Monday, December 28, 2020

Journalist, socialite, spy.

On the Spycast podcast of DC's Spy Museum, museum historian and curator Andrew Hammond and author Elizabeth Atwood discuss the life of US journalist, socialite, and spy Marguerite Harrison.

Monday, December 21, 2020

An honor to California Detective Fiction Collection librarian.

Anthony Boucher, an author in the California Detective Fiction Collection
On December 10, Randal Brandt, curator of the California Detective Fiction Collection at UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library, received the Distinguished Librarian Award from the Librarians Association of the University of California’s Berkeley chapter. In this interview, he talks about his job, his favorite type of crime fiction, and the California Detective Fiction Collection (view a few collection highlights).

Monday, December 14, 2020

Situating Sherlock.

cover of British Detective Fiction 1891-1901 with illustration of Sherlock Holmes and Prof. Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls
The Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute of Trinity College Dublin profiles faculty member Clare Clarke—guest editor of the upcoming Clues on domestic noir; author of the new British Detective Fiction, 1891–1901: The Successors to Sherlock Holmes; and leader of a new project that will map locations in the Sherlock Holmes canon.

Monday, December 07, 2020

Ray Bradbury's mystery fiction.

In the LA Review of Books, Cullen Gallagher reviews Killer, Come Back to Me, a new collection published by Hard Case Crime of Ray Bradbury's crime stories. Although Bradbury did not think much of his abilities as a mystery writer, Gallagher believes he was being too tough on himself.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Starrett spoofs Christie.

Vincent Starrett
On the Studies in Starrett blog, Ray Betzner discusses "The Other Woman," Vincent Starrett's 1927 parody of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot. In it, Alexandre Dulau attempts to help Mrs. Hopewell Grange, whose husband is behaving oddly.  Says Dulau, "It is possible I have done Mr. Hopewell Grange a great disservice. On the other hand, it is possible that I have acted with my usual intelligence."

Monday, November 23, 2020

Erle Stanley Gardner and the wrongly convicted Native American.

Erle Stanley Gardner
In the December 2020 Smithsonian Magazine, Jack El-Hai discusses author Erle Stanley Gardner's taking up the case in the 1950s of Silas John Edwards, a member of the White Apache tribe who was convicted of killing his wife. It was consistent with the lawyer Gardner's concern with injustice (such as his Court of Last Resort).

Monday, November 16, 2020

Rex Stout and radio.

Rex Stout by Arnold Genthe, 1931.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Div.

Matt Barton, curator of the Library of Congress' Recorded Sound Section, discusses author Rex Stout's roles on the radio that are reflected in more than 40 LOC holdings. These encompass various incarnations of Stout's sleuth Nero Wolfe, Stout's appearances on Information Please, his hosting duties for Speaking of Liberty, and his participation in an episode about the detective story on the NBC program Conversation with critics Clifton Fadiman and Jacques Barzun. Said Stout in the Conversation program, "They're pretty bum stories, the Sherlock Holmes stories. . . . at least two thirds are pretty doggone silly." (It should be noted that Stout wrote the infamous essay "Watson Was a Woman.")

Monday, November 09, 2020

Penumbra debuts.

Gertrude Atherton, ca. 1906–12.
Library of Congress, Prints and
Photographs Div.

S. T. Joshi, known for his work on H. P. Lovecraft, recently announced the debut of Penumbra, a new annual journal on weird fiction that features fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. The first issue includes a reprint of Gertrude Atherton's "The Caves of Death" (1886) and articles such as the following:

• "The Terror of Solitude": The Supernatural Fiction of Edith Wharton
by John C. Tibbetts

• Finding Sherlock Holmes in Weird Fiction by Nancy Holder

• "The Weird Dominions of the Infinite": Edgar Allan Poe and the Scientific Gothic by Sorina Higgins

Monday, November 02, 2020

The real-life Marie Roget.

"Mary Rogers, The Cigar Girl." NYPL

On Nov 7 at 4 pm, the Hoboken Historical Museum will host a virtual presentation by Montclair State University professor emerita Amy Gilman Srebnick on "The Mysterious Death of Mary Rogers,” the case that inspired Edgar Allan Poe's "The Mystery of Marie Roget."

Monday, October 26, 2020

Mystery tropes of the Golden Age.

On the latest episode of the podcast In GAD We Trust, James Scott Byrnside and the podcast host discuss mystery tropes of the Golden Age such as "the dying message," "the false solution," and "the seance." Authors singled out for particular praise include Christianna Brand and Anthony Berkeley Cox, whereas G. K. Chesterton and Ellery Queen come in for some criticism.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Coming in January: Lupin.

On Gizmodo, Charles Pulliam-Moore discusses Lupin, the latest incarnation of Maurice Leblanc's legendary gentleman thief that will be aired on Netflix.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Recent radio production of Sorry, Wrong Number


Lucille Fletcher, ca. 1948

You can catch Bay Area Radio Drama's June production of Lucille Fletcher's Sorry, Wrong Number, here.

Monday, October 05, 2020

Notre Dame's London Book Club:
"Hitchcock in London"

Oscar Homolka and Sylvia
Sidney in Hitchcock's Sabotage

The virtual London Book Club of the University of Notre Dame is currently covering "Hitchcock in London." The episodes include discussions of works adapted for Alfred Hitchcock films such as Marie Belloc Lowndes's The Lodger and Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent. Catch up with episodes here.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Oct 1 virtual reading of Glaspell's "Trifles."

A scene from Susan Glaspell's "Trifles," n.d. NYPL

Shadowpath Theatre and Newmarket Public Library in Ontario, Canada, will be offering a free virtual reading of Susan Glaspell's "Trifles" (which is the earlier play version of her famous 1917 short story "A Jury of Her Peers"). In the play, two women solve a murder that baffles male investigators. The reading will take place on October 1 at 7 pm EDT. Register here for the event.

Update, October 5, 2020. Watch the play reading below.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Hard-boiled detectives and libraries.

Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart)
meets a librarian from the Hollywood Public
Library (Carole Douglas) in the trailer to
The Big Sleep (1946)

Peter Igelström, librarian at Linköping University's Valla Library, takes an entertaining look at the relationship of hardboiled detectives to libraries and librarians. "One wonders why the library is a potential stigma to a hard-boiled detective," he states.

Monday, September 14, 2020

The challenges of mystery translations.


The podcast In GAD We Trust hosts translator Louise Heal Kawai, who worked on the 2019 translations of The Honjin Murders (1946) by eminent Japanese mystery author Seishi Yokomizo and Murder in the Crooked House (1982) by Soji Shimada. She describes the challenges of the translator such as trying to convey cultural facets that may not be familiar to the reader.

Monday, September 07, 2020

The Hesse crown jewels case.

Among the projects on which the National Archives is requesting volunteer transcribing assistance are court-martial case files of Army Colonel Jack W. Durant and his wife, Captain Kathleen Nash Durant, who were convicted (along with co-conspirator David Watson) of stealing the House of Hesse crown jewels after World War II (Countess Margaret of Hesse-Kassel was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, and the Duke of Edinburgh's sister Sophie married into the family). For discussions of the case, see Geoffrey E. Duin's article on HistoryNet and Fred L. Borch III's article in The Army Lawyer.

For details on the Citizen Archivist projects at the National Archives, go here.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Online museum exhibition: "Nancy Drew at 90."

Due to COVID-19, the Museum of Childhood Ireland was unable to launch its exhibition "Nancy Drew at 90" in Dun Lagohaire, so it is online instead. It includes details on the cover illustrators and some fascinating international editions such as Alice et les trois clefs (aka The Clue of the Black Keys).

Monday, August 24, 2020

Clues 38.2: Genre b(l)ending.

Volume 38, number 2 of Clues: A Journal of Detection, guest edited by Maurizio Ascari (University of Bologna), has been published on the theme "Genre B(l)ending: Crime's Hybrid Forms." Below are the abstracts for the issue. Contact McFarland to order the issue or a Clues subscription. 

Update, 9-14-20. The ebook versions are now available: Google Play, Kindle, Nook.

Introduction: Make It New, but Don’t Forget / MAURIZIO ASCARI (University of Bologna)

G. K. Chesterton’s Postmodern Anti-Detective Story: Generic Innovation and Transgression in “The White Pillars Murder” / NILS CLAUSSON (University of Regina, Canada)
G. K. Chesterton’s undervalued story “The White Pillars Murder” anticipates the postmodern anti-detective story in the way it transgresses the conventions of the Holmes-style analytic detective story and subversively introduces political critique into a genre, the Golden Age country house mystery, widely regarded as either apolitical or conservative. 

Murder, Mayhem, and Madness: John Dickson Carr’s Gothic Detective Stories / STEFANO SERAFINI (University of Toronto)
This essay investigates the contact zones between gothic and detective fiction within the early work of the significant yet largely neglected author John Dickson Carr. By revealing the transgressive and contaminated character of his narratives, this essay also provides a more nuanced picture of interwar crime-writing, the literary boundaries of which were constantly violated and renegotiated. 

The Cowboy and the Detective: The Case of Craig Johnson / ANTOINE DECHÊNE
This essay focuses on Craig Johnson’s charismatic protagonist Walt Longmire, the county sheriff of Absaroka, Wyoming. A cowboy-detective par excellence, Longmire embodies the interrelationship between the Western and detective fiction while offering a good example of “glocal literature”—that is, a form of literature that is both global and local. 

James Church’s A Corpse in the Koryo and His Inspector O Series: A Noir/Spy Thriller Hybrid Set in North Korea / DAVID C. WRIGHT JR. (Misericordia University)
Analysis of A Corpse in the Koryo, the first book in the Inspector O series by James Church, shows that this series featuring a North Korean detective constitutes a successful genre hybrid: a hard-boiled detective thriller, à la Raymond Chandler, combined with a spy novel in the style of John le Carré. 

Monday, August 17, 2020

Seattle Public Library's Thrilling Tales podcast.

E. Phillips Oppenheim. NYPL

The Seattle Public Library offers the Thrilling Tales podcast with short story readings (in both audio and transcription form). One episode features E. Phillips Oppenheim's "The Reckoning with Otto Schreed" (1922), and another has the G. K. Chesterton story "The Hammer of God" (1910) with Father Brown.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Foxwell on Velona Pilcher, Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Velona Pilcher (center) in the Stanford opera
In Dutch. Stanford Quad, 1917, p. 110.
Over on the blog of my publisher Deborah Adams, I talk about World War I Red Cross searcher Velona Pilcher (playwright of the "female 'Journey's End'"), my book on US women in World War I, and author Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Monday, August 03, 2020

Another library podcast with mystery short stories.

William Faulkner by Carl Van Vechten.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Div
The Elmhurst (IL) Public Library offers the Storytime for Grown-Ups podcast. The following mystery-related stories have been read on the podcast:
  • "Wasps' Nest" by Agatha Christie
  • "The Landlady" by Roald Dahl (Edgar winner, Best Short Story)
  • "Poison" by Roald Dahl
  • "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner
  • "Wikipedia Brown" by B. J. Novak
  • "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe
  • "Here Lies Another Blackmailer" by Bill Pronzini
  • "The Hangman" by Ian Rankin

Monday, July 27, 2020

Podcast with Bramah, Morrison, Orczy mysteries.

Author Arthur Morrison
Arthur Morrison. NYPL

Staff of the Saint Paul (MN) Public Library have initiated the Adult Storytime Podcast with the following mystery readings:

• "The Lenten Croft Robberies" by Arthur Morrison (with detective Martin Hewitt, 1894)

Ernest Bramah
Ernest Bramah
• "The Coin of Dionysus" by Ernest Bramah (with blind detective Max Carrados, 1913)

Photo of Baroness Orczy
Baroness Orczy
• "The York Mystery" by Baroness Orczy (with the Old Man in the Corner, 1902)



Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

• Update, September 24, 2020
. Episode 4, "The Horror of the Heights" by Arthur Conan Doyle (1913)

Monday, July 20, 2020

Philip Marlowe via Australia.

A radio series in Australia, Philip Marlowe Investigates, was broadcast in 1953 starring Australian actor-writer-producer Reginald Goldsworthy as Marlowe. Episode 1 was "The Lady in the Lake," and episode 2 was "The High Window." Below is "The Lady in the Lake." The American accents are fairly proficient.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Encouraging new scholars in bibliography.

The New Scholars Program of the Bibliographical Society of America seeks to encourage early-career scholars, graduate students, librarians, booksellers, and collectors in bibliography (defined as any research that deals with the creation, production, publication, distribution, reception, transmission, and subsequent history of textual artifacts). Each year, BSA invites three new scholars to give a 15-minute presentation on their research and offers an honorarium of $1,000. This year, the presentations will be virtual. The application deadline is September 8, 2020. Further details here.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Finding Golden Age gems.

The In GAD We Trust podcast chats with short story sleuth Tony Medawar, who has uncovered unknown or neglected works by authors such as Christianna Brand, John Dickson Carr, Agatha Christie, Anthony Berkeley Cox, Edmund Crispin, Ngaio Marsh, and Dorothy L. Sayers. Medawar talks about his favorite mystery finds and other discoveries he has made. A new volume in Medawar's Bodies from the Library series will be out in October in the United States.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Upcoming online course, African American detective fiction.

Norlisha Crawford, associate professor emerita at University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh who guest edited the Clues theme issue on Chester Himes, will be teaching an online course on African American detective fiction starting in August under the auspices of the Rosenbach in Philadelphia. Authors covered will include Himes, Eleanor Taylor Bland, Walter Mosley, and Nichelle D. Tramble.

Monday, June 22, 2020

The gentleman thief, annotated.

Kyrle Bellew as A. J. Raffles in
the play "Raffles, the Amateur
Cracksman" by E. W. Hornung
and Eugene W. Presbrey.
Ca. 1903. NYPL.
This Web site offers annotations and original illustrations for stories featuring A. J. Raffles, the gentleman thief created by E. W. Hornung, brother-in-law of Arthur Conan Doyle.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Ian Rankin companion published.

The latest in the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series that I edit (vol. 10) has been published. Ian Rankin: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction by Erin E. MacDonald (who wrote the companion on Ed McBain/Evan Hunter) delves into the life and works of Scottish novelist Rankin, the creator of Inspector John Rebus, and tips the scales at more than 400 pp. Booklist called it a “[f]ascinating biography…definitely belongs in mystery reference collections."

Monday, June 15, 2020

CFP, Historical Crime Fiction (theme issue of Clues: A Journal of Detection).

Clues has issued a new Call for Proposals for a theme issue on "Historical Crime Fiction" that will be guest edited by Rosemary Erickson Johnsen (Governors State University; author of Contemporary Feminist Historical Crime Fiction). The deadline for proposals is November 1, 2020.

As usual, Clues considers manuscripts on all aspects of mystery, detective, and crime fiction on an ongoing basis, so authors who have a manuscript on a topic that falls outside the Call for Proposals are welcome to submit to Clues Executive Editor Caroline Reitz at any time.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Having Wonderful Crime (1945).

Craig Rice, right, with producer Bob Fellows.
Sourced from the novel by Craig Rice, Having Wonderful Crime features sleuthing couple Carole Landis and George Murphy, aided by their lawyer friend Pat O'Brien, who look into the disappearance of a magician.

Monday, June 08, 2020

The rooms at 221B Baker Street.

The University of Minnesota Libraries have digitized the catalog from the 2007 exhibition "Victorian Secrets and Edwardian Enigmas," which featured re-creations of the sitting room at 221B Baker Street.

Friday, June 05, 2020

A change at Clues.

As McFarland has announced, a new executive editor has been appointed at Clues: A Journal of Detection, the oldest US scholarly journal on mystery/detective/crime fiction: Dr. Caroline Reitz, associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice–CUNY and a faculty member of the CUNY Graduate Center. A Victorian specialist, Dr. Reitz coedits the Dickens Studies Annual, teaches frequently on detective fiction, and wrote Detecting the Nation: Fictions of Detection and the Imperial Venture (2004). As a graduate student, she worked at the famed Kate's Mystery Books (owned by the late Kate Mattes) in Cambridge, MA.

She succeeds Dr. Janice Allan (University of Salford, UK), who has served as executive editor for eight years. As the longtime managing editor of Clues, I am grateful for Dr. Allan's long service and look forward to working with Dr. Reitz.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Wait until Dark (1982).

This 1982 TV version of the play by Frederick Knott (Dial M for Murder, etc.) features Katharine Ross as a blind woman terrorized by criminals who want something that is in her possession. Stacy Keach takes on several roles in this production. Other costars include Joshua Bryant and Edward Winter.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Studio One: "Ten Thousand Horses Singing" (1952).

In "Ten Thousand Horses Singing," the gallant owner of a fledgling cargo airline (John Forsythe) encounters complications such as a llama, a mysterious woman with an abusive spouse, a lively farming family, and a businessman on the run. Look for James Dean in a small role as a hotel bellhop.

Monday, May 18, 2020

What's in a name? The messages in detective monikers.

In the California Literary Review, Jem Bloomfield discusses the messages conveyed through author choices for the names of their detectives. For example, Agatha Christie's Harley Quin suggests Harlequin, who has taken various roles in literature (such as a masked figure in the Commedia del'Arte).

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The Scarf (1951).

In The Scarf, John Ireland is convicted of murder, although he has no memory of the crime, and is confined to an insane asylum. He escapes to find out the truth and meets Mercedes McCambridge.

Monday, May 11, 2020

BFI choices, works with cinema and mystery.

"Flick Lit" presents recommendations by the British Film Institute's Sight & Sound contributors of 100 novels that deal with cinema. The piece states that George R. Sims's "Our Detective Story" (1897) is the "earliest crime drama involving film."

The following mystery-related works are included:

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Remembering Maj Sjowall:
The Laughing Policeman (1973).

Maj Sjowall, best known for the Martin Beck series that she wrote with her partner, Per Wahloo, died on April 29 at age 84. The fourth book in the series, The Laughing Policeman, received an Edgar for Best Novel and was released as a film in 1973 with Walter Matthau, Bruce Dern, and Louis Gossett Jr.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Dummy (1979).

In Dummy, deaf lawyer Paul Sorvino defends LeVar Burton, a deaf man unable to speak who is accused of murder. The writer is Edgar winner Ernest Tidyman (Shaft, The French Connection).

Monday, April 27, 2020

Addl funding for online dime novel project.

Villanova's Falvey Memorial Library announced that it has received a nearly $350,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to continue digitizing dime novels in partnership with Northern Illinois University (Nickels and Dimes collection, which offers research opportunities), Bowling Green State University, Oberlin, and Stanford. Comments by Falvey's Demian Katz indicate that the concentration will be on works issued by Street & Smith, a major dime novel publisher.

The project has provided many valuable mystery-related works, including those by female authors such as Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Anna Katharine Green, and Metta Fuller Victor (aka Seeley Regester).

Illustration from The Figure Eight (1869), by Seeley Regester
(aka Metta Fuller Victor). NIU Nickels and Dimes Collection

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Remembering Brian Dennehy:
Perfect Witness (1989).

Amid the large body of work of veteran actor Brian Dennehy, who died on April 15, is the TV movie Perfect Witness (1989),  in which he appears as a district attorney wishing to prosecute a mob killing, but the witness (Aidan Quinn) faces threats to his family.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Mystery through L.A. Theatre Works.

Looking for something mystery-related to listen to during an extended period at home? L.A. Theatre Works has the following program available on Sound Cloud:

• John Ball's In the Heat of the Night

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Million Dollar Weekend (1948)

In Million Dollar Weekend, stockbroker Gene Raymond faces blackmail and ruination when he decides to embezzle funds from his firm. Raymond also directs and shares a writing credit on the film.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Potential undergraduate and other projects, Nickels & Dimes collection.

Mary Elizabeth Braddon's
Three Times Dead (1881).
Nickels & Dimes Collection, NIU
The librarians at Northern Illinois University's Digital Library have suggestions to offer for virtual projects for undergraduates and others involving the Nickels & Dimes collection.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Chance Meeting (1959).

When a woman is murdered after having an affair with Dutch painter Jan Van Rooyen (Hardy Kruger), Van Rooyen finds that he is the top suspect of Inspector Morgan (Stanley Baker). Costars include Michelene Presle, Gordon Jackson, and Robert Flemyng.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Clues 38.1: Asimov, Christie, Conan Doyle, Ellroy, Flynn, Hammett, and more.

Clues 38.1 has been published; the abstracts follow below. Contact McFarland to order the print issue.  Ebook versions are available: GooglePlay, Kindle, and Nook 

Introduction: Beginnings and Endings / JANICE M. ALLAN (Salford University)
The Clues executive editor outlines the content of Clues 38.1, with articles on authors such as Isaac Asimov, Cheng Xiaoqing, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Ruth Dugdall, James Ellroy, Gillian Flynn, Dashiell Hammett, Tatiana Lobo, Satyajit Ray, Susanne Staun, and Olen Steinhauer.

“Floating Unmoored”: The World of “Tourism” in Olen Steinhauer’s Espionage Trilogy / ROBERT LANCE SNYDER (University of West Georgia)
Olen Steinhauer’s espionage trilogy dramatizes its protagonist’s struggle to forge a centered identity after years of service as a black-ops agent in the CIA’s fictive Department of Tourism. By committing himself to his wife and stepdaughter, Milo Weaver escapes a downward spiral into suicidal disintegration captured by the trope of “floating unmoored.” The series’ recursivity involves structural elements that can be identified as momentum and world-building.

Altering the Hypermasculine through the Feminine: Female Masculinity in Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl / BETH STRATTON 

Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl offers a modern take on the neo-homosocial triangle that results in the triumph of a female masculinity. With the aid of his queer-coded sister, the character of Nick learns to temper his hypermasculinity with a more feminized version of masculinity to win back his wife, Amy.

Hard-Boiled Queers and Communists: James Ellroy’s The Big Nowhere / JOSHUA COMYN (Trinity College, University of Melbourne)
This article argues that the characterization of the killer in James Ellroy’s The Big Nowhere (1988), together with Ellroy’s development as a novelist, can be illuminated through the representation of psychoanalysis and Marxism within the novel, as well as by the historical context of the novel’s fictional setting.

Resisting Invisibility: Mothers and Human Trafficking in Ruth Dugdall’s Nowhere Girl and Susanne Staun’s Skadestuen  / CHARLOTTE BEYER (University of Gloucestershire)
Human trafficking is regularly presented in twenty-first-century crime fiction, frequently through stereotypes of femininity but rarely involving mothers or maternal experience. This article seeks to remedy this gap in representation by analyzing two twenty-first-century crime novels featuring trafficking plots that focus specifically on the politics of representing mothers.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Plunder Road (1957).

In Plunder Road, a gang headed by Gene Raymond robs a train of $10M in gold, but evading the police and camouflaging the gold pose significant difficulties.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Update: Anna Katharine Green induction into New York State Writers Hall of Fame.

New edition of Anna Katharine Green's
That Affair Next Door (1897) coming
soon from Poisoned Pen Press/Sourcebooks
I've been advised by the Empire State Center for the Book, which hosts the NYS Writers Hall of Fame, that the ceremony at the Princeton Club for the 2020 inductees (including mystery pioneer Anna Katharine Green) has been moved to September 14.

Here's my original post on the subject.

Update, 5-26-20. I've been advised that the induction is being moved to June 7, 2021.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Moonlight Murder (1936).

In Moonlight Murder, an opera singer dies in front of a large audience, and detective Chester Morris is on the case.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Update: Chesterton home saved.

G. K. Chesterton. NYPL.
In the Catholic Herald, Simon Caldwell reports that G. K. Chesterton's home, Overroads, was saved from a developer's plan to replace it with apartments.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Uncle Silas (aka The Inheritance, 1947).

Based on the novel of the same name by Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu, Uncle Silas features a young heiress (Jean Simmons) whose nefarious uncle (Derrick De Marney) is prepared to take drastic measures to gain control of her fortune.

Monday, March 16, 2020

John Buchan in Oxford.

John Buchan. NYPL
The Oxford Mail discusses John Buchan's years in Oxfordshire, where he produced, among other works, the Richard Hannay novels The Three Hostages (1924) and The Island of Sheep (1936).

Monday, March 09, 2020

William C. Honeyman: Violinist, mystery author, Holmes inspiration?

The Strad discusses the career of Scottish violinist and mystery author William Crawford Honeyman (1845–1919), including possible influences on Arthur Conan Doyle. Under the pseudonym James McGovan, Honeyman wrote stories with an Edinburgh detective.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Lady without Passport (1950).

US immigration agent John Hodiak has a problem when he uncovers a human smuggling ring in Cuba that he needs to shut down and meets Hedy Lamarr, who seeks to reach the United States.

Monday, March 02, 2020

Chandler in World War I.

In the Smart Set, Benjamin Welton discusses Raymond Chandler's service in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and short-lived time in the RAF in World War I.

Further reading:
• Chandler's Canadian WWI service record (notes his status as a "naturalized British citizen" and includes his description of himself as a journalist. Fans may be amused by the mistake in his medical exam record, in which his first name is rendered as "Reginald.")

Chandler's signature from his Canadian discharge papers.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Midnight Limited (1940).

In Midnight Limited, railroad detective John King teams up with robbery victim Marjorie Reynolds, seeking to nab the perpetrator of a series of train robberies and the killer of his assistant.

Monday, February 24, 2020

An exhibition on a notorious 1963 robbery.

Through 19 April 2020, the Postal Museum in London is offering the exhibition "The Great Train Robbery: Crime and the Post," which provides a history of the Post Office Investigation Branch (established in 1683) and the notorious August 1963 robbery of a Royal Mail train, in which thieves made off with £2.6 million (approximately $71 million in today's dollars).

Smithsonian magazine on the Great Train Robbery

• 2014 documentary on the robbery—A Tale of Two Thieves:

Monday, February 17, 2020

An early appearance by the Continental Op.

On its Web site, the Library of America features a Continental Op short story, "The Tenth Clew" (1924), by Dashiell Hammett. The Op finds that his client, who told him that his life had been threatened, has been murdered. He wonders about the young woman who intended to marry the dead man.

Monday, February 10, 2020

History Extra on real-life and fictional Scotland Yard detectives.

Jack Hawkins in Gideon of Scotland Yard (1958)
History Extra of BBC History Magazine looks at the history of Scotland Yard, including Charles Frederick Field (the model for Dickens's Inspector Bucket in Bleak House). It also covers fictional Yard representatives such as Wilkie Collins's Sergeant Cuff, John Creasey's George Gideon, Andrew J. Forrester Jr.'s Mrs. G, and P. D. James's Adam Dalgleish.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Anna Katharine Green: Upcoming inductee, NYS Writers Hall of Fame.

Anna Katharine Green. NYPL
On June 2, mystery pioneer Anna Katharine Green (1846–1935) will be inducted into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame (see the announcement video on the Empire State Center for the Book's Facebook page). This is the happy result of a nomination submitted by my Clues colleague, Claire Meldrum of Canada's Sheridan College (who is writing a biography of Green), and me. Author of the landmark mystery novel The Leavenworth Case (1878) and numerous other mystery works as well as a champion of the writing profession, the Brooklyn-born Green was a longtime resident of Buffalo, along with her husband, Charles Rohlfs (a well-respected Arts and Crafts furniture designer), and her three children.

The induction dinner will be held at the Princeton Club in New York,  and Rebecca Crozier, a great-great granddaughter of Green, is expected to attend. I will be there as well.

More on the 2020 inductees

Update, 3-26-20. The induction dinner has been moved to September 14.

Update, 5-26-20. I've been advised that the induction is being moved to June 7, 2021. 

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Tune in tonight:
2020 inductees, NYS Writers Hall of Fame.

Tune in tonight at 7 pm ET to the Empire State Center for the Book's Facebook page for the announcement of the 2020 inductees to the New York State Writers Hall of Fame. There will be good news for mystery fans.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Codes, ciphers, and mysteries.

On the Oxford University Press blog, Edwin Battistella (Southern Oregon University) discusses the presence of codes and ciphers in works by mystery authors such as Dan Brown, Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, and Charlie Lovett.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Chesterton home at risk.

G. K. Chesterton, 1904. NYPL
This article in the Christian Post notes that G. K. Chesterton's home "Overroads" in Buckinghamshire may be torn down to make way for new apartments. The Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton opposes the proposal and has been involved in a letter-writing campaign to save the home.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Apology for Murder (1945).

In a scenario reminiscent of Double Indemnity, a reporter in Apology for Murder helps his girlfriend kill her husband, and another man is accused of the crime. Hugh Beaumont stars.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Laura's Waldo Lydecker.

In the North American Review, editor Grant Tracey examines the narcissism of Waldo Lydecker, a major character in Vera Caspary's Laura (and Caspary's take on Wilkie Collins's Count Fosco).

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Reviews in verse.

I hadn't encountered a book reviewer who rendered his reviews in verse until recently: Paul Allen of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in the column "The Verse Side of Crime" in 1935-39. As a sample of his reviews, read his poetic view of Ellery Queen's Halfway House (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 11 Oct. 1936: C15):

The Lamberton Road, New Jersey
As you'll see by your tourists' guide,
Is more of a byway than just the right highway
To take for a pleasure ride;
It follows the Delaware River,
From Trenton, for miles on miles,
Past garbage dumps and sewage pumps
And a slow stream's rotting piles.

The Lamberton Road, New Jersey,
Runs by a forbidding spot,
Where some unknown, in a day long flown,
Erected a miserable cot;
It now has become weatherbeaten,
And bent by the weight of time—
A decrepit shack, turned a somber black,
A dwelling predestined for crime.

Down Lamberton Road, New Jersey,
Bill Angell, attorney, drives
His car, one night, in the fading light,
Till at the old shack he arrives;
To Bill comes a strange, eerie feeling,
As he draws up with bated breath.
And with nervous quakes, applies the brakes
Of his car by that house marked for death.

On Lamberton Road, New Jersey,
Re-echoes a feminine scream;
It comes from a room of that house in the gloom
Like the wail of a hideous dream;
Then out from the house darts a woman;
She enters her automobile—
A terror-stricken lass, who steps on the gas,
And scrams out of sight with a squeal.

From Lamberton Road, New Jersey,
Bill Angell then enters the door,
And under his eyes, immediately spies
A man stretched out flat on the floor;
The man has a message to whisper:
"A veiled woman knifed me!" he cries;
As Bill grabs his paws (they're his brother-in-law's)
The b-in-l. shudders and dies.

On Lamberton Road, New Jersey,
In that shanty, forbidding and lone,
A murder's committed, and are we outwitted?
We are, for no motive is shown;
But right from the start we're delighted,
To the close of the tale's final scene
By the deeds energetic, phrenetic, kinetic,
Of magnetic Ellery Queen.

(Lamberton Road, BTW, does indeed run along the Delaware River in Trenton.)

Monday, January 06, 2020

The life of a mystery writer.

For a few more days, you can listen to episodes from the lively Three-a-Penny read by Diana Quick on BBC 4. It is the autobiography of Lucy Malleson, aka Anthony Gilbert and Anne Meredith. Mystery fans may be most interested in the episode "The Detection Club," in which Malleson describes her induction into that august British body with leading roles played by G. K. Chesterton, Dorothy L. Sayers,  and John Rhode.