Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pimpernel Smith (1941).

This wartime update of Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel features Leslie Howard (who also produces and directs) as a mild-mannered professor and champion of those opposed to the Nazis; he was the elusive Pimpernel in the 1934 film.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Bookplate collections.

Bookplate, LAPL
The Library of Congress has created a Flickr album of bookplates from one of its collections, which includes those of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Charlie Chaplin, Jack London, spy and mystery fan Woodrow Wilson, artist Francis Millet (who died on the Titanic), and "the doctor for weak railroads" Newman Erb (which includes an illustration of Edgar Allan Poe, left).

Harvard's Houghton Library has a nifty collection, featuring items such as the Alice in Wonderland bookplate of Harcourt Amory. Another bookplate collection is housed at the Los Angeles Public Library.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Underworld Story (1949).

Small-town and city newspapers square off when a maid is accused of murder. Dan Duryea, Herbert Marshall, Gale Storm, and Howard Da Silva star. The film is based on a story by Craig Rice (Home Sweet Homicide, Having Wonderful Crime, etc.).

Monday, December 22, 2014

The many sides of Susan Fenimore Cooper.

The online Smithsonian exhibition "Early Women in Science" includes Susan Fenimore Cooper, the daughter of James Fenimore Cooper recognized as an early naturalist via her work Rural Hours (1850). The younger Cooper's novel Elinor Wyllys; or, The Young Folk of Longbridge (1846) features a mystery, although she warned in "The Talent of Reading Wisely" (Feb. 1892) of the dangers to youth of crime novels. She also did not support women's suffrage (see "Female Suffrage: A Letter to the Christian Women of America," 1870).

The exhibition also features noted garden designer Gertrude Jekyll, whose surname is so prominently featured in Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (her brother, Rev. Walter Jekyll, was a friend of Stevenson).

Related posts: Constance Fenimore Woolson
(great-niece of James Fenimore Cooper)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bad Blonde (aka The Flanagan Boy, 1953).

The Bad Blonde of the title, Barbara Payton, wants to be rid of her husband and uses her wiles to get a prizefighter to do the deed. The film was adapted from the novel The Flanagan Boy by British writer Max Catto.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The darker side of the mind.

Ad for Svengali (1954)
The Wellcome Trust's online presentation Mindcraft: A Century of Madness, Murder, and Mental Healing includes the evil power of mesmerism such as that exhibited by Svengali in George du Maurier's Trilby (1894) and the 1889 trial of Gabrielle Bompard, who asserted that her male associate had hypnotized her and that she had no memory of committing murder.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Grand Central Murder (1942).

There is no shortage of suspects when a showgirl with a fondness for money is murdered. On hand are Van Heflin (as PI Rocky Custer), Tom Conway (a producer), and Virginia Grey (Custer's wife and fellow investigator). The film is based on the novel by Sue MacVeigh (pseudonym of journalist Elizabeth Custer Nearing, a descendant of George Armstrong Custer who wrote four mysteries).

Monday, December 08, 2014

The mayor, the gangster, the waterfront boss.

William O'Dwyer, ca. Oct. 1949
Truman Library
The New York Public Radio Archives looks at the checkered career of New York mayor William O'Dwyer, who as district attorney convicted several men involved in "Murder Incorporated" but had some shady associations. The tale involves mafioso Frank Costello.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Private Detective 62 (w/William Powell, 1933).

In Private Detective 62 (dir. Michael Curtiz), private investigator William Powell tries to protect a socialite from a blackmail plot.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Presidential mistress and spy?

Carrie Fulton Phillips, LOC
The Prologue blog of the National Archives discusses whether Carrie Fulton Phillips, recipient of racy love letters from Senator (later president) Warren G. Harding, was a German spy, including intelligence and Department of Justice reports.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Exhibition: "Mystery Writers Past and Present."

Frances Fyfield
There is a photographic exhibition from UK's National Portrait Gallery, "Mystery Writers Past and Present," on view at Darlington's Head of Steam Museum until December 14. The photos feature contemporary writers such as P. D. James taken by Nicola Kurtz as well as Victorian photos of authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle and Charles Dickens. The list of Kurtz's photographic subjects in the gallery's collection includes Clare Curzon, Stella Duffy, Frances Fyfield, the late H. R. F. Keating, Val McDermid, Andrew Taylor, and Minette Walters.

A similar 2002 exhibition included photos of Colin Dexter and Ian Rankin.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

"The Long Count" (1955).

In this March 1955 episode of Stage 7, a private eye believes more lies behind a boxer's hit-and-run accident than meets the eye.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

TLS recalls Jesse's A Pin to See the Peepshow.

F. Tennyson Jesse
The Times Literary Supplement has posted Orlo Williams's 1934 TLS review of F. Tennyson Jesse's A Pin to See the Peepshow (based on the Thompson-Bywaters case of 1922). He lauds "the solidness of Miss Tennyson Jesse’s construction, her intense sympathy with her characters, and the vividness with which she paints the scene of London life during the present century." Jesse—the great-niece of Alfred, Lord Tennyson—is also known for her plays, her volumes in the Notable British Trials series, and her psychic detective Solange Fontaine.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Should women serve on juries?" (1918).

After women in New York obtained the vote in 1917, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle published a January 1918 article discussing the question of whether women should serve on juries as part of their civic duty. Some interesting quotes from the piece:
"in many things women could render a verdict more logical and more consistent than that of men."—Harry E. Lewis, district attorney, Kings County (NY); later presiding justice, New York State Supreme Court

"there are many cases where the intuition and experience of a woman would lead to the rendering of a better verdict than is sometimes rendered under the present system"—Russell Benedict, justice, New York State Supreme Court
Helen P. McCormick
(later married Patrick Toole,
but kept her maiden name)
"with votes for women goes jury duty for women"—Alice Hill Chittenden, former president, New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage

"There has been the point raised, I know, as to whether women can stand the nervous tension. Personally I think it rather absurd..."—Helen P. McCormick, asst district attorney, Brooklyn; first female asst district attorney in any U.S. city

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Armchair Theatre:
"The Criminals" (with Stanley Baker, 1958).

In this Dec 1958 episode of the British anthology series Armchair Theatre, the charismatic Stanley Baker (Hell Is a City, The Guns of Navarone, etc.) is one of several men forced to rob a bank.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Academe: Still more notable espionage novels.

Wright State University's Martin Kich has finished his series on "National (In)Security: Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels" on the Academe blog. Some of the latest entries:
Upton Sinclair, ca. 1906. NYPL
• Holly Roth, The Content Assignment (aka The Shocking Secret, 1954). When a female CIA agent disappears, a British journalist sets out to find her. Sadly, Roth died at age 48 after falling off a boat.
• Upton Sinclair, World's End (1940). The first in a series with spy Lanny Budd by the author of The Jungle.
• Ross Thomas,  The Cold-War Swap (1966). Thomas's Edgar-winning debut.

• Trevanian, The Eiger Sanction (1972; film 1975). The first in a series with assassin Jonathan Hemlock.
• Leon Uris, Topaz (1967, Hitchcock film 1969). A Soviet spymaster defects.
All of the posts can be found here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

New releases: Poe, Woolrich film scores.

Clues 26.4 (2008), w/Barbara Stanwyck
and John Lund from No Man of Her Own
Scott Bettancourt of Film Score Monthly highlights the following new releases:
  • Hugo Friedhofer's score for No Man of Her Own (film with Barbara Stanwyck based on I Married a Dead Man by William Irish, aka Cornell Woolrich)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Green Glove (aka The White Road, 1952).

For Veterans Day: The Green Glove (with story and screenplay by frequent Hitchcock collaborator Charles Bennett) stars Glenn Ford as a former paratrooper seeking a valuable medieval artifact in France (along with more avaricious adversaries). The film also features Geraldine Brooks and Cedric Hardwicke.

The Canadian-born Ford served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve during World War II and joined the Naval Reserve in 1958, eventually attaining the rank of captain.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Guy Noir: Dancing detective?

Garrison Keillor's Midwestern private eye Guy Noir from Prairie Home Companion is now featured in a ballet by James Sewell Ballet in the Twin Cities.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Nefarious professors:
BYU's guide to (fictional) campus crime.

Edith (Lent) Taylor,
Buffalo creative writing teacher
and author of
The Serpent under It
(1973)

Swarthmore Class of 1935
Brigham Young University's Harold B. Lee Library has just updated its annotated bibliography on "colleges, universities or professors in murder mystery fiction." Although limited at present to materials available at BYU that were published before 2001, it may be useful to those who enjoy mysteries set in academia.

The expected authors are covered (e.g., Robert Barnard, Amanda Cross, Helen Eustis, Michael Innes, Jane Langton, Dorothy L. Sayers), as well as lesser known names and authors with unexpected academic milieus (e.g., Helen McCloy, David Frome, Emma Lathen, Richard and Frances Lockridge, Peter Lovesey, Gladys Mitchell, S. S. Van Dine, Hillary Waugh).

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

A Life at Stake (1954).

In A Life at Stake, an architect (Keith Andes), attracted to wealthy— and married—Doris Hillman (Angela Lansbury), finds that a large life insurance policy has ramifications for himself and others.

Monday, November 03, 2014

BBC Radio's focus on SH, the gothic.

BBC Radio 4 Extra hauls out of its vault a series of programs (dubbed "the Holmes Service") that feature various incarnations of the Great Detective. These include:
Horace Walpole, NYPL
A separate series of programs focuses on the gothic, which includes:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bibliography, early occult detectives in fiction.

Willa Cather, NYPL
In time for Halloween, Clues contributor Tim Prchal (under his pseudonym Tim Prasil) is compiling a "chronological bibliography of early occult detectives" that begins in 1817 with Doktor K in E. T. A. Hoffman's "Das oede Haus" and runs to 1938 with Judge Keith Hillary Pursuivant in works by Gans T. Field. Authors include Alice and Claude Askew, Willa Cather, Arthur Conan Doyle, F. Tennyson Jesse, Arthur Machen, Sax Rohmer, and the obligatory Bram Stoker.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Shadows on the Stairs (1941).

Frank Vosper
In Shadows on the Stairs, a London boardinghouse is the site of murder. The basis for the film is the play "Murder on the Second Floor" by actor-playwright Frank Vosper (The Man Who Knew Too Much; adaptation of Agatha Christie's "Philomel Cottage" as Love from a Stranger). He died at age 37 in 1937 when he fell from the liner Paris after a party. The death was ruled accidental.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rathbone, Colman, Marshall, Rains:
WWI regiment fellows.

"There's an east wind coming,
Watson": Basil Rathbone, left,
and Nigel Bruce in
Sherlock Holmes and
the Voice of Terror
Using primary documents, James Cronan discusses on the UK National Archives blog the WWI service records of actors Ronald Colman (injured by an exploding shell), Herbert Marshall (lost a leg), Claude Rains (gassed), and Basil Rathbone (decorated). They served in the same regiment, albeit at different times. The comments mention the war records of Nigel Bruce (Rath-bone's Watson) and Victor McLaglen.

Part 1 of the blog post (Colman, Rathbone)
Part 2 of the blog post (Rains, Marshall)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Alley Oop and his legacy.

Alley Oop: The Complete Sundays (vol. 1)
Dark Horse Comics
There is an online exhibition on cartoonist V. T. Hamlin at the Univ of Missouri Libraries' Rare Books and Special Collections, which shows the influence of his caveman comic "Alley Oop" (chosen as a mascot by the Army Air Corps' 92nd Bomb Group and adapted as board games and a hit song). It mentions Frank Miller's noir comic "Sin City" (first published in 1991, adapted as a film in 2005).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"The Case of the Screaming Bishop" (1944).

In this Sherlock Holmes parody, Hairlock Combs is on the trail of a missing dinosaur skeleton.

Monday, October 20, 2014

From the Vault: Sorry, Wrong Number.

Ad for 1948 film Sorry, Wrong Number
The archival program From the Vault of Pacifica Radio Archives offers an episode from 2003 on Sorry, Wrong Number; Shirley Knight and Ed Asner star in Lucille Fletcher's classic radio drama about a woman who overhears a murder plot that hits close to home. The program includes background on Fletcher (the first wife of film composer Bernard Herrmann), a clip from the first broadcast (in 1943) featuring Agnes Moorehead, and a discussion with Knight.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Van Dine's Calling Philo Vance (1940).

Clues 30.1, with Brooks Hefner article
on S. S. Van Dine
Willard Huntington Wright, aka Philo Vance creator S. S. Van Dine, was born on October 15, 1887, in Charlottesville, VA. Calling Philo Vance was adapted from Van Dine's The Kennel Murder Case (1933).

Monday, October 13, 2014

Great Lives: Dorothy L. Sayers.

A recent episode of BBC Radio 4's series Great Lives focused on Dorothy L. Sayers, selected by ex-MI5 chief turned novelist Stella Rimington and discussed by Sayers Society chair Seona Ford. Subjects covered include the obligatory Lord Peter Wimsey and the controversial series of radio plays penned by Sayers, The Man Who Would be King.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

"The Deceiving Eye" (TV, 1955).

In this episode from Stage 7, a criminology professor teaches about the unreliability of eyewitness testimony, only to find himself accused of murder.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Ed McBain speaks.

Evan Hunter, NYPL
In November 2001, the radio program Focus 580 from Illinois Public Media featured Ed McBain (aka Evan Hunter, 1926–2005) discussing his early career and his pseudonyms; his writing routine; his series with his "conglomerate hero," the 87th Precinct (including Money Money Money); his aborted book tour in the wake of 9/11; and his differences in approach between McBain and Hunter works. During the program the granddaughter of mystery author Craig Rice calls in; McBain finished Rice's The April Robin Murders after her death, and he explains how he came to be involved with the book.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

T. S. Eliot in publishing (at age 10).

T. S. Eliot, ca. 1923
Harvard's Houghton Library blog displays T. S. Eliot's charming attempt at age 10 to publish a magazine and his foray into theater criticism: "Theatre. Nothing good."

Perhaps things picked up for him when he joined Faber in 1925...

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

BackStory: History of the police.

The history radio program BackStory discusses the development of law enforcement in the United States from an ad hoc configuration of sheriffs and constables into a professional force. Discussion includes the LA police and a case that appears in James Ellroy's LA Confidential.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Innes's Candleshoe (1977).

Mystery author and Oxford professor John Innes Mackintosh Stewart, aka Michael Innes, was born today in Edinburgh in 1906. The creator of a long-running series with Sir John Appleby, Innes also wrote the novel Christmas at Candleshoe (1953), which was adapted as Disney's Candleshoe (1977) with screenplay work by Rosemary Anne Sisson (e.g., Sayers's Have His Carcase with Edward Petherbridge). In the film, unscrupulous David Niven thinks there is a cache of treasure in the house of Helen Hayes and enlists Jodie Foster to help him find it.

Monday, September 29, 2014

University of the Air: Bernard Herrmann.

Bernard Herrmann, left, with
chorale director Roger Wagner,
center, and director Ralph Levy
1954 TV production of
A Christmas Carol
Following a program on John Williams, the radio program University of the Air focuses on film composer Bernard Herrmann. Host Norman Gilliland discusses his work with author-film professor Raymond Benson, playing excerpts from Citizen Kane, The Day the Earth Stood Still, North by Northwest, PsychoTaxi Driver, and Vertigo.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Forgotten Book:
Atwater's Crime in Corn Weather (1935).

Was William Breen at that moment on a train or an airplane on his way to unextraditable ease with a few hundred thousands of the bank's funds in a modest suitcase at his feet? Mr. Vane knew how it could have been done. He had worked out a perfect system years ago. Now, of course, it would be too late—for him. Why hadn't he done it first? He pretended he believed it was his moral uprightness that had prevented, but as a matter of fact he was afraid of airplanes and got desperately seasick even in a rowboat on the lake. Of such things are virtue made sometimes. (Crime in Corn Weather 51)
A tyrannical banker from a rural town in the Midwest disappears, and his neighbors suspect foul play in Mary Meigs Atwater's only mystery novel. Atwater's focus is the effect of the event on the residents, and there is a great deal of wisdom in her observations of people seeking to capitalize on the case (merchants, reporters) and those with sadder legacies (a World War I veteran, a young woman, a henpecked husband). Younger readers may not know what a switchboard is, and there is one appearance of the six-letter "N" word (in reference to a lawn jockey) that contemporary readers may find disconcerting.

Mary Meigs Atwater (1878–1956) was referred to as the "dean of American handweaving" and as "gun toting" and "chain smoking" in the Interweave Press 1992 reprint of Crime in Corn Weather (iii). She was a granddaughter of Montgomery C. Meigs, the Union quartermaster general during the Civil War who later played a key role in the development of Arlington Cemetery, the Pension Building (now the National Building Museum), and the Washington Aqueduct. Her sister, Bryn Mawr professor Cornelia Meigs, received a Newbery Medal for Invincible Louisa, a biography of Louisa May Alcott. In the Interweave Press edition of Crime in Corn Weather, there is a tantalizing reference to an unpublished mystery manuscript by Atwater.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Orczy's The Emperor's Candlesticks (1937).

Baroness Orczy,
from the July 1908
Brooklyn Daily
Eagle
Baroness Emmuska Orczy was born today in Hungary in 1865. In The Emperor's Candlesticks, based on the Orczy novel of the same name, William Powell and Luise Rainier are rival agents using candlesticks to convey secret messages. Robert Young and Maureen O'Sullivan costar.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Boston College's "The Law in Postcards."

Boston College's Law Library is featuring the exhibition "The Law in Postcards" based on a collection donated by Michael H. Hoeflich (University of Kansas). Some of the postcards may be viewed online. Themes include animals, bars, divorce, female lawyers, holidays, humor, kids, love, and money. The exhibition will be on display until early 2015.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Clues 32.2: Global crime fiction.


Just published is vol. 32, no. 2 of Clues: A Journal of Detection—a theme issue on global crime fiction guest edited by Stewart King (Monash University) and Stephen Knight (University of Melbourne). If interested in ordering the issue or subscribing, email McFarland.

The cover features Swedish author Arne Dahl. The table of contents follows below. I will add links when available.

The Challenge of Global Crime Fiction: An Introduction
STEWART KING AND STEPHEN KNIGHT

Crime Fiction as World Literature STEWART KING 
This article explores crime fiction within a world-literature framework. It argues that the study of national traditions can blind us to the dialogue across borders and languages between texts and authors. It proposes a reading practice that aims to develop a more nuanced understanding of this truly global genre.

Beyond National Allegory: Europeanization in Swedish Crime Writer Arne Dahl’s Viskleken KERSTIN BERGMAN (Lund University)
Swedish crime fiction is experiencing a strong move toward Europeanization; increasingly more novels are set in Europe and discuss European identities and transnational criminality. The author examines how national and European perspectives clash and interact in Arne Dahl’s Viskleken (Chinese Whispers, 2011), a novel featuring a multinational police team within Europol operating across borders.

Hackers Without Borders: Global Detectives in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy NICOLE KENLEY (University of California, Davis)
The article argues that Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy is a response to the challenges of mediating digital crime. It suggests that as the technological aspects of global crime threaten to dissolve national borders, Larsson’s novels offer the computer hacker as a detective figure capable of partially managing these emerging threats.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Anna Katharine Green's
Three Thousand Dollars (1910).

Anna Katharine Green, from
The Reader (June 1907)
The tumblr site of the Digital Public Library has posted a cover of Anna Katharine Green's Three Thousand Dollars (1910) as an example of early-20th-century book cover design. The book is about, according to the Woman's Home Companion that serialized it, "the romantic adventures of a beautiful girl and the problem of a secret safe."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Creasey's Gideon's Way (TV, 1964-67).

John Creasey, thought to be one of the most prolific mystery authors ever, was born on September 17, 1908, in Surrey. The TV series Gideon's Way (aka Gideon C.I.D.) with John Gregson was based on Creasey's novels under the pseudonym J. J. Marric. These featured Scotland Yard's George Gideon (played by Jack Hawkins in the film Gideon's Day) and are important in the history of the police procedural. This episode, "The Tin God" (Nov. 1964), stars John Hurt in a tale about a gangster wanting revenge on the wife who put him in prison.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Coming soon: ME exhibition on pulp cover art.

Opening on October 3 at the Portland (ME) Public Library is "The Pulps," an exhibition of original cover art for the pulps that will include Tarzan, the Shadow, and Doc Savage. The exhibition, cosponsored by the Maine College of Art, will run until December 26.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Remembering Andrew McLaglen:
Man in the Vault (1956).

Director Andrew McLaglen, son of actor Victor McLaglen, died on August 30 at age 94. Known for his work in Westerns (such as Gunsmoke), he also attracted early attention for his crime film Man in the Vault, in which locksmith William Campbell (Star Trek) is pressured by a mobster to steal $200,000 or face dire consequences to his girlfriend. Anita Eckberg and Paul Fix also star.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Beer and mystery.

Mystery Brewing Co. in Hillsborough, NC, produces rustic ales, and its taproom has a library. Its resident historian-librarian, Sarah Ficke, posts weekly on recommended books, which often are mysteries. One featured work, Contending Forces, is by early African American mystery pioneer Pauline E. Hopkins (best known in mystery for "Talma Gordon").

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

UCLA: "Exile Noir."

As part of its "Exile Noir" program this month, the UCLA Film & Television Archive plans to screen Bluebeard (1944); The Blue Gardenia (1953); Caught (1949); City That Never Sleeps (1953); The Dark Mirror (1946); Hollow Triumph (1948); Jealousy (1945); The Locket (1946); Sleep, My Love (1948); Sorry, Wrong Number (1948); and Whirlpool (1950).

It also notes the upcoming exhibition that will open at the Skirball Cultural Center on October 23: "Light & Noir: Exiles and Emigres in Hollywood, 1933-1950."

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

"Twelve Angry Men" (TV, 1954).

Most people are familiar with the 1957 film starring Henry Fonda as the juror who isn't so sure that the defendant in a murder trial is guilty, but there was also an earlier Studio One version directed by Franklin Schaffner and starring Robert Cummings, Franchot Tone, Norman Fell, and Edward Arnold.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Academe: More notable U.S. espionage novels.

On the Academe blog Martin Kich (Wright State University) continues his series on "Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels" with the following:

Peter Lorre in
The Mysterious Mr. Moto (1938)
• Helen MacInnes, Assignment in Brittany (1942)

• Colin MacKinnon, Finding Hoseyn (1987)

• Joe Maggio, The Company Man (1972)


John P. Marquand, Stopover Tokyo
(1957; Mr. Moto takes on the communists)

• Wilson McCarthy, The Detail (1973) 

• Charles McCarry, The Miernick Dossier (1973)

Here's a rundown of Kich's earlier choices.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Remembering Richard Attenborough:
Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964).

Among the many distinguished performances of Richard Attenborough, who died at age 90 on August 24, was in Seance on a Wet Afternoon with Kim Stanley (1964, dir. Bryan Forbes). It was based on the novel Seance by Australian Mark McShane, which Anthony Boucher considered one of the best debut mysteries of 1962.

Monday, August 25, 2014

A look at a Victorian murder case.

In this podcast from the UK National Archives, Kate Colquhoun (author of Murder in the First-Class Carriage: The First Victorian Railway Killing) discusses the case of the American Florence Maybrick, convicted of murdering her British husband in 1889. Colquhoun has written a book on the case: Did She Kill Him? A Victorian Tale of Deception, Adultery, and Arsenic (due out in the United States in October). Marie Belloc Lowndes's The Story of Ivy is a fictional take on the case.

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 is an early screen portrayal 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.

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
(1922)
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.