Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy 95th birthday, Helen Eustis.

Edward Albert in
The Fool Killer (1965)
Helen Eustis—author of the Edgar-winning The Horizontal Man (1946) and The Fool Killer (1954), friend of Carson McCullers, and ex-wife of Smith poet-professor Alfred Young Fisher—turns 95 today in New York City. Eustis is one of two living writers on the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone list of essential mysteries (the other is Dorothy Salisbury Davis). The Best Mysteries of All Time series of Reader's Digest issued a new edition of The Horizontal Man this year. (post updated to reflect correct age from Eustis's son)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Preliminary info, Camilleri companion (ed. Foxwell)

McFarland has posted some preliminary details on Andrea Camilleri: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction, no. 5 in the series I edit for the publisher. University College London's Lucia Rinaldi is the author, and the book is tentatively slated for release in summer 2012.

Camilleri, a mega-bestseller in his native Italy and quite popular in other countries as well, created Sicilian inspector Salvo Montalbano, who has been featured in a
DVD from
Detective Montalbano
long-running television series, Detective Montalbano.

His novels have been shortlisted several times for the British Crime Writers Assn's International Dagger. As there are few resources available on his work in English, this companion should be useful to fans and scholars alike.

Update, 4-5-12Andrea Camilleri: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction is now available from McFarland.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Info on Harvard's sci-fi collection.

Cover from Nightmare Tales
(1892) by Helena Blavatsky,
part of Harvard's sci-fi
Harvard has provided further details on the 3000-volume science fiction collection within Houghton Library's Modern Books and Manuscripts Collection. Two covers on the Web site are Anthony Boucher's Rocket to the Morgue (which has thinly disguised versions of Robert Heinlein, Hugo Gernsback, and L. Ron Hubbard) and Fredric Brown's What Mad Universe.

Also see this cover from Nathan Schachner's Space Lawyer (a joke must be lurking somewhere in there).

Monday, December 26, 2011

Collins/Dickens/Gaskell tale, BBC Radio 4 Extra.

Illustration of
Elizabeth Gaskell, NYPL
For the Christmas issue of Household Words in 1858, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Adelaide Ann Procter teamed up to write "A House to Let" featuring episodes in the history of a desolate house. BBC Radio 4 Extra is airing a version this week; episodes usually may be heard for up to a week after broadcast.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bah, humbug.

Illustration by
John Leech for
"A Christmas Carol"
You can hear an excerpt from Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" read by noted actor Richard Briers in a podcast from Vintage Books.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The two Ronnies: Radio mysteries w/Ronald Colman, Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Colman, NYPL
Among the latest highlights posted online at the National Radio Hall of Fame: the 1945 Suspense production of "August Heat" (the future fates of two men intertwine, from the 1910 short story by W. F. Harvey) featuring Ronald Colman and the 1938 Warner Brothers Academy Theatre production of "One Way Passage" (Ronald Reagan as a killer en route to the gallows).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Green for Greene: Book fetches $24K.

As PhiloBiblos noted, a first edition of Graham Greene's Rumour at Nightfall (1931) garnered £17,000 (about US$24,500) at Bloomsbury's Dec 14 auction. Greene viewed the Conrad-influenced Rumour, in which a journalist hunts for an outlaw in Spain, as a very bad novel and refused to reprint it after its 1932 US edition. (Factoid of the day: According to a NYT review of Greene's The Name of Action [1931], Greene was related to Robert Louis Stevenson.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Margaret Millar this week on Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Encore.

Joan Hackett in "Beast in View"
Alfred Hitchcock Hour
Margaret Millar's Edgar-winning Beast in View (1955) is featured this week on the Alfred Hitchcock Hour on Encore. Joan Hackett and Kevin McCarthy star. (YouTube clip here)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hallmark Hall of Fame: Quo vadis?

Stephanie Zimbalist in
Hallmark Hall of Fame, 1990
The Paley Center for Media's Rebecca Paller laments the decline of TV's Hallmark Hall of Fame and provides a look back at some of its major highlights (including clips from Amahl and the Night Visitors and Ibsen's A Doll's House with Julie Harris and Christopher Plummer).

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Edmund Wilson's rejection note.

Edmund Wilson
ca. 1936, NYPL
Critic Edmund Wilson has a notorious place in mysterydom as the author of "Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?" and continued his crankiness through this note sent to anyone who asked him for anything (part of the new blog Lists of Note).

Monday, December 12, 2011

BBC Radio 4 Extra: Xmas w/the Detectives.

Thomas Hardy, NYPL
This week, BBC Radio 4 Extra features four tales read by Tom Conti that take place during the Christmas season: Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Blue Carbuncle," Thomas Hardy's whodunit "The Thieves Who Couldn't Stop Sneezing," Dorothy L. Sayers's "The Necklace of Pearls," and G. K. Chesterton's "The Flying Stars." Go here for the schedule or to listen; episodes usually may be heard online up to a week after broadcast.

(And here is Anthony Gardner on the intriguing stories behind Hardy's Christmas cards)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

John Creasey: "Could you write more?"

DVD of Gideon's Way 
TV series, 1960s
Among the gems in Writing Detective and Mystery Fiction (ed. A. S. Burack, 1945) is John Creasey's "Could You Write More?". He should know; it's estimated that Creasey (1908–73) published upward of 500 books. His works include the Gideon series, including Gideon's Day (1955)— important novels in the evolution of the police procedural.

In the piece Creasey states, "Nine out of ten writers, I am sure, could write more" (139) and provides 15 rules to show how this may be accomplished. Here is a sample (pp. 141–42):

• "Rule 1. Work to rule, not to mood. Work through moods."

• "Rule 4. Drill yourself to acquire neatness and system at the desk. Everyone can."

"Rule 6.  Be punctual. If you were going to an office to work for a boss, you would be. So be your own boss."

"Rule 9. Do your research after you have written your story and not before. . . .You will be surprised about how much you know about your subject . . . and this will enable you to write practically all you need to write. But some of your facts will need checking. This can be done easily, and you will know exactly what you are looking for."

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Happy birthday, William McGivern.

Janet Leigh and Robert Taylor
in Rogue Cop
(writ. William McGivern, 1954)
William McGivern, best known for The Big Heat (1953), was born today in Chicago in 1922. He served as president of Mystery Writers of America in 1980 and penned some 25 books over the course of his career. His screen credits include films such as the John Wayne cop vehicle Brannigan (1975) and the Lee J. Cobb TV series The Young Lawyers (1970–71). Dorothy B. Hughes considered The Big Heat, which received an Edgar for Best Motion Picture, one of the best mysteries of 1953. McGivern died in 1982.

Update. On Dec. 28, 2011, The Big Heat (dir. Fritz Lang, 1953) was added to the National Film Registry.

Monday, December 05, 2011

19C mystery pioneer Mary Fortune on ABC Radio Natl.

ABC Radio National (Australia) features readings from the 19th-century work of Belfast-born Mary Fortune (aka Waif Wander), a pioneer in mystery fiction who created police detective Mark Sinclair (hat tip to Lucy Sussex).

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Preliminary info, Braddon companion (ed. Foxwell).

McFarland has posted some preliminary details on Mary Elizabeth Braddon: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction by Anne-Marie Beller, vol. 4 in the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series that I edit (vol. 1 on John Buchan; vol. 2 on E. X., aka Elizabeth, Ferrars; vol. 3 on Ed McBain/Evan Hunter). It is tentatively scheduled for publication in summer 2012. In this work Beller details the life and career of an important figure in the development of the mystery in the nineteenth century; as Lucy Sussex noted in Women Writers and Detectives in Nineteenth-Century Crime Fiction: The Mothers of the Mystery Genre, Braddon created the first clerical sleuth and other characters who detect (such as Robert Audley in Lady Audley's Secret [1861–62] and Eleanor Vane in Eleanor's Victory [1863]). Her first novel, Three Times Dead (aka Trail of the Serpent), was serialized not long after the first installments of Collins's Woman in White. Braddon's long and lucrative career in sensation fiction stretched from the 1860s to 1916, a year after her death in 1915.

Update, 10/24/12. The companion is now available.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy birthday, Louisa May Alcott.

Louisa May Alcott, NYPL
Louisa May Alcott was born today in 1832 in Germantown, PA. Although she achieved literary and lucrative success with Little Women (1868–69) and its sequels as well as provided a role model for millions of women with the restless and ambitious Jo, she took a great deal of pleasure in penning her pseudonymous "blood-and-thunder" tales (see, for example, Behind a Mask: The Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott; I wrote a few entries on these in the Louisa May Alcott Encyclopedia and discuss her thrillers in "Lady and the Dark" in Deadly Women). She also provided a penetrating look at caring for the wounded during the Civil War in her autobiographical Hospital Sketches (1863). You can support the educational programs at Orchard House—her home in Concord, MA—here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Celia Fremlin this week on
Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Encore.

Gena Rowlands in "The Lonely
Hours," Alfred Hitchcock Hour
A distinct treat is coming up for fans of Celia Fremlin's Edgar-winning The Hours before Dawn (1959)—this week, Encore is showing the Alfred Hitchcock Hour adaptation, "The Lonely Hours," starring Gena Rowlands. (Also can be seen via YouTube)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy birthday, W. R. Burnett.

John Garfield in
Nobody Lives Forever
(writ. W. R. Burnett, 1946)
W[illiam]. R[iley]. Burnett, author of the hard-edged classics Little Caesar (1929), High Sierra (1940), Nobody Lives Forever (1943), The Asphalt Jungle (1949), and several other novels, was born today in Springfield, Ohio, in 1899. His scripts include the films The Getaway, This Gun for Hire, The Racket, and The Great Escape as well as episodes of the TV series Naked City and The Untouchables. MWA named him a Grand Master in 1980; he died in 1982. Stark House Press has reissued Burnett's It's Always Four O'Clock (1956) and Iron Man (1930).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

50 years of The Phantom Tollbooth.

The Philadelphia Library celebrates the 50th anniversary of Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth (illus. Jules Feiffer, 1961) with the author.

Monday, November 21, 2011

U-Chicago's Popular Literature Collection.

Univ of Chicago Library's Special Collections finished an inventory last year of its Popular Literature Collection, which includes about 2000 paperbacks and science fiction magazines, some with lurid
Portrait of Anthony Berkeley Cox
by George Morrow
from Jugged Journalism (1925)
covers. Now, finally, the finding aid is online. Books in the collection include Trial and Error (1945 ed.; film 1941) by Anthony Berkeley [Cox], Death in the Blackout (1946) by Anthony Gilbert, Of Tender Sin (1952) by David Goodis, The Rope Began to Hang the Butcher (1944) by C. W. Grafton (father of Sue), Bimini Run (1952) by E. Howard Hunt (yes, the Watergate figure), Dread Journey (1947) by Dorothy B. Hughes, Wall of Eyes (1943) by Margaret Millar, and She Faded into Air (1941) by Ethel Lina White (best known for The Lady Vanishes). Some covers from the collection are posted here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"The demons were kept in the trap."

Wilson Library, Dartmouth, ca. 1900
Library of Congress
Larry T. Nix on the Library History Buff Blog provides a rousing account of the attempt to take Dartmouth's student literary society library by force in 1817.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

James Bond's WWII influences.

Nicholas Rankin discusses his new book Ian Fleming's Commandos, which focuses on Fleming's WWII unit that later provided many elements of the James Bond novels, on the Faber & Faber blog The Thought Fox (video included).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Star Trek: No "space suits ... for hostile planet surfaces."

Star Trek cast members and Gene Roddenberry with
NASA officials and shuttle prototype Enterprise.
NASA photo, 1976
Harvard's Houghton Library has acquired "The Star Trek Guide," a publication that was distributed to Star Trek writers, and it's a hoot. "Captain would not hug pretty Yeoman on the Bridge of his vessel." Oh really? However, the curious phenomenon of fatalities of landing party members who wear red shirts is left unaddressed  ("Ensign So-and-So, go look behind that rock"). There are explanations for the term stardate and why so many Class-M planets were visited, as well as an answer to the question "Are you people on LSD?"

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy birthday, Van Wyck Mason; writer, WWI and WWII veteran.

"Not a dull page in any of his works."
—critic Jay Lewis on Van Wyck Mason, Other Men's Minds 39

Francis Van Wyck Mason—pulp writer, historical novelist, creator of investigator Hugh North, captain in World War I wounded at Verdun, and colonel with Allied Supreme HQ during World War II—was born today in Boston in 1901. North, who is usually involved in cases with government implications, debuted in Seeds of Murder (1930) and appears in 26 other novels and several short stories. A Mason story was adapted as The Spy Ring (dir. Joseph H. Lewis, 1938) with Jane Wyman. Mason died in 1978.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Ian Fleming considers a title.

Ian Fleming, NYPL
Letters of Note features a letter from Ian Fleming proposing titles for his next book after Live and Let Die.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Patricia Highsmith on the Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Encore.

Dean Stockwell in "Annabel"
Alfred Hitchcock Hour
A quadruple whammy in this week's episode of the Alfred Hitchcock Hour on Encore: "Annabel" is adapted from This Sweet Sickness by Patricia Highsmith, the screenplay is by Robert Bloch (Psycho), the star is Dean Stockwell, and the director is Paul Henreid. (It also can be viewed via YouTube.)

Monday, November 07, 2011

Ernest Bramah this week on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

This week on BBC Radio 4 Extra, Ernest Bramah's blind detective and coin collector Max Carrados looks into forgery and murder in The Tales of Max Carrados (1914). Go here for the schedule or to listen; episodes usually may be heard for up to week after broadcast.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Friday's Forgotten Books:
Judith Lee (1912–16), by Richard Marsh.

I did not propose to sit still [...and] allow those three uncanny beings, undisturbed, to work their evil wills.
—Richard Marsh, "Conscience" (1913)
"He had me by the throat before I had
even realized that danger
threatened." Illustration from
"Mandragora" by Richard Marsh
Washington Herald 1 Mar. 1914
Judith Lee is a "teacher of the deaf and dumb"—in other words, she can read lips. This skill tends to embroil her in trouble. In "The Man Who Cut Off My Hair," Lee encounters jewel thieves; the reader might be annoyed that Lee is enraged by her unwanted haircut rather than the robbery of an elderly man. In "Conscience," Lee connects cryptic utterances with two murders and takes action to avoid further deaths. In "Matched," Lee looks into the case of a bride who has vanished. In "Auld Lang Syne" she thwarts a bombing. In "The Miracle," Lee prevents a prospective marriage based on fraud. In "Isolda," Lee steps in to flout a fraudulent fortuneteller. In "Uncle Jack" she bests an American con man. In "The Restaurant Napolitain," Lee confronts agents of the Mafia. In "Mandragora," she works to free an innocent man from prison.

Lee does not always act wisely (as in "The Restaurant Napolitain" when she faces the bad guy—alone—and tells him she knows he has murdered someone). In some respects, she may resemble Anna Katharine Green's Violet Strange (The Golden Slipper and Other Problems for Violet Strange, 1915).

Richard Marsh (aka Richard Bernard Heldmann, 1857–1915) is best known for The Beetle, which outsold Bram Stoker's Dracula in 1897. His grandson was the horror writer Robert Aickman (1914–81). Few copies of Judith Lee: Some Pages from Her Life (1912) and The Adventures of Judith Lee (1916) exist in U.S. libraries, and the sole copy of The Adventures of Judith Lee on abebooks is priced at more than $1200. I am hoping that Valancourt Books, which has been reprinting Marsh's works, will eventually get to Judith Lee.

Via the Library of Congress' Chronicling America project I downloaded 10 of the Washington Herald versions of the Judith Lee stories that are collected in Judith Lee: Some Pages from Her Life (unfortunately, "Was It Luck or Chance?" was not entirely legible). As an aid to those who may wish to read these stories, I have uploaded the readable copies to my Web site; the links on the story titles in this blog post will take readers to them.

Update, 1-22-16. There's a new edition of Judith Lee stories from Valancourt Books, edited by Minna Vuohelainen (Edge Hill University, UK)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Canada Literary Tour: No mystery.

Grant Allen
I must confess to irritation that "Canada: A Literary Tour" on the Library and Archives Canada Web site has absolutely no mention of Canadian mystery contributions to its literary landscape. Not even Grant Allen (b. in Kingston, Ontario, in 1848)—grandson of the fifth Baron Longueuil (the only Canadian barony), friend of Arthur Conan Doyle, and creator of some of the earliest female fictional detectives (Lois Cayley, Hilda Wade). Surely multiaward-winning Louise Penny contributes substantially to a rendering of Quebec?

Brock University has a great Crime Fiction Canada resource. Perhaps the Crime Writers of Canada will compile their own mystery map of Canada.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

"Crime Unseen" exhibition, Chicago.

Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Photography is staging the exhibition "Crime Unseen" until January 15, 2012, that features the camera's role in documenting crimes. There is some mention of the roles of detective fiction and movies.

Monday, October 31, 2011

John Buchan on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

Richard Hannay
(Robert Donat) receives
an unpleasant surprise
in The 39 Steps
(dir Alfred Hitchcock,
This week on BBC Radio 4 Extra the intrepid Richard Hannay grapples with German spies in The Thirty-Nine Steps and Greenmantle. Go here for the schedule or to listen; episodes can usually be heard for up to a week after broadcast.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Foxwell on Millay and mystery.

Millay, NYPL
Mystery Scene has recently posted my 2003 article on "'Me and Eddie Poe: Edna St. Vincent Millay's Foray into Mystery," which discusses Millay's "Murder in the Fishing Cat" and possible motivations in attempting to write mystery.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New light on the neglected.

An unexpected sidelight to the Authors Guild's lawsuit against HathiTrust is the attention it has garnered for authors and works that may have been neglected in recent years (although I was stunned that J. R. Salamanca's The Lost Country [1958] initially was included in HathiTrust's orphan works list. Prof. Salamanca was a major presence at University of Maryland––College Park when I was a student there and has just signed an ebook deal for one of his works).

James Gould Cozzens,
from the cover of the
Jan. 4, 1936, Saturday
Review of Literature
One work initially on HathiTrust's orphaned list (pulled when the heir of the estate, Harvard, was revealed) was Pulitzer Prize winner James Gould Cozzens's first novel, Confusion (1924), which he published at age 21 and is deemed by Daniel S. Burt in The Chronology of American Literature (2004) to be "pretentiously overwritten" (371). Cozzens himself ended up not thinking much of the novel, which focuses on the search by a young Frenchwoman to realize her ambitions.

Cozzens is on the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone list for his fine novel The Just and the Unjust (1942; about the effects of a murder on a small town, especially its implications for the ambitious assistant DA. A 1942 issue of Esquire chose The Just and the Unjust as a good Christmas present for an "average reader," along with Maugham's The Hour before the Dawn).

Cozzens also wrote "Foot in It" (Redbook 1935; repr. as "Clerical Error," EQMM June 1950 and Muller & Pronzini, eds., Chapter & Hearse; adapted for Tales of the Unexpected, 1983). Raymond Chandler thought highly of Cozzens's Guard of Honor (1948). Gordon Van Ness has written an interesting essay about Cozzens's work in honor of Cozzens biographer Matthew J. Bruccoli, including Cozzens's criticism of Fitzgerald, Dos Passos, and Capote as well as his own work: "To learn to write and to write decently is simply a much longer and harder thing than is generally admitted" (203).

I also found that full text of Leslie Ford's The Girl from the Mimosa Club (1957, selected by Mystery Loves Company bookstore as one of the best mysteries of the 20th century) is in the HathiTrust library. After consulting with author Marcia Talley (who knows a lot about Ford's oeuvre and personal background), checking copyright records, and reviewing copyright law, I think it probably did go out of copyright.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Exhibition: SF in crime fiction.

The exhibition "Bullets across the Bay: The San Francisco Bay Area in Crime Fiction" at UC Berkeley's Doe Library is on display until February 29, 2012, including authors such as Anthony Boucher, Dashiell Hammett, John D. MacDonald, Marcia Muller, Bill Pronzini, and Julie Smith. Article about the exhibition here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Product of the Day: Edgar Allan Pooh mousepad.

By Bizarro artist Dan Piraro: The Edgar Allan Pooh mousepad (other products with this artwork also available).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Foxwell on mystery categories.

David Goodis's noir novel
Shoot the Piano Player
(1956), mentioned in
my WIRB piece
In "What's in a Name? Mystery Subgenres Explained" over at the new online publication the Washington Independent Review of Books, I attempt to briefly explain the various mystery categories (e.g., cozy, noir, thriller), listing classic and contemporary examples of each.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Golden Duck reprints Allingham's Oaken Heart.

Golden Duck, which had previously published Julia Jones's biography The Adventures of Margery Allingham, has reprinted Margery Allingham's splendid nonfiction work on life in a World War II English village, The Oaken Heart (1941). Read the Telegraph review of the reissue here.  Jones wrote an article for Clues 23.1 (2004) on Allingham's book reviews in Lady Rhondda's feminist journal Time & Tide.

Monday, October 17, 2011

John le Carre on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

Alec Guinness in
Smiley's People (1982)
George Smiley fans, rejoice: This week, BBC Radio 4 Extra features The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley's People. Go here for the schedule; episodes can usually be heard online for up to a week after broadcast.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A. E. W. Mason's The Prisoner in the Opal (1928).

The blog Redeeming Qualities discusses
A. E. W. Mason's The Prisoner in the Opal (1928), "a delightfully silly mystery." Mason is best known for The Four Feathers (1902) and Fire over England (1936), but he also wrote mysteries such as At the Villa Rose (1910) featuring Inspector Hanaud.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Literary treasures of the Bodleian.

Among the Treasures of the Bodleian exhibition, which can be viewed online:

• Mary Shelley's draft of Frankenstein (excerpt read here)

• The first ten Penguin books issued in 1935, including Oxford graduate Dorothy L. Sayers's The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club. Sharp-eyed viewers also will spot Agatha Christie's The Mysterious Affair at Styles, but according to Jeremy Lewis's Penguin Special (2005), Penguin eventually pulled this over contractual issues.

Dustjacket from Tolkien's
The Hobbit (1937). NYPL
Telegram received by the Cedric from the Titanic: "Require assistance . . . Struck iceberg."

• Jane Austen's unfinished novel The Watsons (1804–07). More about the novel here.

• J. R. R. Tolkien's watercolor of the dragon Smaug for The Hobbit

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ian Rankin, John Thaw on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

Scottish crime fiction issue
This week on BBC Radio 4 Extra, Rebus uncovers more than simple theft in Ian Rankin's short story collection Beggars Banquet. Mystery fans also may be interested in Sheila Hancock's recollections of her late husband, Morse's John Thaw. Episodes generally can be heard online for up to a week after broadcast.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Happy birthday, H. F. Heard.

The Deadly Bees (1967),
adapt. of H. F. Heard's
A Taste for Honey
(screenwriter Robert Bloch)
Philosopher, writer, and spirituality seeker Henry FitzGerald Heard, known in mysterydom as H. F. Heard, was born today in London in 1889. He published three books with beekeeper-sleuth Mr. Mycroft: the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone work A Taste for Honey (1941), Reply Paid (1942), and The Notched Hairpin (1949), and one short story, "Mr. Montalba, Obsequist" (repr. The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes, ed. Sebastian Wolfe, 1989). He also published Murder by Reflection (1942). Wildside Press has reissued his The Great Fog and Other Weird Tales (1944).

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The Bunburyist hits 50K.

The Bunburyist has clocked its 50,000th pageview—probably modest in comparison to some other blogs, but considering I started this blog as an experiment with no clue that it would be of interest to anyone, I'm gratified that people seem to like it. Thanks for the support.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Clues 29.2: Simenon, Stout, Sayers, et al.

Vol 29, no. 2 of Clues: A Journal of Detection has just been published, including the following topics:

• Analyses of two matchups of the detective vs. archcriminal. The first one is Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe and Arnold Zeck; John Littlejohn looks at Stout's reasons for creating a major adversary for Wolfe. The second is the Sara Martin Allegre's examination of the complex relationship between Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus and his nemesis, "Big Ger" Cafferty.

• Detection Club president Simon Brett pays tribute to his late colleague H. R. F. Keating:  "Whenever I think of Harry, I think of the Olympic Diving competition."

Dorothy L. Sayers's engagement with true crime between the wars by Victoria Stewart.

• Ahmet Mithat Efendi's Esrar-i Cinayat, the first Turkish detective novel (1884), by Zeynep Tufekcioglu

• The role of class in the 1930s Maigret novels of Georges Simenon by Bill Alder.

• The use of sound in the works of Raymond Chandler by Eric Rawson and the role of the automobile in the works of Chandler and James M. Cain by Shelby Smoak.

Gender bending in Mickey Spillane's Vengeance Is Mine! (1950) by Heather Duerre Humann.

• The Montana-set police procedurals of Robert Sims Reid by Rachel Schaffer.

Margaret Atwood's techniques that lead the reader to become a detective by Lisa A. Wellinghoff.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Margery Allingham on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

This week on BBC Radio 4 Extra the amnesiac Albert Campion struggles to uncover his own identity in Traitor's Purse (one of the favorite mysteries of 1941). Go here for the schedule; episodes can usually be heard online for up to a week after broadcast.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Modest mystery sales in Sept 15 Bloomsbury auction.

At the Sept 15 Bloomsbury auction the mystery-related offerings received relatively modest sums:

Vera Caspary, by Jane Rady
From The Secrets of Grown-ups
• Vera Caspary, Laura (1st ed., 1944), £70 (approx US$108)

• Agatha Christie, The Big Four (1st ed., 1927) with proof of Third Girl (1966), £60 (approx US$93)

• Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1st ed., 1902), £460; His Last Bow (1st ed., 1917), £90 (approx US$139)

• Ian Fleming, Octopussy and The Living Daylights (1st ed., 1966), £100 (approx US$155)

• Graham Greene, signed Stamboul Train (2nd issue, 1932) and two other works, £50 (approx US$77)

Lot of mysteries including Michael Dibdin, Cabal (1992); signed Ruth Rendell, The Keys to the Street (1996); signed P. D. James, Devices and Desires (1989), £280 (approx US$433)
(Hat tip to PhiloBiblos)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

BL exhibition on Conan Doyle's lost novel.

The British Library is featuring the exhibition "Arthur Conan Doyle: The Unknown Novel" to coincide with this week's publication of The Narrative of John Smith, which was originally lost in the mail. The exhibition displays the manuscript of the novel along with items from the library's Conan Doyle collections and is on view until Jan. 5, 2012. The book is introduced by Conan Doyle estate representative Jon Lellenberg, Conan Doyle biographer Daniel Stashower, and British Library manuscript curator Rachel Foss.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Happy birthday, Richard Lockridge.

Richard Denning and Barbara
Britton as Jerry and Pam North
in "Till Death Do Us Part"
Mr. and Mrs. North (1952)

Richard Lockridge, who created New York sleuthing couple Pam and Jerry North with his first wife, Frances, was born today in St. Joseph, MO, in 1898. He served in the Navy during World War I and II and as a reporter and drama critic for the New York Sun. The first North book was The Norths Meet Murder (1940), and the Norths (not to mention their famous Siamese cats Martini, Sherry, and Gin) went on to popularity in theater, radio, and television adaptations in addition to their appearances in some 25 novels and one short story. The Lockridges received an Edgar in 1946 for best radio drama and served jointly as president of the Mystery Writers of America in 1960. Richard, who produced approximately 90 books over the course of his career, died in 1982.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Preliminary info, McBain/Hunter companion
(ed. Foxwell).

McFarland has posted some preliminary details on Ed McBain/ Evan Hunter: A Literary Companion by Erin E. MacDonald, volume 3 in the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series that I edit (volume 1 on John Buchan; volume 2 on E. X., aka Elizabeth, Ferrars). It is tentatively scheduled for publication in spring/summer 2012. In this work MacDonald, who wrote her dissertation on McBain, provides comprehensive coverage of the multifaceted career of this author/screenwriter and MWA Grand Master who was a pioneer of the police procedural.

Update, 7 May 2012: McBain/Hunter companion now available. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Journal gems from JSTOR.

JSTOR announced on Sept. 6 that it would permit free access to issues of certain periodicals published before 1923 (list here). This means unfettered access to items such as the following:

• "The Modern Novel," by Amelia E. Barr, North American Review, Nov. 1894. "...[I]f people enjoy the game between criminals and detectives, the question is simply whether the exhibition is, or is not, a moral one—whether the details of crime, the telling of how it was done, how it was concealed, and how it was found out, may not be a kind of criminal school, for those whose inclinations lead them in that direction" (593–94).

William A. Pinkerton,
left, and Robert A.
Pinkerton, ca. 1855.
Library of Congress
• "Detective Surveillance of Anarchists," by Robert A. Pinkerton (son of Allan Pinkerton), North American Review Nov 1901. "The picture of the anarchist drawn by most people, a bearded, drunken, lazy creature, is not at all in line with the facts" (616).

•  "A Short-Story Reading List," by Raymond W. Pence, English Journal May 1920. Recommends the following for teaching students about effective writing:

--G. K. ChestertonThe Innocence of Father Brown, The Wisdom of Father Brown.

--Arthur Conan Doyle. "The Adventure of the Dying Detective," "The Dancing Men,"  "The Final Problem," "The Norwood Builder," "A Scandal in Bohemia," "Silver Blaze," "The Speckled Band."

--Henry James. "The Turn of the Screw"

--Arthur Morrison. "On the Stairs"

--Edgar Allan Poe. "The Gold Bug,"  "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," "The Purloined Letter."

--Melville Davisson Post. Stories from Uncle Abner: "The Doomdorf Mystery," "An Act of God," The Straw Man," "The Adopted Daughter."

--Robert Louis Stevenson. "Markheim," "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"