Monday, December 31, 2012

Dick Francis on BBC's Great Lives.

On the BBC Radio 4 Great Lives series, host Matthew Parris discusses the life of Dick Francis with Martin Broughton and racing correspondent Jonathan Powell. Francis's devastating experience at the 1956 Grand National, modesty, and "steely toughness of spirit" are recalled, as well as the role of his wife, Mary, in his mysteries.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Fri Forgotten Books:
Crime Hound, by Mary Semple Scott (1940).

I'm just an ordinary fellow with sharp ears and eyes who can sometimes do a problem in mental arithmetic.
—Mary Semple Scott, Crime Hound 50
Jacket by Carl Cobbledick
Herbert Crosby, assistant to the St. Louis DA and self-styled detective, gets more than he bargained for when he vacations near the lakes of northern Michigan. A shady real estate agent with whom he had an appointment is found murdered in a sunken car, and the sheriff is asking uncomfortable questions about his movements. In addition, his defense of the beautiful Joan Ashleigh against a bully has made the man his sworn enemy, and his stolen gun is implicated in two additional murders. Soon Crosby is entangled with a proprietor of a former speakeasy, a twelve-year-old girl nearly suffocated in a closet, and a countess convinced that European communists are targeting her family. There also may be a connection between the recent murders and the mysterious deaths of Joan's parents. There's a nice twist on the scenario of gifted amateur/dumb yokel law enforcement and fairly advanced commentary for the time on prejudice against Native Americans.

Mary Semple Scott (1873–1968) was a granddaughter of Illinois senator James Semple; her brothers Ashley and Semple Scott made the first electric bus in St. Louis. She was active in the woman's suffrage movement, was the editor of the suffrage magazine The Missouri Woman, and was a friend of American novelist Winston Churchill (not to be confused with the British prime minister of the same name). Crime Hound was her only mystery novel.

Mary Semple Scott,
from Mar 1904
St. Louis Republic
Mary Semple Scott, at left,
plays the Democratic donkey
in a skit at the 1920 Nat
Amer Woman Suffrage Assn
meeting. Library of Congress,
Prints and Photos Division.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Miracle on 34th Street (1955).

This 1955 TV version of The Miracle on 34th Street features Thomas Mitchell as Kris Kringle, MacDonald Carey as lawyer Fred, and Teresa Wright as Doris (the Maureen O'Hara part). Carey and Wright had appeared earlier together in Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943).

Monday, December 24, 2012

From OSS to a winery.

After The Bunburyist featured the TV movie Deadly Harvest, in which a vintner finds Soviet agents on his trail, is it any wonder to find that truth is stranger than fiction? In this podcast, Peter Earnest of the Intl Spy Museum talks to Peter Sichel, who worked for the OSS, the CIA, and Blue Nun Wines. In the clip below, Sichel discusses his work in the wine business and mentions his intelligence background.

Update. Part 2 of the discussion with Sichel here.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ardai on rediscovered Cain, From the Bookshelf.

On Gary Shapiro's From the Bookshelf, Charles Ardai talks about Hard Case Crime's release of James M. Cain's The Cocktail Waitress, the manuscript found in the files of Cain's agent and the Cain papers at the Library of Congress.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

MacDonald on McBain/Hunter, David's Bk Talk.

Evan Hunter, NYPL
On David English's Book Talk, Erin MacDonald discusses her new book Ed McBain/Evan Hunter: A Literary Companion, vol. 3 in the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series that I edit. She covers the 87th Precinct series that did so much to establish the police procedural, Hunter's work with Alfred Hitchcock, and the differences between the McBain and Hunter works. On Hunter, MacDonald says, "His humor, his intelligence, his compassion, and his grasp of social issues come through in all his writing."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Please Murder Me (1956).

In Please Murder Me (1956), a lawyer (a pre–Perry Mason Raymond Burr) successfully defends his client (Angela Lansbury) against a murder charge, but all may not be well. The film is directed by Peter Godfrey (Christmas in Connecticut, The Two Mrs. Carrolls).

Monday, December 17, 2012

Chester Himes this week on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

Clues 28.1,  2010
(theme issue on Chester Himes)
Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones are on the case in Chester Himes's Cotton Comes to Harlem this week on BBC Radio 4 Extra. Episodes usually may be heard online for up to week after broadcast.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A vicar detects this week on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

James Runcie's Anglican clergyman-sleuth looks into the death of a lawyer in Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death this week on BBC Radio 4 Extra. Episodes usually may be heard online for up to a week after broadcast. Runcie, artistic director of the Bath Literature Festival, is the son of the late Robert Runcie, the former archbishop of Canterbury.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Today in 1963: Sinatra Jr kidnapping.

British Pathe recalls the kidnapping of Frank Sinatra Jr. that occurred December 8, 1963. Sinatra Jr. discusses the kidnapping in this recent Guardian piece.


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Spies in fiction on SpyCast.

William Le Queux,  NYPL
In this podcast, University of Toronto professor Wesley Wark and International Spy Museum historian Mark Stout discuss the history of spy fiction, including mention of William Le Queux, E. Phillips Oppenheim, Erskine Childers (author of The Riddle of the Sands, 1903), Graham Greene, Peter Cheyney, Ian Fleming, and John le Carre.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Edwardian sleuth Thorpe Hazell this week on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

This week, BBC Radio 4 Extra features Edwardian sleuth Thorpe Hazell from Anglican clergyman-author Victor Whitechurch's Thrilling Stories of the Railway (1912), read by Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch. Episodes usually may be heard for up to a week after broadcast. Whitechurch, a member of the Detection Club, contributed to its round-robin novel The Floating Admiral.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Happy centenary, Gordon Parks.

Today marks the centenary of Shaft director and photographer Gordon Parks, who was born today in Fort Scott, KS, in 1912. He died in 2006. The Gordon Parks Foundation has a rundown of various events and exhibitions this year in honor of Parks.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Censoring Evan Hunter.

Evan Hunter, NYPL
Through documentation, British Film Institute senior archivist Jen Evans reveals that the 1955 film of Evan Hunter's Blackboard Jungle initially was rejected by the British Board of Film Censors for its portrayal of "irresponsible juvenile behavior." Once the film was cut, it achieved an X rating.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Household's Deadly Harvest (1972).

In this 1972 TV movie, a California vintner (Richard Boone) learns that he is the target of Soviet agents. It is adapted (not very faithfully) from Watcher in the Shadows by the Detection Club's Geoffrey Household (best known for Rogue Male).

Monday, November 26, 2012

Haycraft-Queen: More titles back in print.

Welcome developments in reprints of titles on the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone list (those mysteries deemed essential by Howard Haycraft and Ellery Queen):

• Arcturus Crime Classics has reprinted Helen McCloy's Through a Glass, Darkly and Francis Iles's Before the Fact

Bello (an imprint of Macmillan) has reissued Roy Vickers's The Department of Dead Ends

Felony & Mayhem has reprinted Edmund Crispin's The Moving Toyshop

• Ramble House has an edition of Harvey J. O'Higgins's Detective Duff Unravels It

Titan Books has reissued Sax Rohmer's The Mystery of Dr. Fu Manchu

There are new ebook versions of Charlotte Armstrong's The Unsuspected (1947 film available on DVD as well) and Clayton Rawson's Death from a Top Hat

Note that there was a 2011 edition of Helen Eustis's The Horizontal Man in ImPress's Best Mysteries of All Time series, but this is an abridged version, and I believe this series is available only by subscription.

And to recap previous HQ reissues:
• Rue Morgue Press's new editions of Manning Coles's Pray Silence (US title: A Toast to Tomorrow) and John Dickson Carr's The Judas Window and The Crooked Hinge

• Blue Dolphin Publishing's reissue of H. F. Heard's A Taste for Honey

Haycraft-Queen Out-of-Print Titles in the United States (compiled and revised by Elizabeth Foxwell)

Anderson Frederick Irving - The Book of Murder - 1930
Bailey H. C. - The Red Castle - 1932
Benson G. R. - Tracks in the Snow - 1906
Charteris Leslie [Leslie Charles Bowyer Yin]
- Meet the Tiger - 1928
Coates Robert M. - Wisteria Cottage - 1948
Cole G. D. H. [G. D. H. Cole and Margaret Cole] - The Brooklyn Murders - 1923
Dane Clemence [Winifred Ashton] and Helen Simpson - Re-enter Sir John - 1932
Davis Dorothy Salisbury - A Gentle Murderer - 1951
De la Torre Lillian [Lillian McCue] - Dr. Sam Johnson, Detector - 1946
Dickson Carter [John Dickson Carr] - Lord of the Sorcerers - 1946
Dunsany Lord - The Little Tales of Smethers - 1952
Eberhart Mignon G. - The Patient in Room 18 - 1929
Ellin Stanley - Dreadful Summit - 1948
Eustis Helen - The Horizontal Man - 1946
Frome David [Zenith Jones Brown] - The Hammersmith Murders - 1930
Gardner Erle Stanley - The Case of the Sulky Girl - 1933
Halsey Harlan Page - Old Sleuth, the Detective - 1872
Hammett Dashiell - The Adventures of Sam Spade - 1944
Hart Frances Noyes - The Bellamy Trial - 1927
Hughes Dorothy B. - The So Blue Marble - 1940

King Rufus - Murder by the Clock - 1929
Lawrence Hilda - Blood Upon the Snow - 1944
Lipsky Eleazar - The People Against O’Hara - 1950
Lockridge Frances and Richard Lockridge - The Norths Meet Murder - 1940
Lustgarten Edgar - A Case to Answer - 1947
MacDonald Philip - The Rasp - 1924
MacDonald Philip - The Nursemaid Who Disappeared [aka Warrant for X] - 1938
MacHarg William and Edwin Balmer - The Achievements of Luther Trant - 1910
Marquand John P. - No Hero - 1935
Paul Elliot - The Mysterious Mickey Finn - 1939
Piper Evelyn [Merriam Modell] - The Motive - 1950

Rhode John - The Murders in Praed Street - 1928
Rhode John - The Paddington Mystery - 1925
Rice Craig - Trial by Fury - 1941

Ross Barnaby [Ellery Queen] - The Tragedy of Y - 1932
Seeley Mabel - The Listening House - 1938
Stribling T. S. - Clues of the Caribbees - 1929
Trevor Glen [James Hilton] - Murder at School [aka Was It Murder?] - 1931
Van Dine S. S. [Willard Huntington Wright] - The Benson Murder Case - 1926

Walling R. A. J. - The Fatal Five Minutes - 1932
Walsh Thomas - Nightmare in Manhattan - 1950
Waters [William Russell] - Recollections of a Detective Police Officer - 1856
Wells Carolyn - The Clue - 1909

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Popeye, PI.

In Private Eye Popeye (1954), the spinach-loving shamus is on the trail of Olive Oyl's stolen gem.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Winifred Holtby's "Why Herbert Killed His Mother."

 . . . among the things a Fella does, correct grammar is not necessarily included.
—Winifred Holtby, "Why Herbert Killed His Mother"
Winifred Holtby is probably best known for South Riding (recently shown on PBS) and as the subject of her best friend Vera Brittain's book Testament of Friendship, but for one more week you can listen online to her sly short story "Why Herbert Killed His Mother" (read by Anna Massey) at BBC Radio 4 Extra. Although Holtby considered it a "very poor story" (Selected Letters of Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby 293), it's been reprinted in at least four anthologies since it first appeared in Holtby's Truth Is Not Sober (1934; see, for example, Bad Behavior and P. G. Wodehouse's A Century of Humour). Sadly, Holtby died in 1935 at age 37 of Bright's disease.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pulp magazines in "Thrill Seekers" exhibition.

Online items from the exhibition "Thrill Seekers: The Rise of Men's Magazines" (on view until January 4 at the Modern Graphic History Library, Washington University in St. Louis) include some pulp magazines such as The Saint from 1949.

Monday, November 12, 2012

And away we go: Gleason and the paranormal.

Gleason-designed bookplate
from U-Miami's
Jackie Gleason Collection
The University of Miami Library offers an online exhibition of paranormal items from its Jackie Gleason Collection such as an October 1953 cover from Fate Magazine that proclaimed, "Canada Builds Flying Saucer." The comedian, who was very interested in parapsychology, amassed a substantial collection on the subject.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Glimpses of royalty from Marie Belloc Lowndes.

Marie Belloc Lowndes, from
the Evening Public Ledger,
Apr 7, 1917
In letters to Alexander Woollcott now in Harvard's Houghton Library, Marie Belloc Lowndes (author of The Lodger) provided some charming glimpses of the future Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, Princess Margaret.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Lawrence Treat's "The Debt" (1952).

In "The Debt," a May 1952 episode of Suspense, a drifter confronts murder. The episode, which features Conrad Janis and Brian Keith, is adapted from "Twenty-Dollar Debt" by Lawrence Treat—MWA cofounder, Edgar winner, and an important figure in the development of the police procedural.

Monday, November 05, 2012

"... I have been prepared to be shot."

Theodore Roosevelt, NYPL
In this election season, Harvard's Houghton Library blog recounts the 1912 assassination attempt on former president Theodore Roosevelt during his campaign as a third-party presidential candidate, including TR's doughty account of the attempt sent to his son, Kermit, and the bullet-marked copy of TR's speech.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

BBC Radio 4 program on European detectives.

BBC Radio 4 has a new series, Foreign Bodies: An Investigation into European Detectives, that looks at mystery fiction in an international context. The first episode deals with Christie's Poirot and Simenon's Maigret (although I disagree with presenter Mark Lawson's opinion that Christie made Poirot a Belgian to differentiate him from Sherlock Holmes; I thought she did so because she was familiar with the plight of World War I refugees and a detective who was a foreigner reinforced the role of the detective as outsider). The fifth episode focuses on Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo's Martin Beck; the sixth episode on P. D. James's Adam Dalgleish and Ruth Rendell's Reginald Wexford.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tune up the zither: Third Man Museum.

In the Washington Post, David Stewart White writes about the devoted collector who has opened a Vienna museum dedicated to the Carol Reed film of Graham Greene's novella. Film costar Joseph Cotten talks about the production and remeeting some of his castmates years later in his autobiography, Vanity Will Get You Somewhere.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Whispering City (1947).

In Whispering City (1947), Lifeboat's Mary Anderson is a reporter who learns that the death of an actress's fiance was no accident and may involve a smooth and calculating lawyer (Paul Lukas), who is busily blackmailing a composer (Helmut Dantine, best known for Mrs. Miniver and Casablanca). Set in Quebec, the film features Canadian composer Andre Mathieu's evocative "Quebec Concerto."

Monday, October 29, 2012

New TV version of Mystery of a Hansom Cab.

Burberry Entertainment just produced for the Australian Broadcasting Co. a new adaptation of The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, the major mystery success of 1886–87 in Australia and the United Kingdom that was penned by British-born Fergusson Wright Hume (aka Fergus Hume). John Waters stars. Christopher Pittard discussed the novel in this 2007 Clues article. (Hat tip to Lucy Sussex)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Clues 30.2: Paranormal mysteries.

Just in time for Halloween, Clues 30.2 has been published—a theme issue on paranormal mysteries guest edited by Agatha and Macavity nominee A. B. Emrys. A quick rundown of the content appears below; I'll insert links once the articles are uploaded to the McFarland Metapress Web site. Go here for details on ordering the issue or subscribing. The cover features Kevin Bacon in Stir of Echoes.

Introduction: From Psychical Investigation to Paranormal Detective  A. B. EMRYS (emerita, University of Nebraska-Kearney). The guest editor of this Clues theme issue on paranormal mysteries introduces the issue, outlining the themes of the contributor essays and mentioning authors such as Alice and Claude Askew, Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle, Hamlin Garland, Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpinar, Fitz-James O’Brien, Sandra West Prowell, and Ian Rankin.

What Are They? The Pseudo-Mystery Stories of Fitz-James O’Brien PETE ORFORD The works of Fitz-James O’Brien are largely forgotten. The author considers how two of O’Brien’s works resemble early detective fiction and assesses how the stories’ hero, Harry Escott, both conforms to and subverts the figure of the detective as presented by the bookending icons of C. Auguste Dupin and Sherlock Holmes.

Literature for the People: The Paranormal Mysteries of Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpınar ÖZGÜR ÇIÇEK (Binghamton University, SUNY) and IRMA KERTUNA-HOWISON (Beykent University, Istanbul). The authors examine Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpınar’s paranormal mysteries in the context of the modernization of the late Ottoman Empire. His popular style, distinctive from other Westernizing movements at the time, as well as his incorporation of traditional narrative techniques, reveal how Gürpınar hybridizes the Western genre of paranormal mystery in early Turkish literature.

CSΨ: Occult Detectives of the Fin de Siècle and the Interpretation of Evidence SARAH CROFTON (King's College, London). Early occult-detective fiction aped the familiar detective formula, playfully substituting its basis in criminalistics for psychical research. In disrupting the archetype, it draws attention to a gap traditionally elided in detective fiction but at the heart of occultism: that between proof in its absolute sense and the persuasive proof of a convincing story.

Aylmer Vance and the Paradox of the Paranormal OLIVER TEARLE (Loughborough University, UK). How can the ever-mysterious world of the supernatural be successfully joined with the detective story, a genre that thrives on tying up loose ends in the narrative? Through a comparison of some of the best-known fictional psychical detectives and investigators, this article seeks to explore the important issues surrounding this hybrid genre.

Beyond the Border: The Author as Occult Detective in Hamlin Garland’s The Mystery of the Buried Crosses TIM PRCHAL (Oklahoma State University). Occult detectives probe fictional mysteries rooted in the supernatural. In The Mystery of the Buried Crosses (1939), Hamlin Garland recounts his investigation into a real-life mystery involving spiritualism. Like the fictional detectives, Garland urges readers to ponder the borders of their physical world but offers no definitive stance on supernatural intrusions.

Montana Gothic: Sandra West Prowell’s Phoebe Siegel Mysteries RACHEL SCHAFFER (Montana State University Billings). Montana author Sandra West Prowell blends gothic and paranormal elements, including mysterious mansions, ghostly sightings, and prophetic dreams, as she examines issues of social justice, particularly for women and Native Americans, and highlights Native American spirituality, all from the irreverent point of view of private investigator Phoebe Siegel.

Ghosts and Skeletons: Metaphors of Guilty History in Ian Rankin’s Rebus Series ERIN E. MacDONALD (Fanshawe College, Canada). The author examines Ian Rankin’s use of the gothic convention of the ghost in Black and Blue, Dead Souls, Set in Darkness, and “The Very Last Drop.” In these works, ghosts and skeletons are used as metaphors for Detective Inspector John Rebus’s guilt over past mistakes and for the dark past of his home city, Edinburgh.

Ghost-Seeing and Detection in Stir of Echoes MURRAY LEEDER (Carleton University, Canada). The author explores the links between the ghost story and the classical detective story, using as a case study the 1999 film adaptation of Richard Matheson’s Stir of Echoes (1959). The author explores the relationship of the restless dead to the living as well as the investment of the detective with powers to see a secret world hidden from everyday human vision.

The Mystifying Rationale of Psychic Detection EDEN LEONE (Bowling Green State University, OH). Through an examination of the USA Network series Psych (2006–), the author discusses how the psychic detective subverts the model of rational detection as exemplified by Sherlock Holmes.

Homicide and Home-icide: Exhuming Ireland’s Past in the Detective Novels of Tana French SHIRLEY PETERSON (Daemen College, NY). Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series features police procedurals in which homicide investigations act as a social critique of “home-cide” in the “new” Ireland spawned by the economic boom known as the Celtic Tiger. Dublin is a crime scene in which victims of its inconvenient past refuse to stay buried until justice is served.

Stephen Knight. The Mysteries of the Cities: Urban Crime Fiction in the Nineteenth Century. DANIEL STEIN
Christine A. Jackson. The Tell-Tale Art: Poe in Modern Popular Culture and Paul Meehan. Horror Noir: Where Cinema’s Dark Sisters Meet JIM MANCALL
A Land Down Under: Recent Crime Fiction and Nonfiction from Australia STEPHEN KNIGHT

Friday, October 26, 2012

The return of The Female Detective (1864).

It often happens to us detectives . . . that we are the first movers in matters of great ultimate importance to individuals in particular, and the public at large (Forrester, The Female Detective 6)
Due out today from the British Library (distrib. U Chicago P) is The Female Detective (1864) by Andrew Forrester (pseud. of James Redding Ware), an important work in the evolution of the fictional female detective with the title character, who uses the name Miss Gladden. This edition has a foreword by Alexander McCall Smith and an introduction by Mike Ashley. Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints also has reissued The Female Detective with Revelations of a Lady Detective (1864, attrib. to W. S. Hayward) under the title The First Female Detectives.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Margaret Millar's "Rose's Last Summer" (1960).

In "Rose's Last Summer" (October 1960 episode of Thriller, directed by Arthur Hiller and based on the book by Edgar winner and Grand Master Margaret Millar), Mary Astor plays an alcoholic former actress who is found dead under mysterious circumstances. A suspicious friend (Lin McCarthy) teams up with her ex-husband (Jack Livesey) to investigate.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lady of burlesque (and mystery).

Feminist Press notes that a number of independent bookstores are participating in giveaways this month of some of its mystery titles: Gypsy Rose Lee's recently reissued Mother Finds a Body (with a foreword by her son, Erik Lee Preminger) and its predecessor, The G-String Murders; Dorothy B. Hughes's In a Lonely Place; and Vera Caspary's Laura.

Here is Barbara Stanwyck jitterbugging and performing Russian splits in Lady of Burlesque (film adaptation of The G-String Murders).

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Barry Nelson debuts as James Bond, 1954.

Barry Nelson as
James Bond in
"Casino Royale"
The Paley Center for Media recalls that today in 1954, Barry Nelson became the first actor to portray James Bond (in "Casino Royale," on Climax!).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

McCloy, Moyes, and White reissued.

Among the books just reissued in the Arcturus Crime Classics series:

• MWA Grand Master Helen McCloy, Through a Glass, Darkly (1950). A doppelganger means trouble for a teacher and psychiatrist Basil Willing. The New York Times deemed it one of the best mysteries of 1950. Wrote Dorothy B. Hughes about the book in the Dec. 3, 1950, Washington Post, "Not since the late Bayard Veiller's 'Bait for a Tiger' has this reader been filled with such actual fear by a printed page."

Patricia Moyes, Who Saw Her Die? (aka Many Deadly Returns, 1970). In this Edgar-nominated novel, Detective Chief Superintendent Henry Tibbett must figure out how a widow died.

Ethel Lina White, Some Must Watch (1933). A killer preys on vulnerable women in this novel by the author of The Lady Vanishes that was adapted as Robert Siodmak's The Spiral Staircase

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Woolrich's Fear in the Night (1947).

A man is uncertain if his dream of committing murder is just a dream—or reality. The film, based on "And So to Death" (1941, later repr. as "Nightmare") by Cornell Woolrich under the pseudonym of William Irish, stars Star Trek's DeForest Kelley.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Happy birthday, Ed McBain/Evan Hunter.

To commemorate today's birthday of the late police procedural pioneer Ed McBain (aka author-screenwriter Evan Hunter, born in New York City in 1926), why not watch this clip from Cop Hater (1958)?

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Eyes in the Night (1942).

In Eyes in the Night (1942, dir. Fred Zinnemann), Edward Arnold plays a blind detective who uncovers a Nazi plot. The film is an adaptation of The Odor of Violets (1940) by Mystery Writers of America cofounder and Grand Master Baynard Kendrick (see also the TV program Longstreet based on Kendrick's work). The follow-up film, The Hidden Eye (1945), was scripted by MWA Grand Master George Harmon Coxe.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Happy birthday, Jill Ker Conway.

Author Jill Ker Conway, the first female president of Smith College, turns 78 tomorrow. Best known for her memoirs The Road from Coorain and True North, Conway also wrote Overnight Float (2000) with Elizabeth T. Kennan (former president of Mt. Holyoke College) under the pseudonym Clare Munnings. Overnight Float features a college chaplain pursuing the killer of a college official.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Hammett's "Two Sharp Knives" (1949).


In the 1949 Studio One production of Dashiell Hammett's "Two Sharp Knives" (1934), a police chief has his doubts about the case of a man accused of murder. The episode features Abe Vigoda along with a cameo by Hammett and is directed by Franklin J. Schaffner (Papillon, Patton, Planet of the Apes). Note that there is also a 1942 radio version of "Two Sharp Knives" from Suspense.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Exhibition: Famous Trials and Their Legacies.

Jodie Foster in Sommersby
UC–Berkeley's online exhibition "Famous Trials and Their Legacies" looks at cases such as the Salem witch trials and the Martin Guerre episode that was the basis for the films The Return of Martin Guerre and Sommersby.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"Leviathan Five" (1964).

In Kraft Suspense Theatre's "Leviathan Five" (1964), scientists face a desperate choice when they are unable to escape from their underground facility. Featuring Andrew Duggan, Arthur Kennedy, Frank Maxwell, Frank Overton, Harold Stone, and Robert Webber, the episode was scripted by Berne Giler, David Giler, and The Big Heat's William McGivern.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Nominating mystery authors for halls of fame.

Consider nominating distinguished mystery authors for halls of fame that exist throughout the country. Quite often, genre writers are overlooked for these honors or are nominated for some other achievement (e.g., Celestine Sibley was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame for her journalism rather than her mysteries; Mildred Wirt Benson is a member of the U Iowa School of Journalism Hall of Fame for her reporting credentials, although her Nancy Drew novels are mentioned).

To be considered for nomination, writers usually need some connection to the particular state (e.g., birth or a minimum term of residence) and a body of work.

Anna Katharine Green.
Links to halls of fame appear below. I have nominated police procedural pioneer Ed McBain/Evan Hunter and important early mystery author Anna Katharine Green for the New York State Writers Hall of Fame and, for New Jersey's hall of fame, Ho-ho-kus's Metta Fuller Victor (author of The Dead Letter [1866], the first American detective novel).

State Halls of Fame Devoted to Writers

East Tennessee. It appears the next nominations process will open in June 2013.

Georgia. Current nominees include Mignon Ballard and Virginia Lanier.

Minnesota. Nominated writers must have links to Minnesota, either through birth or residence in the state while producing a body of work. A good candidate for nomination would be Haycraft-Queen lister Mabel Seeley.

Missouri. 2012 Quill Award inductee is Ridley Pearson.


New York. In addition to my nominations of Hunter and Green (mentioned above), another appropriate nominee would be Brewster's Rex Stout—something that the Wolfe Pack should back.

North Carolina. Elizabeth Daniels Squire was inducted in 2006 and Manly Wade Wellman in 1996.

Oklahoma. Jean Hager was inducted in 1992, Carolyn Hart in 1993, and William Bernhardt in 1997.

South Carolina. Does not appear to have a nominations process open to the public. Mickey Spillane was inducted in 2012.

Texas. Established by the Friends of the Fort Worth Public Library to recognize authors who have contributed to the literary heritage of Texas. Bill Crider was inducted in 2010.

Wisconsin Writers Wall of Fame. Sponsored by the Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library. August Derleth was inducted in 1997.

Alabama Men's Hall of Fame.

Alabama Women's Hall of Fame.

Alaska Women's Hall of Fame. Deadline for nominations: November 1, 2012.

Arizona Women's Hall of Fame.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Evan Hunter on Hitchcock this week on
BBC Radio 4 Extra.

Evan Hunter, NYPL.
This week, BBC Radio 4 features Me and Hitch, the memoir by Evan Hunter (aka Ed McBain) on his sometimes fraught working relationship with Alfred Hitchcock on projects such as The Birds and Marnie. Episodes usually may be heard online for up to week after broadcast.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fri Forgotten Bks: Murder of the Man Next Door by Peter Malloch (1966).

He settled down with his newspaper unaware that life was ebbing away in the silent darkness, so close at hand.
—Peter Malloch, Murder of the Man Next Door 53
Philandering salesman Henry Clayter has been shot dead at his door, and there is no shortage of suspects for Inspector Donald Grant. Was it Clayter's long-suffering wife, who had just informed him that she was leaving him? Was it a local tough, angry at Clayter's attempt to pick up his girlfriend? Was it a colleague obsessing over Clayter's past relationship with his wife? Or was it someone else?

Malloch's brisk, workmanlike prose provides deft portraits of people who are leading lives of quiet desperation in a seemingly sleepy British neighborhood.

Malloch was just one pseudonym of Glaswegian author (and former Canadian resident) William Murdoch Duncan (1909–75). He published more than 200 novels and more than 20 novellas/short stories over the course of his career, beginning with Doctor Deals with Murder (1944); an Evening Times article of August 6, 1970, stated that he could produce a thriller in a fortnight. His series characters include Inspector (later Superintendent) Flagg, Sugar Kane (pause for groan at pun), Solo Malcolm, and Mr. Sandyman.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Do Not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate (1971).

Based on the 1970 book by Doris Miles Disney, Do Not Fold, Spindle, or Mutilate features Helen Hayes, Myrna Loy, Mildred Natwick, and Sylvia Sidney as elderly women who create an alluring, fictitious dating profile as a joke and reap sinister results. Prescient in terms of today's concerns with online safety, it was the precursor to the Snoop Sisters TV series.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Faulkner tries to obtain his royalties.

William Faulkner.
Library of Congress,
Prints & Photographs Div
As Dale Stinchcomb of Harvard's Houghton Library describes, William Faulkner in 1926 tried to extract royalties due to him from Four Seas, which had published a collection of his poetry. The amount—$81—may seem paltry to modern sensibilities, but it translates to approximately $1000 in today's dollars.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Photographer-director Gordon Parks at 100.

Gordon Parks's
autobiography, available
from MN Hist Soc P
NYC's Howard Greenberg Gallery marks the upcoming centenary of the birth of photographer and Shaft director Gordon Parks with two exhibitions opening today:

•  "Gordon Parks, Ralph Ellison, and 'Invisible Man,'" which runs through October 27. It includes Parks's photographs published in Life at the time of the publication of Ellison's Invisible Man.

• "Gordon Parks: Centennial," which also runs through October 27, features Parks's work over 50 years, including a famous civil rights portrait that invokes Grant Wood's "American Gothic."

Other Parks exhibitions:
• "Gordon Parks: 100 Moments." Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, NYPL. Through December 1.

• "Gordon Parks: Crossroads." Tisch School of the Arts, NYU. Through September 25.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The long-suffering bookseller.

Today Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores by Jen Campbell goes on sale on U.S. shores. Campbell, who worked in Ripping Yards and Edinburgh Books, began collecting deathless patron queries heard on the job; her experiences confirm that booksellers have endured much. One sample:
Customer: I read a book in the eighties. I don't remember the author, or the title. But it was green, and it made me laugh. Do you know which one I mean?
Here is a BBC Open Book piece on the book.

Campbell is now writing a sequel and invites submissions from booksellers and librarians.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vincent Price in Rinehart's The Bat (1959).

Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead star in the third film of the 1920 play by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood. Moorehead is a mystery writer hosting an array of guests searching for hidden money, as the notorious killer The Bat threatens the residents.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

UCLA showcases the career of Rod Serling.

The UCLA Film and Television Archive continues its look at the career of Rod Serling—with special attention to his work outside of Twilight Zone and Night Gallery—through September 19. Coming up are his celebrated Requiem for a Heavyweight (and "The Man in the Funny Suit," which focuses on the making of Requiem) as well as Planet of the Apes; lesser known is The Yellow Canary (1963), in which Pat Boone plays a musician whose son is kidnapped. In addition, the archive showed Let Us Continue, a U.S. Information Agency short film written by Serling in the wake of the JFK assassination that profiled President Lyndon Johnson and his public policy interests. Also on view was the 1969 pilot for "The New People" (which bears a resemblance to Lost) written by Serling and starring Richard Kiley.

Update. Television Obscurities discusses an alternative version of The New People pilot.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

"The Squeeze" (1953), with Dick Powell.

"The Squeeze" (1953), an episode of Four Star Playhouse, features Dick Powell as a safecracker turned club owner who discovers that his former criminal cohorts want him dead. Directed by a pre-Kiss Me Deadly Robert Aldrich and written by Blake Edwards, it also stars Richard Jaeckel, Regis Toomey, and Herb Vigran.

Monday, September 03, 2012

100 years of Syd Hoff.

There are a few ways to mark tomorrow's centenary of the late author-illustrator Syd Hoff (Danny and the Dinosaur, etc.):

• The exhibition "Syd Hoff: Finding Home" is on display at the Miami Beach Regional Library until October 1. Its curator, Dina Weinstein, wrote the article  "Are Syd Hoff's Books Jewish?".

• Hoff's niece, Carol Edmonston, has been working on an enhanced Web site featuring his life and work. It includes his children's books, advertising, cartoons, murals, and radical works under the pseudonym A. Redfield. Hoff also published short stories in periodicals such as Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, and Charlie Chan Mystery Magazine.

• Cartoonist Mike Lynch highlights on his blog a rather wonderful book, Collier Collects Its Wits (1941), which features self-portraits by cartoonists such as Hoff ("a citizen of the Bronx [since] 1912") and Charles Addams.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A selection of Faber's mystery cover art.

Some historical samples of Faber's online archive of cover art include the following mystery works:

The Black Tower by P. D. James (1975)

Death at Crane's Court by Eilis Dillon (1953; new ed. from Rue Morgue P)

Death by Request by Romilly John and K[atherine]. John (1933). Romilly was the son of painter Augustus John and the half-brother of cellist Amaryllis Fleming, half-sister of Ian Fleming.

George Antheil, NYPL
Death in the Dark by Stacey Bishop (aka composer George Antheil, 1930)

An English Murder by Cyril Hare (aka Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark, 1951)

Famous Crimes, retold by "The Prince of Criminologists," William Roughead (1935)

The Mummy Case by Dermot Morrah (1933; review here)

The Ticker-Tape Murder by Milton Propper (1930; review here; partially serialized in the Border City Star, parts 1, 2, 3)

A Tomb with a View by BBC producer Lance Sieveking (1950)

And of interest to Rex Stout fans:
Forest Fire by Stout (1934; review here)
Mr. Cinderella by Stout (1939; better cover of U.S. ed. here; review here)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sayers's "Suspicion," on screen.

This September 1951 episode of Studio One, "Mr. Mummery's Suspicion," is based on Dorothy L. Sayers's short story "Suspicion" (1933) and features Roland Young as a man who fears he may be the target of poisoning.

Monday, August 27, 2012

New book on Pauline E. Hopkins,
early mystery writer.

Pauline Hopkins and the American Dream by Washington College's Alisha Knight (U of Tennessee P, 2012) looks at the career of African American editor-writer Hopkins (1859–1930) and has been highly recommended by Choice Reviews. Hopkins wrote "Talma Gordon" (1900), a significant work in the timeline of American mystery.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

August 1979: Hart to Hart debuts.

Robert Wagner in Hart to Hart
The Paley Center for Media remembers the debut of Hart to Hart on August 25, 1979.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Remembering Phyllis Thaxter: Cheever/Armstrong's "The Five-Forty-Eight."

In "The Five-Forty-Eight," a 1960 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Phyllis Thaxter, who died on August 14 at age 92, portrays a secretary determined to even the score with her nasty former boss. Based on a short story by John Cheever (for which Raymond Carver wrote a sequel, "The Train"), it was scripted by Edgar winner Charlotte Armstrong.

Monday, August 20, 2012

What coroner's inquests reveal.

Australian explorer Robert O'Hara Burke (of Burke and Wills
fame, NYPL). A mock coroner's inquiry in 2012
looked into the cause of their deaths in 1861.
In this podcast, researcher Kathleen Chater discusses the records of coroner's inquests housed in the UK's National Archives.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lovesey on Conan Doyle and the Olympics.

The Public Domain Review provides a revised version of Peter Lovesey's 2002 article on Arthur Conan Doyle's role in the development of the Olympics. Lovesey began his literary career writing about sports (His first Sergeant Cribb novel, Wobble to Death, deals with a six-day race in the Victorian era that turns deadly.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"... Underdog Is Here."

The defender of Sweet Polly
Purebread, on the job.
On Gary Shapiro's From the Bookshelf, Mark Arnold discusses his book Created and Produced by Total Television Productions: The Story of Underdog, Tennessee Tuxedo, and the Rest. Underdog and Tennessee Tuxedo are now on DVD.