Monday, December 30, 2019

The real-life Charlie Chan.

KHOU2 in Honolulu pays tribute to Apana Chang (1871–1933), the first Chinese police officer in Hawaii who was acknowledged by Earl Derr Biggers as the inspiration for Charlie Chan.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Lady Confesses (1945).

In The Lady Confesses, a couple's marriage plans are derailed when the man's estranged wife appears and is murdered. His fiance sets out to solve the crime, nosing around the activities of a nightclub. Mary Beth Hughes and Hugh Beaumont costar.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Denise Mina on Scottish legal cases.

"The Trial of Madeleine Smith in the Scotch Court of Session."
1857. NYPL
Mystery novelist Denise Mina is hosting a series on BBC Radio 3 focusing on famous legal cases in Scottish history. The latest episode is on Madeleine Smith, accused of poisoning a former suitor and placed on trial in 1857.

Monday, December 16, 2019

10 great whodunnit films.

On BFI's website, Pamela Hutchinson selects and discusses 10 great whodunnit films such as The Last Warning (1928), which deals with the unsolved murder of an actor onstage, and Green for Danger (1946), which examines murder in a wartime hospital.

Ads for The Last Warning

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Dementia 13 (1963).

In this early film written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by low-budget specialist Roger Corman, an ax murderer stalks a family that has plenty of secrets to conceal.

Monday, December 09, 2019

The Lost World and conmen.

Scenes from The Lost World (1925)
The latest episode of the American Heritage Center's Archives on the Air deals with conmen who attempted to extort Cathrine Curtis, a producer planning an adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World (ultimately released in 1925). The film is notable for its early use of stop-motion animation.

Cathrine Curtis, ca. 1925

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

ELT ends after 60 years.

Sad news: The journal English Literature in Transition, 1880–1920, is closing up shop in late 2020 after a run of more than 60 years. The journal was a friendly venue for scholarly articles on mystery and detective fiction of the period, and editor Robert Langenfeld and I once exchanged info on our respective journals for publication in ELT and Clues in collegial fashion.

For a history of ELT, go here.

Monday, December 02, 2019

ISO: Mystery companion proposals.

I have a wishlist for proposals for the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series that I edit (see below), but I also am interested in hearing from those who would like to prepare a proposal on alternative subjects. Potential subjects must have a substantial body of work (roughly defined as a minimum of 25 books).

Further details on the elements of a proposal.
• If interested, contact me.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

"Somebody Loves You" (1960).

Screenwriter Liam O'Brien created the scenario for the 1960 TV series Johnny Midnight. It starred his brother, Edmond O'Brien, as an actor turned PI investigating crimes in the New York theatrical world, often drawing on his talent for disguise and usually involving some sort of fight sequence. In the episode "Somebody Loves You," Johnny looks into the suicide attempt of a celebrated Swedish actress. J. Pat O'Malley costars.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Matthew Surridge on The Best of Manhunt.

On Splice Today, Matthew Surridge reviews Stark House Press's The Best of Manhunt, an anthology of stories from an important crime fiction magazine that published authors such as Lawrence Block, David Goodis, Evan Hunter, John D. MacDonald, and Donald Westlake.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Find the Blackmailer (1943).

In Find the Blackmailer, private detective Jerome Cowan goes on the trail of a talking crow, which can implicate politician Gene Lockhart in blackmail and murder.

Monday, November 18, 2019

"The Missing Number" (1922).

Elisabeth Ellicott Poe, right,
1918. Library of Congress,
Prints & Photos Div.
Elisabeth Ellicott Poe (1886–1947) and Vylla Poe Wilson (1883–1969) trained women for national service during World War I and were longtime society and culture reporters for the Washington Post. Dubbed "the Poe Sisters," they were related to Edgar Allan Poe (their great-grandfather was a brother of Poe's grandfather). They were steadfast champions of their relative's work, with Elisabeth writing at least 20 articles on Poe's life and work; Vylla reviewing Dorothy Dow's take on Poe, Dark Glory, for the Post in January 1932; and the sisters establishing a short-lived, Poe-related journal, The Stylus, and coauthoring Poe: A High Priest of the Beautiful (1930). Elisabeth also painted, with some critics stating that her imagery resembled Poe's.

Vylla Poe Wilson, left, 1918.
Library of Congress,
Prints & Photos Div.
From May to June 1922, the sisters published "The Missing Number," a serial in 18 parts, in the Post. This mystery about the disappearance of a diplomat's wife in Washington, DC, that involves a Poe-like number cipher was trumpeted by the Post as "the first Poe mystery story in 73 years!" (see below). It featured a sleuthing female reporter, a disreputable medium, an energetic policeman, and more than one distraught family member and sinister servant. Although "The Missing Number" provided an interesting look at Washington life of the time (remember streetcars?), it is a not very successful literary work. It has an unknown half-brother (cheating, for many mystery writers and readers), some cloying romance, and portrayals of African Americans and a deaf-mute that would likely be unpalatable to modern readers.

The Poe Sisters are buried in DC's Glenwood Cemetery. Read Elisabeth's "Poe, the Weird Genius" (Cosmopolitan, Feb. 1909).

Excerpt from "The Missing Number," Washington Post, 31 May 1922.
Ad for "The Missing Number"
Washington Post, 19 May 1922: 2

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The return of Dorothy Bowers.

In the Shropshire Star Keri Trigg discusses the reprinting by Moonstone Press of the five detective novels of Dorothy Bowers (1902–48), a member of the Detection Club adept in the "fair play" mystery who died young from tuberculosis.

The books are:

Postscript to Poison (Inspector Dan Pardoe, 1938)

Shadows Before (Pardoe, 1939; Kirkus review)

A Deed without a Name (Pardoe, 1940; Kirkus review)

Fear for Miss Betony (Pardoe, 1941; Kirkus review)

The Bells at Old Bailey (Detective Inspector Raikes, 1947. "a literate and entertaining excursion into murder"—Jack Glick, New York Times)

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

"Rebecca" (1962).

This April 1962 version of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca aired on Theatre '62 and featured James Mason as Maxim de Winter and Joan Hackett as the second Mrs. de Winter. Nina Foch took on the role of housekeeper Mrs. Danvers, and Lloyd Bochner was Rebecca's cousin Jack Favell.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

The Chase (1946).

Based on The Black Path of Fear by Cornell Woolrich, The Chase features Robert Cummings as a troubled World War II veteran who becomes chauffeur to gangster Steve Cochran and entangled with Cochran's wife (Michele Morgan). Peter Lorre costars.

Monday, November 04, 2019

New exhibition on Rex Stout and his work.

The Burns Library at Boston College, the depository of Rex Stout's papers, has opened the exhibition "Golden Spiders and Black Orchids: A 'Satisfactory' Look into the Life and Mysteries of Rex Stout." The exhibition, which features Stout’s fiction and its adaptations, his activism, his pastimes, and his fandom, has interesting items such as a Nero Wolfe comic strip and Nero Wolfe postage stamps from San Marino and Nicaragua. The exhibition is on view until January 2020.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Mystery Junction (1951).

In Mystery Junction, a mystery writer encounters murder on a train.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Knopf and Cain tussle over The Postman Always Rings Twice.

James M. Cain with Lana Turner
On the Library of Congress blog, former Washington Post reporter Neely Tucker discusses the evolution of the title of James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice, based on the Cain papers in the LOC. The work began life with the unpromising title BAR-B-Que.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Yellow Canary (1943).

Richard Greene and Anna Neagle
in Yellow Canary (1943)
In Yellow Canary, a well-to-do Nazi sympathizer (Anna Neagle) traveling to Canada becomes a focus of both British and Nazi agents, with the fate of a British convoy in the balance. The film is based on a story by Pamela Bower (daughter of the film's director, Herbert Wilcox, and stepdaughter of Neagle) and a screenplay cowritten by actor-screenwriter Miles Malleson. Costars include Richard Greene, Margaret Rutherford, and Valentine Dyall.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Crime Unlimited (1935).

In Crime Unlimited, a Scotland Yard detective (Esmond Knight) goes undercover in a gang of jewel thieves, seeking to unmask its mysterious leader. The film is based on the 1933 book of the same name by David Hume (aka former journalist John Victor Turner). Costars include Lilli Palmer as a Russian dancer associated with the gang.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Restored 1954 recording of Ngaio Marsh.

Ngaio Marsh companion
Ngaio Marsh companion (2019)
published by McFarland
In a restored recording from 1954, Ngaio Marsh speaks about her first novel, A Man Lay Dead (1934); relates her "odd" (in her view) process of writing detective fiction; and provides her eyewitness account of the eventful inauguration of E. C. Bentley as Detection Club president in 1936 with Dorothy L. Sayers and John Rhode, among others. "I screamed," notes Marsh. Other topics include her involvement in theater in New Zealand. (Read about the recording's restoration process.)

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

The Seventh Survivor (1942).

In The Seventh Survivor, World War II secret agents square off after a ship is torpedoed.

Monday, October 07, 2019

Sherlock Holmes essay contest for students.

Joseph Pennell, "Baker Street," ca. 1908.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Div.
The Beacon Society is sponsoring an essay contest for US and Canadian students in 4th to 12th grades that focuses on the Sherlock Holmes stories The Adventure of the Red-Headed League,“The Adventure of the Copper Beeches,” and “The Greek Interpreter.” There are cash prizes for first to third place. The submission deadline is February 1, 2020. (Thanks to the podcast I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere.)

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Strangers in the Night (1944).

In this film adaptation of a story by Philip MacDonald, a Marine looks into the identity of a mysterious woman who has been writing letters to him.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Exhibition on Florence Chandler Maybrick.

The New Milford (CT) Historical Society and Museum is hosting the exhibition "Florence Maybrick: The Mystery of the Dress." The American-born Maybrick (1862–1941) was convicted of killing her husband, James, in 1889 (although her husband was fond of taking arsenic, and a case could be made for the mental incompetence of the judge at her trial). She served 14 years in prison and was pardoned by King Edward VII in 1904. She returned to the United States, living in Connecticut. The museum is seeking artifacts related to Maybrick's time in Connecticut to add to the exhibition.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Train of Events (1949).

Train of Events tells the stories of people involved in a train crash, including a man who has killed his cheating wife and placed her body in a basket. The cast includes Peter Finch, Valerie Hobson, Michael Hordern, and Miles Malleson.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Oct 1 deadline for Clues theme issue,
"Crime's Hybrid Forms."

The deadline is October 1, 2019, to submit to the Clues theme issue on "Genre-Bending: Crime's Hybrid Forms" that will be guest edited by Maurizio Ascari (University of Bologna).

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Dead of Night (1945).

In Dead of Night, a man fears that his recurring dream foretells dire events to come. Michael Redgrave (as a disturbed ventriloquist), Googie Withers, and Miles Malleson star.

Monday, September 16, 2019

FSU mystery exhibition curated by 12-year-old.
Joseph, a 12-year-old mystery enthusiast and scholar-in-residence, has curated the exhibition "A Century of Mystery and Intrigue" at Florida State University Library's Special Collections and Archives, which involves trains and includes such works as Freeman Wills Crofts's Inspector French and the Starvel Hollow Tragedy (1927). Joseph writes here about the exhibition, which will remain on view until December 20, 2019 (see also FSU story). Questions about the exhibition (and perhaps Joseph's work at the library) can be directed to preservation librarian Hannah Wiatt Davis.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Trans-Atlantic Mystery (1932).

This short-film follow-up to The Wall-Street Mystery once again is written by S. S. Van Dine and features Donald Meek as criminologist Dr. Crabtree and John Hamilton as Inspector Carr. This time, they contend with stolen gems and two deaths.

Monday, September 09, 2019

The talents of Charles Altamont Doyle.

Through September 23, the Huntington Library is featuring an exhibition of work by Charles Altamont Doyle, the troubled artist father of Arthur Conan Doyle. The Doyle family had significant artistic talent: Charles's father, John, was a political cartoonist; his brother, Richard, was an illustrator; and his son, Conan Doyle, showed substantial ability in his own sketches. Given Conan Doyle's belief in fairies, the fairy subject matter of several of his father's works may be of interest.

"Hutton—The Bookseller." Illustration by
Charles Altamont Doyle for James Hogg's
Men Who Have Risen

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Dual Alibi (1947).

In Dual Alibi, Herbert Lom plays twin trapeze artists who compete for the same woman and become entangled in murder.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Clues 37.2: Interwar mysteries.

Clues 37.2 (2019)
The volume 37, no. 2 (2019) issue of Clues has been published, which is a theme issue on interwar mysteries guest edited by Victoria Stewart (University of Leicester, UK). See below for the abstracts. To order the issue, contact McFarland.

Ebook versions available: GooglePlay, Kindle, and Nook.

Introduction / VICTORIA STEWART. The guest editor of Clues 37.2 on interwar mysteries discusses its contents, including articles on Agatha Christie, Mary Fitt. Ngaio Marsh, Clifford Orr, Raymond Postgate, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Josephine Tey.

Detecting Histories, Detecting Genealogies: The Origins of Golden Age Detective Fiction / STACY GILLIS (University of Newcastle, UK). This article traces interwar attempts to define detective fiction, with an emphasis on how critics such as Dorothy L. Sayers, H. Douglas Thomson, and T. S. Eliot traced its origins in classical, biblical, and more recent texts. It argues that this demonstrates an anxiety relating to conceptions of literary taste on the part of these commentators.

“The Ghost of Dr. Freud Haunts Everything Today”:
Criminal Minds in the Golden-Age Psychological Thriller / STEFANO SERAFINI (Royal Holloway, University of London). This essay provides new insights into the development of interwar crime fiction by investigating how, and to what extent, two such apparently irreconcilable subgenres as the classic detective story and the psychological thriller interact and intertwine in the work of often-neglected Golden Age writers.

Killing Innocence: Obstructions of Justice in Late-Interwar British Crime Fiction / J. C. BERNTHAL (University of Cambridge). This article analyzes Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and Raymond Postgate’s Verdict of Twelve, both written toward the end of the interwar period and published at the outset of World War II. Christie and Postgate interrogate ethics in the British criminal justice system, using the figure of the child-victim to complicate interwar constructions of innocence.

Capital Punishment and Women in the British Police Procedural: Josephine Tey’s A Shilling for Candles and To Love and Be Wise / EVIE JEFFREY (University of Newcastle, UK). This article considers Josephine Tey’s engagement with contemporary capital punishment debates through considering the phenomenon of the “wrongful” arrest. It argues that women are central to the exploration of these debates, particularly when reading the novels as part of the subgenre of police procedurals within the Golden Age of detective fiction.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Shadow Man (aka Street of Shadows, 1953).

In The Shadow Man, saloon owner Cesar Romero is framed for murder and must prove that he is innocent. The film is based on The Creaking Chair by Laurence Meynell.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Homes of local mystery writers.

The website DC Writers' Homes—a project of Humanities DC—features residences of such writers as James M. Cain (6707 44th Ave, University Park, MD), Roald Dahl (2136 R St NW in DC), Rudolph Fisher (1607 S St NW in DC), Lucille Fletcher (3435 8th St S, Arlington, VA), Mary Roberts Rinehart (2419 Massachusetts Ave NW and 2660 Woodley Rd in DC), and Manley Wade Wellman (400 Shepherd St NW in DC).

Mary Roberts Rinehart with chauffeur outside her
home at 2419 Massachusetts Ave NW in
Washington, DC (now the Embassy of Zambia).
ca. 1920s-early 1930s. Library of Congress,
Prints and Photographs Division

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Spies of the Air (1939).

In Spies of the Air, British intelligence hunts for the thief of secret airplane plans. Based on the play Official Secret by Jeffrey Dell, the film stars Roger Livesey and Basil Radford, with an interesting name appearing as film editor: future director David Lean.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Exhibition inspired by Hitchcock films.

Beth Accomando on station KPBS discusses an art exhibition based on Hitchcock films that will be on view at San Diego's Subterranean Coffee Boutique until September 6.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Moment of Indiscretion (1958).

In Moment of Indiscretion, a woman faces a murder charge when she will not reveal where she was at the time of the crime.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Avbl for preorder: Companion on Ian Rankin.

Ian Rankin: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction
Now available for preorder is the upcoming volume 10—on the works of John Rebus creator Ian Rankin—in the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series that I edit. Author and Fanshawe College professor Erin E. MacDonald wrote the earlier, well-regarded companion on Ed McBain/Evan Hunter. Volume 10 provides a comprehensive examination of Rankin's writing career, including short stories that the Scottish author had forgotten he had written and interesting sidelights such as the Rebus play Long Shadows.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Rough Shoot (1953).

In Rough Shoot (aka Shoot First), former US colonel Joel McCrea becomes entangled with murder and a spy ring in England. The film is based on A Rough Shoot by Geoffrey Household, with a screenplay by Eric Ambler. Costars include Evelyn Keyes, Herbert Lom, and Marius Goring.

Monday, August 05, 2019

New publications on Sayers.

Some new books dealing with Dorothy L. Sayers:
    God, Hitler, and Lord Peter WimseyAnglican Women Novelists

• Tippermuir Books follows up its collection of Sayers book reviews (ed. Martin Edwards) with God, Hitler, and Lord Peter Wimsey, a collection of articles, essays, and speeches by Sayers, including a radio broadcast that has never been published before.

Anglican Woman Novelists from T&T Clark covers Sayers and P. D. James, among other female authors.

• Coming in October from InterVarsity Press: Choosing Community: Action, Faith, and Joy in the Works of Dorothy L. Sayers

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

A Man Betrayed (1941).

In A Man Betrayed, John Wayne is a small-town attorney looking into the suspicious death of a friend and uncovers skullduggery in big-city politics. Frances Dee and Ward Bond costar.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Hillerman biography in progress.

This article in the July 7 Albuquerque Journal on the University of New Mexico's Center for Southwest Research reveals that author James McGrath Morris (Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power) is working on a biography of Tony Hillerman.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

One Body Too Many (1944).

In One Body Too Many, mild-mannered insurance agent Albert Tuttle (Jack Haley) encounters scheming relatives of a recently deceased millionaire who seem intent on doing away with the millionaire's niece (Jean Parker). Bela Lugosi costars.

Monday, July 22, 2019

The nefarious state of Wisconsin.

In the Wisconsin State Journal, several mystery authors (such as Victoria Houston, who writes the Loon Lake mystery series with fly-fishing enthusiast and chief of police Lewellyn Ferris) discuss why the state is such an inviting setting for mystery.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Big Frame (aka The Lost Hours, 1952).

In The Big Frame, pilot Mark Stevens quarrels with a friend, waking up the next morning at a unfamiliar hotel as Scotland Yard's top suspect in the friend's murder.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The gifts of Celia Fremlin.

Author Lucy Lethbridge in the July 2019 issue of The Oldie lauds Celia Fremlin's Edgar-winning The Hours Before Dawn (1958) and the skills applied by Fremlin from her time in the British project Mass Observation. Says Lethbridge, "This is a novel about intelligent, frustrated women in the impoverished disappointment of 1950s London."

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Everything Is Thunder (1936).

Based on the novel by former British Army officer Jocelyn Lee Hardy, Everything Is Thunder features a prostitute (Constance Bennett) who attempts to help a prisoner of war (Douglas Montgomery) escape from Nazi Germany.

Monday, July 08, 2019

A walk with Anthony Boucher.

Jeffrey Marks's Anthony Boucher:
A Biobibliography
Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association has scheduled a July 21 walk of South Berkeley (CA) locations associated with mystery/sci fi author-editor-critic Anthony Boucher (aka William Anthony Parker White). The walk will be guided by Randal Brandt, a librarian who curates the California Detective Fiction Collection at UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Deadly Affair (1967).

In this adaptation of John le Carré's Call for the Dead (1961) that is directed by Sidney Lumet, a British agent (James Mason) is suspicious of the suicide of a man he had investigated (Robert Flemyng).

Monday, June 24, 2019

J. S. Fletcher celebrates a centenary.

New HarperCollins edition of Fletcher's
The Middle Temple Murder
In the Oxford Times, Christopher Gray celebrates the centenary of the publication of The Middle Temple Murder (1919) by Yorkshire-born Joseph Smith Fletcher, better known as J. S. Fletcher (1863–1935). Says Gray, "The novel put me very much in mind of John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps." In the novel (read by presidential mystery fan Woodrow Wilson), a journalist and a Scotland Yard inspector see something more in a violent death than a robbery gone wrong.

More on Fletcher (who apparently also was a friend of T. S. Stribling)

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

"The Last of the Sommervilles" (1961).

In this episode of Thriller directed by Ida Lupino and cowritten by Lupino and her cousin Richard Lupino, a scheming heir plots to eliminate the competition for an inheritance. Phyllis Thaxter and Martita Hunt costar.

Monday, June 17, 2019

German films of Edgar Wallace works.

Edgar Wallace, Der Frosch mit der Maske
(Fellowship of the Frog)
On the Galactic Journey blog, Cora Buhlert discusses the popularity in Germany of film adaptations of the works of Edgar Wallace, including Der Zinker (The Squeaker) with Klaus Kinski.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

They Can't Hang Me (1955).

Adapted and directed by Val Guest from a story by journalist Leonard Mosley, They Can't Hang Me features a convicted civil servant attempting to avoid the hangman's noose by claiming he can identify a spy notorious for disclosing top-secret nuclear information. Andre Morell stars.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Ellery Queen, Rex Stout, and WQXR.

Ad for WQXR, 1963
New York Public Radio archivist Andy Lanset spotlights mentions of WQXR (a well-known classical music station in New York) in books, including those by Ellery Queen and Rex Stout (the latter mentioning the station in four works). Go here for a history of WQXR, including its ownership for nearly 30 years by the New York Times.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

The Man Who Finally Died (1963).

Stanley Baker gets physical in
The Man Who Finally Died
In The Man Who Finally Died, Stanley Baker sets out on the trail of his father, who supposedly died in World War II. Costars include Peter Cushing and Eric Portman.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Upcoming Ngaio Marsh companion.

This is the upcoming volume 9 in the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series that I edit. It focuses on Ngaio Marsh, creator of well-born Inspector Roderick Alleyn. Marsh joins other subjects John Buchan, E. X. Ferrars, Ed McBain/Evan Hunter, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Andrea Camilleri, James Ellroy, Sara Paretsky, and P. D. James.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Arthur Conan Doyle, pre-Sherlock.

Arthur Conan Doyle. NYPL
Edinburgh Live discussed an 1882 letter by Arthur Conan Doyle to Blackwood's Magazine trying to sell his short story "The Actor's Duel" (later published as "The Tragedians").

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Miss Robin Hood (1952).

In Miss Robin Hood, a pulp writer is embroiled in a plot to recover a recipe for spirits stolen from a family a long time ago.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Your mission, should you decide to accept it...

Peter Graves with his
brother, James Arness
A recent episode of Wyoming Public Media's Archives on the Air focuses on the TV program Mission: Impossible, featuring (from the collections of the American Heritage Center) a page from the script "The Carrier" by Ronald Austin and a page from Morris Abrams's production notes for the episode "The Amateur."

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Desperate Moment (1953).

Based on the novel by Martha Albrand, Desperate Moment features a wrongly convicted Dirk Bogarde seeking the actual murderer in his case in postwar Germany.

Monday, May 13, 2019

"The Art of Sherlock Holmes" exhibition.

On view until June 3 at Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens in West Palm Beach, FL, is the exhibition "The Art of Sherlock Holmes," which features 15 artistic works inspired by the Great Detective.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Three Weird Sisters (1947).

In this adaptation of the novel by Charlotte Armstrong, in which one of the screenwriters was poet Dylan Thomas, a secretary thinks her employer's life is in danger at the hands of his three sisters.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Lawsuit re Elmore Leonard's papers settled.

The Detroit News reported that a lawsuit regarding the sale of Elmore Leonard's papers to the University of South Carolina had been settled. Christine Leonard, Leonard's ex-wife, had sued alleging that Leonard's company, trust, and son had sold the archive in secret (stating that a stipulation in the divorce decree entitled her to a share of the proceeds).

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Clues 37.1: Canadian Detective Fiction, Nancy Drew, Shelley, Trauma, Dementia, and More.

Volume 37, no. 1 of Clues: A Journal of Detection has been published, which can be purchased from McFarland & Co. (Cree-French Canadian author Wayne Arthurson is on the cover). The abstracts for the issue follow below.

Ebook versions available: Google Play, Nook, Kindle

Introduction / JANICE M. ALLAN (Univ of Salford) The executive editor of Clues discusses the contents of Clues vol. 37, no. 1, including articles on dementia in detective fiction, a Percy Bysshe Shelley poem viewed as a detective story, Wayne Arthurson, Giles Blunt, Gail Bowen, Arthur Conan Doyle, Laurie R. King, Nancy Drew, Ron Rash, Rene Saldana Jr., and Peter Temple.

The Sign of the Four and the Detective as a Disrupter of Order / NATHANAEL T. BOOTH (Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China). Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of the Four (1890) often is read in the context of British imperialism and bourgeois rationality, which stresses the problematic nature of Sherlock Holmes’s activity as a detective. Separated from its imperialist context, the novel shows a Holmes who unsettles (rather than restores) social order.

“I ain’t going to the jailhouse if I can help it”: The Thriller Impulse in Ron Rash’s One Foot in Eden / JIM COBY (University of Alabama in Huntsville). This essay examines how the contemporary Appalachian writer Ron Rash employs the tropes of mystery thrillers—tropes largely ignored in southern fiction—in his novel One Foot in Eden (2002), as he grapples with an increasingly urbanized Appalachia.

René Saldaña Jr.’s Innovations of Children’s Detective Fiction in the Mickey Rangel Series / AMY CUMMINS (University of Texas Rio Grande Valley). René Saldaña Jr.’s Mickey Rangel series (Arte Público, 2009–18) both fulfills and rewrites the conventions of children’s detective fiction. On the south Texas border of the United States, fifth-grade detective Mickey solves cases while facing social problems and unanswered questions, aided by a mysterious Angel as his secret sidekick.

Trauma and Contemporary Crime Fiction / MARY ANN GILLIES (Simon Fraser University, Canada). This article explores the role of trauma in contemporary crime novels by Laurie R. King and Peter Temple. It argues that, as understandings of what constitutes trauma have shifted over the last century, crime fiction has adapted as well, representing trauma in sophisticated and complex ways and, in so doing, mirroring the contemporary preoccupation with it.

The Case of the Missing Memory: Dementia and the Fictional Detective / MARLA HARRIS. This essay explores the challenges of creating a detective with dementia in Mitch Cullin’s A Slight Trick of the Mind (2005), Adele LaPlante’s Turn of Mind (2011) and Emma Healey’s Elizabeth Is Missing (2014). As these metaphysical narratives feature paradoxes of identity, they can help destigmatize this devastating condition.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Peer reception of Anna Katharine Green.

Anna Katharine Green. NYPL
Amid the very busy Popular Culture Association conference of last week (see my Twitter feed), I had a chat with Clues contributor Claire Meldrum (Sheridan College, Canada). Meldrum is working on a biography of Anna Katharine Green (listen to her talk about Green on Vermont Public Radio). She is interested in hearing from anyone who has come across mentions of Green and her work by fellow writers (Green did meet Arthur Conan Doyle during one of his lecture tours). Contact Meldrum here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Strange Illusion (1945).

A young man is troubled by a dream that shows his father's death as murder and soon discovers a sinister stranger romancing his mother and sister.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Championing Asimov's mysteries.

Isaac Asimov. LOC,
Prints & Photos Div.
On April 18 at 11:30 am, I'm delivering the paper "'A Necessary Clue': The Mysteries of Isaac Asimov" at the Popular Culture Assn conference in Washington, DC, which attempts to refute the perception of Asimov as merely a purveyor of gimmicks in his mysteries and stumps for his neglected mainstream mystery debut, The Death Dealers (aka A Whiff of Death, 1958).  (This new piece on Sherlock Holmes and SF mentions Asimov, who was a Baker Street Irregular.)

My fellow presenters are Kim Sherwood (University of the West of England and author of Testament), Elizabeth Cuddy (Hampton University), and Christine A. Jackson (Nova Southeastern University).  Read the conference program (guest passes can be purchased onsite for $50 per day for those who would like to attend for a day or two).

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Foxwell on Helen Hagan, WWI Centennial News podcast.

Helen Hagan, 1918
On the World War I Centennial News podcast, I talk about the life and work of New Haven's black pianist-composer Helen Hagan and her performing for black troops in World War I France.

Monday, April 08, 2019

New Clues CFP: "Crime's Hybrid Forms."

"Genre Bending: Crime's Hybrid Forms" is a new call for papers for a theme issue of Clues that will be guest edited by Maurizio Ascari (University of Bologna). Submission deadline: October 1, 2019.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

"The Scott Machine" (1961).

In "The Scott Machine," part of the short-lived TV series The Asphalt Jungle, Deputy Commissioner Matt Gower (Jack Warden) finds himself and his squad in the undesirable position of protecting a neo-Nazi (Robert Vaughn).  John Astin costars.

Monday, April 01, 2019

The many comforts of mysteries.

In the Financial Times, Charlotte Mendelson enumerates the reasons why mysteries are a comfort when personal life is tough: plots, good people confronting bad things, the triumph of the detective, the many different kinds and numbers of mysteries, and the quality of writing.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Franchise Affair (1951).

In Josephine Tey's The Franchise Affair, lawyer Michael Denison investigates when his client (Dulcie Gray, Denison's wife in real life) is accused of the kidnapping of a teenager. Kenneth More costars.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Simenon and Maigret by way of Budapest.

Georges Simenon,
10 May 1965.
Anefo, Dutch Nat Archives
It is interesting to see Georges Simenon's popularity across cultures (such as the recent exhibition in China on his work). In a fun series in the Budapest Times, an anonymous writer is reading through the 75 works in Simenon's Maigret oeuvre as well as providing commentary on locations in the TV series with Michael Gambon (which was filmed in Budapest) and outlets for buying Simenon works in Budapest.

Entries to date:
Additional resource:
  • Interview with John Simenon, son of Georges

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Do You Know This Voice? (1964).

In this film adapted from the novel by American-born writer, pianist, and composer Evelyn Berckman, shoes are the only clue to the identity of a kidnapper and killer. Dan Duryea stars.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Foxwell on WWI Centennial News podcast.

The audio has been posted from my appearance on the World War I Centennial News podcast, talking about some of the roles of the US women in the war. I’m on at about minute 37.15. There’s also information on an interesting documentary on the Hello Girls (the US switchboard operators who served in France) that will be part of several film festivals. As I am from New Jersey, I was happy to mention Flemington’s own Marjorie Hulsizer Copher (a decorated dietitian).