Thursday, January 29, 2015

RIP, Helen Eustis (1916–2015).

Helen Eustis, Edgar winner for The Horizontal Man (1946) and the last living author on the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone list of essential mysteries, died on January 11 at age 98. She was also known for The Fool Killer (1954, adapted for a 1965 film with Anthony Perkins). Eustis was a member of the Yaddo arts colony, a friend of Carson McCullers and Truman Capote, and a noted translator and short story writer. Her son, Adam Genkaku Fisher, has posted on her passing here. (Thanks to Sarah Weinman for the tip.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Court of Last Resort:
"The George Zaccho Case" (1957).

Erle Stanley Gardner
The Court of Last Resort TV series (1957–58) was inspired by a project of Perry Mason creator Erle Stanley Gardner, in which experts examined cases where the defendant appeared to have been wrongfully convicted. This episode involves a Greek immigrant accused of poisoning his wife. Gardner weighs in toward the end.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Emulating Holmes.

Ad for The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)
The blog of Harvard's Houghton Library features the board game "Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective," part of its Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ellroy companion garners Edgar nomination.

Jim Mancall's James Ellroy: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction has been nominated in the Best Critical/Biographical category of the Edgar Awards. This is vol. 6 in the series that I edit for McFarland.

Guardian review
Mystery Scene review

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Exhibition: "Poisonous Nature."

A less than cuddly cobra.
Colored engraving, ca. 1792.
Wellcome Library, London
Mystery writers may find the "Poisonous Nature" online exhibition of the Biodiversity Heritage Library for Europe to be useful in research, with its facts and images on poisonous plants such as deadly nightshade and other lethal agents such as the Indian cobra and the black widow spider. There is a timeline of publications on poisons and materials in several languages.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Model Murder Case
(aka Girl in the Headlines, 1963).

Laurence Payne,
in the British TV series
The Sandbaggers (1978)
A model is shot, and Inspector Birkett (Ian Hendry) and Sergeant Saunders (Ronald Fraser) are on the case. Jeremy Brett and Jane Asher co-star. The film is based on The Nose on My Face (aka The First Body, 1961), the mystery debut of actor-writer Laurence Payne (whose credits include Ben-Hur, Ill Met by Moonlight, and a long-time role as detective Sexton Blake).


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Remembering Rod Taylor: 36 Hours (1964).

Among the film work of the dashing Rod Taylor, who died on January 7 at age 84, is 36 Hours, in which the Nazis try to gaslight American major James Garner into believing that World War II is over so he will reveal top-secret information. The film is based on the Roald Dahl story "Beware of the Dog."

Monday, January 12, 2015

Top ms-related auction prices for 2014.

Americana Exchange has posted the top 500 auctions for 2014, which include the following:

Ad for The Big Sleep, 1946
• Signed ms of Arthur Conan Doyle's  "The Adventure of Black Peter," Christie's, $317,000.

• Original drawing for the Strand by Sidney Paget for Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of Silver Blaze," Christie's, $112,500.

• Screenplay by William Faulkner and Leigh Brackett of The Big Sleep (dir. Howard Hawks), Bonhams, $81,250.

(Thanks to PhiloBiblos)

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

St. Benny the Dip (1951).

Oh, the wackiness that ensues when con artists masquerade as priests in an effort to evade the police. Roland Young, Nina Foch, Dick Haymes, Lionel Stander, and Freddie Bartholomew star.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Detective fiction and religious issues.

Alec Guinness as
G. K. Chesterton's
Father Brown
Former English instructor Chris Willerton is proposing the panel "Remapping Culture with Detective Fiction" for the 2015 Christian Scholars Conference at Abilene Christian University in Texas in June. Asks Willerton, "Does a given detective story have something to say about sin, eschatology, redemption, and other religious issues in the culture it represents?" Those interested in serving on the panel should take a look at proposed paper topics (including clerical sleuths) and submit a proposal to Willerton by January 15.

Below: The preview for Granchester, based on the mysteries by James Runcie (son of Robert Runcie, the former archbishop of Canterbury)