Monday, December 06, 2021

Agatha Christie and Egypt.

At New/Lines Magazine, Jun Yi Wong looks at the relationship of Agatha Christie and Egypt such as her early trip to Egypt at age 17 and her presence on digs with her second husband, archaeologist Max Mallowan.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Upcoming National Museum of Scotland exhibition.

Sketch of William Burke. From George MacGregor, The History of Burke and Hare and of the Resurrectionist Times (1884)
The National Museum of Scotland has announced the upcoming exhibition "Anatomy: A Matter of Death and Life" that will include infamous 19th-century murderers Burke and Hare.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

"Investigating Detectives" exhibition.

The National Centre for the Written Word in South Shields, England, is offering an online version of its exhibition "Investigating Detectives" (which will be on display until March 2022). Included are the expected Inspector Bucket, Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and Miss Marple but also children's mysteries, detectives on screen, subgenres such as hardboiled and Nordic noir, and forensic history.

Monday, November 15, 2021

LeRoy Lad Panek, 1943–2021.

Panek's last book
LeRoy Lad Panek, a longtime professor at McDaniel College (MD) and a distinguished mystery scholar, died November 5 of pancreatic cancer. His obituary was published in the Baltimore Sun

His last book is the newly published Nineteenth Century Detective Fiction: An Analytical History. His other works include the following:

  • Before Sherlock Holmes: How Magazines and Newspapers Invented the Detective Story

  • After Sherlock Holmes: The Evolution of British and American Detective Stories 1891–1914

  • The American Police Novel: A History (Edgar nominee)

  • Early American Detective Stories: An Anthology (ed. with Mary Bendel-Simso)

The Essential Elements of the Detective Story, 1820–1891 (coauthored with Bendel-Simso)

Introduction to the Detective Story (Edgar winner)

The Origins of the American Detective Story

Reading Early Hammett: A Critical Study of the Fiction Prior to The Maltese Falcon

Watteau's Shepherds: The Detective Novel in Britain 1914–1940 (Edgar nominee)

Panek's Westminster Detective Library (a project with Bendel-Simso) is an invaluable online repository of short detective works published in the United States prior to 1891.

Monday, November 08, 2021

Wordsworth blog: Collins, Le Fanu.

"These two figures crossed the floor diagonally." Illustration from Sheridan Le Fanu's "Mr. Justice Harbottle," Harper's Bazaar, February 1872. NYPL

Catching up with the blog on the Wordsworth Editions website:

  • David Stuart Davies discusses the career of Wilkie Collins: "Remarkably, The Moonstone received a somewhat cool reception from the critics. Even Collins’s friend Dickens was of the opinion that, ‘The construction is wearisome beyond endurance, and there is a vein of obstinate conceit in it that makes enemies of the readers.'"

  • Stephen Carter examines the work of legendary Irish ghost story writer Sheridan Le Fanu: "Le Fanu’s reputation was crowded out of Victorian literature by his contemporaries, Dickens, Thackeray, Wilkie Collins, and the Brontës; all of whom he in some form influenced and whose sales he frequently rivalled."

I'm looking forward to Davies's upcoming post on Edgar Wallace.

Monday, November 01, 2021

Exhibition on race and dime novels.

West Virginia University's Downtown Library is offering the new online exhibition "American Dime Novel: Racialization/Erasure" that focuses on ethnic and racial stereotypes in dime novels. Mystery-related items include the following:

Also included: Maum Guinea and Her Plantation Children (1861) by Metta Fuller Victor, which had a similar effect in Britain about the evils of slavery that Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin had in the United States. Victor wrote the first U.S. detective novel: The Dead Letter (1864).

Nancy Caronia, the curator of the exhibition and a teaching associate professor in WVU's Department of English, will be giving a free, virtual presentation about the exhibition on November 4.

Monday, October 25, 2021

"Women & crime fiction" resource, UF Tampa Libraries

Margaret Lewis's biography of Edith Pargeter/Ellis Peters
To accompany the U-Florida course Lit 4386, the Special Collections of the UF–Tampa Libraries has assembled a "Women & Crime Fiction" online exhibition featuring mystery highlights of its collection that focus on female authors, female detectives, femme fatales, and female victims. Some of the works featured are by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Vera Caspary, Lillian de la Torre, Anna Katharine Green, Margaret Millar, Ellis Peters, and the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Unusual items include The Vulcan Academy Murders by Jean Lorrah, which offers Captain Kirk as detective, and an April 1960 letter from Columbia University student Leigh Marlowe to mystery author Baynard Kendrick related to her study of villains.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Oct 21 webinar on Christie.

Agatha Christie, 1964.  Dutch Nat Archives

On October 21, the New York Adventure Club is offering the virtual webinar "Agatha Christie: Unraveling the Mystery Behind the Queen of Crime" with tour guide Simon Whitehouse. It will include London locales of Christie's works and life, including where the royal premieres of film adaptations were held; as well as background on her career and 1926 disappearance. Tickets are $10. The webinar will be available for a limited time after the event.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Clues 39.2: Christie, Austen-Leigh, Robinson, Upfield, and more.

Volume 39, no. 2 (2021) of Clues: A Journal of Detection has been published. The issue abstracts follow below; contact McFarland to order a print copy. I will update this post once the ebook versions are available.

Introduction: So Many Books, So Little Time

CAROLINE REITZ (John Jay College of Criminal Justice-CUNY/CUNY Graduate Center)

Caroline Reitz, the new executive editor of Clues, provides an overview of the issue, including articles on authors such as Lois Austen-Leigh, Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, Didier Daeninckx, Fergus Hume, Philip Kerr, Peter Robinson, and Arthur Upfield.

Australian Rules: Forensic Culture in the Fiction of Arthur W. Upfield
Four novels in Arthur W. Upfield’s Napoleon Bonaparte series—Winds of Evil (1937), Death of a Swagman (1946), The Widows of Broome (1950), and The Bachelors of Broken Hill (1950)—deal with multiple murders committed by a single individual in the outback. Each novel reveals the forensic culture of Australia: common investigative techniques, criminal profiling, forensic psychology, and the examination and interpretation of temporary trace evidence on the landscape.

Murder Most Incidental: Arthur Upfield’s Death of a Lake (1954)
 (University of Newcastle)
Arthur Upfield is well-known for positioning an Aboriginal detective, Inspector Napoleon “Bony” Bonaparte, as the protagonist for his series. In Death of a Lake (1954), Upfield challenges the conventions of mid-twentieth-century Australian crime stories not only through privileging an Indigenous man but also through disregarding the central concept of the modern crime novel: murder.

The Mysteries of the Colonial Metropolis: Fergus Hume’s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab and 
Donald Cameron’s Mysteries of Melbourne Life
ORLA DONNELLY ((Trinity College Dublin)
Fergus Hume’s The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1886) and Donald Cameron’s Mysteries of Melbourne Life (1873) follow the tradition of urban crime writing. This essay examines three essential elements in these Melbourne crime novels: the treatment of crime and detection, the themes of physical and social mobility, and the exoticized images of urban street folk.

Death in a Literary Context: Detective Novels of the Golden Age as Enacted Criticism
ANDREW GREEN (Brunel University)
This article explores the nature of Golden Age crime narrative. It argues that the works of these authors are “enacted criticism”—creative acts that are fundamentally critical responses to genre—that can be read as mutually constitutive meaning-making “spaces”—texts within which form is constantly renegotiated within a literary context.

Clue-Burying and Misdirection-Making in Peter Robinson’s When the Music’s Over (2016)
CHRISTIANA GREGORIOU (University of Leeds)
Close stylistic inspection of detective novel writing can shed light on the skill of weighing up interpretations. In When the Music’s Over, Robinson relies on readers’ schematic expectations, stereotypes, and prejudices to generate false leads and bury a killer into the narrative background until his significance needs to be foregrounded.

Writing History into Fiction in Didier Daeninckx’s Meurtres pour mémoire
This article demonstrates Didier Daeninckx’s unique blending of historical fact and fiction, particularly the use of state archives in his breakthrough novel Meurtres pour mémoire (1984). It also examines intertextual references to nineteenth-century writers and the French New Wave cinema that expand the traditional boundaries of the genre.

History Detective: Reading the Weimar Republic in Philip Kerr’s Last Novel Metropolis (2019)
NEIL H. DONAHUE (Hofstra University)
Philip Kerr’s last novel Metropolis (2019) returns his detective, Bernie Gunther, to 1928 as both prequel and epilogue to his series of 14 novels. This essay locates the key to Gunther’s identity and actions in his relation to arch-Nazi Arthur Nebe.

Monday, October 04, 2021

A new chapter.

On October 1, I started as a full-time editor at McFarland & Co., where I'll be helping out with production-related operations and acquisitions (particularly in popular culture). I've had a long relationship with McFarland as editor of the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series (six award nominations and one win; the next volume is vol. 11: Dorothy L. Sayers) and managing editor of Clues: A Journal of Detection (the oldest US scholarly journal on mystery, crime, and detective fiction). I'm looking forward to exploring new challenges.

I'm always interested in receiving proposals for the Mystery Companion series; prospective subjects should have a substantial body of work (loosely defined as a minimum of 25 books or a substantial combination of books, short stories, and other mystery-related works). For further details on submitting a proposal, contact me.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Radio show, Christie's The Secret of Chimneys.

During September, actors from the Albany Civic Theater in Albany, OR, are performing a radio-play version of Agatha Christie's The Secret of Chimneys (1925), which involves a country house, a secret society, blackmail, and murder. Three episodes are currently available.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The return of F. Tennyson Jesse.

F. Tennyson Jesse
In October, the British Library will reprint F. Tennyson Jesse's A Pin to See the Peepshow (1934) as part of its Women Writers series. The novel is based on the Thompson-Bywaters murder case of 1922–23. Jesse—the great-niece of Alfred, Lord Tennyson and a war correspondent, playwright, screenwriter, and novelist—was known for involvement in the series on notable British trials as well as her works with female detective Solange Fontaine.

Monday, September 06, 2021

The illustrated Raymond Chandler.

On Creative Boom, Emily Gosling discusses an illustrated Chinese edition of Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye (some illustrations from the book included in the post). The artist is Klaus Kremmerz.

Monday, August 30, 2021

The England of Agatha Christie.

Shedunnit podcaster Caroline Crampton has produced Agatha Christie's England, a new map and guide to British locations in the Christie canon.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Reading group on Caspary, Highsmith, Hughes, Millar.

Edgar nominee Frankie Y. Bailey (University at Albany, SUNY) will be facilitating a Zoom reading group from late September to December for the Center for Fiction on "Women Crime Fiction Writers of the 1940s and '50s."  Books covered will be Laura by Vera Caspary, Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith, In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes, and Beast in View by Margaret Millar.

Monday, August 16, 2021

New Conan Doyle Society seeks nominations.

Arthur Conan Doyle. NYPL
The new Arthur Conan Doyle Society (spearheaded by George Mason University's Ross Davies) is devoted to the study and enjoyment of the works of Conan Doyle. It is accepting nominations until November 1, 2021, for the best scholarly writing on Conan Doyle's works or life that was published in 2020–21.

Monday, August 09, 2021

The Doc Savage film that wasn't.

Lester Dent. The Dux, Chillicothe
(MO) Business College yearbook,
1923, p. 106
Over on ThePulp.Net, William Lampkin discusses a TV movie featuring Lester Dent's multifaceted man of action Doc Savage that was proposed for production in 1978 and did not happen.

Monday, August 02, 2021

New CFP for Clues: "Borders and Detective Fiction."

There's a new call for proposals for a theme issue of Clues: A Journal of Detection: "Borders and Detective Fiction" (guest edited by Manina Jones, University of Western Ontario). Proposals are sought from a wide variety of critical, national, and cultural perspectives addressing how and why borders are represented in detective fiction, film,television, or other media (e.g., computer games, graphic novels, radio drama, podcasts).

Proposals are due November 1, 2021.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Doggone lit.

"The Dog Show: Two Centuries of Canine Cartoons" exhibition at Ohio State University's Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum includes such sleuthhounds as Scooby-Doo and Dick Tracy's Mugg. The exhibition will be on display until October 31, 2021.

Monday, July 19, 2021

The multiple sides of Erskine Childers.

The book club of Bromley House Library in the United Kingdom posted an appreciation of author Erskine Childers's classic espionage novel The Riddle of the Sands (1903; part of the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstones list): "funny and exciting and very atmospheric." It also includes details on Childers's interesting life and premature death (executed during the struggle for Irish independence).

Monday, July 12, 2021

The Skull Murder Mystery (1932).

In the Skull Murder Mystery, criminologist Dr. Crabtree (Donald Meek) and Inspector Carr (John Hamilton) need to deduce who has been murdered when a box of bones is discovered.

This is part of the series of short films produced from source material written by S. S. Van Dine and featuring Crabtree and Carr; see the previous blog posts on The Wall Street Mystery and The Trans-Atlantic Mystery.

Monday, July 05, 2021

Christie's wartime flat.

Photo of Isokon Bldg by Yuriy Akopov. 2015.

 The modernist landmark Isokon Building—aka London's Lawn Road Flats—offers a short film on Agatha Christie's residence there from 1941 to 1947 (see below). It also is presenting an exhibition on Christie in its gallery. Christie lived and wrote there while her second husband, Max Mallowan, was on assignment in the Middle East and while she was working in the dispensary of University College Hospital.

Further reading: David Burke, The Lawn Road Flats: Spies, Writers and Artists

Monday, June 28, 2021

Christie radio plays.

The Artists' Ensemble Theater (IL) performed a radio-play version of Agatha Christie's "The Curse of the Western Star," which can be heard here. The theater also offers a podcast of short radio plays, Mysterious Journey, that includes episodes featuring Christie's "The Man in the Brown Suit."

In other radio-play news, the Greenbelt (MD) Arts Center will hold auditions via Zoom on June 30 and July 1 for a virtual production of the Christie radio play "The ABC Murders" (audition sign-ups close today).

Monday, June 21, 2021

Sisters in Crime grants for academic research.

Sisters in Crime is offering grants of $500 to those working on research projects that contribute to understanding of the role of women or underrepresented groups in crime fiction. The funds may be used to purchase books. The application deadline is July 15, 2021.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Anna Katharine Green: NYS Writers Hall of Fame inductee.

On June 8, mystery pioneer Anna Katharine Green was inducted into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame. Watch the video of the virtual festivities below; the Green portion begins approximately at 1 hour 2 seconds, with a presentation by my co-nominator Clare Meldrum on Green's life and work, followed by an appearance by Rebecca Crozier, Green's great-great granddaughter. Crozier tells an interesting anecdote about Green's reputed response to being barred from a courtroom. 

Want to read works by Green?

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Another award nomination for the Ian Rankin Companion.

Ian Rankin: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction by Erin E. MacDonald and edited by me has been nominated for a Macavity Award in the Best Mystery Critical/Biographical category. This follows MacDonald's Edgar Award nomination for the same book and marks the sixth award nomination for the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series.

Monday, June 07, 2021

Literature & Film in Lockdown: Rear Window.


Thelma Ritter, James Stewart, and Grace Kelly in Rear Window (1954).

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Notre Dame's Kylemore Book Club conducted the virtual series "Literature & Film in Lockdown," with one episode on Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window as "a film about being in lockdown."

Monday, May 31, 2021

Available for preorder: Dorothy L. Sayers companion.

Cover of Dorothy L. Sayers: A Companion to the Mystery Series with photos of Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter Wimsey, Big Ben, and a building
The next volume in the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series that I edit is now available for preorder. Dorothy L. Sayers: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction by Eric Sandberg (no. 11 in the series) looks at the life and work of the creator of sleuths Lord Peter Wimsey and Montague Egg.

The series has garnered Edgar nominations (Ellroy companion, Rankin companion), an Agatha nomination (Paretsky companion), and a Macavity Award (Paretsky companion).

Monday, May 24, 2021

Leslie Charteris in California.

The Desert Sun newspaper looks at the role of Palm Springs in the life and work of Saint creator Leslie Charteris, including the difficulties he experienced because of the Chinese Exclusion Act (Charteris had Chinese and British heritage).

Monday, May 17, 2021

Sherlock Holmes and the Supreme Court.

In a new paper, Ross E. Davies (George Mason University School of Law) looks at connections between Sherlock Holmes and Supreme Court justices such as Louis Brandeis, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., and Charles Evans Hughes. (thanks to the Law & Humanities Blog)

Top, left to right: Louis Brandeis, ca. 1915-21; Charles Evans Hughes, n.d. Bottom: Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., ca. 1932-33. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division