Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Big Frame (aka The Lost Hours, 1952).

In The Big Frame, pilot Mark Stevens quarrels with a friend, waking up the next morning at a unfamiliar hotel as Scotland Yard's top suspect in the friend's murder.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The gifts of Celia Fremlin.

Author Lucy Lethbridge in the July 2019 issue of The Oldie lauds Celia Fremlin's Edgar-winning The Hours Before Dawn (1958) and the skills applied by Fremlin from her time in the British project Mass Observation. Says Lethbridge, "This is a novel about intelligent, frustrated women in the impoverished disappointment of 1950s London."

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Everything Is Thunder (1936).

Based on the novel by former British Army officer Jocelyn Lee Hardy, Everything Is Thunder features a prostitute (Constance Bennett) who attempts to help a prisoner of war (Douglas Montgomery) escape from Nazi Germany.

Monday, July 08, 2019

A walk with Anthony Boucher.

Jeffrey Marks's Anthony Boucher:
A Biobibliography
Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association has scheduled a July 21 walk of South Berkeley (CA) locations associated with mystery/sci fi author-editor-critic Anthony Boucher (aka William Anthony Parker White). The walk will be guided by Randal Brandt, a librarian who curates the California Detective Fiction Collection at UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Deadly Affair (1967).

In this adaptation of John le Carré's Call for the Dead (1961) that is directed by Sidney Lumet, a British agent (James Mason) is suspicious of the suicide of a man he had investigated (Robert Flemyng).

Monday, June 24, 2019

J. S. Fletcher celebrates a centenary.

New HarperCollins edition of Fletcher's
The Middle Temple Murder
In the Oxford Times, Christopher Gray celebrates the centenary of the publication of The Middle Temple Murder (1919) by Yorkshire-born Joseph Smith Fletcher, better known as J. S. Fletcher (1863–1935). Says Gray, "The novel put me very much in mind of John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps." In the novel (read by presidential mystery fan Woodrow Wilson), a journalist and a Scotland Yard inspector see something more in a violent death than a robbery gone wrong.

More on Fletcher (who apparently also was a friend of T. S. Stribling)

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

"The Last of the Sommervilles" (1961).

In this episode of Thriller directed by Ida Lupino and cowritten by Lupino and her cousin Richard Lupino, a scheming heir plots to eliminate the competition for an inheritance. Phyllis Thaxter and Martita Hunt costar.

Monday, June 17, 2019

German films of Edgar Wallace works.

Edgar Wallace, Der Frosch mit der Maske
(Fellowship of the Frog)
On the Galactic Journey blog, Cora Buhlert discusses the popularity in Germany of film adaptations of the works of Edgar Wallace, including Der Zinker (The Squeaker) with Klaus Kinski.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

They Can't Hang Me (1955).

Adapted and directed by Val Guest from a story by journalist Leonard Mosley, They Can't Hang Me features a convicted civil servant attempting to avoid the hangman's noose by claiming he can identify a spy notorious for disclosing top-secret nuclear information. Andre Morell stars.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Ellery Queen, Rex Stout, and WQXR.

Ad for WQXR, 1963
New York Public Radio archivist Andy Lanset spotlights mentions of WQXR (a well-known classical music station in New York) in books, including those by Ellery Queen and Rex Stout (the latter mentioning the station in four works). Go here for a history of WQXR, including its ownership for nearly 30 years by the New York Times.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

The Man Who Finally Died (1963).

Stanley Baker gets physical in
The Man Who Finally Died
In The Man Who Finally Died, Stanley Baker sets out on the trail of his father, who supposedly died in World War II. Costars include Peter Cushing and Eric Portman.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Upcoming Ngaio Marsh companion.

This is the upcoming volume 9 in the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series that I edit. It focuses on Ngaio Marsh, creator of well-born Inspector Roderick Alleyn. Marsh joins other subjects John Buchan, E. X. Ferrars, Ed McBain/Evan Hunter, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Andrea Camilleri, James Ellroy, Sara Paretsky, and P. D. James.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Arthur Conan Doyle, pre-Sherlock.

Arthur Conan Doyle. NYPL
Edinburgh Live discussed an 1882 letter by Arthur Conan Doyle to Blackwood's Magazine trying to sell his short story "The Actor's Duel" (later published as "The Tragedians").

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Miss Robin Hood (1952).

In Miss Robin Hood, a pulp writer is embroiled in a plot to recover a recipe for spirits stolen from a family a long time ago.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Your mission, should you decide to accept it...

Peter Graves with his
brother, James Arness
A recent episode of Wyoming Public Media's Archives on the Air focuses on the TV program Mission: Impossible, featuring (from the collections of the American Heritage Center) a page from the script "The Carrier" by Ronald Austin and a page from Morris Abrams's production notes for the episode "The Amateur."

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Desperate Moment (1953).

Based on the novel by Martha Albrand, Desperate Moment features a wrongly convicted Dirk Bogarde seeking the actual murderer in his case in postwar Germany.

Monday, May 13, 2019

"The Art of Sherlock Holmes" exhibition.

On view until June 3 at Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens in West Palm Beach, FL, is the exhibition "The Art of Sherlock Holmes," which features 15 artistic works inspired by the Great Detective.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Three Weird Sisters (1947).

In this adaptation of the novel by Charlotte Armstrong, in which one of the screenwriters was poet Dylan Thomas, a secretary thinks her employer's life is in danger at the hands of his three sisters.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Lawsuit re Elmore Leonard's papers settled.

The Detroit News reported that a lawsuit regarding the sale of Elmore Leonard's papers to the University of South Carolina had been settled. Christine Leonard, Leonard's ex-wife, had sued alleging that Leonard's company, trust, and son had sold the archive in secret (stating that a stipulation in the divorce decree entitled her to a share of the proceeds).

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Clues 37.1: Canadian Detective Fiction, Nancy Drew, Shelley, Trauma, Dementia, and More.

Volume 37, no. 1 of Clues: A Journal of Detection has been published, which can be purchased from McFarland & Co. (Cree-French Canadian author Wayne Arthurson is on the cover). The abstracts for the issue follow below. I will update this post once the ebook versions of the issue are available.

Introduction / JANICE M. ALLAN (Univ of Salford) The executive editor of Clues discusses the contents of Clues vol. 37, no. 1, including articles on dementia in detective fiction, a Percy Bysshe Shelley poem viewed as a detective story, Wayne Arthurson, Giles Blunt, Gail Bowen, Arthur Conan Doyle, Laurie R. King, Nancy Drew, Ron Rash, Rene Saldana Jr., and Peter Temple.

The Sign of the Four and the Detective as a Disrupter of Order / NATHANAEL T. BOOTH (Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China). Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of the Four (1890) often is read in the context of British imperialism and bourgeois rationality, which stresses the problematic nature of Sherlock Holmes’s activity as a detective. Separated from its imperialist context, the novel shows a Holmes who unsettles (rather than restores) social order.

“I ain’t going to the jailhouse if I can help it”: The Thriller Impulse in Ron Rash’s One Foot in Eden / JIM COBY (University of Alabama in Huntsville). This essay examines how the contemporary Appalachian writer Ron Rash employs the tropes of mystery thrillers—tropes largely ignored in southern fiction—in his novel One Foot in Eden (2002), as he grapples with an increasingly urbanized Appalachia.

René Saldaña Jr.’s Innovations of Children’s Detective Fiction in the Mickey Rangel Series / AMY CUMMINS (University of Texas Rio Grande Valley). René Saldaña Jr.’s Mickey Rangel series (Arte Público, 2009–18) both fulfills and rewrites the conventions of children’s detective fiction. On the south Texas border of the United States, fifth-grade detective Mickey solves cases while facing social problems and unanswered questions, aided by a mysterious Angel as his secret sidekick.

Trauma and Contemporary Crime Fiction / MARY ANN GILLIES (Simon Fraser University, Canada). This article explores the role of trauma in contemporary crime novels by Laurie R. King and Peter Temple. It argues that, as understandings of what constitutes trauma have shifted over the last century, crime fiction has adapted as well, representing trauma in sophisticated and complex ways and, in so doing, mirroring the contemporary preoccupation with it.

The Case of the Missing Memory: Dementia and the Fictional Detective / MARLA HARRIS. This essay explores the challenges of creating a detective with dementia in Mitch Cullin’s A Slight Trick of the Mind (2005), Adele LaPlante’s Turn of Mind (2011) and Emma Healey’s Elizabeth Is Missing (2014). As these metaphysical narratives feature paradoxes of identity, they can help destigmatize this devastating condition.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Peer reception of Anna Katharine Green.

Anna Katharine Green. NYPL
Amid the very busy Popular Culture Association conference of last week (see my Twitter feed), I had a chat with Clues contributor Claire Meldrum (Sheridan College, Canada). Meldrum is working on a biography of Anna Katharine Green (listen to her talk about Green on Vermont Public Radio). She is interested in hearing from anyone who has come across mentions of Green and her work by fellow writers (Green did meet Arthur Conan Doyle during one of his lecture tours). Contact Meldrum here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Strange Illusion (1945).

A young man is troubled by a dream that shows his father's death as murder and soon discovers a sinister stranger romancing his mother and sister.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Championing Asimov's mysteries.

Isaac Asimov. LOC,
Prints & Photos Div.
On April 18 at 11:30 am, I'm delivering the paper "'A Necessary Clue': The Mysteries of Isaac Asimov" at the Popular Culture Assn conference in Washington, DC, which attempts to refute the perception of Asimov as merely a purveyor of gimmicks in his mysteries and stumps for his neglected mainstream mystery debut, The Death Dealers (aka A Whiff of Death, 1958).  (This new piece on Sherlock Holmes and SF mentions Asimov, who was a Baker Street Irregular.)

My fellow presenters are Kim Sherwood (University of the West of England and author of Testament), Elizabeth Cuddy (Hampton University), and Christine A. Jackson (Nova Southeastern University).  Read the conference program (guest passes can be purchased onsite for $50 per day for those who would like to attend for a day or two).

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Foxwell on Helen Hagan, WWI Centennial News podcast.

Helen Hagan, 1918
On the World War I Centennial News podcast, I talk about the life and work of New Haven's black pianist-composer Helen Hagan and her performing for black troops in World War I France.

Monday, April 08, 2019

New Clues CFP: "Crime's Hybrid Forms."

"Genre Bending: Crime's Hybrid Forms" is a new call for papers for a theme issue of Clues that will be guest edited by Maurizio Ascari (University of Bologna). Submission deadline: October 1, 2019.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

"The Scott Machine" (1961).

In "The Scott Machine," part of the short-lived TV series The Asphalt Jungle, Deputy Commissioner Matt Gower (Jack Warden) finds himself and his squad in the undesirable position of protecting a neo-Nazi (Robert Vaughn).  John Astin costars.

Monday, April 01, 2019

The many comforts of mysteries.

In the Financial Times, Charlotte Mendelson enumerates the reasons why mysteries are a comfort when personal life is tough: plots, good people confronting bad things, the triumph of the detective, the many different kinds and numbers of mysteries, and the quality of writing.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Franchise Affair (1951).

In Josephine Tey's The Franchise Affair, lawyer Michael Denison investigates when his client (Dulcie Gray, Denison's wife in real life) is accused of the kidnapping of a teenager. Kenneth More costars.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Simenon and Maigret by way of Budapest.

Georges Simenon,
10 May 1965.
Anefo, Dutch Nat Archives
It is interesting to see Georges Simenon's popularity across cultures (such as the recent exhibition in China on his work). In a fun series in the Budapest Times, an anonymous writer is reading through the 75 works in Simenon's Maigret oeuvre as well as providing commentary on locations in the TV series with Michael Gambon (which was filmed in Budapest) and outlets for buying Simenon works in Budapest.

Entries to date:

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Do You Know This Voice? (1964).

In this film adapted from the novel by American-born writer, pianist, and composer Evelyn Berckman, shoes are the only clue to the identity of a kidnapper and killer. Dan Duryea stars.