Monday, February 26, 2024

The contributions of Wilkie Collins.

Wilkie Collins. NYPL.
As we enter the bicentennial year of Wilkie Collins' birth, public historian Katherine Hobbs discusses in Smithsonian Magazine how Collins' legal background informed his novels dealing with the inequities of women's place in Victorian society and criticism that always seemed to put him behind Charles Dickens, his friend and sometime rival, despite Collins' ground-breaking contributions to detective and sensation fiction.

Monday, February 19, 2024

1950s thriller posters.

In the Ransom Center Magazine, Ash Kinney D'Harcourt looks at the design of some 1950s film posters, including for Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (with Cary Grant, 1959) and Ken Hughes's Case of the Red Monkey (aka Little Red Monkey, with Richard Conte, 1955).

Monday, February 12, 2024

The legend of Vidocq.

Eugène-François Vidocq. NYPL
Over on the Public Domain Review, Daisy Sainsbury delves into the legend of Eugène-François Vidocq (1775–1857), the head of the Sûreté whose tumultuous life included a criminal past and work in law enforcement, forensics, private investigation, and prison reform. He also achieved literary fame as the author of wildly popular memoirs.

Monday, February 05, 2024

Just published: James Sallis companion.

Just out from McFarland and Co. is James Sallis: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction, the latest volume in the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series that I edit. The author is University of East Anglia's Nathan Ashman. Sallis—who might be best known for Drive (adapted into the film with Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan) and his series with PI Lew Griffin—has an intriguing, cross-genre career that encompasses poetry, mystery, and sci-fi, as well as a highly regarded book on author Chester Himes and long experience as a critic (here are some samples). He's even appeared in a film with fellow mystery author Lawrence Block.

Monday, January 29, 2024

K.K. Beck's work on TV.

I've been slow to discover Hallmark's Jane Mysteries series based on K. K. Beck's novels with Jane da Silva, a sleuth who tackles difficult cases (A Hopeless Case, Amateur Night, Electric City, Cold Smoked). One TV movie has been produced to date:

• "Inheritance Lost" (based on Beck's A Hopeless Case)


There is a 1994 TV movie, Shadow of Obsession, with Veronica Hamel that was an adaptation of Beck's stalker novel Unwanted Attentions (a novel greatly admired by Elizabeth Peters).

Monday, January 22, 2024

The wide effects of art theft.

On the International Spy Museum's SpyCast, historian Andrew Hammond talks with Robert Wittman, a founder of the FBI's Art Crime Team who has recovered more than $300 million of stolen art and similar items over the course of his career, including a Rodin sculpture. Wittman discusses some of his past experiences that often involved undercover work and states that 90 percent of art thefts in U.S. museums were found to be inside jobs.

Monday, January 15, 2024

The sensational Wilkie Collins.

On CBC's Ideas: Radio for the Mind program, professors Rohan Maitzen (King's-Dalhousie Univ) and Andrew Mangham (Univ of Reading), mystery author Radha Vatsal, and biographer Andrew Lycett discuss Wilkie Collins's contributions to the sensation genre.

Monday, January 08, 2024

Mysteries entering the public domain.

Mysteries that have entered the public domain and are on the online Project Gutenberg:

A.E.W. Mason. NYPL

  •  As a Thief in the Night  by R. Austin Freeman (a Dr. Thorndyke mystery). "One of the most satisfactory detective stories we have read."—Walter R. Brooks, The Outlook

  • Ashenden; or the British Agent
by Somerset Maugham (based on Maugham's experiences in World War I). "An urbane series of stories dealing with the diplomatic side of Secret Service work"—Saturday Review

  • Behind That Curtain by Earl Derr Biggers (a Charlie Chan mystery). "Excellent"—Gilbert Seldes, Saturday Review (pb edition here)

  • The Footsteps at the Lock by Father (later Msgr.) Ronald Knox (a Miles Bredon mystery). "breezy characterization and satirical humour"—The Spectator (pb edition here)

 • Murder in the Maze by J.J. Connington. "[T]he usual false clues are skillfully suggested, and the reading public may well be surprised and amused to the end."—The English Review (pb edition here)

 • The Prisoner in the Opal by A.E.W. Mason (an Inspector Hanaud mystery). "another intriguing story of mystery and thrilling adventure"—Wanganui Chronicle (Wellington, Australia; pb edition here)

 • The Velvet Hand: New Madame Storey Mysteries by Hulbert Footner. "thoughtfully and ingeniously constructed"—New York Times

Monday, January 01, 2024

Collins & Dickens: Exhibition and conference.

Fine Books and Collections discusses the "Mutual Friends: The Adventures of Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins" exhibition at the Charles Dickens Museum that runs until Feb 25, 2024, and looks at the personal and professional relationship of these two Victorian authors.

The Univ of Buckingham will host the conference "Collins and Dickens—Dickens and Collins" on June 20–21, 2014, to celebrate the bicentennial of Collins' birth and examine matters such as Dickens' role as mentor to Collins and Collins' influence on Dickens, Dickens-Collins projects (such as The Frozen Deep) and rivalries, and theatrical and film productions of their works. Proposals are due Jan 31, 2024. 

Wilkie Collins (top),
Charles Dickens. NYPL

Monday, December 25, 2023

August Derleth's Christmas cards.

1939 studio portrait of August Derleth
by Ephraim Burt Trimpey
John D. Haefele discusses the Christmas cards sent by author-critic-publisher August Derleth from the late 1930s to 1941, which featured a new poem by Derleth plus a woodcut by Wisconsin artist Frank Utpatel, a friend of Derleth.

Monday, December 18, 2023

Exhibition: "The Victorian World in Flux."

On display until December 22nd is the exhibition "Detecting an Anxious Gaze: The Victorian World in Flux" in McLennan Library's Rare Books and Special Collections at McGill University. The exhibition is curated by graduate students in the course Enter the Detective. Mystery items include Revelations of a Lady Detective (1884) by William Stephens Hayward.

More on the exhibition here.

Monday, December 11, 2023

New French translations of Chandler.

Just published in Gallimard's distinguished and long-running Série Noire are new French translations of Raymond Chandler's The Lady in the Lake and The Big Sleep.

Monday, December 04, 2023

McFarland's December sale.

New from McFarland:
God and the Great Detective
If you missed McFarland's November sale, you still can save 25% on all McFarland books (including the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction) with the HOLIDAY23 coupon code. It's a good idea to place time-sensitive orders by December 16. Visit the McFarland website


Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Monday, November 20, 2023

Exhibition: "The Victorian Book."

The Police News from the
Lilly Library exhibition

Running through December 15, 2023, at Indiana University Bloomington's Lilly Library is "The Victorian Book: From the Gutter to the Stars," which features an array of books (including mystery) with formats and designs new to the era.

Monday, November 13, 2023

English translation, "The Dog with Vanishing Spots."

Tufts University's Quillon Arkenstone discusses and translates "The Dog with Vanishing Spots," a 1939 story by Japanese author Miyano Murako (aka Tsuno Kō, 1917–90), in the Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus. Arkenstone highlights Murako's use of logical reasoning, a colonial setting, and a female sleuth.

Monday, November 06, 2023

Sherlock Holmes through an ethical lens.

Tom Fox of the Adventures in Compliance Podcast looks at Arthur Conan Doyle's The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes through an unusual lens, "review[ing] each story and min[ing] them for leadership, compliance, and ethical lessons." He notes, "The Sherlock Holmes stories, including “The Adventure of the Yellow Face,” offer valuable leadership lessons and shed light on societal issues of the Victorian era." For a rundown of the episodes, go here.

Monday, October 30, 2023

An Agatha Christie cookbook.

Evan Kleiman, host of the Good Food podcast, talks to Karen Pierce, author of Recipes for Murder: 66 Recipes That Celebrate the Mysteries of Agatha Christie (check out the Halloween Murder Mystery Menu).

Monday, October 23, 2023

Upcoming Poe exhibition.

Opening on November 16 at Orlando's City Arts venue is "Edgar Allan Poe: The Exhibit," an art exhibition inspired by the works of Poe. Prizes will be given to four artists.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Sale, McFarland's horror books.

Brian Patrick Duggan's
Horror Dogs
Take 25 percent off horror books during McFarland & Co.'s Halloween sale. Use coupon code HALLOWEEN2023 through Oct 31. 

Joseph Maddrey's
Adapting Stephen King, vol. 2


Monday, October 09, 2023

Perry Mason and Della Street: Colleagues or more?

Donald Woods as Perry Mason
and Ann Dvorak as Della Street
in The Case of the Stuttering
Over on Owlcation, Ronald E. Franklin discusses the burning question: were Erle Stanley Gardner's Perry Mason and Della Street romantically involved?

Monday, October 02, 2023

Mysterious Journey: "Poirot and the Body on the Train."

A new episode of Mysterious Journey, a podcast of short radio plays produced by the Artists' Ensemble Theater (IL), is "Poirot and the Body on the Train" (based on Agatha Christie's "The Plymouth Express"). A body is found under a train seat, and Hercule Poirot is called upon to investigate.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Clues 41.2: Chilean detective fiction, Connelly, Johnson, Penny, Teaching Forum on Crime Fiction and Creative Writing.

Clues 41.2 (2023) has been published (abstracts below). For a print issue or a subscription, contact McFarland.
• Ebooks available (Kindle, Nook, Google Play).

Introduction: “The Warp and Woof of Every Moment”
CAROLINE REITZ (John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY Graduate Center)
The executive editor of Clues provides an overview of the issue, including articles on Chilean crime fiction, on Batman, and on detective fiction and philosophy;a Teaching Forum on the relationship of crime fiction and creative writing; and articles on authors Sherman Alexie, Michael Connelly, Craig Johnson, Kevin Major, and Louise Penny.

Spotlight on... Detective Fiction in Chile: Developments in the Genre

KATE M. QUINN (Univ of Galway, Ireland)
This article discusses the consolidation in the 1990s of Chile’s neopolicial works that combine hard-boiled and political elements, reassesses earlier twentieth- century genre writers, and examines the wider diversity of production up to the present day. It considers the conditions of genre production in Chile and the challenge of wider access to international readers.

“Still harping on daughters”: Maddie in Michael Connelly’s Hieronymus Bosch Series
In Michael Connelly’s books about detective Hieronymus Bosch, Bosch’s daughter Maddie is closely connected to many preoccupations of the series even when a seemingly minor presence. Romance texts such as Arthurian narratives and Spenser’s Faerie Queene are the best keys to interpreting Maddie’s roles in the series and larger questions about crime fiction.

From Alexie’s Indian Killer to Johnson’s Longmire Series: Expanding the Landscape of the American Indian Detective Novel
ELIZABETH ABELE (Gulf Univ for Science & Technology, Kuwait)
The essay examines Sherman Alexie’s Indian Killer, a crime novel that critiques Native American culture mediated through White American commerce, authors, and academics, as well as Craig Johnson’s Longmire series as a development and a departure from American Indian crime fiction in the late-twentieth century.

“Not everything buried is actually dead”:
The Detective as Historian in Louise Penny’s Bury Your Dead (2010)

AOILEANN NÍ ÉIGEARTAIGH (Dundalk Inst of Technology, Ireland)
Louise Penny’s Bury Your Dead (2010) inserts a Francophone detective into the heart of English culture in Québec, facilitating an investigation of historical Québécois tensions between the communities. Inspector Gamache’s resolution of the case suggests that acknowledging these cultural differences and finding a way to compromise are characteristics that continue to distinguish contemporary Canadian society. 

Sunset Tourism in Kevin Major’s One for the Rock, Two for the Tablelands, and Three for Trinity: Travel and Identity in Three Newfoundland and Labrador Crime Novels
TOM HALFORD (Memorial Univ of Newfoundland, Canada)
This essay considers the complex relationship among crime fiction, tourism, and identity in One for the Rock, Two for the Tablelands, and Three for Trinity by Kevin Major, which are set in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Major flirts with the concept of dark tourism as he takes readers into sites of loss and trauma but ultimately is more invested in highlighting and preserving aspects of provincial identity.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Clues CFP: "Disability and Detective Fiction"

Theme Issue of Clues: A Journal of Detection
Guest Editors: Susannah B. Mintz (Skidmore College) and Mark Osteen (Loyola University Maryland) 

The guest editors welcome proposals for a theme issue of Clues focusing on the representation of disability, broadly defined, in crime and mystery fiction, television shows, films, and other media. We seek a wide range of critical and cultural perspectives on how bodymind anomalousness features in stories about wrongdoing, from the maimed and scarred villains of Conan Doyle to the neurodivergent hero-sleuths of contemporary popular culture. In what ways have impairment, disfigurement, and disease been used to raise the stakes of fear and upheaval in crime stories? How do such narratives perpetuate or challenge ableist notions of order and resolution? Does corporeal vulnerability stoke our pity, sympathy, or admiration—whether for criminals, victims, or detectives whose genius seems to triumph over adversity? Conversely, do the contours of disability facilitate alternative modes of sleuthing and lead to unexpected forms of justice? What alternate forms of knowledge do these characters and texts present and endorse? Since the genre of crime by definition entails what and how we know, how have authors—over time and around the world—engaged disability to probe the meaning of truth? 

Possible topics may include but are not limited to:

• Disability as the mark of criminality   

• Disability as a crime—or as damage—that must be redeemed 

• Disability as metaphor for social decay 

• Supercrip crime solvers and criminals 

• Analytical prowess as compensation for physical or emotional loss 

• Neurodivergence and the lonely sleuth 

• Intersectional plots pairing disability with gender, race, class, and sexuality 

• Disability as affective vector: upping the emotional ante 

• Specific impairments as modes of knowing: detection and “cripistemology”   

Submissions should include a proposal of 250–300 words and a brief bio. Proposals due: March 15, 2024. Submit proposals to: Prof. Susannah B. Mintz, Dept. of English, Skidmore College, email:, and Prof. Mark Osteen, Dept. of English, Loyola University Maryland, email: Full manuscripts of 5,000 to 6,500 words based on an accepted proposal will be due in September 2024.

Monday, September 11, 2023

Learning languages through mysteries.

André Klein's Heidis Frühstück:
A Detective Story for German
Language Learners

I love this 4 September 2024 article by Mengmeng Tu in I, Science about learning another language through detective stories. It's further evidence that the mystery genre serves many purposes (like Rapid Reads' mysteries to encourage reluctant readers, English as a second language learners, and adults involved in literacy programs).

FYI, the Summer 2021 issue of I, Science focuses on Mystery, with articles such as "The Serial Killer Gene: Myth or Truth?" and "Is Deduction Even Science, Mr. Holmes?"

Monday, September 04, 2023

New audiobook:
The D'Arblay Mystery by R. Austin Freeman.

A new free audiobook from Librivox is The D'Arblay Mystery by inverted mystery pioneer and physician R. Austin Freeman. First published in 1926, the novel features forensic expert Dr. John Thorndyke looking into the death of a sculptor that appears to be suicide. A reviewer in the 26 Sept. 1926 New York Times praised its "exciting climax." The 13 Oct. 1926 Punch reviewer deemed it "engrossing enough, but it is also a little intricate." H. C. Harwood in the 4 Sept. 1926 Outlook declared, "'The D'Arblay Mystery' is the best detective story I have struck of late; so elaborate, so logical, so persuasive."

Illustration from R. Austin Freeman's
"The Blue Sequin," June 1910 McClure's Magazine

Monday, August 28, 2023

"The Girl Sleuth" exhibition at Syracuse U.

Ending soon at Syracuse University's Bird Library is the exhibition "The Girl Sleuth," with books including such sleuths as Nancy Drew and Peggy Parker. See further details in Syracuse's The Daily Orange.

Monday, August 21, 2023

"Died in the Wool" (1978).

George Baker in "Died in the Wool" (1978)

In Died in the Wool (1978), Ngaio Marsh's Roderick Alleyn (George Baker) looks into the murder of an MP, whose body is found in a bale of wool.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Newly released: Soundtrack to Hammett.

Just released by Silva Screen Records is John Barry's soundtrack to Hammett (dir. Wim Wenders, 1982), a film based on the book by Joe Gores; one screenwriter on the film was Ross Thomas. It stars the recently departed Frederic Forrest as Dashiell Hammett, who draws on his Pinkerton experience to assist a mentor with a new case. To hear some samples from the soundtrack, go here.

Monday, August 07, 2023

Sherlock Holmes Baffled (1900).

In Sherlock Holmes Baffled (1900)—believed to be the earliest film featuring The Great Detective—Holmes encounters a burglar in his rooms. Unfortunately, the names of the actors are unknown.