10



Wednesday, March 7



Published Tuesday, March 6



Published Monday, March 5




First newspaper - applies to all games.


Game updates

Note: I believe I have incorporated all of the guesses - let me know if you think I am missing something & I can confirm.




Round 4 results:

Obsidian Blue: Maycomb County Courthouse - no. 5 points awarded.
Jennifer's Books: Green Dragon Pub - no. 5 points awarded.
Reading is my ESCAPE: Meg Murry - no. 5 points awarded.

Team TFD

Tannat: Severus Snape (victim) - yes. 20 points awarded.
Familiar Diversions: Pass



MURDERER: Arthur Conan Doyle




Victim: Severus Snape

Crime Scene: the Orient Express

Cause of Death: Unknown


Victim: Unknown

Crime Scene: Unknown

Cause of Death: Unknown


Victim: Unknown

Crime Scene: Unknown

Cause of Death: arsenical toothpaste




Round 4:

Debbie: pass
Tea, Rain, Book: pass
Nighttime Reading Center: Walter Mosley (suspect) - No. 5 points awarded.

Team TML:
Themis: JK Rowling (suspect) - No. 5 points awarded.
Murder by Death: antique hunting rifle (COD) - Yes. 20 points awarded.
Lillelara: Severus Snape (victim) - No. 5 points awarded.



Suspect: Unknown




Victim: Unknown

Crime Scene: Planet Camazotz

Cause of Death: unknown


Victim: Unknown

Crime Scene: Gryffindor Common Room

Cause of Death: Beaten to death in a dark alley


Victim: Unknown

Crime Scene: Unknown

Cause of Death: antique hunting rifle


Victim: Unknown

Crime Scene: Unknown

Cause of Death: Unknown




Round 4

BrokenTune: Madeleine L’Engle (suspect) - no. 5 points awarded.
Isanythingopen: Walter Mosley (suspect) - no. 5 points awarded.
Darth Pony: 
Emerjas: JK Rowling (suspect) - no. 5 points awarded.
Hooked On Books: John Watson (victim) - yes. 20 points awarded.
Witty Little Knitter: Orient Express (crime scene) - no. 5 points awarded.

You guys are so close to guessing the murderer!



Suspect: Unknown




Victim: Unknown

Crime Scene: Unknown

Cause of Death: Unknown


Victim: Ariadne Oliver

Crime Scene: run over by a carriage

Cause of Death: Unknown


Victim: Lydia Bennett

Crime Scene: Unknown

Cause of Death: Unknown


Victim: John Watson

Crime Scene: Unknown

Cause of Death: Unknown



Yellow Game: Additional Materials



In order to make things easier for myself, I decided to create a post with all of the additional materials for each game. I will be adding the newest ephemera to the top of the post, so that the materials appear in order - from newest to oldest - in the post, and will be republishing once I add something.


Saturday, March 10



Wednesday, March 7


A  telegram received by Inspector Reader on Sunday, March 4, which was recently found on the inspector's desk, buried beneath a pile of papers.




Tuesday, March 6



Monday, March 5


Initial newspaper - applies to all games