Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Want to review dime novels?

The people behind the Johannsen and LeBlanc dime novel collections at Northern Illinois University invite reviews by scholars, students, and fans of the 19th- and 20th-century dime novels offered on its revamped Web site. They have scanned 335 issues of Nick Carter Weekly among the more than 1000 items in the collections; digitized materials include the following:

Metta Fuller Victor, NYPL
Image from the cover of
Dick, the Boy Lawyer (1909)

 • The Border Rivals, or, The Mill-Flume Mystery (1868) by Metta Fuller Victor (aka Seeley Regester), who wrote The Dead Letter, the first American detective novel

•  Chung Wing, the Chinese Bandit King, or An American Detective in China (1884) by Police Sergeant Mallory

Dick, the Boy Lawyer, or Winning a Big Fee (1909) by
"A Self-Made Man"  

Guilty or Not Guilty, or the Ordeal of Fire: A Tale of Thirty Years Ago (1866) by [Lydia] Ann Emerson Porter, a cousin of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Update, 6-23-15. NIU advises that it plans to add about 200 issues of Nick Carter Weekly to the site within the next month.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Espionage Target—You (1964).

Pete Duel in
Espionage Target—You
Wondering what to do if approached by communist agents? You can find out in this 1964 Defense Department film featuring Pete Duel (Alias Smith and Jones).

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. Contact McFarland for issue orders and subscriptions.

Update. The issue is now available on Nook and Kindle.

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.