Friday, May 22, 2015

Conan Doyle speaks on Holmes and spiritualism.

Arthur Conan Doyle, from
Harper's Weekly, ca. 1893. NYPL
To mark Arthur Conan Doyle's 156th birthday today, listen to him talking about his inspirations for Sherlock Holmes (including Edgar Allan Poe and Dr. Joseph Bell) and his views on spiritualism. Sound files dated 14 May 1930 at the Centre for History and Analysis of Recorded Music, King's College London.

View the label from the original recording.

"The day a man's mind shuts is the day of his mental death."
• Conan Doyle, Part 1 (3.50 min)
• Conan Doyle, Part 2 (3.50 min)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Secret Mission (1942).

Michael Wilding
in Secret Mission
In Secret Mission, British and French agents seek information on German forces in France as they prepare for an Allied invasion. Hugh Williams, James Mason, Michael Wilding, and Herbert Lom star. The story is by Shaun Young, better known as director Terence Young (Dr No, Triple Cross, Wait Until Dark, The Valachi Papers).

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Clues 33.1: Westlake, Leonard, Reichs, et al.

Clues 33.1 has been published; see below for abstracts. With the dissolution of the Metapress online platform for Clues, McFarland plans to produce epub versions of Clues articles; in the meantime, contact McFarland for issue orders and subscriptions.

A reminder: the July 1 deadline is approaching for the latest Clues Call for Papers, "Reappropriating Agatha Christie."

Introduction  JANICE M. ALLAN

Now You See Her—Now You Don’t: 
Household Spies in Aurora Floyd and Lady Audley’s Secret RACHEL SMILLIE (U Aberdeen) In Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s novels the female domestic servant enjoys a uniquely privileged position; she is granted admittance to the most intimate spaces of the home and given unfettered access to the family’s secrets. By focusing on the role of the female servant as household spy, this essay explores the control these women are able to exercise over their respective narratives.

“Something in a New Key”: Democratizing Poe’s Ratiocination in Psych and Elementary PATRICK KENT RUSSELL (U-Conn) Psych (2006–14) and Elementary (2013–) take steps to democratize Edgar Allan Poe’s ratiocination. Early seasons of Psych take a greater step by providing viewing audiences access to clues and lessons in what to observe. Seasons 1 and 2 of Elementary also show lessons, but as character development, rather than to redistribute necessary knowledge.

Far from Home and Near to Harm: Mazes, Rhizomes, and Illusory Domestic Spaces in Richard Stark’s Parker Novels GREGORY ALAN PHIPPS  This article considers the construction of Richard Stark’s Parker novels in relation to the symbolic models of the maze and the rhizome. These function in the Parker novels as frameworks that capture the structural forms of various spaces, social encounters, and modes of subjectivity.

Scarlet Fever: Communism, Crime, and Contagion in James Ellroy’s The Big Nowhere JOSHUA MEYER
 (U of Western Sydney) Throughout James Ellroy’s The Big Nowhere, the threat of communism and the institutional anxiety it engenders is played out through a series of symbolic associations among communism, crime, and contagion. Ellroy’s figuration of communism as a form of criminal contagion takes up underlying tensions involved with the discourse of typology that runs through the detective genre.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

London Belongs to Me
(aka Dulcimer Street, 1948).

Sketch by H. R. [Roy] Oxley for London Belongs to Me
Encountering gamblers and murder in London Belongs to Me are eccentric boarding house residents (such as car thief Richard Attenborough and dubious clairvoyant Alistair Sim). The film was adapted from the novel by Norman Collins (Dick Barton: Special Agent) and directed by Sidney Gilliat (well known for his screenplays for The Lady Vanishes and Green for Danger).

Monday, May 11, 2015

French exhibition on a forensic pioneer.

Class studying the Bertillon identification method, ca. 1910–15
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Div.
At the Musée de Vire in Normandy, France, until November is the exhibition "Alphonse Bertillon et L'Identification de Personnes 1880-1914" (Alphonse Bertillon and the Identification of Persons 1880-1914). The accomplishments of Bertillon (1853-1914) pertaining to the investigation of crime include devising a physical description system, inventing the mug shot, and developing an approach to crime scene photography, but his role in the Dreyfus case marred his career. Some items from the exhibition can be viewed on the museum's blog. (Thanks to the International Crime Fiction Group based at Queen's University Belfast)

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

"James Ellroy: VIsions of Noir" conference.

James Ellroy
Photo by Marion Ettlinger
Scheduled for early July at the University of Liverpool, the conference "James Ellroy: Visions of Noir" plans to focus on "Ellroy’s influence on the genre, his inspirations as a writer and his achievements in forging an idiosyncratic and unique style." One of the organizers is Steven Powell (ed., Conversations with James Ellroy). 

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

All through the Night (1941).

In All through the Night, gamblers take on Nazi saboteurs. The film stars Humphrey Bogart, Conrad Veidt, Judith Anderson, Peter Lorre, Jane Darwell, Jackie Gleason, and Phil Silvers. The film is not one of those selected for October's Humphrey Bogart Film Festival (to be held, appropriately enough, in Key Largo), although there are plenty of other goodies offered, such as In a Lonely Place.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Van Dover receives 2015 Dove Award.

The latest recipient of the George N. Dove Award for contributions to the serious study of mystery, detective, and crime fiction is J. K. Van Dover (Lincoln University, PA), author of books such as The Judge Dee Novels of R. H. van Gulik: The Case of the Chinese Detective and the American Reader; Making the Detective Story American: Biggers, Van Dine, and Hammett and the Turning Point of the Genre, 1925-1930; and Centurions, Knights, and Other Cops: The Police Novels of Joseph Wambaugh. He also has edited works such as The Critical Response to Raymond Chandler. The award is presented by the Detective/Mystery Caucus of the Popular Culture Association; the chair of the Dove Award Committee is Rachel Schaffer (Montana State University Billings). Past Dove recipients include Frankie Y. Bailey (University at Albany, SUNY), Douglas G. Greene, P. D. James, H. R. F. Keating, Maureen Reddy (Rhode Island College), and yours truly.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Coming soon:
Foxwell anthology on American women in WWI.

Anna Perit Rochester (later Kennedy) feeds
Sergeant W. B. Hyer, Company M, 166th Infantry,
42nd Div, American Red Cross
Souilly Evac Hospital No. 6 and No. 7
Souilly, Meuse, France, Oct. 14, 1918
Cover design by Karen Jackson
I've posted some preliminary information on my anthology In Their Own Words: American Women in World War I, which is due out from Oconee Spirit Press in September. This collection of first-person accounts with biographical information and photos attempts to shine a light on the neglected service of American women in the war. I hope to establish a separate blog in connection with the book to talk about some women who require more research or did not provide their own record of their experiences.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Hitch-Hiker (dir. Ida Lupino, 1953).

In this film cowritten and directed by the enormously talented Ida Lupino, two men discover that they may be in serious trouble because of the unstable hitchhiker riding with them. The film stars Edmond O'Brien, Frank Lovejoy, and Perry Mason's William Talman.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Thurber and Bradbury on Selected Shorts.

Hosted by Neil Gaiman, the most recent episode of the radio program Selected Shorts features Dick Cavett reading James Thurber's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (ta-pocketa, ta-pocketa) as well as Jamey Sheridan reading Ray Bradbury's unsettling "The Pedestrian."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Two O'Clock Courage (1945).

In Two O'Clock Courage, the passenger in Ann Rutherford's cab claims to have no memory of his identity, but she soon finds that he may be involved in murder. Tom Conway and Jane Greer co-star. The film is based on the novel by Gelett Burgess, poet of "Purple Cow" fame and coiner of the term blurb.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Coming in Dec:
"Agatha Christie and Archaeology" exhibition.

Agatha Christie's
archaeological memoir
Come, Tell Me How You Live
Starting December 9, Pointe-à-Callière, the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History, will host the exhibition "Agatha Christie and Archaeology." It will feature the role of Christie on the expeditions of her second husband, Max Mallowan; the place of archaeology in Christie works such as Murder in Mesopotamia and Appointment with Death; and artifacts from Mallowan's digs.

Friday, April 17, 2015

BBC Radio 4: "The Buchan Tradition."

In "The Buchan Tradition," BBC Radio 4 talks to two writer grandchildren of John Buchan--James and Ursula Buchan--as well as Buchan companion author Kate Macdonald to discuss works such as The Thirty-Nine Steps, Greenmantle, and Mr. Standfast; Buchan heroes Richard Hannay and Edward Leithen; and the style of storytelling established by Buchan that can be seen in works by later authors such as Geoffrey Household (Rogue Male). The program includes a clip of Buchan speaking.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Murder Is News (UK, 1937; US, 1939).

Reporter Jerry Tracy (John Gallaudet) does a story on a businessman's affairs and divorce, only to find himself in danger when the businessman is murdered. The story is by Theodore Tinsley, one of the writers who used the pseudonym Maxwell Grant in The Shadow pulp magazines. Fans of the 1950s TV series The Adventures of Superman will spot John Hamilton ("Perry White") in the cast.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Amelia B. Edwards, collector.

Amelia B. Edwards, NYPL
The Museum and Collections blog of University College London discusses the collecting habits of Amelia B. Edwards (1831–92)—author, explorer, cofounder of the Egypt Exploration Fund that supported the expeditions of William Flinders Petrie, and model for Elizabeth Peters's Amelia Peabody Emerson. The photos include one of her study (complete with chandelier). Also mentioned is that English Heritage has placed one of its blue plaques on Edwards's former residence in Clerkenwell.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Remembering Stan Freberg (1926-2015).

Best known for "St. George and the Dragonet," comic and advertising master Stan Freberg died on April 7 in Santa Monica at age 88. Listen to his "Sam Splayed, Detective."

The National Radio Hall of Fame offers more audio goodies:
• Freberg, "Abe Snake for President" (1952)
• Freberg, Induction Speech into the National Radio Hall of Fame

Update. Pacifica Radio Archives' From the Vault pays tribute to Freberg with excerpts from The Stan Freberg Show of 1957, "Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America: The Early Years," and a 1999 interview with Freberg.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Zangwill's The Big Bow Mystery (1891),
the press, and Scotland Yard.

Israel Zangwill, NYPL
Published in the spring 2015 Victorian Periodicals Review is Clare Clarke's "Something for the 'Silly Season': Policing and the Press in Israel Zangwill's The Big Bow Mystery." In this article, Clarke (Trinity College Dublin) focuses on Zangwill's critique of crime reportage and Scotland Yard in the locked-room Big Bow Mystery, a novel that she believes has been neglected despite its wild popularity when it was first serialized and its place on the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone List of essential mysteries. Zangwill (1864–1926) is best known as a poet and playwright, his works The Melting Pot and Children of the Ghetto, and his commentary on Zionist matters.

Clarke's article continues her interest in somewhat shady fictional detectives of the Victorian era, as she previously wrote for Clues on Arthur Morrison's criminal-detective Horace Dorrington. Her recent book is Late Victorian Crime Fiction in the Shadows of Sherlock.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Mystery in Swing (1940).

In this film with a somewhat stiff all-black cast and a lot of music, a philandering trumpet player is killed in Harlem, and a reporter finds a plethora of suspects. Thomas Cripps, a former professor of music at Morgan State University, is not fond of the film.

Monday, April 06, 2015

What records do you want to see?

Autobiography of John Paton
Davies Jr, U Penn P
The public can comment on the National Archives' plans for declassifying government documents before the April 10 forum of the National Declassification Center. The Master Backlog Index deals extensively with records pertaining to the armed services; the following are just a few of the files listed in the 280-page index:
  • Translations of intercepted enemy radio traffic and miscellaneous World War II documentation, Navy, 1940–46 
  • Loyalty security files relating to China expert and Medal of Freedom recipient John Paton Davies Jr., State Dept, 1942–56
  • War diaries, Naval History and Heritage Command, 1946–53
  • Individual defector case files, State Dept, 1949–63
  • Files of Salk vaccine, State Dept, 1955–59 
  • Criminal investigative records related to the seizure of the USS Pueblo and its aftermath, Navy
  • Classified material related to United States of America
    v. John D. Erlichman et al
    , Justice Dept, 1974

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Mystery of the Leaping Fish (1916).

In this Sherlock Holmes parody, Douglas Fairbanks as "the world's greatest scientific detective, Coke Ennyday," seeks to uncover the mysterious source of a man's wealth. The treatment of drug addiction and Asians may raise a few contemporary eyebrows, but the resourceful heroine and the hapless police will be familiar tropes to mystery fans.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"Sorry, Wrong Number" added to LOC registry.

Lucille Fletcher's radio play "Sorry, Wrong Number" has been added to the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry. This 1943 episode of Suspense stars Agnes Moorehead as an invalid who overhears something she shouldn't on the telephone line.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Crossroads (1942).

There's more amnesia in store in Crossroads, as diplomat William Powell is blackmailed for crimes that occurred before he lost his memory. Hedy Lamarr, Claire Trevor, and Basil Rathbone co-star.

Monday, March 23, 2015

F. L. Green's Odd Man Out (1945) returns.

Valancourt Books has reprinted F.L. Green's noir novel Odd Man Out (1945). The 1947 film adaptation was directed by Carol Reed, featuring a screenplay by R.C. Sherriff (Journey's End) and James Mason as a wounded IRA gunman on the run.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Wisconsin legal pioneer.

Juvenile bio of
Lavinia Goodell,
U of Wisconsin P
The radio program University of the Air discusses the case of Rhoda Lavinia Goodell, the first female lawyer in Wisconsin, and the new play based on her struggles to practice law that is on stage in Madison this month, Janesville on March 29, Wausau on April 11, and Superior on May 17.

"We know of no woman who has done so much to make woman respected as a legal practitioner"
—"A Female Lawyer's Career" [obit. for Lavinia Goodell], Woman's Journal, repr. The [Huntington, NY] Long-Islander, 15 Apr 1880: 3

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Conan Doyle, Hammett items go at auction.

Yesterday's fine books and manuscripts auction at Bonham's offered the following mystery-related  items:

30 letters from Arthur Conan Doyle that pertain to the George Edalji case; related materials have revealed the fabrication of evidence and an attempt to blacken the author's reputation. The letters were valued at $30,000–60,000 and were sold for $20,453.

Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894), along with an inscribed Conan Doyle visiting card and a letter from publisher George Newnes to the winner of a Sherlock Holmes competition, $1648

The Works, Crowborough ed. (1930), signed by Conan Doyle, $8790

Set of first-edition Dashiell Hammett novels, $6592

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Somewhere in the Night (1946).

In Somewhere in the Night (with a screenplay cowritten by Joseph Mankiewicz) amnesiac WWII veteran John Hodiak fears that he may have committed murder.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Conference "Lippincott's Legacy" (May 2015).

(Photos: Arthur Conan Doyle, left, and Oscar Wilde, NYPL)
The Omaha conference "Lippincott's Legacy" on May 29–30 will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the publication of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of Four and Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. Scheduled papers include:

• "Irene Adler, the Atypical Criminal" (Kelly Wieczorek and Tanushree Ghosh, U Nebraska)
• "Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis" (Thomas Goetz)
• "Doyle's The Sign of Four and Victorian Sensation Fiction" (Valerie Kolbinger, U South Dakota)
• "Sherlock Holmes, Entrepreneur" (Robert Bernier, U Nebraska)
• "The Sherlock Holmes Stories in American Newspapers" (Charles Johanningsmeier, U Nebraska)
• "Playing the Game and the Great Game" (Thomas E. Gouttierre, U Nebraska)