Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy 95th birthday, Helen Eustis.

Edward Albert in
The Fool Killer (1965)
Helen Eustis—author of the Edgar-winning The Horizontal Man (1946) and The Fool Killer (1954), friend of Carson McCullers, and ex-wife of Smith poet-professor Alfred Young Fisher—turns 95 today in New York City. Eustis is one of two living writers on the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone list of essential mysteries (the other is Dorothy Salisbury Davis). The Best Mysteries of All Time series of Reader's Digest issued a new edition of The Horizontal Man this year. (post updated to reflect correct age from Eustis's son)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Preliminary info, Camilleri companion (ed. Foxwell)

McFarland has posted some preliminary details on Andrea Camilleri: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction, no. 5 in the series I edit for the publisher. University College London's Lucia Rinaldi is the author, and the book is tentatively slated for release in summer 2012.

Camilleri, a mega-bestseller in his native Italy and quite popular in other countries as well, created Sicilian inspector Salvo Montalbano, who has been featured in a
DVD from
Detective Montalbano
long-running television series, Detective Montalbano.

His novels have been shortlisted several times for the British Crime Writers Assn's International Dagger. As there are few resources available on his work in English, this companion should be useful to fans and scholars alike.

Update, 4-5-12Andrea Camilleri: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction is now available from McFarland.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Info on Harvard's sci-fi collection.

Cover from Nightmare Tales
(1892) by Helena Blavatsky,
part of Harvard's sci-fi
Harvard has provided further details on the 3000-volume science fiction collection within Houghton Library's Modern Books and Manuscripts Collection. Two covers on the Web site are Anthony Boucher's Rocket to the Morgue (which has thinly disguised versions of Robert Heinlein, Hugo Gernsback, and L. Ron Hubbard) and Fredric Brown's What Mad Universe.

Also see this cover from Nathan Schachner's Space Lawyer (a joke must be lurking somewhere in there).

Monday, December 26, 2011

Collins/Dickens/Gaskell tale, BBC Radio 4 Extra.

Illustration of
Elizabeth Gaskell, NYPL
For the Christmas issue of Household Words in 1858, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Adelaide Ann Procter teamed up to write "A House to Let" featuring episodes in the history of a desolate house. BBC Radio 4 Extra is airing a version this week; episodes usually may be heard for up to a week after broadcast.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bah, humbug.

Illustration by
John Leech for
"A Christmas Carol"
You can hear an excerpt from Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" read by noted actor Richard Briers in a podcast from Vintage Books.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The two Ronnies: Radio mysteries w/Ronald Colman, Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Colman, NYPL
Among the latest highlights posted online at the National Radio Hall of Fame: the 1945 Suspense production of "August Heat" (the future fates of two men intertwine, from the 1910 short story by W. F. Harvey) featuring Ronald Colman and the 1938 Warner Brothers Academy Theatre production of "One Way Passage" (Ronald Reagan as a killer en route to the gallows).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Green for Greene: Book fetches $24K.

As PhiloBiblos noted, a first edition of Graham Greene's Rumour at Nightfall (1931) garnered £17,000 (about US$24,500) at Bloomsbury's Dec 14 auction. Greene viewed the Conrad-influenced Rumour, in which a journalist hunts for an outlaw in Spain, as a very bad novel and refused to reprint it after its 1932 US edition. (Factoid of the day: According to a NYT review of Greene's The Name of Action [1931], Greene was related to Robert Louis Stevenson.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Margaret Millar this week on Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Encore.

Joan Hackett in "Beast in View"
Alfred Hitchcock Hour
Margaret Millar's Edgar-winning Beast in View (1955) is featured this week on the Alfred Hitchcock Hour on Encore. Joan Hackett and Kevin McCarthy star. (YouTube clip here)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hallmark Hall of Fame: Quo vadis?

Stephanie Zimbalist in
Hallmark Hall of Fame, 1990
The Paley Center for Media's Rebecca Paller laments the decline of TV's Hallmark Hall of Fame and provides a look back at some of its major highlights (including clips from Amahl and the Night Visitors and Ibsen's A Doll's House with Julie Harris and Christopher Plummer).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Edmund Wilson's rejection note.

Edmund Wilson
ca. 1936, NYPL
Critic Edmund Wilson has a notorious place in mysterydom as the author of "Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?" and continued his crankiness through this note sent to anyone who asked him for anything (part of the new blog Lists of Note).

Monday, December 12, 2011

BBC Radio 4 Extra: Xmas w/the Detectives.

Thomas Hardy, NYPL
This week, BBC Radio 4 Extra features four tales read by Tom Conti that take place during the Christmas season: Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Blue Carbuncle," Thomas Hardy's whodunit "The Thieves Who Couldn't Stop Sneezing," Dorothy L. Sayers's "The Necklace of Pearls," and G. K. Chesterton's "The Flying Stars." Go here for the schedule or to listen; episodes usually may be heard online up to a week after broadcast.

(And here is Anthony Gardner on the intriguing stories behind Hardy's Christmas cards)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

John Creasey: "Could you write more?"

DVD of Gideon's Way 
TV series, 1960s
Among the gems in Writing Detective and Mystery Fiction (ed. A. S. Burack, 1945) is John Creasey's "Could You Write More?". He should know; it's estimated that Creasey (1908–73) published upward of 500 books. His works include the Gideon series, including Gideon's Day (1955)— important novels in the evolution of the police procedural.

In the piece Creasey states, "Nine out of ten writers, I am sure, could write more" (139) and provides 15 rules to show how this may be accomplished. Here is a sample (pp. 141–42):

• "Rule 1. Work to rule, not to mood. Work through moods."

• "Rule 4. Drill yourself to acquire neatness and system at the desk. Everyone can."

"Rule 6.  Be punctual. If you were going to an office to work for a boss, you would be. So be your own boss."

"Rule 9. Do your research after you have written your story and not before. . . .You will be surprised about how much you know about your subject . . . and this will enable you to write practically all you need to write. But some of your facts will need checking. This can be done easily, and you will know exactly what you are looking for."

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Happy birthday, William McGivern.

Janet Leigh and Robert Taylor
in Rogue Cop
(writ. William McGivern, 1954)
William McGivern, best known for The Big Heat (1953), was born today in Chicago in 1922. He served as president of Mystery Writers of America in 1980 and penned some 25 books over the course of his career. His screen credits include films such as the John Wayne cop vehicle Brannigan (1975) and the Lee J. Cobb TV series The Young Lawyers (1970–71). Dorothy B. Hughes considered The Big Heat, which received an Edgar for Best Motion Picture, one of the best mysteries of 1953. McGivern died in 1982.

Update. On Dec. 28, 2011, The Big Heat (dir. Fritz Lang, 1953) was added to the National Film Registry.

Monday, December 05, 2011

19C mystery pioneer Mary Fortune on ABC Radio Natl.

ABC Radio National (Australia) features readings from the 19th-century work of Belfast-born Mary Fortune (aka Waif Wander), a pioneer in mystery fiction who created police detective Mark Sinclair (hat tip to Lucy Sussex).