Wednesday, April 30, 2014

James Madison and zombies.

Many of you probably have been worrying about this, but William Baude of University of Chicago's law school finally has addressed the question of whether zombies have rights under the US Constitution. There's also Adam Chodorow's "Death and Taxes and Zombies," for those wondering if tax law applies to brain-eaters. (thanks, Law and Humanities blog)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dishonored Lady (1947).

Troubled former magazine editor Hedy Lamarr faces a murder charge in Dishonored Lady (1947, dir. Robert Stevenson), based on the play by Pulitzer Prize winner Margaret Ayer Barnes and her longtime friend, Edward Sheldon, that starred American theater legend Katharine Cornell. Its subject matter is the Madeleine Smith poisoning case of 1857 (featured also in David Lean's Madeleine, 1949). Barnes and Sheldon successfully sued MGM for plagiarism of their play in the studio's film of Letty Lynton (1932)—Marie Belloc Lowndes's version of the Smith case.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Jackson receives Dove Award.

The latest recipient of the George N. Dove Award of the PCA's Detective/ Mystery Caucus is Christine Jackson (Nova Southeastern University, FL). The award is presented for contributions to the serious study of mystery and crime fiction. Jackson's publications include The Tell-Tale Art: Poe in Modern Popular Culture; she also has an article in the latest issue of Clues on Tana French.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The underappreciated Msgr. Ronald Knox.

Bust of Ronald A. Knox
by Arthur Pollen
Benjamin Welton pens an appreciation of Monsignor Ronald A. Knox (1888–1957), famed for his Detective Story Decalogue, his creation of sleuth Miles Bredon (I like his Footsteps at the Lock), and his launch of serious studies of Sherlock Holmes with this lecture. Welton calls Knox's Bredon works "charming, almost whimsical novels."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Trapped (1949).

More from the Bridges family: In Trapped (directed by Soylent Green's Richard Fleischer), the Treasury enlists counterfeiter Lloyd Bridges in its efforts to smash a counterfeiting ring.

Monday, April 21, 2014

New in thriller music.

Some items re mystery film music, thanks to Scott Bettencourt at Film Score Monthly:

• The new The Man in Half Moon Street showcases the compositions of Miklos Rozsa, providing music from this 1945 thriller as well as some of his work for The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946).

• A two-CD set has been released of Bruce Broughton's soundtrack for Young Sherlock Holmes (1985).

• Also released is the original soundtrack by Michael Small for Child's Play (a 1972 thriller directed by Sidney Lumet that features James Mason, Robert Preston, and Beau Bridges)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The return of J. B. Priestley's doctor-sleuth.

Valancourt Books follows up its reprinting of playwright-novelist-BBC broadcaster J. B. Priestley's Benighted with his sole novel featuring an amateur sleuth, Salt Is Leaving (1966). A retiring doctor suspects foul play when a patient who requires regular treatment suddenly goes incommunicado. (A review appears here from the Victoria [TX] Advocate.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cottage to Let (aka Bombsight Stolen, 1941).

In Cottage to Let (dir. Anthony Asquith—son of the prime minister), a new bombsight proves irresistible to Nazis, the RAF, and Scotland Yard. The film features Alastair Sim, John Mills, and Michael Wilding and is adapted from a play by Geoffrey Kerr (father of actor-lawyer John Kerr, who is probably best known for his role in South Pacific). Also see Yvette Banek's earlier take on the film.

Monday, April 14, 2014

"Le Sherlock Holmes Américain."

L'Affaire Bardouillet, one of the
adventures of Harry Dickson by Jean Ray
repr. Belgian publisher Le Cri
Harvard's Houghton Library blog features its copies of Harry Dickson—"le Sherlock Holmes Américain"—a pulp series penned by Belgian author Jean Ray (aka Raymundus Joannes de Kremer, John Flanders, and "the Belgian Poe") that had its beginnings in dime novels published from 1907 to 1911.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The return of Celia Fremlin.

Faber Finds has reissued a number of mysteries by Celia Fremlin (1914–2009), including her Edgar-winning The Hours before Dawn (dramatized on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour as "The Lonely Hours").

Appointment with Yesterday 
By Horror Haunted (short story collection)
Dangerous Thoughts (Kirkus review here)
Don't Go to Sleep in the Dark (short story collection)
The Echoing Stones
The Jealous One
King of the World (her last novel)
Listening in the Dusk
The Long Shadow (Pittsburgh Press review here)
A Lovely Way to Die (short story collection; Kirkus review here)
The Parasite Person
Prisoner's Base (Kirkus review here)
Seven Lean Years
The Spider Orchid
The Trouble-Makers
Uncle Paul
With No Crying  

Faber Finds also has republished Fremlin's first book, the nonfiction work War Factory, which is a result of the British World War II effort called Mass Observation.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

I Love a Mystery (1945, 1973).

Based on Carleton E. Morse's radio series, I Love a Mystery follows the adventures of three insurance investigators. In the 1973 TV-movie version, mystery writer Melodie Johnson Howe appears as Charity, one of the daughters of star Ida Lupino.

(At left: The Devil's Mask, the 1946 version of I Love a Mystery)

Monday, April 07, 2014

Clues 32.1:
Tana French and Irish crime fiction.

Clues 32.1 (2014) has been published, which is a theme issue on Tana French and Irish crime fiction. A summary of the contents appears below.To order, contact McFarland.

A Debt Acknowledged: Clues Founding Editor Alice Maxine “Pat” Browne. NANCY ELLEN TALBURT (University of Arkansas). The author pays tribute to Clues founding editor Alice Maxine “Pat” Browne, who died in December 2013.

Introduction. Rachel Schaffer (Montana State University Billings).

Blurring the Genre Borderlines: Tana French’s Haunted Detectives. JOHN TEEL (Marshall University). In each of her mysteries, Tana French presents a different detective-narrator, and all of them are “haunted” by traumatic events from their childhoods or teen years. Through this use of “haunting,” French blurs genre “borderlines” by mixing the elements of the police procedural with, essentially, an aura of the gothic.

Unhappily Ever After: Fairy-Tale Motifs in Tana French’s In the Woods. SARAH D. FOGLE (Embry-Riddle University). In her first novel, In the Woods, Tana French makes sustained use of various fairy-tale motifs and conventions to illuminate her characters and their relationships as the murder investigation unfolds.

Tana French: Archaeologist of Crime. RACHEL SCHAFFER. The parallels between archaeology and detection provide a framework for the way the protagonists in Tana French’s novels work. Both disciplines follow the same general stages of surveying the scene, excavating information, and analyzing and interpreting results to shed light on the effects of past events on the lives of contemporary people.

Vision and Blind Spots: Characterization in Tana French’s Broken Harbor. CHRISTINE JACKSON (Nova Southeastern University). Obsessive watching is at the center of Tana French’s Broken Harbor. A stalker’s voyeurism shapes the case while police surveillance both conceals and unmasks detective protagonist Michael “Scorcher” Kennedy. French projects an actor’s stage background onto the novelist’s page to manipulate narrative distance and reconfigure detective novel conventions.

Liminality in the Novels of Tana French. MIMOSA SUMMERS STEPHENSON (University of Texas at Brownsville). In Tana French’s mysteries, the murder victims die at crucial turning points in their lives, and the detectives find themselves on the edge, neither in nor out, of the cases they investigate. The protagonists become involved personally and pass through liminal zones that leave them altered when the novels end.

Twenty-First-Century Irish Mothers in Tana French’s Crime Fiction. ROSEMARY ERICKSON JOHNSEN (Governors State University). Tana French’s three novels narrated by male detectives—In the Woods, Faithful Place, and Broken Harbour—reveal an intersection between crime fiction and the Irish literary tradition. Tropes of feminine imagery—particularly of the maternal—are implicated in the personal and professional failures of the narrators, and are part of French’s exploration of contemporary Ireland.

Murder in the Ghost Estate: Crimes of the Celtic Tiger in Tana French's Broken Harbor. SHIRLEY PETERSON (Daemen College). In Tana French’s fourth novel, Broken Harbor, the crimes of Celtic Tiger excess are interrogated in a deracinated ghost estate, where the desire for prosperity results in dire consequences for a young family, belying the notion that Ireland’s troubled past was well removed from its upwardly mobile present.

Authority and Irish Cultural Memory in Faithful Place and Broken Harbor. MAUREEN T. REDDY (Rhode Island College). French’s two most recent novels, Faithful Place and Broken Harbor, examine both the consequences of widespread loss of belief in any sort of authority in Ireland and some of the radical shifts in Irish cultural memory during the Celtic Tiger period and its aftermath.

"Built on Nothing but Bullshit and Good PR": Crime, Class Mobility, and the Irish Economy in the Novels of Tana French. MOIRA E. CASEY (Miami University of Ohio). Tana French’s novels demand serious literary attention for their social realist depiction of the cultural and economic impact of the Celtic Tiger economy and its recent crash. All four novels criticize Celtic Tiger culture, present the pre–Celtic Tiger past ambivalently, and represent the challenges of economic class mobility in contemporary Ireland.

William Stephens Hayward. Revelations of a Lady Detective. Ellen F. Higgins

Arthur Conan Doyle, auth.; Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower, and Rachel Foss, eds. The Narrative of John Smith. Christopher Pittard

Spiro Dimolianis. Jack the Ripper and Black Magic: Victorian Conspiracy Theories, Secret Societies and the Supernatural Mystique of the Whitechapel Murders. Rita Rippetoe

Emelyne Godfrey. Femininity, Crime, and Self-Defence in Victorian Literature and Society: From Dagger-Fans to Suffragettes. Gianna Martella

William Luhr. Film Noir. Mary P. Freier

Thursday, April 03, 2014

The friendship of a notorious spy.

On the History Extra podcast Ben Macintyre (Agent Zigzag, Operation Mincemeat) talks about his upcoming book that delves into the friendship between the Cambridge Spy Ring's Kim Philby and MI-6 agent Nicholas Elliott. The book was inspired by a suggestion from John le Carre.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Wallace's Psycho-Circus (1966).

Celebrate today's birthday of Edgar Wallace (1875–1932, an important author in the development of the thriller) with Psycho-Circus, a film on the exploits of "a syndicate of evil" starring Christopher Lee, Leo Genn, and Klaus Kinski that is based on Wallace's The Three Just Men.