Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Digital projects from Old Bailey records.

Author and baronet Edward
Bulwer Lytton, who was the
victim of theft, according to
this Old Bailey record. NYPL.
In a podcast on "Big Data and Dead Criminals" from the UK's National Archives, Tim Hitchcock (University of Hertfordshire) discusses some digital projects on crime that draw from 200,000 trial records of the Old Bailey (now online) and the London Lives project. (There's also a BBC 2 series, Tales from the Old Bailey, based on the records.)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fredric Brown's Crack-Up (1946).

Sci-fi and mystery writer Fredric Brown, who received an Edgar for The Fabulous Clipjoint, was born today in 1906 in Cincinnati. The film Crack-Up (1946, dir. Irving Reis), in which Pat O'Brien is convinced he has witnessed a train wreck that others say never occurred, is based on Brown's "Madman's Holiday" (1943).

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Young Person's Complete Guide to Crime (1929).

The Neglected Books blog discusses the satiric The Young Person's Complete Guide to Crime (1929) by British journalist and barrister Charles Garfield Lott Du Cann (also the author of English Treason Trials and Teach Yourself to Live). The blog notes that Du Cann offers observations such as the following: "Expert Witnesses are often highly-paid, and they are expected to be (and are) entirely unscrupulous."

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Behind the theft of the Mona Lisa.

In this blog post, Catherine Sezgin of the Assn for Research into Crimes against Art discusses the film The Missing Piece: Mona Lisa, Her Thief, the True Story. The film by Joe and Justine Medeiros, which won Best Historical Documentary at the San Antonio Film Festival in June, looks at the 1911 theft of Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting from the Louvre.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Carey Treatment (1972).

Several works of the late Michael Crichton, whose birthday is tomorrow, are rooted in his medical background (e.g., The Andromeda Strain; ER). One is reflected in the film The Carey Treatment (1972, dir. Blake Edwards), in which Dr. Peter Carey (James Coburn) suspects that more lies behind a botched abortion than meets the eye. The film is based on Crichton's Edgar-winning novel A Case of Need (1968), which he wrote under the pseudonym Jeffrey Hudson.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Arcturus Publishing's mystery reissues in Oct.

Reissued this month by Arcturus Publishing are Patricia Moyes's Johnny Under Ground (with a compelling World War II plot line) and Francis Durbridge's Tim Frazer Again (with Frazer on the trail of a woman who is suspected of killing a government agent).

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Robert Barnard on Anton Chekhov.

The multitalented author Robert Barnard, who died on September 19 at age 76, wrote this perceptive Spectator review in 2004 of a new translation of Chekhov's The Shooting Party (1884–85), noting that it is "awash with tricks of the detective-story trade" and that ". . . the characters appear trapped by the sheer weight of ordinariness surrounding them. They are like mice scurrying around in a cage, as step by step the murder becomes inevitable."

I hope the listing of Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd as 1962 really means 1926; Barnard as the author of A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie surely would have had this detail correct. Listen to my April 2006 interview with Barnard here, when his novel Dying Flames was released. We also had fun talking about his first novel, Death of an Old Goat.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ill Met by Moonlight (1957).

Today New York Review of Books Classics releases Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure, Artemis Cooper's biography of the swashbuckling writer. Fermor's involvement in the kidnapping of a Nazi general in Crete was dramatized in Ill Met by Moonlight (1957), with Dirk Bogarde as Fermor and Marius Goring as the general. The directors are Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, aka the Archers.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Clues 31.2: Collins, Harvey, Highsmith, Parker, South African and Spanish crime fiction.

Clues 31.2 has been published. The following is a summary of the contents (with links on the article titles). To order the issue or subscribe to Clues, visit this Web page or download the subscription flyer.

Introduction: Journeys through Crime, Time, and Space. JANICE M. ALLAN

From Enigmas to Emotions: The Twentieth-Century Canonization of Crime Fiction. MAURIZIO ASCARI (Univ of Bologna). Starting from the early-twentieth-century criticism of the “clue-puzzle” tradition, the author investigates the progressive return of emotions to the scene of both creative and critical crime writing. The analysis encompasses aspects of the twentieth-century canonization of crime fiction, dispelling some lingering critical prejudices and presenting the genre as complex.

Enlightenment, Counter-Enlightenment: Detection, Reason, and Genius in Tales of Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle. GREG SEVIK (Cayuga Community College, NY). The author explores the complex relationship between detective fiction and traditions of the Enlightenment and Counter-Enlightenment, including romanticism. Given this background, he argues that detective stories by Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle highlight the productive tension within Western reason among rule-bound rationality, critical reflection, and the inexplicability of genius.

True Crime in Bermondsey: Representations of Maria Manning. ANNA KAY (Univ of Melbourne). The author examines the literary representations of the nineteenth-century murderess Maria Manning, arguing that the frequently complex and contradictory images that emerged of Manning illuminate broader insights into Victorian conceptions of gender, sexuality, and criminality.

Wilkie Collins’s The Law and the Lady and Feminine Reason:
“Quite incredible, and nevertheless quite true!” TABITHA SPARKS (McGill Univ, Canada). The author examines Collins’s 1875 detective novel The Law and the Lady as a site of conflict between institutional, legal power and feminine resistance to it, with a disabled character upsetting the rigid gender and social norms that underwrite the novel’s central mystery.

“What we call civilization”: Raymond Chandler’s Geographic Critique of Socioeconomic Inequalities in the Philip Marlowe Novels—A Barthesian Reading. PETER CHOMKO. In his Philip Marlowe novels, Raymond Chandler subverts the formulaic narrative structure common to much mainstream crime fiction and, in doing so, opens up to the popular imagination new ways of deconstructing many mid-century myths about Los Angeles. Unlike the fictional detectives who preceded him, Marlowe does not solve crimes so much as expose them, bringing to light the corrupt superstructure of inequality and injustice that shapes—and is shaped by—the Los Angeles landscape.

Liminality and Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley. PETER MESSENT (Univ of Nottingham, UK). The author examines Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley to illustrate the role of liminality in her text. Highsmith explores the relationship among violent crime, deception, and the free-floating nature of subjectivity to foreground the ability to move between selves. Such transitions destabilize any notion of the grounded self and, moreover, radically challenge the understanding of the meaning of
civilization and culture.
Literary Allusions in Robert B. Parker’s Spenser Series. MARTY S. KNEPPER (Morningside College, IA). Although Robert B. Parker and his private-eye hero Spenser had no great love of academics, they both loved reading. The first-person narrative and dialogue in the Spenser series display a broad range of literary references, serving various artistic purposes and giving pleasure to book-loving readers. (This article includes an appendix that lists appearances of literary allusions in the Spenser series)

Masochism and the Novela Negra: The Case of Francisco González Ledesma. SHELLEY GODSLAND (Univ of Birmingham, UK). The author argues that the novella negra exposes and explores the masochism of its tough male investigator, as did its predecessor, the American hard-boiled detective. In Expediente Barcelona (1983) by Francisco González Ledesma, the protagonist’s masochistic attitudes and behaviors are illuminated through discussion of Freudian and other thinking on masochism.

“There’s nothing people won’t do to one another, if the circumstances are right”: Male Rape and the Politics of Representation in John Harvey’s Police Procedural Easy Meat. CHARLOTTE BEYER (Univ of Gloucestershire, UK). The author discusses portrayals of male rape and in John Harvey’s police procedural novel Easy Meat(1996), exploring how the novel interrogates the representation of sexual crime, male rape, and masculinity in crime fiction. By examining Harvey’s portrayal of masculinity and sexuality in Easy Meat, the author explores the ways in which crime fiction problematizes the politics of representing sexual crime.

Crime Fiction and the Armchair Traveler: The Case of Martin Walker’s Bruno Courrèges Series. JOHN SCAGGS (Southwestern College, KS). The defining characteristic of Martin Walker’s Bruno Courrèges novels is their detailed sense of place. The author examines how the sense of place is created in the novels and suggests that, rather than merely being a simple backdrop against which the plots of the novels unfold, it is an integral part of their themes and narrative structures.

“You Think It’s Possible to Fix Broken Things?”: Terror in the South African Crime Fiction of Margie Orford and Jassy Mackenzie. MARLA HARRIS. Drawing on the work of Robert J. C. Young, the author argues that Jassy Mackenzie and Margie Orford’s crime novels of post–apartheid South Africa offer coping strategies in the face of inexplicable violence. As they fundamentally are about living with terror and terrorism, they resonate with contemporary American readers.

Saturo Saito. Detective Fiction and the Rise of the Japanese Novel, 1880–1930. Elizabeth Blakesley

Michael Dirda. On Conan Doyle: Or, The Whole Art of Storytelling. Natalie Hevener Kaufman

Melissa Schaub. Middlebrow Feminism in Classic British Detective Fiction: The Female Gentleman. Rosemary Erickson Johnsen

Peter Baker and Deborah Shaller, eds. Detecting Detection: International Perspectives on the Uses of a Plot. Mimosa Summers Stephenson

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Peter Robinson on A Month in the Country.

On BBC Radio 4's A Good Read program, Inspector Banks creator Peter Robinson participates in the discussion of Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn, Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle, and J. L. Carr's A Month in the Country. Robinson calls the latter work (about a man traumatized by World War I) a "neglected classic" and "poetic." (Below: a clip from 1987's A Month in the Country with Colin Firth and Patrick Malahide)


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

James Lee Burke on latest Robicheaux novel.

On Montana Public Radio James Lee Burke talks about his new Dave Robicheaux novel Light of the World and a little about what's next for him.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Rinehart's "The Bat" with Helen Hayes (1960).

Yet another adaptation of the successful Avery Hopwood-Mary Roberts Rinehart play The Bat about a notorious killer menacing a household, this March 1960 episode of the Dow Hour of Great Mysteries features Helen Hayes, Jason Robards, and Margaret Hamilton. (See earlier post on the 1959 film with Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead.)

Monday, October 07, 2013

The subversive Black Narcissus (1947).

Kathleen Byron in
Black Narcissus
In a BBC Radio 3 essay, critic Peter Bradshaw provides an astute appreciation of what he calls the "subversive" film of Rumer Godden's Black Narcissus (dir. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1947).

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Happy birthday, Jack Finney.

Author Jack Finney (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Time and Again, etc.) was born today in Milwaukee in 1911; he died in 1995. Will we finally see a film of Time and Again, as Lionsgate now has purchased the rights?

Some links to celebrate the day:

NPR appreciations of Body Snatchers (Maureen Corrigan, James Rollins) and Time and Again (Susan Jane Gilman)

• Bowery Boys blog post on the New York City history featured in Time and Again

• Finney radio play "After the Movies" for radio series Suspense, first with Ray Milland (Dec 1950, no. 26 on this page) and second with Body Snatchers' Kevin McCarthy (Sept 1959, no. 29 on this page)

• April 1955 episode (below) of Science Fiction Theater, "Time Is Just a Place," which was adapted from the Finney short story "Such Interesting Neighbors" (1951)

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Short Cut to Hell (dir. James Cagney, 1957).

For Graham Greene's birthday tomorrow, listen to this NPR piece on Greene's unfinished murder mystery The Empty Chair and look at this promotional clip from Short Cut to Hell (1957), an adaptation of
Short Cut to Hell's Robert Ivers, right,
with Claire Trevor in "Ma Barker and
Her Boys," The Untouchables
Greene's novel A Gun for Sale and a remake of the Alan Ladd/Veronica Lake classic This Gun for Hire (1942). It was the only film directed by James Cagney. Although the film was not a success and Cagney indicated that directing bored him, he proved able at the job.