Monday, November 28, 2022

A Bunburyist milestone.


A milestone sneaked up on me: The Bunburyist has passed its 1 millionth view. When I began this blog in November 2005, I really had no idea if anyone would be interested in my posts (visitors probably have noticed that I am particularly fond of archival mystery goodies and exhibitions on mysteries, as I think these can tend to be overlooked and are valuable resources). In recent years, I've had to cut back on blogging because of work and writing commitments and the addition of my blog on US women in World War I—even wondering at times if I should end this blog. So, if you've ever stopped by, thanks. 

Here are the top-10 posts with the most views:

Eugène François Vidocq,
from Memoires de Vidocq,
Chef de la Police de Sureté
Jusqu'en 1827
. Paris, 1828–29.
10. The First 100 Years of Detective Fiction.  "...[T"he Lilly Library of Indiana University's online version of its 1973 exhibition 'The First Hundred Years of Detective Fiction, 1841–1941' ... provides a useful history of the genre through the works selected"

9. Remembering Adam West: The Detectives. Although Adam West probably is best known as the titular character in the TV series Batman, he previously played Detective Sergeant Steve Nelson in the TV series The Detectives.

8. Shoot to Kill (film noir, 1947). A murder involves a gangster, a DA, a DA's wife/secretary, and a reporter.

7. "Iniquity is catching": Frank R. Stockton's The Stories of the Three Burglars (1889). Burglars bargain with a wronged homeowner in this work by the author of "The Lady, or the Tiger?"

6. "Security Risk" (GE True, 1963). A tale of espionage narrated by Jack Webb, directed by William Conrad, and starring Charles Aickman.

5. "Iconic detectives" exhibition at Ohio State. Library exhibition that featured "detectives from dime novels, young adult books, comic books, films, and manga."

4.  Hidden Fear (film, 1957). US cop John Payne works in Denmark to clear his sister of a murder charge.

3. "The Grave Grass Quivers," by MacKinlay Kantor. The poignant 1931 story by a Pulitzer Prize winner of a doctor who seeks to learn the fate of his long-missing father and brother. 

2. "Committed" (with Alan Ladd, 1954). In this episode of GE Theater, a writer is framed for murder and confined to an asylum.

1. The dozen best detective short stories ever written. Selected by author-critics such as Anthony Boucher, John Dickson Carr, August Derleth, Howard Haycraft, Ellery Queen, James Sandoe, and Vincent Starrett.

Friday, November 25, 2022

McFarland's 40% off sale.

McFarland is having a 40% off sale on all its titles until Nov 28 with coupon code HOLIDAY22. It's a good time to stock up on the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction that I edit; check out the full companion lineup.

Monday, November 21, 2022

A friend of Sherlock Holmes.

Irving Bacheller, from his
1917 passport application
In a blog post, Greenwich [CT] Historical Society curator Christopher Shields discusses the important role of journalist and novelist Irving Bacheller (1859–1950) in introducing Sherlock Holmes and other fictional figures to US readers.

Monday, November 14, 2022

New: The Crime World of Michael Connelly.

New from McFarland is David Geherin's The Crime World of Michael Connelly, which provides insight into characters such as Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller (aka the Lincoln Lawyer), media adaptations of Connelly's work, Connelly's technique, and Connelly's portrayals of LA and its police. I enjoyed looking at the final proofs of this book.

Monday, November 07, 2022

McFarland nabs 3 nominees for Oddest Book Title.

After last year's triumph with Is Superman Circumcised?, McFarland now has three nominees for this year's Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title:

The other nominees are Frankenstein Was a Vegetarian: Essays on Food Choice, Identity, and Symbolism by Michael Owen Jones (UP of Mississippi); Smuggling Jesus Back into the Church by Andrew Fellows (IVP); and What Nudism Exposes: An Unconventional History of Postwar Canada by Mary-Ann Shantz (U of British Columbia P).

Members of the public may cast their vote for the award (the deadline is November 26).

Monday, October 31, 2022

"Sherlock Holmes: The Exhibition" in Minnesota.

On view at the Minnesota History Center until April 2, 2023 is the interactive "Sherlock Holmes: The Exhibition," which encompasses forensic science elements that assisted Holmes in solving crimes, the Victorian milieu, and objects from the University of Minnesota's extensive Sherlock Holmes Collections. In connection with the exhibition is the Minnesota Mystery Flash Fiction Contest (submission deadline December 15, 2022).

Monday, October 24, 2022

"Kentish Tales" exhibition.

J.  S. Fletcher
On view until the end of the month at the Augustine House library at Canterbury Christ Church University (UK) is the exhibition "Kentish Tales: Stories of Love, Smuggling, and Murder" that focuses on authors who lived in or wrote about Kent. A mystery-related title in the exhibition is The Passenger to Folkestone (1927) by J. S. Fletcher, in which a murder appears to result from robbery but eventually reveals other facets (the online info on the exhibition includes an audio excerpt from the book). Also included is the comedy The Green Alleys by Eden Phillpotts, who was Agatha Christie's mentor. The exhibition is curated by the digital humanities project Kent Maps Online.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Clues 40.2: Columbo, Chandler, Christie, Dexter, Ms. Fisher, Teaching Forum, and more.

40.2 (2022) has been published, featuring its first Teaching Forum—this one on teaching crime fiction after Black Lives Matter, engaging with issues such as race, gender, and class. As usual, we are delighted to have contributors from around the world. See below for abstracts. Contact McFarland for subscriptions or a print copy of the journal. I'll update this post once the ebook versions are available.

Around the World Backwards and Forwards
CAROLINE REITZ (John Jay College of Criminal Justice-CUNY/CUNY Graduate School)

Caroline Reitz, the executive editor of Clues, provides an overview of the issue, including articles on Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Columbo, Colin Dexter, contemporary European crime narratives, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, forensic psychiatrists in crime fiction, Deon Meyer, Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries, and a forum on teaching crime fiction after Black Lives Matter.

Rethinking Raymond Chandler’s “The Simple Art of Murder” (1944/1946)
STEWART KING (Monash University, Australia)

This review article revisits Raymond Chandler’s essay “The Simple Art of Murder” and examines its ongoing relevance for crime fiction studies. It asks to what extent does Chandler’s iconic essay help us to understand and explain the crime genre, both historically and today.

Intersecting Crime: South African State Capture and the Hero-Criminal Binary in Deon Meyer’s The Last Hunt (2019) / SAM NAIDU (Rhodes University, South Africa)

Deon Meyer’s The Last Hunt can be categorized as African noir in its themes of political disillusionment, corruption, and crimes of the state against its citizens, shedding light on contemporary African-European relations. The article examines the novel’s intersections of time, space, national, and transnational with criminal and detective characters, and the blurriness of the hero-criminal binary.

Contemporary European Crime Narratives: “Euro-Glocal”?
THEO D’HAEN (University of Leiden, The Netherlands/Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium)

The article makes a case for the emergence of a particularly European brand of crime fiction, film, and television series that fosters a closer European union.

“Mystery” Beyond Reason:
Mr. Quin, a Revealer of the Powers of Fiction According to Agatha Christie?

MARC VERVEL (Université de Paris, France)

The short story collection The Mysterious Mr. Quin has a special place in Agatha Christie’s work. In these stories where rational investigation opens up to the supernatural, Christie theorizes what is at stake in the desire to read and proposes an expanded conception of the detective story.

The Skeptical Poetics of Colin Dexter’s Morse Novels
Michal Sýkora (Palack
University, Czech Republic)

This article argues that Detective Chief Inspector Morse is a different figure in Colin Dexter’s novels than the popular television series. The author locates Dexter’s novels in British postwar crime fiction, with attention to representations of the social reality of Oxford and gender issues, and reads The Wench Is Dead to argue Morse’s hermeneutic approach to investigation reveals an ironic skepticism about truth.

Colin Dexter’s Classicism / MATTHEW WRIGHT (University of Exeter, UK)

Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse books, unlike any other detective novels, are saturated with references to Greek and Latin language and literature. This article explores the significance of Classics and classical scholarship in Dexter’s world and argues that the novels present a consistent (and consistently troubling) view of education and culture. 

Monday, October 10, 2022

Sherlock Holmes Room in Japan.

The British Antique Museum in Kamakura City, Japan, includes a Sherlock Holmes Room that pays tribute to the Great Detective and features Victorian/Edwardian furnishings. It is modeled after the approach of the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London.

Monday, October 03, 2022

The Thirty-Nine Steps on WWI podcast.

Oh! What a Lovely Podcast (a podcast that focuses on World War I) discusses John Buchan's ever-popular thriller The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915), including burning questions such as why you should never let Richard Hannay drive.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Clues CFP: “Teaching Crime Fiction as Creative Writing.”

As crime fiction continues to dominate sales and its critical reception grows, it has become an increasingly important part of creative writing courses. At the same time, creative writing is going from strength to strength as an academic discipline and a program of study in schools and other learning spaces.

Are you teaching crime, detective, or mystery fiction as a creative discipline? Have you expanded teaching it as a literary or sociological phenomenon to incorporate creative elements? Have you come from a creative background to incorporate the practice of writing crime and detective fiction? What has changed about your approach in recent years, and what changes do you anticipate?

Clues: A Journal of Detection is looking for 500- to 750-word contributions for volume 41.2 (2023). Accounts from all classroom spaces (high school, college, graduate school, prisons, etc.) and teachers at all stages of their careers are welcome. Student voices are also welcome! Submissions are due February 1, 2023. For more information or to submit essays, please contact Jamie Bernthal-Hooker, j.bernthal-hooker [at]

Monday, September 19, 2022

Upcoming Tasmania mystery exhibition.

The Terror Australis Readers and Writers Festival is planning the exhibition "Tasmania: A Century of Mystery" in honor of the centenary of Agatha Christie's visit to Tasmania. The exhibition, which will be on view from October 2–30, 2022, will focus on mysteries written by Tasmanians or set in Tasmania. The webpage also reveals that there will be a new branch of Sisters in Crime in Tasmania.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Sherlock Holmes exhibition redux.

Indiana University Bloomington's Lilly Library is the latest host of the "Sherlock Holmes in 221 Objects" exhibition (originally hosted by the Grolier Club and featuring memorabilia, manuscripts, books, and other items related to the Great Detective). The exhibition will be on view until December 16, 2022.

Monday, September 05, 2022

Oslo exhibition on Jo Nesbø's series.

The National Library of Norway is offering the exhibition "Labyrinth: Tracing Harry Hole," which explores Jo Nesbø's popular series through the device of a labyrinth. Exhibit items include a reader's report on the first book in the series and an unpublished manuscript. The exhibition is on view until November 5, 2022.

Videos related to the exhibition

Monday, August 29, 2022

Nominations open, Susan Rice Mentorship Award (Sherlockian studies).

Individuals can nominate inspiring mentors in Sherlockian studies for the Susan Rice Mentorship Award of the Baker Street Irregulars (BSI). In their nomination essay, nominators should discuss the award candidate's activities in nurturing aspiring Sherlockians. Potential nominees need not be BSI members. Nominations close October 31, 2022.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Now out: Agatha Christie companion.

Just published is Agatha Christie: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction by J. C. Bernthal, vol. 12 in the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series that I edit. It is a comprehensive look at the career of the popular creator of Hercule Poirot, Miss Jane Marple, Ariadne Oliver, Parker Pyne, and a host of other memorable mystery characters and plots. The book includes discussion of never before seen material, such as an unknown Australian adaptation of a Christie short story. 

Kobo ebook
Kindle ebook

Monday, August 15, 2022

Forever chums.

The Hardy Boys
Detective Handbook
Edward Stratemeyer. NYPL

The Penn Books Center blog focuses on the Hardy Boys series, including the original series from the Stratemeyer Syndicate and follow-up series such as the Hardy Boys Casefiles, Hardy Boys Adventures, and Hardy Boys: Undercover Brothers. You also can find out about the Hardy Boys book that is the most rare.

Monday, August 08, 2022

New Foxwell ebooks: WWI and short story collections.

I have new ebooks available of two of my books:

In Their Own Words: American Women in World War I presents first-person accounts by American women who served in World War I. Combating restrictions on the duties they could undertake, these women often faced discrimination, danger, and even death in their desire to serve their country, the men in combat, and the civilians suffering the effects of war. Their roles included ambulance driver, canteen worker, clerk, entertainer, fingerprint expert, librarian, nurse, physician, relief worker, reporter, stenographer, and switchboard operator. Cover design by Karen Jackson.

No Man's Land and Other Stories is a collection of my (mostly historical) mystery short stories (although it does include an affectionate pastiche of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson). It includes "No Man's Land" (Agatha winner, Macavity nominee) and "Keeper of the Flame" (first-prize winner, 2003 Cape Fear Crime Festival Short Story Contest). Settings range from the Civil War and the Titanic to World War I and the 1918 flu pandemic, including figures such as Dorothea Dix, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, and Oscar Wilde. Cover design by Karen Jackson.


Monday, August 01, 2022

Philby and Cold War intelligence.

On the International Spy Museum's SpyCast podcast, museum curators Andrew Hammond and Alexis Albion discuss Kim Philby (1912–88), a member of the notorious Cambridge Spy Ring, and his effect on Cold War intelligence.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Poe and Conan Doyle exhibition.

The Hower House Museum at the University of Akron (OH) will be offering the exhibition "Poe & Doyle: Victorian Crime Fiction" in September and October 2022. It will explore Edgar Allan Poe's techniques that formed the basis for the detective narrative and ways that Arthur Conan Doyle applied these techniques to create Sherlock Holmes.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Even more on Simenon, Maigret, etc.

As I noted in 2019, a writer in the Budapest Times (now identified as Christopher Osterberg) has been working his way methodically through the large oeuvre of Georges Simenon and publishing reviews of these works. The latest entries:

Want to check out Osterberg's Simenon reviews published in 2020 and later? Go here. The reviews from earlier dates are no longer available on the Budapest Times website, but I've updated the links in my original post with archived links.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Remembering Larry Storch.

Larry Storch in "The Mystery of the Silent Scream"

Although Larry Storch, who passed away at age 99 on July 8, may be best remembered for his role as Corporal Agarn on F Troop (with his often repeated refrain, "Who says I'm dumb?"), he had some memorable mystery-related appearances such as the following:

  • "An Out for Oscar" (1963) on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour 
  • "The Jack Is High" (1964) on Kraft Suspense Theater (involving an armored car robbery investigated by an inspector played by Pat O'Brien)
  • "Negative Reaction" (1974, featuring Dick Van Dyke) on Columbo
  • "The Mystery of the Silent Scream" (1977) on The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries

Monday, July 04, 2022

P.D. James as Christian novelist.

Over on Public Discourse, the journal of the nonprofit Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, Ralph Wood (former University Professor of Theology and Literature at Baylor University) discusses P. D. James as a Christian novelist and even compares her to George Eliot in her "moral critique of society." He writes, "In our unsettled and uncertain times, James’s novels offer important insights that speak to our concerns about the morality and rationality of the universe, as well as the capacity of humans to solve problems and secure justice and peace."

Monday, June 27, 2022

My latest publications:
Pioneer aviator Ruth Bancroft Law, flight attendants book review.

 My latest publications are in the autumn 2022 issue of Aviation History magazine:

"125 Pounds of Nerve and Pluck" is a short article on pioneer aviator Ruth Bancroft Law (1887–1970), who waged a campaign to fly with the Army Signal Corps in World War I. The sixth woman to earn a US pilot's license, the first US female flight instructor, and the first to fly airmail in the Philippines (among other milestone-setting), Law also became a part of Dodgers lore with her participation in an infamous grapefruit stunt.

Update, 7-16-22: HistoryNet has posted my article online (under the title "Female Flyers: Meet the Woman Who Strapped Her Feet to a Plane")


 I review The Great Stewardess Rebellion by Nell McShane Wulfhart, which focuses on key flight attendants who fought sexual discrimination and harassment, advancing equity in the workplace.


Monday, June 20, 2022

Margery Allingham's cricket parties.

Courtesy of the East Anglian Film Archive, you can view footage from cricket parties hosted by Margery Allingham and her husband, Philip Youngman Carter, that was shot by Joyce Allingham, Margery's sister, in the period 1937–50. There are some good shots of Margery.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Kickstarter campaign to re-record Bernard Herrmann.

As Scott Bettencourt notes in Film Score Monthly, Intrada has launched a Kickstarter campaign to support a re-recording by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra of Bernard Herrmann's scores to Nicholas Ray's On Dangerous Ground and Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much

Monday, June 06, 2022

Gay pulp fiction exhibition, Emory University.

On view until October 7, 2022, at Emory University's Rose Library is the exhibition "Forbidden Loves and Secret Lusts: Selections from the Golden Age of Queer Pulp Fiction, which draws from the library's hundreds of such novels that were published from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Also, the library has added to its collection of Victorian yellowbacks.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Dorothy L. Sayers as anthologist.

In the latest issue of Literature & History, past Clues contributor and guest editor Victoria Stewart (University of Leicester) delves into Dorothy L. Sayers's role as anthologist, such as her celebrated role as editor of the Great Short Stories of Detection, Mystery and Horror series for Gollancz (US title: Omnibus of Crime). Stewart argues that Sayers's selections pointed to a focus on a historical overview of the detective story form, reflected her perceptions of the most outstanding stories of the genre, and enabled connections to mystery writers of the day.

Monday, May 23, 2022

The work of Mary Elizabeth Braddon.

Dover ed. of Braddon's
Lady Audley's Secret
Over at the journal Women's Writing, there is a special issue on the work of sensation author Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1835–1915), guest edited by Janine Hatter (University of Hull) and Braddon companion author Anne-Marie Beller (Loughborough University). It offers analyses of works such as Aurora Floyd, The Fatal Three, Lady Audley's Secret, and Three Times Dead as well as an exploration of Braddon's gothics and an intriguing theory regarding Braddon providing a new take on Dumas' The Three Musketeers.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Using mystery to teach professional skills.

In the journal Medical Teacher, Rachel Kavanaugh and colleagues discuss the activity "Who Killed Mr. Brown?", which is designed as a murder mystery to teach pharmacy, critical thinking, and other skills at the Medical College of Wisconsin.