Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Last Alarm (1940).

Polly Ann Young and
J. Farrell MacDonald in
The Last Alarm
In The Last Alarm, a retired firefighter (J. Farrell MacDonald), his daughter (Polly Ann Young, sister of Loretta Young), and her fiance (Warren Hull) team up to track down the arsonist who has killed the firefighter's best friend.

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Thin Man opens in Canada.

Ad for After the Thin Man (1936)
The Thin Man has opened at Calgary's Vertigo Theatre and will run until October 14. There is an interview with the playwright, Lucia Frangione: "Nick and Nora are surrounded by a gaggle of hilarious and volatile personalities."

The Thin Man is part of a BD&P Mystery Theatre Series that will include Ira Levin's Deathtrap and Might as Well Be Dead: A Nero Wolfe Mystery (adapted by Joseph Goodrich from the novel by Rex Stout).

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Judge (1949).

In The Judge, an attorney feels remorse for the criminals freed by his defense work and seeks revenge on a police psychiatrist, who had an affair with his wife.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Mystery and 19C periodicals.

Vanity Fair cartoon of Wilkie
Collins by Adriano Cecioni,
Feb. 1872
"All the Year Round: Exploring the Nineteenth-Century Periodical," an online exhibition from the University of Otago in New Zealand, includes an 1872 tribute in Vanity Fair to Wilkie Collins for his role in the rise of sensation literature , as well as Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of the Speckled Band" and The Hound of the Baskervilles from the Strand Magazine (1892, 1902).

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

The Steel Trap (1952).

Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright in The Steel Trap
In The Steel Trap, Joseph Cotten steals $1 million from the bank that employs him and is en route to Brazil with his ill-gotten gains when his wife (Teresa Wright) leaves him for his actions. Can he return the money before the bank reopens? This film marks a reunion for Cotten and Wright after Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Conan Doyle and ectoplasm.

Arthur Conan Doyle. NYPL
The Bowery Boys podcast looks at Arthur Conan Doyle's 1922 lectures on ectoplasm, the substance supposedly emitted by mediums during seances. The post states, "Others blamed a series of mysterious murders and suicides in New York City during this time period on Conan Doyle’s disturbing lectures."

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Back-Room Boy (1942).

In Back-Room Boy, a BBC employee sent to a remote Scottish island faces an influx of models and Nazi spies.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Clues 36.2: Atkinson, Conan Doyle, Chandler, Hammett, Macdonald, and a noir graphic novel.

Vol. 36, no. 2 (2018), of Clues: A Journal of Detection has been published. Contact McFarland to order the issue or a subscription. For e-versions: visit the Kindle link, the Nook link, or the Google Play link).

To keep up to date on Clues, subscribe to the new RSS feed for the Clues tables of contents, or visit the Clues website. There is currently a call for papers on interwar mysteries (submission deadline: October 12, 2018).

Introduction  JANICE M. ALLAN (Univ of Salford)

Transvestism and Transgender in the Crime Fiction of Andrea G. Pinketts BARBARA PEZZOTTI (Monash Univ)
This article focuses on the figure of the transvestite and the treatment of transgender in the novels of Italian crime writer Andrea G. Pinketts. The aim is to determine whether Pinketts’s highly entertaining, parodic hard-boiled series succeeds in subverting a traditional discourse on transvestism and transgender in Italian crime fiction.

Bending the Genre: Portraying the Genders of Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey in the Detective Fiction of Dorothy L. Sayers SALLY BERESFORD-SHERIDAN (Univ of Waterloo)
This essay explores how the fictional female detective of Dorothy L. Sayers works outside normative gender conventions of the interwar years. By positing a female character who can become a detective, Sayers allows both Harriet Vane and Peter Wimsey to break and redefine social expectations of masculine behaviors, feminine behaviors, and gender stereotypes.

Cherchez la Femme: A Good Woman’s Place in Hard-Boiled Detective Fiction KELI MASTEN (Western Michigan Univ)
Hard-boiled detective fiction often limits women to the roles of femme fatale or love interest of the detective. However, Effie Perine (Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon) and Anne Riordan (Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely) embody the femme fiable (“dependable woman”), a survivor who goes where the detective cannot and avoids the fate of the femme fatale.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Scotland Yard Investigator (1946).

In Scotland Yard Investigator, a German collector plans a heist when the Mona Lisa is moved to England for safekeeping during World War II. C. Aubrey Smith, Erich von Stroheim, and Stephanie Bachelor costar.

Monday, August 20, 2018

ABA Journal's 25 greatest legal movies.

As the Law & Humanities blog highlights, the ABA Journal has selected the 25 Greatest Legal Movies. Its choices include Criminal Court (1946), The Lincoln Lawyer (based on the book by Michael Connelly, 2011), Loving (2016), Michael Clayton (2007), The Post (2017), Spotlight (2015), and 12 Angry Men (1957).

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Bedelia (writ. Vera Caspary, 1946).

In Bedelia, a new bride (Margaret Lockwood) is suspected of bumping off her previous husbands for their insurance money, and the question is whether current husband Ian Hunter is at risk. Vera Caspary wrote the novel and collaborated on the screenplay. Jill Esmond (the first wife of Laurence Olivier) costars.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Taipei's mystery bookstore.

This article in China Daily discusses Murder Ink, one of the small number of bookstores in Taiwan that focuses primarily on detective novels. Despite the enthusiasm of owner and translator Tommy Tan, his store only serves a few customers per day.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Inquest (1939).

When a woman is accused of killing her husband, a courtroom battle ensues between her barrister and the coroner. Directed by Ray Boulting, the film is based on the play of the same name by Michael Barringer.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Man in the Net (1959).

Directed by Michael Curtiz with a screenplay by Reginald Rose (Twelve Angry Men, etc.) and based on the novel by Hugh Callingham Wheeler (aka Patrick Quentin), The Man in the Net features Alan Ladd as a former advertising agency artist who is suspected of foul play when his wife (Carolyn Jones) disappears.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Unpunished.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
Library of Congress, Prints &
Photographs Division
Harvard's Houghton Library recently transitioned from its Oasis catalog to one called Hollis, and one of the goodies I found is the corrected typewritten manuscript of Unpunished, the only mystery novel of feminist icon Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860–1935). Unpunished, thought to have been written in the 1920s, was not published until 1997, when the Feminist Press edition was issued.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Nancy Drew exhibition, UNCG.

Special Collections and University Archives at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro's Jackson Library is hosting the exhibition "Nancy Drew: Girl Detective and Cultural Icon" that includes books and artifacts from the archives (such as The Nancy Drew Mystery Game and lunchbox).

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Crown v. Stevens (1936).

In this film directed by Michael Powell (Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes, etc.), a young man (Patric Knowles) becomes entangled in the murder of a moneylender and the schemes of his employer's wife (Beatrix Thompson) to inherit her husband's estate early. The film is based on Laurence Meynell's Third Time Unlucky.

Link to clips at tcm.com.

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Great Detective film series in Australia.

Michael Redgrave and
Margaret Lockwood in
The Lady Vanishes (1938)
Envy the lucky Australians who can attend The Great Detective, a series showcasing mystery films at Australian Cinémathèque, Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland Art Gallery, until September 2. Films include the following:
  • Sherlock Holmes (1916)
  • Sherlock Jr. (1924)
  • The Lady Vanishes (1938)
  • And Then There Were None (1945)
  • Rear Window (1954)
  • Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
  • Vertigo (1958)
  • Charade (1963)
  • A Shot in the Dark (1964)
  • Dirty Harry (1971)
  • Death on the Nile (1978)
  • The Mirror Crack'd (1980)
  • Evil under the Sun (1982)
  • Erin Brockovich (2000)
  • Mystic River (2003)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Hammett's Woman in the Dark (1934).

Based on the novella "Woman in the Dark" (1933) by Dashiell Hammett, this film features Fay Wray on the run from villain Melvyn Douglas, entangling ex-con Ralph Bellamy along the way.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The game is afoot.

Mention of the Parker Brothers game Sherlock Holmes
in Life 3 Dec. 1904: 586

The Law & Humanities blog features the article by Ross E. Davies (George Mason University) "A Grand Game Introduction, or the Rise and Demise of 'Sherlock Holmes,'" which traces the short-lived history of the Parker Brothers game Sherlock Holmes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Decoy: "Stranglehold" (1957).

1958 ad for Decoy
This pilot episode of the TV series Decoy features Beverly Garland as undercover policewoman Casey Jones, whose assignment is to get close to a murder suspect's girlfriend (Joanne Linville, who is known for her role as a Romulan commander on Star Trek) in an effort to find the suspect.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Abstract portal opens,
2019 Popular Culture Assn conference.

The next Popular Culture Association conference will take place on April 17–20, 2019, at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC. The portal for abstract submissions is now open through October 1, 2018 (must register for an account to access the portal). The PCA's Mystery and Detective Fiction Area has always been very active; first-time presenters are eligible for the Earl Bargainnier Award (named for a distinguished mystery scholar). Please encourage undergraduate and graduate students to submit paper proposals; members of the Mystery/Detective Fiction Area always have been interested in nurturing the next generation of mystery scholars.

Can't make it to DC? Check out the regional Popular Culture Association conferences.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Spy in Black (1939).

In The Spy in Black, British agents attempt to thwart a German plan to sink British ships in 1917. Stars include Conrad Veidt, Valerie Hobson, Marius Goring, and June Duprez. Based on the book by J. Storer Clouston, the film is directed by Michael Powell, the screenplay is by Powell's Archers partner Emeric Pressburger, and the scenario is by Roland Pertwee (the father of Dr. Who's Jon Pertwee).

Monday, June 25, 2018

Martin Edwards on locked room mysteries.

On The Men Who Explain Miracles podcast, Detection Club President Martin Edwards talks about locked-room mysteries such as Murder of a Lady (1931) by Anthony Wynne and other titles in the British Library Crime Classics series for which he serves as a consultant.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Forbidden Cargo (1954).

In Forbidden Cargo, a customs officer (Nigel Patrick) is on the trail of drug smugglers, assisted by an aristocratic birdwatcher (Joyce Grenfell). Jack Warner, Elizabeth Sellars, Greta Gynt, Theodore Bikel, and Michael Hordern costar.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The career of Edward Stratemeyer.

Edward Stratemeyer.
NYPL
The New Antiquarian blog of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America looks at the career of Edward Stratemeyer (1862–1930), who launched the Stratemeyer Syndicate that published the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and countless other children's series.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Murder on the Campus (1933).

Charles Starrett, ca. 1931
In Murder on the Campus, a reporter (Charles Starrett) seeks to exonerate his coed girlfriend (Shirley Grey), who is accused of murder. The film is based on The Campanile Murders (1933) by author-screenwriter Whitman Chambers (thanks to Mystery*File for link to serial version of The Campanile Murders).

Monday, June 11, 2018

Clues CFP: "Interwar Mysteries"
(deadline Oct 12, 2018).

The Bat (1926), adapted
from the play by
Mary Roberts Rinehart
and Avery Hopwood
 
A new Call for Papers has been posted for a theme issue of Clues: A Journal of Detection on "Interwar Mysteries: The Golden Age and Beyond." It will be guest edited by University of Leicester's Victoria Stewart (author, Crime Writing in Interwar Britain: Fact and Fiction in the Golden Age, and a previous contributor to Clues). Although the period between the World Wars is known as the Golden Age of traditional mystery fiction, other literary forms such as the hard-boiled subgenre, true crime, and noir emerged that often reflected a grimmer reality. Articles of between 3300 and 6000 words are sought that examine this important crossroads in mystery, detective, and crime fiction, with a deadline of Oct 12, 2018.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

The Hand (1960).

In The Hand, an inspector learns that the murder of a one-handed man has roots in a POW camp in Burma.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Simenon exhibition opens in China.

Georges Simenon,
10 May 1965.
Anefo, Dutch Nat Archives
The exhibition "Simenon, auteur belge a multi-facettes” (Simenon, multifaceted Belgian author) opened in Guangzhou Library's Multiculture Library on May 13 and will be displayed until June 8. It features details on Georges Simenon's life and work, as well as posters of film adaptations of Simenon's books. Cosponsors are the library, the Consulate General of Belgium, and Wallonie-Bruxelles Internationale. Guangzhou Library holds both French editions and Chinese translations of Simenon's works.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Agatha Christie exhibition coming to Derby, UK.

Agatha Christie, 17 Dec 1964.
Anefo, Dutch Natl Archives
Pickford's House in Derby, United Kingdom, is hosting the exhibition "Agatha Christie: Mysteries, Murder, and More" from June 2 to November 3, 2018. The exhibition will feature books and objects related to Christie's life and work.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Stolen Jools (1931).

This short comedy film involving the theft of Norma Shearer's jewelry was produced to benefit the National Variety Artists tuberculosis sanitarium, with stars such as Wallace Beery, Joe E. Brown, Maurice Chevalier, Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford, Irene Dunne, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Hedda Hopper, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, Victor McLaglen, Edward G. Robinson, Barbara Stanwyck, Fay Wray, Loretta Young, and Petey the Dog.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Brandy for the Parson (1952)

In Brandy for the Parson, a couple become entangled with smugglers. Based on the novel of the same name by Geoffrey Household (best known for Rogue Male), the film stars Kenneth More, James Donald, and Charles Hawtrey.

Monday, May 21, 2018

New edition, Blood on Their Hands
(with Foxwell short story).

https://bit.ly/BOTH1
The MWA Classics edition of Blood on Their Hands has been published and is now available in paperback and ebook from amazon. Edited by Lawrence Block, the collection focuses on characters who take the law into their own hands. "No Man's Land," my Agatha-winning and Macavity-nominated short story set in World War I, is included in the collection, along with stories by Rhys Bowen, Marcia Talley, Elaine Viets, and the late Jeremiah Healy and Henry Slesar.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Green Scarf (1936).

In The Green Scarf, Michael Redgrave defends a deaf, dumb, and blind man accused of murder.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys exhibition.

On view until June 8 at the Lawrence Library in Pepperell, MA, is "Mysteries Revealed Book Illustration: Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys," an exhibition of original cover art and first editions of both children's series.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

"Murderers' Meeting" (1951).

In this episode of Suspense directed by Robert Stephens and aired on 24 April 1951, a killer (Jackie Cooper) tries to escape from a building after a botched robbery, only to encounter the eccentric members of the "International Association of Assassins" (possibly suggesting the Mystery Writers of America. Blacklisted writer Alvin Sapinsley, who wrote the screenplay, later received an Edgar Award for "Sting of Death," the TV adaptation of H.F. Heard's A Taste for Honey). Mildred Natwick (clutching a cat) and Wally Cox costar.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Boucher picks the best mysteries of 1951.

In the 2 Dec 1951 New York Times, author-critic Anthony Boucher (aka William Anthony Parker White) listed "Boucher's Choices"—his selections for the best mysteries of 1951. They were:
  • John Dickson Carr, The Devil in Velvet. "swashbuckling romance . . . strict detection." 
  • Agatha Christie, They Came to Baghdad, . "adept . . . spy thriller."
  • Dorothy Salisbury Davis, A Gentle Murderer. "distinguished."
  • Cyril Hare [Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark], An English Murder . "adroit . . . social satire."
  • Geoffrey Household, A Rough Shoot and A Time to Kill. "realistic political melodrama."
  • Michael Innes, The Paper Thunderbolt. "funny and chilling."
  • Eric Linklater, Mr. Byculla. "Deft."
  • John Ross Macdonald [Ross Macdonald, Kenneth Millar], The Way Some People Die. "a worthy successor to Dashiell Hammett."
  • William McGivern, Shield for Murder. "Complex and memorable study of a rogue cop."
  • Ngaio Marsh, Night at the Vulcan. "Marsh's best to date."
  • Elliott Paul, Murder on the Left Bank. "Fun."
  • Ellery Queen, The Origin of Evil.  "intricate ingenuity."
  • John Sherwood, Mr. Blessington's Imperialist Plot. "Ruritanian spy-melodrama."
  • Bart Spicer, Black Sheep, Run and The Golden Door.  "appealing variants on the hardboiled story."
  • Julian Symons, The 31st of February. "Striking satire."
  • Lawrence Treat, Big Shot. "A notable novel about detectives."

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Woolrich's Street of Chance (1942).

Claire Trevor, Sheldon Leonard, and
Burgess Meredith in Street of Chance (1942)
In Street of Chance, Burgess Meredith is accused of murder, but he has no memory of the crime or of his past. The film is based on The Black Curtain by Cornell Woolrich. Costars include Claire Trevor, Sheldon Leonard, and Jerome Cowan.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Music from Shetland available.

For those who enjoy Ann Cleeves's mysteries and their adaptation as the television program Shetland, Silva Screen has just released a CD of John Lunn's music from the TV series (individual tracks also available).

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Cry Wolf (1947).

Errol Flynn and Barbara
Stanwyck in Cry Wolf (1947)
In Cry Wolf, Barbara Stanwyck arrives at an estate expecting to attend the funeral of her husband but encounters a household controlled by a sinister Errol Flynn. Based on Cry Wolf (aka The Demarest Inheritance) by future Edgar nominee Marjorie Carleton, the film costars Geraldine Brooks, Richard Basehart, and Jerome Cowan.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Dorothy B. Hughes's classic mystery library.


Claude Rains and Edward Norris in They Won't Forget (1937),
adaptation of Ward Greene's Death in the Deep South
In the 13 Nov 1977 Los Angeles Times, author-critic Dorothy B. Hughes made 23 selections for a classic mystery library. Hughes defined a classic as "a book to which you return over and again ... primarily because for you it satisfies a hunger for the felicity of beauty and craft..."(N3). For Hughes, "style is the most important element in any mystery, let alone a classic" (N3).

Hughes did not include any works by Arthur Conan Doyle and Erle Stanley Gardner (although Hughes would publish a biography of Gardner), explaining that in the case of these and some other authors (such as Ellery Queen), their body of work constitutes the classic rather than a single book. Hughes's choices for her classic mystery library are the following:
  • Eric Ambler, A Coffin for Dimitrios. "a hunt-and-search story with a background of the Near East leading to Paris"
  • Edgar Box [Gore Vidal], Death in the Fifth Position. " . . . the world of the ballet, presented with perception and verisimilitude"
  • Vera Caspary, Laura. "an enviable creator of plots which twist and turn and startle."
  • Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely. "his making of poetry out of the tawdry was indeed something unforgettable"
  • Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and And Then There Were None. "two classic books"
  • Len Deighton, The Ipcress File. "Deighton . . . devised a new style."
  • Helen Eustis, The Horizontal Man. "a true academic background against which the tragicomedy is played."
  • William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust. "a mystery sensation"
  • Michael Gilbert, Close Quarters. "he has built a cathedral and its close, and has peopled it with verisimilitude."
  • Graham Greene, Brighton Rock. "two sad insignificant persons revealed in their small moment of significance."
  • Ward Greene, Death in the Deep South. "a classic of the regional and one of the first dealing with ethnic problems"
  • Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon. "a classic romantic-adventure"
  • H. F. [Gerald] Heard, A Taste for Honey. "Another of the instant classics"
  • Francis Iles [Anthony Berkeley Cox], Before the Fact."a book whose plot must remain secret"
  • Charlotte Jay [Geraldine Halls], Beat Not the Bones. "the primitive culture of Africa in collision with the 20th century"
  • John le Carre [David Cornwell], The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. "tragic power"
  • Meyer Levin, Compulsion. "a classic of major proportion"
  • Marie Belloc Lowndes, The Lodger. " . . . a true crime story, in fiction form"
  • Ngaio Marsh, Death of a Fool. "breath-taking"
  • E. Phillips Oppenheim, The Great Impersonation. "a landmark"
  • Dorothy L. Sayers, The Nine Tailors. "background became not just background, but important"
  • Josephine Tey [Elizabeth MacKintosh], The Daughter of Time. "Simply written but brilliant in premise and performance."

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bon Voyage (dir. Hitchcock, 1944).

In Bon Voyage, a short film directed by Alfred Hitchcock for the British Ministry of Information, a French intelligence officer questions an RAF sergeant about his escape from France, as the involvement of a German agent is suspected. The film is in French (with English subtitles), with John Blythe as the sergeant and members of the Molière Players in the other roles.

Monday, April 16, 2018

CFP for essay collection on the cozy.

La Salle University's Phyllis Betz (Katherine V. Forrest: A Critical Appreciation; Lesbian Detective Fiction: Woman as Author, Subject and Reader) plans to compile a collection of essays on the cozy mystery. Prospective topics/approaches of interest include the following:
  • Discussion of authors, including precursors such as Mary Roberts Rinehart, Anna Katharine Green, and Agatha Christie
  • Settings
  • Main characters, including their careers
  • Other characters
  • Themes
  • Subgenres such as the gothic cozy and cozy noir
  • Problems, including the definition of the cozy and those authors who can be defined as cozy writers
  • Narrative strategies
Have questions or seek further information? Contact Betz.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Spider and the Fly (1949).

In The Spider and the Fly, a French intelligence official (Eric Portman) is forced to turn to a gentleman thief (Guy Rolfe) during World War I to crack a safe that holds a list of German agents. A woman (Nadia Gray) loved by both men provides additional complications. Maurice Denham and Sebastian Cabot costar.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Laura Thompson on Agatha Christie.

From the Bookshelf's Gary Shapiro discusses Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life with author Laura Thompson. Thompson calls Christie's six novels under the pseudonym Mary Westamacott "gold," singling out Absent in the Spring (1944); calls Christie's Five Little Pigs (1943) her best novel; and addresses Christie's 11-day disappearance in 1926.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Five Angles on Murder
(aka The Woman in Question, 1950).

After a fortuneteller is murdered in Five Angles on Murder, a police superintendent (Duncan Macrae) finds that those in her circle have different views of her, such as her housekeeper (Hermione Baddeley), her sister (Susan Shaw), her sister's boyfriend (Dirk Bogarde), a pet store owner (Charles Victor), and a sailor (John McCallum). The film is directed by Anthony Asquith.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Real locations of LA noir.

Inside Hook discusses with Jim Heimann his new book Dark City: The Real Los Angeles Noir, which features photographs of the real-life locations that inspired writers (such as that pertaining to the Black Dahlia case and those used by Raymond Chandler).

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Dancing with Crime (1947).

In Dancing with Crime, a London cab driver and his girlfriend (real-life spouses Richard Attenborough and Sheila Sim) take on a gang of criminals when the cabbie's best friend is killed.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Craig Johnson on Walt Longmire.

On the radio program Reader's Corner hosted by Boise State University president Bob Kustra, author Craig Johnson talks about Sheriff Walt Longmire and his latest novel The Western Star.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Mystery of Mr. X (1934).

An inspector (Lewis Stone) thinks that a jewel thief (Robert Montgomery) also is a serial killer of policemen, and the thief sets out to catch the murderer himself. Directed by Edgar Selwyn (a cofounder of Goldwyn Pictures), the film is based on Philip MacDonald's X v. Rex (aka The Mystery of the Dead Police).

Monday, March 19, 2018

Clues 36.1: Christie, Conan Doyle, Green, Hammett, Silva, and more.

Clues 36.1 (2018) has been published; order the issue from McFarland. Abstracts are listed below.

Updates, 3-24-18 and 6-16-18. The issue is now available on Google Play, Nook., and Kindle.


Introduction Janice M. Allan (University of Salford)
 
E Pluribus Unum: A Transnational Reading of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express
Stewart King (Monash University)
This article questions both the Englishness and generic stasis ascribed to Agatha Christie and argues that her Murder on the Orient Express (1933) displays an inherent transnationalism that questions the strict taxonomies supposedly separating the English clue-puzzle from the American private-eye novel.

Psychogeography and the Detective: Re-evaluating the Significance of Space in Agatha Christie’s A Murder Is Announced
Sarah Martin (University of Chester)
The author discusses the nature of the village space and its influential role in plot, character, and structure of Agatha Christie’s A Murder Is Announced. The concept of psychogeography unearths the true nature of space and its influence on the construction and preservation of social identity in the book.

Do We Know His Methods? Ratiocination in the Works of Arthur Conan Doyle
Jackie Shead
This article discusses Arthur Conan Doyle’s explanation of Sherlock Holmes’s methods, contrasting them with his presentation of the detective in action. It explores contradictions in the Holmes stories, suggesting Conan Doyle’s investment in a hyperrational sleuth is at odds with his intuitive understanding of detective methodology.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Phantom Lady (1944).

Ella Raines and
Thomas Gomez in
Phantom Lady
Directed by Robert Siodmak (The Spiral Staircase, etc.), this adaptation of Cornell Woolrich's book features Ella Raines turning sleuth to exonerate her boss, who is accused of killing his wife.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Last day to RSVP for Foxwell presentation.

Adelia Chiswell,
member of the
Red Cross
Motor Corps
Tomorrow is the last day to RSVP for the March 16 luncheon of the Association of the Oldest Inhabitants of DC where I'll be speaking on "DC Women in World War I." They include Adelia "Tess" Chiswell, a member of the Red Cross Motor Corps who served in France with future U.S. minister to Norway Daisy Harriman. I'll also be signing my book In Their Own Words: American Women in World War I.

The luncheon, which is open to nonmembers, will be held at Capitol Skyline Hotel (Metro stop: Navy Yard) from 12–2 pm and is $35 per person. To RSVP, visit the AOI Web site.



Tuesday, March 06, 2018

"Novel Appeal" (1957).

Mary Roberts Rinehart.
NYPL
Claudette Colbert plays author Mary Roberts Rinehart in "Novel Appeal," a 3Dec 1957 episode of Telephone Time that dramatizes Rinehart's part in exonerating a man convicted of murder. Directed by Arthur Hiller, the episode costars John Carradine.

The real-life case involves the 1896 murders on the Herbert Fuller of Captain Charles Nash; his wife, Laura Nash; and August Blomberg, the second mate. Thomas M. C. Bram, the first mate, was convicted of the crimes in a second trial held in 1899 and originally was sentenced to death; his sentence was changed to life imprisonment after a Supreme Court appeal.

According to Rinehart (see "Mary Roberts Rinehart Shows How Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction" and her autobiography My Story), a Pittsburgh lawyer told her about the case, and she subsequently read about it in a magazine for lawyers. Her choice for the perpetrator was the ship's Scandinavian wheel-man, Justus Leopold Westerberg, who was nicknamed Charley Brown. Westerberg had tried to kill his nurse while he was a patient in a mental hospital. A fictionalized version of Brown, Charlie Jones, appears in Rinehart's novel The After House (1913). The After House began serialization in McClure's in June 1913, attracting further interest to the case, and Bram was paroled in August 1913. 

As Reader's Digest editor Fulton Oursler (aka mystery writer Anthony Abbot) relates in The Mystery Bedside Book (ed. John Creasey, 1960), Theodore Roosevelt read The After House and called on Rinehart. Oursler states that Roosevelt concurred with Rinehart's view of the case and wrote President Woodrow Wilson, asking for a pardon for Bram. Wilson granted the pardon in June 1919. Bram went on to captain the ship Alvena and to own a restaurant in Florida.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Paretsky on Green and more.

The winter 2018 issue of the University of Chicago Magazine features "Criminal Mastermind," an article on alumnus Sara Paretsky, in which she talks about her role in the mystery world as "the aging diva," the work of Anna Katharine Green, and her experiences as a student at the university. Says Paretsky, "Crime fiction is the place in literature where law and justice in society come together."

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Phantom of 42nd Street (1942).

In Phantom of 42nd Street, a drama critic turns sleuth when people connected to a former theatrical company begin dying one by one. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Milton Raison and Jack Harvey.

Monday, February 26, 2018

BYU's annotated bibliography of
academic mysteries.

Florence Converse,
1921
As the Law & Humanities blog points out, Brigham Young University Library has produced "Murder at BYU: A Finding Guide to and Annotated Bibliography of Murder Mysteries in the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU Involving Universities, Colleges, Professors and/or Students." It has expected entries (e.g., Dorothy L. Sayers's Gaudy Night, 1935) and lesser known ones (e.g., Florence Converse's Into the Void, 1926). There are drawbacks, however, in the bibliography's reliance on dated sources and absence of periodical references such as Clues and Journal of Popular Culture. Although the bibliography states, "No infor[mation] on author" regarding Converse, an ad for Into the Void in 11 Sept. 1926 issue of the Living Age reveals that Converse (1871–1967) was born in New Orleans, was an assistant editor at the Atlantic Monthly, and lived in Wellesley (the milieu of Into the Void is rumored to be Wellesley College). A graduate of Wellesley College (BS, 1893; MA, 1903) who wrote a history of her alma mater, she also was a poet and playwright who authored several novels such as the mystery Sphinx (1931).

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Riverside Murder (1935).

In The Riverside Murder, an inspector and an ambitious female journalist investigate when a financier is killed. The film is adapted from André Steeman's Les Six Hommes Morts by Selwyn Jepson (son of mystery author Edgar Jepson and uncle of writer Fay Weldon). The cast include Basil Sydney, Judy Gunn, and Alistair Sim.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Black pulp exhibition in Philadelphia.

Illustration from "Three Detective
Pards, or, Nobby Nick's Big Game
"
by T. C. Harbaugh (1896)

"Black Pulp!" is a new exhibition on view until April 29 at Philadelphia's African American Museum, which features art from a century of works such as dime novels and Blaxploitation posters. The contributors include Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston as well as contemporary artists.

WHYY on the exhibition

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

"The Marble Face" (1959).

In this episode of Markham, the lawyer turned private detective (Ray Milland) looks into the case of an elderly woman victimized by a medium. The story is by later Twilight Zone writers Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Foxwell Mar16 talk and signing,
"DC Women in World War I."

Adelia Chiswell,
member of the Red Cross
Women's Motor Corps
As part of Women's History Month, I'll be speaking on "DC Women in World War I" at the March 16 luncheon of the Association of the Oldest Inhabitants of DC (AOI), the oldest civic organization in Washington, DC. I'll also be signing copies of my book In Their Own Words: American Women in World War I.

The luncheon, which is open to nonmembers, will be held at Capitol Skyline Hotel (Metro stop: Navy Yard) from 12–2 pm and is $35 per person. To RSVP, visit the AOI Web site.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

The Secret Place (1957).

In The Secret Place, the young son of a policeman (Michael Brooke) becomes entangled with jewel thieves. Belinda Lee, Ronald Lewis, and David McCallum costar. This film was Clive Donner's debut as a director.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

John D. MacDonald's "The Deep End" (1964).

A woman taking a swim ends up dead, and a PI (Clu Gulager) questions the conclusion of accidental drowning or suicide. The source for this 1964 episode of Kraft Suspense Theatre, although the credits merely state "based on a book by John P. [sic] MacDonald," is likely The Drowner by John D. MacDonald (Cosmopolitan Jan. 1963; novel 1963). Aldo Ray, Ellen Burstyn, Tina Louise, and Whit Bissell costar. The music for the episode is by John Williams.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Robert Lesser collection of pulp art, NBMAA.

The Robert Lesser Collection of 200 pieces of pulp art, housed at the New Britain Museum of American Art, can now be viewed online. Pieces include artworks for Amazing Stories, Argosy, Detective Short Stories, Detective Tales, Dime Mystery Magazine, Doc Savage, Mystery Tales, The Shadow, Spicy Mystery, Weird Tales, and Wonder Stories.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Remembering Peter Wyngarde:
"Nightmare" (1961).

Janet Blair and Peter Wyngarde in
Burn, Witch, Burn (1962)
British actor Peter Wyngarde died on January 15 at age 90. Survivor of a Japanese internment camp in World War II and well remembered for his chilling portrayal of Quint in The Innocents (a 1961 Truman Capote/John Mortimer adaptation of Henry James's "The Turn of the Screw"), he was a familiar presence on 1960s TV in such programs as The Avengers, Department S, I Spy, The Prisoner, Rupert of Hentzau, and The Saint. He also appeared as an artist obsessed by an unknown woman in the One Step Beyond episode "Nightmare."

Monday, January 22, 2018

Raymond Burr talks about Perry Mason (1959).

Raymond Burr as Perry Mason
with Barbara Hale as Della Street
In this 1959 interview with CBC Radio, Raymond Burr talks about the busy schedule of the Perry Mason TV series and his feelings about his character. "I think [Perry Mason] is a many-faceted individual," says Burr.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Praise for Cozzens's The Just and the Unjust (1942).

James Gould Cozzens
In "Children into Men: Lawyers and the Law in Three Novels" (The Catholic Lawyer, Oct 2017), New Jersey attorney Gregory J. Sullivan admires the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone novel The Just and the Unjust by Pulitzer Prize recipient James Gould Cozzens (1903–78): "Cozzens' affirmation of the judicial process depicted with a keen eye as to its flaws is compelling because the novel is not measuring the criminal trial—and by extension the law in general—against an impossible utopian ideal" (35).

Further reading: my positive take on The Just and the Unjust.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Saint's Girl Friday (1953).

In The Saint's Girl Friday, Louis Hayward steps into the shoes of Leslie Charteris's Simon Templar (aka The Saint) as he takes on a gambling ring that caused the death of a socialite who had requested his help. Diana Dors costars.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Essays wanted for Longmire collection.

Clues editorial board member Rachel Schaffer seeks a few more essays for her edited collection on Walt Longmire (both the TV series and books by Craig Johnson) to be published by McFarland. Visit the MSU Billings English department Web site for Schaffer's email address.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Three Steps in the Dark (1953).

Greta Gynt, left, with the Duchess of Kent, ca. 1944
In Three Steps in the Dark, an elderly man announces to his relatives that he intends to change his will, but he is murdered before he can do so. His mystery-writer niece (Greta Gynt) investigates.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Exhibition on pulp illustrator Gloria Stoll Karn.

July 1945 Detective Tales.
Cover by Gloria Stoll Karn
The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, is featuring the exhibition "Gloria Stoll Karn: Pulp Romance" from February 10 to June 10, 2018. Karn, now 94, was one of the few female illustrators for pulp magazines in the 1940s.

    Tuesday, January 02, 2018

    Remembering Sue Grafton: Sparkling Cyanide (1983).

    Before Sue Grafton, who died December 28 at age 77, turned to writing mysteries, she was a screenwriter. One of her credits was a 1983 TV movie of Agatha Christie's Sparkling Cyanide, starring Anthony Andrews and Deborah Raffin.

    Monday, January 01, 2018

    Upcoming Newberry seminar on Christie.

    Agatha Christie, Sept 1964.
    Dutch National Archives
    The seminar "Agatha Christie and the Golden Age of Detective Fiction" will be held at Chicago's Newberry Library on April 14, 2018. Taught by Northwestern University's Elzbieta Foeller-Pituch, it will "discuss representative works of the 1920s and '30s featuring [Christie's] major sleuths, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple" and ways that Christie handles the conventions of the mystery genre. The works listed for discussion are Murder on the Orient Express, Philomel Cottage, and The Thirteen Problems.