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.