My 300th Post: Top 10 Posts of the year so far and Childhood Mystery Fiction

I can’t believe it’s that time again already with another 100 posts completed. To commence my 300th post I decided to see what my Top 10 Posts of the year so far were. Some of these I predicted, though there was definitely one or two which surprised me. Here were the results:

  1. Tuesday Night Bloggers: Why you should give Dorothy L. Sayers’ Gaudy Night (1935) another look.
  2. A Behind the Scenes Look at Reprinting the Golden Age: Interviewing the Dean Street Press
  3. Golden Age Advice on Visiting Country Houses
  4. Bodies from the Library Conference (2016)
  5. The Polo Ground Mystery (1932) by Robin Forsythe: A Country House Murder with Wildean Interludes
  6. Emotions in Golden Age Detective Fiction
  7. The Verdict of Us All: The Author You Wish Had Written One More Book
  8. Tuesday Night Bloggers: Why did Golden Age Detective Writers Situate their Murder Mysteries on Holidays and Modes of Transport
  9. Solve These Agatha Christie Titles Cryptic Clues
  10. Tuesday Night Bloggers: Agatha Christie’s Advice for Going on Holiday

Moving on to my post’s second topic: mystery fiction of my childhood, which has been a topic I have been ruminating on recently. Unlike many of my fellow bloggers, I don’t have any childhood memories of reading a tattered copy of an Agatha Christie novel, which led to me becoming a crime fiction fan. And this is not because I am suffering from amnesia, but that I didn’t start reading Christie until I was at university, when I also first read the Sherlock Holmes stories. My reading history before this was mixed, beginning heavily with non-fiction (history in particular), before moving into historical fiction and it was when I was looking back at this last genre that I realised that a number of these books, some of which were favourites, definitely had a strong mystery element. So I thought I’d share some of these with you. It would be interesting to see whether anyone else has read any of these and also what other people’s favourite childhood mystery stories were. This short list is not the entirety of the historical mystery fiction I read when I was younger, but these are the titles which have stuck in my mind the most:

  1. The Sally Lockhart series by Philip Pullman

The four titles in this series were The Ruby in the Smoke (1985), The Shadow in the North (1986), The Tiger in the Well (1990) and The Tin Princess (1994) and they take place during the mid-late Victorian period. The central protagonist (though less so in the final book) is Sally Lockhart and I liked her dynamic and active approach to life and this is not a series which shies away from painful life events. She is not a professional sleuth, but she does end up unravelling a number of mysteries which come very close to home involving varying family members.

  1. The Lady Grace mysteries by Patricia Finney, Sara Volger and Jan Burchett

It is only in the writing of this post that I actually realised that there was more than one author involved and the fact that I didn’t notice much of a difference in style between books suggests that they did a pretty good job at maintaining continuity. These mysteries are set in Elizabethan times with our amateur sleuth being one of Elizabeth I’s maids of honours. She takes on a range of challenging mysteries sometimes off her own bat, and other times at the behest of the queen herself. To help her solve the various mysteries are her friends, Ellie Bunting the laundry maid and Masou al-Ahmed a tumbler. The titles of the book were working their way through the alphabet (e.g. Assassin, Betrayal etc.) but seems to have stopped at Loot (2010).

  1. The Cat Royal series by Julia Golding

There are seven books in this series which is set mostly in 18th century England, ( though sometimes gets as far as France and Jamaica), and begins in Drury Lane. Not all of the books in this series are conventional mysteries and many fall more into the adventure category, The first book, The Diamond of Drury Lane (2006), is the most mystery orientated involving the disappearance of a diamond. I really enjoyed Golding’s gripping, entertaining and humorous narrative style and you do get very easily attached to her characters.

  1. Traces series by Malcolm Rose

I have only read the first two books in this seven book long series, having read Framed (2005) and Lost Bullet (2005). I don’t tend to enjoy futuristically set novels but this is one of the exceptions. In this alternate England, children go to live in residential schools, rather than be looked after by parents. In such schools they are trained for a certain form of employment and they are also paired with a partner for life. This causes a lot of strife for our protagonist Luke Harding, a forensic investigator, who wants to be with a musician rather than a biologist. Aside from this relationship problem the reader follows Harding as he takes on his first cases at the tender age of 16, cases within which he is sometimes suspected himself.

  1. Bug Muldoon and the Garden (1995) of Fear by Paul Shipton

I may not be a fan of hardboiled or private eye adult crime fiction but I certainly found this private eye novel amusing when I was younger. I should point out that the book is set in the world of insects, with Bug Muldoon being a beetle who is also a private investigator. Shipton’s humorous style definitely appealed to me and this is not a story to take too seriously. Although I do think Shipton’s makes the insect world a convincing and plausible one.

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About armchairreviewer

Qualified English teacher, with a passion for literature and crime fiction. On a random note I also own pygmy goats and chickens with afros (it doesn't get any cooler than that).
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17 Responses to My 300th Post: Top 10 Posts of the year so far and Childhood Mystery Fiction

  1. Congratulations on 300 posts, Kate. An impressive 0.72 posts a day and with such depth. Well done.

    (I’m on 0.47 posts a day – there’s a Maths question in there somewhere…)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brad says:

    Mazel tov, Kate! I think I’m nearing 100, but then I’m YEARS younger than you. (As a blogger, that is!) I love Philip Pullman, and my deep enjoyment of the His Dark Materials trilogy prompted me to read the Sally Lockhart series (except for Tin Princess – is that really in the series???) I truly enjoyed the three I read!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fairly sure TTP is part of the series, although Sally takes a back seat role in it, instead the focus being on a minor character from an earlier story who disappeared and has now reappeared – drama thus ensures etc. Probably the weakest book in the quartet and not how I would have ended the series.

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    • I think Kate’s only three months younger than you, Brad. June 15 vs Sept 15 I think. Whippersnappers, the pair of you…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved the Sally Lockhart series too. My personal childhood crime favourites, the ones that propelled me into adult crime fiction were the brilliant Emil and the detectives by Erich Kastner and The young detectives by R.J. McGregor (which I suspect is long out of print). Both were written between the wars. Both I found inspirational.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My daughter really enjoyed the Pullman books (and all his books) – we were lucky enough to meet him once (at – strangely enough – the first night of an opera based on one of his books) and he was a delight, very kind to my daughter.
    And I did a Cat Royal book on the blog a while back.
    Your others were new to me. I don’t think I remember any crime-for-children books, except Enid Blyton, and a wondrous school story called The Clue in the Castle (my blog entry on it is I think my favourite ever.)
    Well done for keeping up such an impressive rate of quality posting.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bev Hankins says:

    A little late to the party…but congrats on your 300th post! I can’t say that I’ve read any of your childhood favorites. I’m a lady of a certain age and these all came out well beyond my childhood years (and my son wasn’t into any of these…). My childhood mystery favorites were: 1. All of the original Nancy Drew stories (with The Clue of the Broken Locket being the favorite)–which I started reading when I was seven 2. The Trixie Belden series 3. The Three Investigators (introduced by “Alfred Hitchcock”) 4. The Green Turtle Mystery by Ellery Queen, Jr. 5. The Encyclopedia Brown stories. From there I jumped right into Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes and the Alfred Hitchcock collections of short stories that our library carried (“Stories to Read with the Lights On” and such titles). I wish I had known about the TinTin stories when I was young–I didn’t discover those until I had my son.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve heard of the Nancy Drew stories, as well as The Three Investigators and Encyclopaedia Brown, but never read any of them. Would have liked to have come across them when I was younger as I fear I am a little too old to start on them. Never heard of Trixie Belden before though.

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