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.

Monday, May 04, 2020

Allingham's "Room to Let."

In "Room to Let," Margery Allingham's only radio play, a new lodger who behaves strangely unsettles a widow and her daughter, and the outcome of the case baffles seasoned investigators. This production is by the Old Court Radio Theatre Company.

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

Mysteries 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 programs available on Sound Cloud:

• John Ball's In the Heat of the Night


Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles

• Reginald Rose's Twelve Angry Men

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.