Monday, July 22, 2024

Film Music Friday: Bernard Herrmann.

Catching up on Film Music Friday episodes from Kansas Public Radio, there's an episode on composer Bernard Herrmann, including excerpts from his scores for Psycho and North by Northwest.

Fan of the theremin? There's an episode on it, including an excerpt from Spellbound.

Prof. Leon Theremin with his eponymous
device, 1928. NYPL

Monday, July 15, 2024

More Albert Glasser scores (film noir).

Following the release of Albert Glasser's score for Ed McBain's Cop Hater are Glasser's scores for the films Please Murder Me (with Raymond Burr and Angela Lansbury, 1956) and Treasure of Monte Cristo (with Glenn Langan, Adele Jergens, and Steve Brodie, 1949).

Also of interest: Glasser's score for The Big Caper (with Rory Calhoun and James Gregory, 1957)


Monday, July 08, 2024

John Buchan on the History of Literature podcast.

The History of Literature podcast sits down with Ursula Buchan to discuss the multifaceted life and work of her grandfather, John Buchan (The Thirty-Nine Steps, etc.).

Tuesday, July 02, 2024

The Hardy Boys return.

Just out from Dover Publications: books 4 and 5 in the Hardy Boys series—The Missing Chums (orig publ 1928; Frank and Joe pursue  robbers and kidnappers) and Hunting for Hidden Gold (orig publ. 1928; Frank and Joe go in aid of their injured father and locate an abandoned mine). They join The Tower Treasure (book 1, 1927), The House on the Cliff (book 2, 1927), and The Secret of the Old Mill (book 3, 1927). Canadian journalist Leslie McFarlane wrote these books as well as a memoir, Ghost of the Hardy Boys.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Film score to Ed McBain's Cop Hater.

As Scott Bettencourt notes in Film Score Friday, Kronos Records has scheduled for release in July the soundtrack to Cop Hater (1958), the film based on the first 87th Precinct novel by Ed McBain (1956) featuring Robert Loggia, Gerald S. O'Loughlin, and Vincent Gardenia. The composer is Albert Glasser. Order the CD or listen to a few samples here.

Monday, June 17, 2024

My latest EQMM column.

My latest column, The Jury Box, appears in the July/Aug 2024 Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. In it, I review recent classic reprints and short story collections that offer elements atypical in mystery fiction (like the unreliable narrator). Authors covered are Joan Cockin (aka Edith Joan Burbidge Macintosh), Sebastian Farr (aka Eric Walter Blom), Lorenz Heller, Edward D. Hoch, R. M. Laurenson, Helen Nielsen, Isabel Ostrander, and Florence Ryerson and Colin Clements.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Film score to Murder by Decree (1979).

As Scott Bettencourt notes in Film Score Friday, the score for the Sherlock Holmes film Murder by Decree (dir. Bob Clark, 1979) has been released by Howling Wolf Records. Holmes, played by Christopher Plummer, and Dr. Watson, played by James Mason, go on the trail of Jack the Ripper. The composers are Carl Zittrer and Paul Zaza.

Monday, June 03, 2024

The neglected Carolyn Wells.

If you missed the OSU Libraries-sponsored presentation by Rebecca Rego Barry on poet, humorist, children's writer, and mystery author Carolyn Wells (1862–1942), the subject of her new book The Vanishing of Carolyn Wells, you now can see the video of the presentation. Wells was the creator of detective Fleming Stone, her mystery The Clue (1909) is on the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone list of essential mysteries, and her Sherlock Holmes pastiche "The Adventure of the Clothes-line" (1915) is well known in Sherlockian circles. 

Monday, May 27, 2024

Hammett's "Suggestions to Detective Story Writers."

Dashiell Hammett,
Yank, 30 Nov. 1945
The Library of America has posted Dashiell Hammett's "Suggestions to Detective Story Writers," which were part of his Crime Wave columns of 7 June and 5 July 1930 in the New York Evening Post. Irritated by mystery writers' mistakes that he'd seen in their works, Hammett offered correctives of these, including items such as "When you are knocked unconscious you do not feel the blow that does it" and "'Youse' is the plural of 'you.'"

Monday, May 20, 2024

Clues 42.1: Carr, Christie, Conan Doyle, Eco, Faulkner, island mysteries, Korean crime fiction, etc.

Vol 42, no. 1 (2024) of Clues: A Journal of Detection has been published; see below for abstracts. For print issues or subscriptions, contact McFarland. Ebook versions are available via Kindle and Nook.

Update, 25 May 2024: Google Play ebook of the issue is now available.

Introduction: A Kaleidoscope of Cultures and Works
Caroline Reitz (John Jay College of Criminal Justice–CUNY / CUNY Graduate Center)

The executive editor of Clues provides an overview of the issue, including articles on John Dickson Carr; Agatha Christie; Arthur Conan Doyle in Dutch translation; Umberto Eco; a YA mystery series featuring Indigenous issues; island mysteries; Korean crime fiction; and noir’s relationship with works by William Faulkner, David Goodis, and John D. MacDonald.

Spotlight on... Crime Fiction in Korea: Transformation and Transnationality of the Genre
Jooyeon Rhee (Penn State University)

This essay traces the transnational literary flow and popular imaginations of modernity in colonial Korea (1910–45), the effect of the Korean War and the Cold War, and diverse responses to global neoliberalism in contemporary Korea. It highlights representative themes in each period and notable writers in modern crime fiction.

“A Modernist Lampstand”: Noir and the Avant-garde in William Faulkner’s Sanctuary
Alex Davis (University College Cork, Ireland) 

This essay considers Sanctuary in the context of William Faulkner’s career-long predilection for crime fiction, interpreting his avant-garde appropriation and manipulation of genre writing in the novel against the background of its relationship to American naturalism (including the noir novel) and nineteenth-century European realism.

Despair and the Noir Character
Michael Caleb Tasker 

Noir’s atmosphere of anxiety and/or despair stems not from environment and setting but rather from character and from an outsider defined by and riddled with a very Kierkegaardian sense of existentialist despair. As works by John D. MacDonald and David Goodis demonstrate, the despairing protagonist is the foremost defining characteristic of noir fiction.

“Nobody in the Renaissance conceived of a revenge quite so delicious”:
John Dickson Carr’s Bencolin Stories and Jacobean Revenge Plays

Lisa Hopkins (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)

This article argues that John Dickson Carr’s first four novels about Inspector Henri Bencolin each draw from a different early modern revenge tragedy: It Walks by Night alludes to John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi; Castle Skull borrows names and atmosphere from Henry Chettle’s Hoffman; The Lost Gallows nods to Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy; and The Corpse in the Waxworks evokes Thomas Middleton’s and William Rowley’s The Changeling

Monday, May 13, 2024

Ian Rankin on stage.

Scheduled for the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham (UK) in November 2024 is Rebus: A Game Called Malice, a play cowritten by Ian Rankin and Simon Reade, in which investigator John Rebus must suss out secrets of guests during a post-dinner mystery game. Reade may be best known as the producer-screenwriter for the 2017 film of R.C. Sherriff's Journey's End.

Update, May 25, 2024: The play will run at the Pavilion Theatre Glasgow from Sept 23–27.

Monday, May 06, 2024

Arsène Lupin: Music and text.

Music Box Records has issued a 20th anniversary edition of the soundtrack to Arsène Lupin (2004) composed by Debbie Wiseman. The film features adventures of the gentleman thief who was created by Maurice Leblanc (1864–1941) and debuted in 1905. Penguin has issued various Arsène Lupin collections in English and Spanish, Gallimard has versions in French for young readers, and Coup d'Oeil in Québec has a French edition for older readers.

Listen to some samples from the soundtrack.



Monday, April 29, 2024

Rumpole and client self-determination.

Leo McKern as the titular character in
the TV series Rumpole of the Bailey
In St. Mary's Journal on Legal Practice & Ethics, Thomas Bulleit—a former partner in the law firm Ropes & Gray—looks at the role of client self-determination and the ways that this may conflict with the barrister's aims in John Mortimer's Rumpole of the Bailey short stories. (hat tip to Law & Humanities blog)

Monday, April 22, 2024

An appreciation of Henry Mancini's "Peter Gunn Theme."

From left: composer Henry Mancini, Peter Gunn star
Craig Stevens, and writer-director Blake Edwards
On Philadelphia's WRTI, journalist Shaun Brady writes an appreciation of Henry Mancini's theme for the 1958–61 TV detective show Peter Gunn—"its propulsive rhythm suggesting the steady thrum of tires on pavement, its skulking piano-guitar ostinato, and its Doppler-effect brass fanfares."

Some "Peter Gunn Theme" versions:

Henry Mancini and His Orchestra, Ed Sullivan Show, 1969

Emerson, Lake and Palmer, 1978

Lahti Symphony Orchestra (conductor: Nick Davies), 2011

Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra, 2016

Monday, April 15, 2024

Lou and Herbert Hoover, mystery fans.

On "Hoover Heads," the blog of the Herbert Hoover Library and Museum, Thomas F. Schwartz has written a series of posts on First Lady Lou Henry Hoover and President Herbert Hoover as mystery fans. 

(Photos: Herbert Hoover, Lou Henry Hoover: NYPL)

Monday, April 08, 2024

The other sides of Dorothy B. Hughes.

Mystery fans may know of Dorothy B. Hughes' considerable work as a critic and distinguished career as a novelist and biographer (e.g., In a Lonely Place; Ride the Pink Horse; Edgar nominations for The Expendable Man and a book on Erle Stanley Gardner), but I was intrigued to learn of her poetry (published under her maiden name, Dorothy Belle Flanagan).

I've updated Hughes' Wikipedia page with information on the poems I have found, short stories, and other works. Perhaps most intriguing is her mystery serial, "The Turquoise Ring Murders," that was broadcast on a New Mexico radio station in October 1933.

Monday, April 01, 2024

Sisters in Crime grants for academic research.

Sisters in Crime is offering grants for up to $500 to buy books to support research projects that contribute to understanding of the role of women or underrepresented groups in crime fiction. Potential candidates must be US citizens or legal residents of the United States or must be conducting research on US authors. The application deadline is April 30, 2024.

Monday, March 25, 2024

2024 Dove awardee: Barry Forshaw.

The 2024 recipient of the George N. Dove Award for contributions to the serious study of mystery, detective, and crime fiction is British author, editor of Crime Time magazine, essayist, journalist, and commentator Barry Forshaw. The Dove Award, named for mystery fiction scholar George N. Dove, is presented by the Detective/Mystery Caucus of the Popular Culture Association; the chair of the Dove Award Committee is Rachel Schaffer (Montana State University Billings). Past Dove recipients include Frankie Y. Bailey (University at Albany, SUNY), Martin Edwards, Douglas G. Greene, P. D. James, Christine Jackson, H. R. F. Keating, Maureen Reddy (Rhode Island College), Janet Rudolph, J. K. Van Dover (Lincoln University), and yours truly.

Monday, March 18, 2024

CFP, Clues Teaching Forum: Crime Fiction in the Multilingual Classroom.

Crime fiction sheds a light on different cultures and societies, as well as challenges assumptions about gender, class, race, and ethnicity. By luring students into thinking that popular fiction is an easy read, an increasing number of language teachers have used crime fiction to teach both foreign languages and cultures. At the same time, crime fiction instructors have expanded their syllabi to include texts in translation that tackle important issues such as gender violence, environmental concerns, and racism. This Clues Teaching Forum invites short essays that address the following questions: 

  • How has multilingualism shaped a personal approach to the teaching of crime fiction? 
  • What are the challenges of teaching a text in the original language? 
  • What are the challenges in using a text in translation? 
  • How are the expectations of multilingual students accommodated? 
  • What mystery/detective/crime works have been successful in representing a society and a culture or in effectively teaching a second language? 
  • Has an instructor elected to no longer teach certain texts or to teach certain texts differently? 

We are interested in case studies related to teaching: 

  • Texts in the original language in language classes 
  • Texts in translation 
  • Crime shows with subtitles
  • Classes with multilingual students 
  • Multilingualism within texts 

Contributions of 750 to 1,000 words are sought for vol. 43, no. 1 (2025). Accounts from all classroom spaces (high schools, postsecondary institutions, prisons, etc.) and instructors at all stages of their careers are welcome. Submissions are due September 1, 2024. For more information or to submit essays, please contact Barbara Pezzotti (Barbara.pezzotti [at]

Monday, March 11, 2024

How does your garden grow?

Tim Brinkhof in JSTOR Daily discusses the role of gardening in mysteries with citations from Marta McDowell's new Gardening Can Be Murder, including mentions of such works as Agatha Christie's Sad Cypress and Stephanie Barron's The White Garden (involving Vita Sackville-West's famous gardens at Sissinghurst Castle) and the possibility that Wilkie Collins' Sergeant Cuff in The Moonstone is the first gardening detective.

Monday, March 04, 2024

Judge Dee rules.

China Daily discusses a new series on China's Central Television, Judge Dee's Mystery, which includes 17 cases based on the works of Dutch diplomat Robert van Gulik. Van Gulik had first translated an 18th-century Chinese work featuring Judge Dee (the real Judge Dee dates to the 7th century AD) and went on to write further cases for Judge Dee to solve.  Zhou Yiwei plays Judge Dee, and Li Yunliang directs the series.

China Daily reports that Netflix is picking up the series (Netflix lists it as debuting on March 16).

Monday, February 26, 2024

The contributions of Wilkie Collins.

Wilkie Collins. NYPL.
As we enter the bicentennial year of Wilkie Collins' birth, public historian Katherine Hobbs discusses in Smithsonian Magazine how Collins' legal background informed his novels dealing with the inequities of women's place in Victorian society and criticism that always seemed to put him behind Charles Dickens, his friend and sometime rival, despite Collins' ground-breaking contributions to detective and sensation fiction.

Monday, February 19, 2024

1950s thriller posters.

In the Ransom Center Magazine, Ash Kinney D'Harcourt looks at the design of some 1950s film posters, including for Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (with Cary Grant, 1959) and Ken Hughes's Case of the Red Monkey (aka Little Red Monkey, with Richard Conte, 1955).

Monday, February 12, 2024

The legend of Vidocq.

Eugène-François Vidocq. NYPL
Over on the Public Domain Review, Daisy Sainsbury delves into the legend of Eugène-François Vidocq (1775–1857), the head of the Sûreté whose tumultuous life included a criminal past and work in law enforcement, forensics, private investigation, and prison reform. He also achieved literary fame as the author of wildly popular memoirs.

Monday, February 05, 2024

Just published: James Sallis companion.

Just out from McFarland and Co. is James Sallis: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction, the latest volume in the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series that I edit. The author is University of East Anglia's Nathan Ashman. Sallis—who might be best known for Drive (adapted into the film with Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan) and his series with PI Lew Griffin—has an intriguing, cross-genre career that encompasses poetry, mystery, and sci-fi, as well as a highly regarded book on author Chester Himes and long experience as a critic (here are some samples). He's even appeared in a film with fellow mystery author Lawrence Block.

Monday, January 29, 2024

K.K. Beck's work on TV.

I've been slow to discover Hallmark's Jane Mysteries series based on K. K. Beck's novels with Jane da Silva, a sleuth who tackles difficult cases (A Hopeless Case, Amateur Night, Electric City, Cold Smoked). One TV movie has been produced to date:

• "Inheritance Lost" (based on Beck's A Hopeless Case)


There is a 1994 TV movie, Shadow of Obsession, with Veronica Hamel that was an adaptation of Beck's stalker novel Unwanted Attentions (a novel greatly admired by Elizabeth Peters).

Monday, January 22, 2024

The wide effects of art theft.

On the International Spy Museum's SpyCast, historian Andrew Hammond talks with Robert Wittman, a founder of the FBI's Art Crime Team who has recovered more than $300 million of stolen art and similar items over the course of his career, including a Rodin sculpture. Wittman discusses some of his past experiences that often involved undercover work and states that 90 percent of art thefts in U.S. museums were found to be inside jobs.

Monday, January 15, 2024

The sensational Wilkie Collins.

On CBC's Ideas: Radio for the Mind program, professors Rohan Maitzen (King's-Dalhousie Univ) and Andrew Mangham (Univ of Reading), mystery author Radha Vatsal, and biographer Andrew Lycett discuss Wilkie Collins's contributions to the sensation genre.

Monday, January 08, 2024

Mysteries entering the public domain.

Mysteries that have entered the public domain and are on the online Project Gutenberg:

A.E.W. Mason. NYPL

  •  As a Thief in the Night  by R. Austin Freeman (a Dr. Thorndyke mystery). "One of the most satisfactory detective stories we have read."—Walter R. Brooks, The Outlook

  • Ashenden; or the British Agent
by Somerset Maugham (based on Maugham's experiences in World War I). "An urbane series of stories dealing with the diplomatic side of Secret Service work"—Saturday Review

  • Behind That Curtain by Earl Derr Biggers (a Charlie Chan mystery). "Excellent"—Gilbert Seldes, Saturday Review (pb edition here)

  • The Footsteps at the Lock by Father (later Msgr.) Ronald Knox (a Miles Bredon mystery). "breezy characterization and satirical humour"—The Spectator (pb edition here)

 • Murder in the Maze by J.J. Connington. "[T]he usual false clues are skillfully suggested, and the reading public may well be surprised and amused to the end."—The English Review (pb edition here)

 • The Prisoner in the Opal by A.E.W. Mason (an Inspector Hanaud mystery). "another intriguing story of mystery and thrilling adventure"—Wanganui Chronicle (Wellington, Australia; pb edition here)

 • The Velvet Hand: New Madame Storey Mysteries by Hulbert Footner. "thoughtfully and ingeniously constructed"—New York Times

Monday, January 01, 2024

Collins & Dickens: Exhibition and conference.

Fine Books and Collections discusses the "Mutual Friends: The Adventures of Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins" exhibition at the Charles Dickens Museum that runs until Feb 25, 2024, and looks at the personal and professional relationship of these two Victorian authors.

The Univ of Buckingham will host the conference "Collins and Dickens—Dickens and Collins" on June 20–21, 2014, to celebrate the bicentennial of Collins' birth and examine matters such as Dickens' role as mentor to Collins and Collins' influence on Dickens, Dickens-Collins projects (such as The Frozen Deep) and rivalries, and theatrical and film productions of their works. Proposals are due Jan 31, 2024. 

Wilkie Collins (top),
Charles Dickens. NYPL