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.

Monday, July 31, 2023

The non-Hammett story?

Over on the blog Black Gate, Will Murray discusses "The Diamond Wager" (1929)—a Detective Fiction Weekly short story about a gentleman thief long thought to be written by Dashiell Hammett, but Murray makes a strong case for the WWI Navy veteran, journalist, and WWII OSS agent Samuel Lungren Dashiell (1891–1949) as the author.

Dashiell Hammett
Yank 30 Nov. 1945

Journalist Samuel Lungren Dashiell,
from his 1919 passport application.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Conan Doyle's "How Watson Learned the Trick."

Arthur Conan Doyle. NYPL
In the Baker Street Almanac, George Mason University law professor and Green Bag editor Ross E. Davies discusses "How Watson Learned the Trick" (1922), a short, humorous dialogue between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in which the good doctor proudly shows off what he has learned of Holmes' methods. It was written by Arthur Conan Doyle as part of a project for Queen Mary. This publication also reproduces the text of the dialogue. (a thanks to the Law & Humanities blog)

Monday, July 17, 2023

Georges Simenon, photographer.

Georges Simenon, 1966.
Anefo, Dutch National Archives
Running through 27 August 2023 at Liège's Grand Curtius Museum, the exhibition "Simenon: Images of a World in Crisis" features photographs taken by Georges Simenon on his extensive travels in the 1930s. See a press kit for the exhibition (in French).

Monday, July 10, 2023

Next McFarland Companion to Mystery Fiction:
James Sallis.

Volume 13 in the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series that I edit is on James Sallis (author of Drive, creator of detective Lew Griffin, biographer of Chester Himes, critic, poet, and cross-genre writer). The author is University of East Anglia's Nathan Ashman. The book is expected to be issued in fall 2023.

Monday, July 03, 2023

Featured in One Book One Nebraska:
Mignon G. Eberhart.

Bison Books edition of
Eberhart's The Mystery of
Hunting's End

The 2023 selection for One Book One Nebraska (a community-based reading program focusing on a classic work by a Nebraska writer or one that has a Nebraska setting) is a mystery: The Mystery of Hunting's End (1930) by Nebraska-born Grand Master Mignon G. Eberhart (1899–1996). Nurse Sarah Keate is engaged to care for Lucy Kingery at a lodge full of guests cut off from the outside world by a snowstorm. Wrote Freddy the Detective's Walter R. Brooks in the 19 Nov. 1930 The Outlook (469), "Gruesome and ghastly are the goings on in a snowbound hunting lodge .... Gooseflesh connoisseurs will enjoy this one."

Discussion questions and other resources are offered such as an introductory video by Nebraska Wesleyan University's Rick Cypert, author of America's Agatha Christie: Mignon Good Eberhart, and a link to Mystery House (1938), a film based on the novel.

  • Interested in buying the book? Go here.
  • Want to suggest a book for the One Book One Nebraska program? Go here.

Monday, June 26, 2023

A new Jury Box columnist for EQMM.

I debut in the July/Aug Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine as The Jury Box columnist (I am the first woman to write the column--I think I'll be writing one column per year). As someone who grew up reading Jon L. Breen's Jury Box reviews, it's a dream come true. I review classic reprints or short story collections by Anthony Berkeley [Cox], Eleanor A. Blake, J. Harvey Bond [Russell Robert Winterbotham], Mary Fitt [Kathleen Freeman], Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, E. C. R. Lorac [Edith Caroline Rivett], Ellery Queen & Josh Pachter, Jack Ritchie [John George Reitci], and Susan Scarlett [Noel Streatfeild].

Monday, June 19, 2023

Upcoming Grolier Club exhibition:
"Key Books in Detective Fiction."

Feminist Press ed.
of The G-String Murders
New York's Grolier Club will open the exhibition "Whodunit? Key Books in Detective Fiction" in November 2023, which will feature significant and unusual mystery works from the collection of Grolier Club member Jeffrey Johnson. Items will include The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles DickensThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie, and The G-String Murders by Gypsy Rose Lee (often thought to be ghosted by Craig Rice).

Monday, June 12, 2023

A glimpse of Anna Katharine Green.

Anna Katharine Green, n.d. NYPL.
On her website, writer Patricia Meredith provides a 21 July 1889 Daily Inter Ocean article by Mary Hatch, "An American Gaboriau," that provides an interesting personal look at pioneering American mystery author Anna Katharine Green (The Leavenworth Case, etc.). Hatch, a cousin of Green's sister-in-law, had a warm friendship with Green, and as Green was not fond of being interviewed, Hatch's insights are valuable. Hatch calls Green "a tall, graceful girl" who "learned the art of expressing herself with grace, accuracy, and poetic finish."

Monday, June 05, 2023

Clues 41.1: Detective fiction and borders.

Clues 41.1 (2023)—a theme issue on Detective Fiction and Borders—has been published. For a print issue or a subscription, contact McFarland. I will update this post when the ebook versions are available.

Introduction: Detective Fiction and Borders
MANINA JONES (Western University, Canada)

The guest editor of this theme issue of Clues provides an overview of the issue, including essays on Saradindu Bandyopadhyay, Carlos Bulosan, Agatha Christie, Calling All Cars, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Japanese crime fiction, Ausma Zehanat Khan, Henning Mankell, China Miéville, Miguel Pajares, and David Heska Wanbli Weiden. 

Crimes at the Maritime Border: Miguel Pajares’s Aguas de venganza [Waters of Revenge]

This essay analyzes Miguel Pajares’s Aguas de venganza [Waters of Revenge, 2016], delving into the representations of the Mediterranean Sea as a constructed lawless maritime border where crimes are unpunished; revenge occurs; and official explanations of border casualties interact with a narrative of border crimes, public negligence, and injustice. 

Policing Mobilities and Boundaries: A Study of Henning Mankell’s The Dogs of Riga and Firewall
ARATRIKA MANDAL and SOMDATTA BHATTACHARYA (Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur)

This article examines the representation of racism and immigration and the ways they transform borderline and bordered space into criminal space in two popular Swedish crime novels by Henning Mankell. In Mankell’s Firewall and Dogs of Riga, negotiations between individuals and borders realize the interaction between state apparatuses and technology, potentially destabilizing the physical and the virtual border. 

The Geopolitics of Passing in Carlos Bulosan’s All the Conspirators
SYDNEY VAN TO (UC Berkeley) 

Carlos Bulosan’s mid–twentieth-century noir novella All the Conspirators stages a conflict between guerrillas and collaborators in the postwar Philippines, illustrating a “geopolitics of passing” that examines the triangulation of borders through acts of racial, ideological, and imperial passing. Through the trope of passing, the transgression and eventual reconstitution of these borders is shown to be an alibi for the expansion of U.S. empire. 

Embodied Borders: Countering Islamophobia in Ausma Zehanat Khan’s Crime Fiction
PILAR CUDER-DOMÍNGUEZ (University of Huelva, Spain) 

This essay draws from critical race and affect studies in addressing how the police officer Esa Khattak in Ausma Zehanat Khan’s crime fiction embodies race and faith differences within the Global North and thus helps bring attention to bear on the rise of anti-Muslim feelings within allegedly plural liberal democracies.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

A new blue plaque for Wilkie Collins.

Wilkie Collins. NYPL.
The Isle of Thanet News reports that Church Hill Cottage (aka Woodside Cottage) in Broadstairs, UK, has received a new blue plaque (a historical recognition program for UK structures), as it was the location where Wilkie Collins wrote the early chapters of his landmark mystery The Woman in White (1859–60). Journalist Ken Nickoll followed clues in censuses, land documents, and Collins's correspondence to uncover Collins's lodging.

Monday, May 22, 2023

"Directed by Ida Lupino: Macabre Television."

Ida Lupino.
On June 24 at the Billy Wilder Theater, UCLA Film & Television Archive will salute some of Ida Lupino's directing contributions to TV mystery and horror through the program "Directed by Ida Lupino: Macabre Television," showing the episodes "A Crime for Mothers" (Alfred Hitchcock Presents),  "Guillotine" (Thriller; screenplay by Charles Beaumont, based on a story by Cornell Woolrich), and "The Masks" (Twilight Zone).

Monday, May 15, 2023

Beijing hosts Sherlock Holmes exhibition.

Sherlock Holmes by
Sidney Paget
China Daily brings word that the National Museum of Classic Books in Beijing is hosting an exhibition on Sherlock Holmes until November 2, including crime scenes from the Holmes canon and a late-19th-century Chinese newspaper that printed Holmes tales translated into Chinese.

Monday, May 08, 2023

Orson Welles and The Black Museum.

Illustration of Orson Welles 
to advertise The Lives of
Harry Lime
, ca. 1951
Over on Wellesnet, Ray Kelly discusses Orson Welles' role in The Black Museum, an early true-crime radio program based on Scotland Yard cases, and The Adventures of Harry Lime (US title: The Lives of Harry Lime), a radio program based on Welles's shady character in the film The Third Man

Listen to Black Museum episodes here.
Listen to The Lives of Harry Lime episodes here.

Monday, May 01, 2023

Hardboiled programs, DeKalb (IL) Public Library.

From May through August, DeKalb (IL) Public Library is hosting the free monthly program "The Golden Age of Film Noir and Its Novels," discussing key novels and showing clips from their film adaptations. Authors featured include Dashiell Hammett (May 27), James M. Cain, W. R. Burnett, and Cornell Woolrich.

Photos: (left) James M. Cain; (right) Dashiell Hammett, Yank, 30 Nov. 1945; (bottom, top) illustration of W. R. Burnett by his first wife, Marjorie Burnett, 1932; Cornell Woolrich.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Columbo exhibition.

Columbo exhibition artwork by
Jam Bookshop owner and illustrator
David Ziggy Green
Jam Bookshop in Hackney, London, plans the upcoming exhibition "Just One More Thing," which will be composed of artworks from the public that salute Richard Levinson and William Link's rumpled yet shrewd detective. The exhibition will run May 4–21, 2023. More here (including some sample drawings).

Monday, April 17, 2023

Anne Perry, 1938–2023.

Anne Perry, left, and Elizabeth Foxwell.
Photo by Dean James.
Last week I learned that Anne Perry, author of numerous mysteries and other books, had passed away at age 84. Many of the obituary treatments, in my view, failed to provide a true depiction of Anne's life and work (including one that referred to Anne as "matronly." Anne took care of herself and delighted in clothes; she was always a stylish figure, and I speak as one who once acted as her personal shopper). Although trying to accurately capture a multifaceted career in a brief space is always daunting, I attempt this below.

Anne and I were friends for some 30 years, stemming from early Malice Domestic conventions (she introduced the Malice Domestic 6 anthology and contributed to Murder, They Wrote II, both of which I coedited). I was a devoted fan of her Victorian mysteries with Thomas and Charlotte Pitt, as well as her other Victorian series with eventual private inquiry agent/river police officer William Monk and nurse Hester Latterly (I presented a paper on Hester at a Popular Culture Assn conference that was eventually published in Clues 22.2, 2001). We also shared an interest in World War I (she wrote five mysteries set during the war—one character, Joseph Reavley, was based on her grandfather, who had been a military chaplain during the war). Always up for new challenges, she also penned two fantasy novels, Tathea and Come Armegeddon; the novel The Sheen on the Silk set in 13th-century Constantinople; a series with photographer and spy Elena Standish; a series with the Pitts' son Daniel; and annual mysteries set around Christmas. In recent years, she was living in Los Angeles, because she was learning about screenwriting and was interested in seeing more of her works on screen after The Cater Street Hangman, the first in the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series, was adapted and shown in the UK and on A&E in the US in 1998. It starred Eoin McCarthy, Keeley Hawes, and John Castle. Anne appears in a cameo role—look for her in a scene set outside of a church. She told me that donning the various layers of Victorian garments was an educational experience. Although Anne hoped that this production would lead to further adaptations of other novels in the Pitt series, this did not occur. Over the years, there were nibbles about adaptations of the Monk series—Anne was especially excited about the prospect of Gabriel Byrne playing Monk, and she thought the actor Jonathan Hyde would make a fine Monk—but these did not pan out.


Anne, right, in The Cater Street Hangman.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Chandler's CA locations.

Security Pacific Bank Building, Hollywood Blvd., California
The Security Pacific Bank Bldg, which
housed Marlowe's office as the
"Cahuenga Bldg." Wikimedia Commons.

Michele E. Buttelman in Santa Clarita Valley [CA]'s The Signal discusses "California Literary Locations," which include the office site of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe, Musso & Frank Grill (mentioned in The Long Goodbye), and the Greystone Mansion (possibly the model for General Sternwood's estate in The Big Sleep).

Monday, April 03, 2023

The illustrated Continental Op.

Clover Press has published a new illustrated edition featuring Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op, which includes the stories "Arson Plus" (Oct. 1923), "Crooked Souls" (Oct. 1923), "Slippery Fingers" (Oct. 1923), "It" (Nov. 1923), and "Bodies Piled Up" (Dec. 1923). The artist is John K. Snyder III. View some sample illustrations here.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Edwards receives 2023 Dove Award.

The latest recipient of the George N. Dove Award of the Popular Culture Assn's Detective/Mystery Caucus is British novelist and Detection Club president Martin Edwards (Edgar nominee, The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and Their Creators). The award is presented for contributions to the serious study of mystery and crime fiction. Past recipients include Frankie Y. Bailey, Douglas G. Greene, Christine Jackson, P. D. James, H. R. F. Keating, Margaret Kinsman, Maureen Reddy, John M. Reilly, Janet Rudolph, J. K. Van Dover, and yours truly.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Creating a detective story through art.

Here's an interesting project: artist Daniel Moore is creating a detective story through the use of public domain images such as 1920s movie stills.

Monday, March 13, 2023

New mystery audiobooks from Librivox.

Librivox, which marshals volunteer readers to produce free audiobooks of works in the public domain, has some new mystery-related offerings:

Want to volunteer as a reader? Visit this webpage

Monday, March 06, 2023

Grants for academic research, Sisters in Crime.

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. US citizens or legal residents as well as those conducting research on US authors are eligible to apply. The application deadline is April 15, 2023. 

Interested in projects of previous recipients? Go here.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Online TCU exhibition on dime novels.

Texas Christian University's Mary Couts Burnett Library has the online exhibition "A Riotous Imagination; or, Dime Novels in America," which looks at the inexpensive and often lurid tales of adventure, mystery, horror, and romance that emerged in the nineteenth century. Sections of the exhibition include "Cowboys and Detectives," "Investigating Crime," and "Rise of the Pulps."