Wednesday, August 20, 2014

UM: Literary maps (including mystery authors).

T. S. Stribling
The Century, Oct. 1921
The Clark Library at the University of Michigan is featuring literary maps of the United States in an online exhibition, including the following:

• "Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles" (want to see where Philip Marlowe lives?)

• The Southern map includes Truman Capote, William Faulkner, Edgar Allan Poe, and T. S. Stribling

• The Michigan map includes Charlotte Armstrong, Loren Estleman, Steve Hamilton, and Elmore Leonard

• Links to interactive maps include Brooklyn, Detroit, Manhattan, and San Francisco

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ira Levin's "The Pattern" (1951).

In "The Pattern," a May 1951 episode of Lights Out, a man is haunted by an incident during World War II when he could not prevent the bombing of an army barracks. The episode, written by Ira Levin (A Kiss before Dying, The Stepford Wives, Rosemary's Baby, Deathtrap), features John Forsythe and Rita Gam.

Monday, August 18, 2014

BFI hunts for missing A Study in Scarlet (1914).

Ad for the 1914 American version of
A Study in Scarlet, starring Francis Ford
As the British Film Institute noted on August 15, it is calling on the public for assistance in locating a print of A Study in Scarlet, a 1914 silent-film adaptation directed by George Pearson that represents the screen debut of Sherlock Holmes. Also missing is the 1914 American version (starring Francis Ford, brother of the director John Ford), as well as Pearson's version of The Valley of Fear (1916).

BFI also has reported on its successes in locating missing films, including the country-house mystery Three Steps in the Dark (1953).

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Poe mural, UK.

With a Pentel ballpoint pen, artist Wayne Mitchelson created this cool mural inspired by the work of Edgar Allan Poe. It is slated to go on display at UK's Loughborough Library. More on the work and the artist here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

James Hilton's "The Mallet" (Suspense, 1950).

In "The Mallet," a man hawking questionable medicines believes he has the formula to commit the perfect murder. Walter Slezak made his TV debut in this Dec. 1950 Suspense episode based on a 1929 story of the same name by Lost Horizon's James Hilton, who sometimes moonlighted in mystery.

Monday, August 11, 2014

"Forensic Chemistry in Golden-Age Detective Fiction."

In the summer 2014 issue of Chemical Heritage Magazine, Lee Sullivan Berry discusses "Forensic Chemistry in Golden-Age Detective Fiction: Dorothy L. Sayers and the CSI Effect," which touches on forensics in the works of Arthur Conan Doyle and R. Austin Freeman but concentrates on forensic aspects of Sayers's Whose Body?, Clouds of Witness, The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, Strong Poison, and The Documents in the Case (coauthored with Robert Eustace, aka Dr. Eustace Robert Barton).

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

British spies in World War II.

On the International Spy Museum's SpyCast, Michael Goodwin (King's College London) talks about the formation of the British Joint Intelligence Committee.

Faber has launched a new nonfiction blog called The Curious Files. Its podcasts include historian Roderick Bailey on British spies in World War II Italy and Matthew Sweet on still more World War II spies running around London's West End hotels. 

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Remembering Dorothy Salisbury Davis:
"House of Masks" (1952).

MWA Grand Master Dorothy Salisbury Davis died on August 3 at age 98. The June 1952 Suspense episode "House of Masks" (based, I think, on Davis's A Town of Masks) features Geraldine Fitzgerald resenting the interference of her sister in her life and promoting the presence of a shady gardener.

With the passing of Davis, there remains only one living writer on the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone List: Helen Eustis.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Catherine O'Hara performs Roald Dahl's
"Lamb to the Slaughter."

Roald Dahl, by Carl Van
Vechten. Library of Congress.
A woman and an infamous leg of lamb are two of the elements in Roald Dahl's "Lamb to the Slaughter" (famously captured by Barbara Bel Geddes for Alfred Hitchcock Presents), but this new reading is by Catherine O'Hara for the radio program Selected Shorts.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Frank Drebin lives:
New Naked Gun soundtracks.

Good news for Frank Drebin fans: Film Score Monthly announced that La La Records has released a limited edition of Ira Newborn's scores for The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad, The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear, and The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Irish Humanities Alliance:
"The Success of Intl Crime Fiction."

The Irish Humanities Alliance offers a podcast on "The Success of International Crime Fiction," drawing from a June 2014 conference at Queen's University Belfast. Discussing the topic (and the flexibility of crime fiction to encompass all sorts of commentary) are Kate Quinn (University of Galway), who presented a paper on crime fiction in Chile; writer Garth Carr; and David Platten (University of Leeds).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Alias John Preston (1955).

In Alias John Preston, wealthy Christopher Lee arrives in an English village, has disturbing dreams, and may have a dark secret in his past. Psychiatrist Alexander Knox delves into the case.

Monday, July 28, 2014

UNM's Tony Hillerman Portal.

Debuting at the University of New Mexico Libraries is the Tony Hillerman Portal, which seeks to provide "an interactive guide to the life and work of Tony Hillerman." It includes the online exhibition "Tony Hillerman: From Journalist to Novelist"; maps of Southwest locations in the books The Blessing Way, The Boy Who Made Dragonfly, Dance Hall of the Dead, and Listening Woman; and audio and video interviews with the creator of tribal police officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, who died in 2008.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mystery reading group guides.

For those looking for mystery reading group guides:

• The New York Review of Books has guides for William Lindsay Gresham's Nightmare Alley, Jean-Patrick Manchette's Fatale, and Georges Simenon's The Engagement.

• Michigan Center for the Book has a Reading Guide to Robert Traver's Anatomy of a Murder.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Knight without Armor (1937).

In Knight without Armor, British secret agent Robert Donat must rescue aristocrat Marlene Dietrich from Bolshevik baddies. The film (produced by Alexander Korda) is based on Without Armor by Lost Horizon's James Hilton, with a screenplay by early Hollywood pioneer Frances Marion.

Monday, July 21, 2014

"Behind the Badge:
The US Postal Inspection Service."

Front page of the Evening World of October 25, 1921,
reflecting the largest robbery of the time
The new exhibition "Behind the Badge: The U.S. Postal Inspection Service" at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum includes famous scammers such as Charles Ponzi, a forged Robert Frost poem, counterfeit stamps, mail heists, assaults and murders of postal employees, and other cases involving the service such as that of the Unabomber.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Philip K. Dick speaks.

The Best of Philip K. Dick
(Echo Point Books, 2013)
Pacifica Radio's From the Vault archival program is featuring a 1976 conversation between sci-fi author Philip K. Dick and Pacifica Radio's Mike Hodel. Topics include Richard Congdon, Harlan Ellison, Richard Lupoff, Kurt Vonnegut, the business of writing, A Scanner Darkly, The Man in the High Castle, and the first story sold by Dick (to Anthony Boucher who was, in Dick's words, "a great writer, a great editor, a great anthologizer, and a great person").

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Religion and fictional detectives.

A recent article by Bill Phillips (University of Barcelona) is on "Religious Belief in Recent Detective Fiction." Some of the authors mentioned are Ken Bruen, James Lee Burke, G. K. Chesterton, Sara Paretsky, Robert B. Parker, and Ian Rankin.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rinehart's The Bat (film, 1926).

Ad for The Bat
Film Daily Jan-Dec 1925
The smash play "The Bat" written by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood first appeared on screen in this silent film version of 1926. The cast included Jack Pickford (brother of Mary).

Monday, July 14, 2014

Academe: Notable American espionage novels.

James Fenimore Cooper. NYPL
For the blog of Academe magazine (published by the American Association of University Professors), Martin Kich (Wright State University) is crafting a series of posts on "Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels" (he is up to no. 29). His choices include the following:

James Fenimore Cooper, The Spy (1821)
Richard Congdon, The Manchurian Candidate (1959)
Brian Garfield, Hopscotch (1975)
Dorothy Gilman, The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax (1970)
James Grady, Six Days of the Condor (1975)
Bill Granger, The November Man (1979)
Nicholas M. Guild, The Summer Soldier (1978)
Noel Hynd & Christopher Creighton,  The Krushchev Objective (1987)
Aaron Latham, Orchids for Mother (1977)
Robert Littell, The Amateur (1981)

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

A Shriek in the Night (1933).

In A Shriek in the Night, reporter Ginger Rogers teams up with rival journalist Lyle Talbot to investigate murders in an apartment building.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Vintage Paperback Index, BGSU.

Edgar winner
Lawrence G. Blochman
from UC-Berkeley's
The Blue and Gold
As a fan of Dell mapbacks, I'm enjoying prowls through the 1940s-70s cover art in the Vintage Paperback Index at Bowling Green State University's Browne Popular Culture Library. Mystery authors represented include Lawrence Goldtree Blochman, Robert M. Coates, George Harmon Coxe, Mignon G. Eberhart, A. A. Fair (aka Erle Stanley Gardner), Leslie Ford, Brett Halliday, Dashiell Hammett, Geoffrey Homes, Baynard Kendrick, Helen McCloy, Zelda Popkin, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Rex Stout, and Phoebe Atwood Taylor. It's also not without its pleasant surprises such as the inclusion of Lloyd C. Douglas (The Robe, Magnificent Obsession) for Doctor Hudson's Secret Journal and C. W. Grafton (father of Sue) for The Rope Began to Hang the Butcher and The Rat Began to Gnaw the Rope. In addition, there are items for western fans (The Law at Randado by Elmore Leonard) and sci-fi aficionados (Rocket to the Morgue by Anthony Boucher; Invasion from Mars ed. Orson Welles).

Thursday, July 03, 2014

CBC's "100 Novels That Make You Proud to Be Canadian."

CBC Books (of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.) has issued its list of "100 Novels That Make You Proud to Be Canadian," which includes the following mystery works:

• Linwood Barclay,
No Time for Goodbye
• Giles Blunt, Forty Words for Sorrow 
• Will Ferguson, 419
• Louise Penny, Still Life
• Andrew Pyper, Lost Girls

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Rod Serling speaks.

Some Rod Serling items I discovered:

• Binghamton, NY, is moving its Walk of Fame for preservation reasons. The first star was given posthumously to native son Serling.

Rod Serling, from 1959
Mike Wallace Interview
• At a May 1971 UCLA event, an often witty and blunt Serling commented on Twilight Zone episodes "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" and "A Stop at Willoughby"; Night Gallery episode "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar";  and the Hallmark Hall of Fame production "Storm in Summer." As can be expected given Serling's continual criticism of television, he had things to say about the state of TV in general:
"It . . . points out one of the major, in-bred problems of television: that however moving and however probing and incisive the drama, it cannot retain any consistent thread of legitimacy when after 12 or 13 minutes, out come 12 dancing rabbits with toilet paper." 
He plugged science fiction authors such as Arthur C. Clarke and a young filmmaker by the name of George Lucas ("Science fiction is becoming an altogether legitimate art form") and good writing ("You judge good writing by its lasting quality . . . nothing I've written in my life . . . will ever be remembered 100 years hence"). He considered his best work to be "Requiem for a Heavyweight," The Rack, and Seven Days in May.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

23 Paces to Baker Street (1956).

Directed by Henry Hathaway and based on Warrant for X (aka The Nursemaid Who Disappeared) by author-screenwriter Philip MacDonald (The List of Adrian Messenger, etc.), 23 Paces to Baker Street features Van Johnson as a blind playwright who overhears a kidnapping plot.

Monday, June 30, 2014

E. W. Hornung's unpublished diary.

Libraries are always so interesting: a man's bookcase is something more interesting than the man himself, sometimes the one existing portrait of his mind.
—E. W. Hornung, The Crime Doctor

E. W. Hornung. NYPL
In English Literature in Transition, Edmund G. C. King (Open Univ) discusses the reading experience of British and Scottish soldiers in WWI, with particular attention to the wartime activities of E.W. Hornung (creator of Raffles, gentleman thief).

Sadly, Oscar—the only child of Hornung and Constance, Arthur Conan Doyle's sister—was killed in action at Ypres in July 1915. Seeking solace, Hornung served as a YMCA volunteer during the war—working in a canteen; maintaining a wartime library for soldiers in Arras, France, and a postwar one in the vicinity of Cologne, Germany; looking for friends of Oscar; and hoping to encounter Conan Doyle's serviceman son, Kingsley (who died of flu in 1918). His Notes of a Camp Follower on the Western Front (1919) tells about his war experiences and provides insight into what servicemen were reading (popular authors included Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Edward Bulwer Lytton, Marie Corelli, Anthony Hope, and E. Phillips Oppenheim). Interestingly, he reports only one reader for Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White. Pertaining to the works of his brother-in-law, he wrote, "Messrs. Holmes and Watson were the most flourishing of old firms, and Gerard the only Brigadier taken seriously at my counter" (Notes 141). His own output was not ignored:
"When I was up the line," said one of my friends, bubbling over with a compliment, "a chap said to me, 'You know that old—that—that elderly man who runs the Rest Hut? He's the author of Raffles.'"
Adds Hornung in mock outrage, "Elderly! One would as lief be labelled Virtuous or Discreet" (Notes 144–45). Hornung died of pneumonia in 1921 at 54, hardly an advanced age.

King relates that Hornung kept a diary between December 1917 and March 1918 that took the format of letters to his wife. He drew on this diary to write Notes, but King indicates that the diary reveals more about Hornung's reasons for war service than Notes does. Hornung's friend Shane Chichester preserved a typescript of the diary, which is now in the University of Birmingham's Cadbury Research Library along with other papers. King also provides a heart-warming glimpse of Hornung at work via the World War I memoir of Carlos Paton Blacker, Oscar's Eton classmate who became a noted psychiatrist.

King's article follows "The A. J. Raffles Stories Reconsidered: Fall of the Gentleman Ideal" by Jeremy Larance from the first 2014 issue of English Literature in Transition.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

War, Buchan, and The Thirty-Nine Steps.

As part of BBC Radio 3's programming on the centenary of World War I, the program Free Thinking convenes John Buchan's biographer Andrew Lownie and Buchan companion author Kate Macdonald to talk about the place of his war experience in The Thirty-Nine Steps and the popularity of the novel with servicemen.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Happy birthday, Dorothy Gilman.

She left us in 2012, but her work lives on. Grand Master Dorothy Gilman was born today in 1923 in New Brunswick, NJ—just like her most famous creation, senior-citizen secret agent Mrs. Pollifax. Here is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Mrs. Pollifax-Spy with Rosalind Russell.