Mystillery Newsletter #1 - September 2020

September 1 has arrived, and time for an update on the various Mystillery challenges! The Bingo challenge has closed. Thank you for your participation in this challenge! The new, improved version is coming - details below.

I hope you are enjoying the challenges. We have quite a lot more activity across all challenges, as compared to 2019. For example, in Medical Examiner, we went from 441 books read in 2019, to 573 thus far in 2020. We have picked up some international participants, too! I hope you are looking at the various clipboards and links to see what others are reading, and check out their reviews if available. I do sense some cross-pollination, as certain authors will gradually percolate to other challenger's entries. I have found some new authors myself, and learned a lot in the process - I had never heard of The Detection Club before, and I had really no experience at all with cozies (is it true cozies can only have one victim?) - but there is hope for me yet. Let's get updated.

Medical Examiner

The 2020 Medical Examiner will close on Christmas Eve (Dec 24 2020). This is an annual challenge, and will reopen on Jan. 1 2021 for a new year with fresh, blank clipboards. For the period Dec 25-31, you can still submit entries, they will be applied to the 2021 challenge. During this interlude, the morgue will be disinfected, instruments sterilized, and unclaimed bodies sold to the highest bidder. This also allows me time to upload the 2021 stuff and make sure all the links work. The 2019 and 2020 challenge pages will be cryogenically frozen and will remain online for reference.

Six Shooter

The 2020 Six Shooter will also close on Christmas Eve (Dec 24 2020). For the period Dec 25-31, you can still submit entries, they will be applied to the 2021 challenge; although since this is a rolling challenge, it really doesn't make any difference! The rollover will go like this:
  1. Completed targets will be removed.
  2. Partially completed targets will roll into 2021 provided there was some activity on that target in 2020.
  3. If there was no activity on a target in 2020, that target will be considered abandoned and removed.
  4. The 2019 and 2020 challenge pages will remain tacked up on the saloon wall somewhere for reference.
  5. The 2021 challenge will open for business on Jan. 1.


I hope you enjoyed the Bingo challenge! We had 10 persons (counting me) sign up, and 7 of the 10 participated. 188 individual bingos were submitted. 36 sets of four cards were submitted, which earned prize credits.

If there is one thing I learned about hosting reading challenges, it is this: it takes a whole year to get the bugs out. This is the first year for Bingo and it has had its share of issues. It was not designed with a consistent method for participants to score and report progress (my bad), the coding of the challenge page was overly complex, and worst of all: many of the bingo card items were drawn exclusively from Golden Age mysteries - impossible to find in contemporary or cozy mysteries - which limited participation. And so, the Bingo challenge is now closed - but it will rise from the ashes, hopefully much improved. Read on for the advance scoop on the Beachcomber challenge!


Beachcomber store, Wells, Maine

The challenge formerly known as the Bingo Challenge will return as the Beachcomber Mystery Challenge. It will lose the bingo decorations, but retain the scavenger hunt concept. Four cards just as before, but they will be called beach bags. The goal will be to fill the four beach bags. Weapons and Crime Scenes categories will remain unchanged. Clues and Cliches and Red Herrings categories will be replaced by two new categories, which will feature items common to all mystery stories; not just Golden Age tropes of butlers listening at keyholes and secret passages. I will leave the exact nature of these two categories as a surprise for now, but I believe you will welcome the change. This should make the challenge appeal to a wider audience.

Scoring will also be different. The goal will be to completely fill all four beach bags. Each beach bag will have a "wild card" option available, which can be used once per card to replace that last hard-to-find item in each beach bag.

Prizes for this challenge (only) will be different. As I live just down the street from a real live beach, this opens up some opportunities for some fun with the prizes for this challenge. Watch for beach-related prizes for successful beachcombers!

The planned opening is Jan. 1., however, an earlier "soft opening" around Thanksgiving is possible if the coding is all done and working.

Abra Cadavers

This baseball challenge is a seasonal challenge and will close at the end of the real baseball season (such as it is), and return in the spring for a new season. The challenge will open on whatever day the Major League Baseball season opens - usually late March or early April.

Century Club

This is getting slow but steady activity now. Since this is an ongoing challenge, it moves at a more relaxed pace. The goal is to read a mystery from each of the previous ten decades. If you find it difficult to find certain decades, check out my stash of books on the prize list - there are lots of various decade books there and you can grab them with your prize credits and help me make some room on my shelf.


Any unused prize credits will roll over to 2021.

Vending Machine

My friend Caryn Quaker visited Romania recently and sent back this photo of a book vending machine! How cool is that?
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