Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Val McDermid on Radio New Zealand;
ABC Book Show.

Val McDermid talks to Kim Hill on Radio New Zealand regarding her new book Trick of the Dark and the attractions of crime fiction for readers. She also was featured on Australia's radio program The Book Show during the Melbourne Writers Festival.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Farewell, Richard Conroy.

Yet another loss in the mystery community: Richard Timothy Conroy died on August 6 from heart disease at the age of 82, according to today's Washington Post obituary. Richard was known for his sly memoirs about his postings in the State Department, Our Man in Belize (1997) and Our Man in Vienna (2000); his three mysteries, The India Exhibition (1992), Mr. Smithson's Bones (1993), and Old Ways in the New World (1994); and the distinctive jewelry he designed for his wife, Washington Post reporter and diehard mystery fan Sarah Booth Conroy. The Conroys were unfailingly interesting, and their DC home, which I once had the privilege of visiting, was a showplace of antiques and Richard's artworks. Be sure to dip into Our Man in Vienna for Richard's fascinating encounter with Virginia Hill, infamous girlfriend of gangster Bugsy Siegel.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

RIP, Dorothy Sucher.

Sad to read today's Washington Post obituary for psychotherapist Dorothy Sucher, author of Dead Men Don't Give Seminars (1988) and Dead Men Don't Marry (1989), who died on August 22 at age 77 from thyroid cancer. She was a founder of the Chesapeake chapter of Sisters in Crime and a welcome and warm presence in the early years of Malice Domestic.

Friday, August 27, 2010

New stolen books blog.

PhiloBiblos points out the new blog started by the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America on missing and stolen books.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rosemary Herbert on the allure of mysteries during the summer.

On the OUP blog, Rosemary Herbert (editor of The Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing, in which I wrote the entry on the hotel milieu; also coeditor of the recently released New Omnibus of Crime) discusses why mystery fiction is such an attraction during the summer. One reason, she says, is that "[r]eading a mystery can be a visceral experience."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tom, Jerry, and Sherlock Holmes.

This week, Warner Home Video releases Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes, in which the famed cat and mouse team up with the Great Detective to thwart a jewel thief. You can watch a clip from the episode here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Happy centenary, Virginia Cowles.

FaberFinds celebrates today's centenary of Vermont-born war correspondent, author, and OBE recipient Virginia Cowles (1910– 83) with the reissue of her memoir Looking for Trouble (1941). In addition to a well-regarded biography of Churchill and other works, she wrote Love Goes to Press: A Comedy in Three Acts with her fellow Spanish Civil War correspondent Martha Gellhorn (the latter the subject of an HBO film in production, with Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen cast as Gellhorn and Hemingway respectively). Cowles's daughter is the former conservative parliamentary candidate Harriet Crawley.

Monday, August 23, 2010

BBC Archive: Daphne du Maurier, John le Carre, Len Deighton, et al.

The latest BBC Archive features footage with authors. A few highlights:

• Interview with Daphne du Maurier (1971).

• The lonely world of John le Carre (1966).

• Melvyn Bragg interviews Len Deighton (1977).

Somerset Maugham discusses his selections of the 10 greatest novels (1954)

About the image: Portrait of Somerset Maugham. NYPL.

    Friday, August 20, 2010

    Arsenic in the soup.

    Murder by Gaslight discusses James D. Livingston's Arsenic and Clam Chowder: Murder in Gilded Age New York, just published by State University of New York Press. The book looks at the case of Mary Alice Livingston Fleming, a relative of Declaration of Independence signer Philip Livingston, who was tried for murdering her wealthy mother, Evelina Bliss, in 1895.
    About the image: Illustration of Mary Livingston Fleming, The Sun,  September 5, 1895, p. 3.

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    Buchan redux.

    Happy to see that John Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps, first published in 1915, hit the NPR Top 100 "Killer Thrillers" list at no. 51. Some books never go out of style, thankfully.

    And Kate Macdonald's John Buchan: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction (edited by me) racked up another laudatory review, this time in ELT [English Literature in Transition, 1880–1920]:  "Macdonald has produced a first-class work of scholarship and a first-class popular guide to the fiction of a remarkable writer..."  But ever since the super-selective Jon L. Breen called it "a very impressive book,"  I've been feeling pretty chuffed.

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    Happy 90th birthday, 19th Amendment.

    Today in 1920, after the mother of Tennessee legislator Harry Burn told him to "be a good boy and vote for suffrage," Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the Constitution and thus gave US women the right to vote.

    To watch "Sufferin' till Suffrage" from Schoolhouse Rock, go here.

    About the image: Suffrage leaders Carrie Chapman Catt, right, and Mary Garrett Hay, center, vote in their first election in New York.  Evening Public Ledger, Philadelphia, November 4, 1920.

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    Vote for your favorite mystery author.

    The Library of Congress is asking readers to vote for their favorite authors who have attended the National Book Festival in its 10-year history.  Mystery author possibilities include Nevada Barr, Louis Bayard, Laura Lippman, Walter Mosley, and Scott Turow. Diana Gabaldon currently leads in the voting.

    This year's festival is scheduled for September 25.

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    Geoffrey Household this week on BBC Radio 7.

    This week on BBC Radio 7, an Englishman takes a potshot at an unnamed dictator (read Hitler) and goes on the run in Geoffrey Household's classic Rogue Male (1939, now back in print from NYRB Classics). Go here for the schedule or to listen; episodes can usually be heard for a week after broadcast.

    About the image: Peter O'Toole in Rogue Male (dir. Clive Donner, 1976)

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    The Ladykillers: Coming up on BBC Radio 7.

    An adaptation of the famous Alec Guinness comedy The Ladykillers, in which some eccentric characters masquerading as musicians plan a bank heist, is featured tomorrow on BBC Radio 7 and stars Edward Petherbridge. Go here for the schedule or to listen; episodes can usually be heard for a week after broadcast.

    About the image: Alec Guinness in The Ladykillers (dir. Alexander Mackendrick, 1955)

    Thursday, August 12, 2010

    New edition, Georges Simenon's Pedigree.

    New York Review of Books Classics has just reissued Pedigree by Georges Simenon, a book based on his childhood in Li├Ęge, Belgium, that weighs in at more than 500 pages. Appreciations of Pedigree can be found here and here.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    Our Congress at work:
    Comic books and juvenile delinquency.

    The Center for Legislative Archives (part of the National Archives) offers online some covers of comic books that apparently were part of the proceedings of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency in spring 1954.

    About the image: Terrors of the Jungle, Sept. 1954, Star Publications.  Center for Legislative Archives, National Archives

    Monday, August 09, 2010

    Peripatetic remains.

    On WSKG's Off the Page, Cornell University emeritus professor Michael Kammen discusses his book Digging Up the Dead: A History of Notable American Reburials, including the fairly well-known cases of John Paul Jones and Edgar Allan Poe, but also mentioning an attempt to steal Abraham Lincoln's remains.

    Friday, August 06, 2010

    Justice Crater: Disappeared today in 1930.

    On August 6, 1930, New York Supreme Court justice Joseph Crater left a Times Square-area restaurant and was never seen again. On its blog, Overlook Press discusses Peter Quinn's new novel The Man Who Never Returned, which sets PI Fintan Dunne on the trail of Crater. This Web page features several stories by the New York Times regarding Crater's disappearance; the film The Judge Steps Out (1949; dir. Boris Ingster) and the CSI: New York episode "The Cost of Living" are both drawn from the case. Crater was declared dead in 1939.

    About the image: Gary Sinise in "The Cost of Living," CSI: New York,  2008.

    Thursday, August 05, 2010

    Anthony Horowitz on All Things Considered.

    Foyle's War creator Anthony Horowitz talks to All Things Considered about his Alex Rider series and also writes about his recommended thriller: Goldfinger by Ian Fleming.

    About the image: More Bloody Horowitz, by Anthony Horowitz, due out in September 2010 (note the portrait of the author in the background).

    Wednesday, August 04, 2010

    Radio New Zealand talks to the Kinkster.

    Radio New Zealand chats with author, musician, and Texas gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman, who talks about some projects he is doing with Billy Bob Thornton, among other topics. Friedman is currently on tour in California.

    Tuesday, August 03, 2010

    On the trail of Sam Spade.

    Staff members of the San Francisco Public Library go on the trail of Sam Spade in San Francisco.

    Monday, August 02, 2010

    P. D. James, John Meade Falkner this week on BBC Radio 7.

    This week BBC Radio 7 airs John Meade Falkner's ghostly tale of possession, The Lost Stradivarius (1895), along with various P. D. James works (An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, A Taste for Death). Go here for the schedule or to listen; episodes can usually be heard for a week after broadcast