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