Thursday, April 27, 2017

4/27/1994 Grand Masterhood for Lawrence Block

April 27, 1994.  The Edgars Banquet was held on this day and the Mystery Writers of America granted Grand Master status to Lawrence Block for his contribututions to the private eye novel (with Matt Scudder), comic crime (Bernie Rhodenbarr), comic spy (Evan Tanner) and much more.

That autumn I was chairing a panel on short stories at Bouchercon in Seattle and, a month before, when I had settled everything with the panelists about what we would do and when, the bosses asked if we could squeeze in one more panelist who was interested in the panel.  Fella named Larry Block.

Not being a complete idiot I said, I said, hell yes.  He was terrific and the panel drew a huge crowd.  And the highlight of my writing career is walking from the green room to the conference room with Edward D. Hoch leading the way and Lawrence Block marching behind me.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

4/26/1975 McCloud rides onto the cover of TV Guide

April 26, 1975.  McCloud ran for seven years but only produced 45 episodes.  Sounds almost BBC, doesn't it?  No, it was very American, but part of NBC's Mystery Movie series, along with Columbo and some lesser lights.  Dennis Weaver starred as a Taos, New Mexico lawman shipped east to teach them New Yorkers a thing or two.  The ever popular fish out of water, rube- outsmarts-city-slicker theme.

This is his third appearance on the cover of TV Guide, and this time he brought along a couple of castmates.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

4/25/1996 Come to Grief comes to Edgar

May 25, 1996.  On this date the Mystery Writers of America gave the Edgar Award for Best Novel of the year to Come to Grief.  It was Dick Francis' third win and he remains the only person to score a hat trick in that category.  While Francis didn't write many novels about the same character, this was the third book about Sid Halley, a former jockey who turned private eye after losing an arm in a racing injury.  (The second book in the series, Whip Hand, was also an Edgar winner).

Monday, April 24, 2017

4/24/1936 MacKinlay Kantor turns to crime

April 24, 1936. MacKinlay Kantor is best remembered as the author of the Civil War play Andersonville, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1956.  His novel Glory For Me was the basis for the excellent movie The Best Years of Their Lives.

But back in 1936 he published a crime story in Colliers Magazine.  "Rogues Gallery" is his most reprinted story, including an appearance in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

4/23/2001 Nero Wolfe comes to A&E.

April 23, 2001.  There have been several attempts to bring Rex Stout's brilliant if somewhat pudgy detective to the big or small screen in the U.S.  Two unimpressive movies in the thirties.  A TV pilot in the late fifties with William Shatner as sidekick Archie Goodwin. A pilot/TV movie in the seventies that was pretty good but didn't air because the star, Thayer David, passed away.  In 1981 we had the William Conrad version which we will graciously ignore.

But on this day A&E introduced the best (and so far last) version.  A Nero Wolfe Mystery was produced by Tim Hutton, a dedicated fan of the Corpus, who played Archie Goodwin (inexplicably, he gave the Ohio-born gumshoe a New York accent).  Maury Chaykin was suitably grumpy as the fat man. 

I used to reread Stout books as comfort food when I had a cold.  Now I crank up a DVD of one of these.

4/23/1923 Avram Davidson is born

April 23, 1923.  Avram Davidson was born on this date in Yonkers, NY.  Man led an interesting life.  Navy medic during World War II. Talmudic scholar.  Besides winning the Edgar Award he won several fantasy and science fiction awards.

 I discovered him when his "The Lord of Central Park" appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine under the title "A Manhattan Night's Entertainment."  (Editor Frederic Dannay was a notorious title tinkerer.)  This novella involved an innocent young lady from the midwest, a pickpocket, the Mafia, the Nafia, Hudson River pirates, a plot to blow up the Brooklyn Navy Yards, and a British earl who lives in a cave in Central Park with his pet falcon.

 He crossed the fantasy-mystery line with his tales of Dr. Esterhazy, who lived in Scythia-Pannonia-Transbalkania.  
 He also ghost-wrote two late Ellery Queen novels. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

4/21/2015 How a Gunman Says Goodbye

April 21, 2015.  This date saw the American publication of the second volume in Malcolm Mackay's Glasgow Underworld Trilogy, three amazing books about organized crime in that Scottish city. 

Frank MacLeod is an aging hitman who works for the top crime boss in that city.  He's good at his job, but how long can he do it?  His boss has youngsters nipping at his heels, and Frank has competition too.  And this is one job where there is no pension plan...

Publisher's Weekly called it "gripping and surprisingly poignant."

Thursday, April 20, 2017

4/20/1841 The mystery story is born

April 20, 1841.  That was the publication date for the issue of Graham's Magazine which featured "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," in which Edgar Allan Poe invented the detective story.

Oh sure, you can find earlier stories with this or that element, but in one tale Poe included:
* A genius detective
* An admiring assistant (or "Watson") who narrates
* Bungling police officers
* Scientific crime scene investigation
* Least likely suspect

In three more stories (two about Auguste Dupin, the genius detective, plus "Thou Art The Man") he added:
* The obvious clue
* The roman a clef
* The gathering of the suspects

So happy birthday to the mystery field!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

4/19/1869 Melville Davisson Post arrives

April 19, 1869. Melville Davisson Post was born on this day in West Virginia.  He is best remembered today as the author of short stories about Uncle Abner, a countryman with a love of the Bible and great skill at solving mysteries.  He also invented Randolph Mason (Perry's grandpa?), a New York lawyer as slick and amoral as Abner was honest.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

4/18/2008 Trouble in Bruges

April 18, 2008.  In Bruges is released in the U.S.  After a deadly screw-up two British hit men find themselves banished to Belgium by their temperamental boss.  In the disaster that follows all three of the main characters manage to cobble together a little shred of redemption.  Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, and Ralph Fiennes starred in a wonderful movie.

Monday, April 17, 2017

4/17/1919 The first Edgar winner is born

April 17, 1919.  Julian Fast was born on this day.  In 1946 he won the very first Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America, for his novel, Watchful At Night, which he wrote while serving in the Army Medical Corps.  He wrote several more detective novels but is perhaps most famous for his pop psychology books, especially Body Language (1970).  His big brother, Howard Fast, was also a the author of many books, including mysteries under the name E.V. Cunningham..

While serving in the army he also managed to edit a famous fantasy collection called Out of This World, compiled from sources he found in army base libraries.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

4/16/1991 Night of the Ice Storm

April 16, 1991.  This date saw the publication of David Stout's second novel, following the Edgar-winning Carolina Skeletions.  Like his first book, Night of the Ice Storm involves the investigation of a murder that happened decades before.  Reviewer Marilyn Stasio in the New York Times called it  "coolly terrifying" and "killingly suspenseful."

Saturday, April 15, 2017

4/15/1846 Abraham Lincoln, crime writer

April 15, 1846.  Chances are when you think of Abraham Lincoln you don't immediately think of crime fiction.  But on this date he published a slightly fictionalized version of one of my most interesting cases as an attorney.  It is certainly a bizarre tale.  You can read "The Trailor Murder Mystery," as it is usually called here.

Friday, April 14, 2017

4/14/1897 Horace McCoy is born

April 14, 1897.  The world gained a great hardboiled writer on this date when Horace McCoy made his appearance in Pegram, Tennessee.  He wrote for Black Mask among other magazines, and his novel Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye  was filmed with Jimmy Cagney.

But he is best remembered today for a different novel that was made into a famous flick: They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

4/13/1980 Sergeant Cribb meets PBS

April 13, 1980.  This day saw the premiere of Cribb on Mystery on PBS.  The British series was based on Peter Lovesey's brilliant novels about a Victorian copper.  Alan Dobie played the shrewd detective who could never get promoted because he came from the wrong social class.

 I saw them a year later and it used to drive me crazy because at the same time I could watch NBC's disastrous attempt to bring Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe to the screen in the person of William Conrad.  Why could the British do so well what Hollywood couldn't do at all?

The only bad thing about the series was that Peter Lovesey used up all his ideas for future Victorian stories on episodes of the show.  He never wrote another Cribb novel.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

4/12/1915 Cameron McCabe is born as Ernest Bornemann

April 12, 1915. Ernest Bornemann was born in Berlin on this date.  He wrote crime novels, mostly under the name Cameron McCabe, including The Face on the Cutting-Room Floor, which Julian Symons called the "detective story to end detective stories."  He wrote it before he turned 20, by the way.

As a Communist he left Germany in 1933 when the Nazis came to power.  When the war started the British shipped  him to Canada as an enemy alien.

He also wrote about the history of jazz and was a renowned sexologist.  Busy guy.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

4/11/1997 Grosse Pointe Blank

April 11, 1997.  This was the release date for Grosse Pointe Blank.  Pretty funny flick about a hitman who goes to his high school reunion.  Sort of the fantasy of a lot of people, I suppose.

John Cusack starred.  Minnie Driver was the love interest. Cusack's sister Joan played his secretary.  Alan Arkin, wonderful as always, played his psychologist.

They all have husbands and wives and children and houses and dogs, and, you know, they've all made themselves a part of something and they can talk about what they do. What am I gonna say? "I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork. How've you been?"

Monday, April 10, 2017

4/10/1925 A gangster moves to Long Island

April 10, 1925.  This date saw the publication of one of the great noir novels, The Great Gatsby. 

Wait a minute.  Noir?  Heavens, no.  It isn't genre dreck, it's literature!

Right.  About a gangster who tries to be more because of his love for a woman, who betrays him, leading to his downfall.

All of which is so noir as to be cliche. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

4/9/1965 87th Precinct meets a doll

April 9, 1965.  On this date the action begins in Doll, Ed McBain's twentieth novel about the 87th Precinct.  A beautiful young woman is brutally murdered while her daughter is in the next room playing with a doll. Before the story closes Detective Steve Carella and his colleague Bert Kling will go through different kinds of hell

Kirkus Reviews  found it "bordering on the edge of credibility" bu "sure to satisfy his confirmed readership."

Saturday, April 8, 2017

4/8/1992 John D. Carr's Treacherous Crossing

April 8, 1992.  On this day the USA Network showed a made-for-TV movie, Treacherous Crossing. It was based on Cabin B-13, a radio play written by John D. Carr (1943). Lindsay Wagner starred as the woman who claimed her husband disappeared on an ocean liner - but was he ever there at all?

The story had appeared on TV twice before under its original title, on the series Suspense (1949) and Climax! (1958). Oh, and it was a movie in 1953 as Dangerous Crossing.

And remember the original radio play was Cabin B-13? In 1948 that became the name of  a radio anthology show.  The titular cabin became the home of the ship;'s doctor who, each week introduced a strange tale from his various travels.  John D. Carr did find a lot of ways to use one idea.

Friday, April 7, 2017

4/7/1992 Seneca Falls Inheritance comes due

April 7, 1992.  This was the publication date for Miriam Grace Monfredo's first novel, Seneca Falls Inheritance.  It was set just before the Womens Rights Convention in 1848 and featured appearances by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, among other historical characters.  It also introduced her series character, librarian Glynis Tryon. 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

4/6/1950 In the Best Families begins

April 6, 1950.  Nero Wolfe first encountered master criminal Arnold Zeck in And Be A Villain.  He confronted him again in The Second Confession.  It was clear that Reichenbach Falls was approaching.  And on this date the final confrontation began...

 The plot of In The Best Families opens on April 6, 1950. In this book Zeck becomes so threatening that Wolfe flees, abandoning his beloved brownstone (leaving the door open, because with him gone there is nothing valuable left, the insufferable egotist).  His loyal assistant Archie Goodwin is left to cope on his own with no knowledge of where his boss has gone (although no one believes that he doesn't know, which makes it all the more frustrating).  But Wolfe hasn't surrendered, he's merely planning, and months later...

For some reason this book seems to attract the worst covers in the whole Stout corpus.  As the one on the right demonstrates.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

4/5/1917 Centennial: Robert Bloch is born

April 5, 1917.  Today is the 100th anniversary of Robert Bloch's birth.  He was a master of mystery, horror, and science fiction.  He wll always be associated with a serial killer named Ed Gein, whose crimes inspired Bloch to write the novel Psycho.  Alfred Hitchcock's movie adaptation changed the horror and suspense field forever. 

Bloch won the Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy Awards.  THe Mystery Writers of America never gave him an Edgar, but they did elect him president.

Bloch once explained his writing success this way:  "I have the heart of a young boy. I keep it in a jar on my desk."

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

John Ball's home invasion

April 4, 1976.  John Ball was a successful writer from the start.  His first novel In The Heat Of The Night, introduced his most successful character, Virgil Tibbs, won the Edgar for Best First Novel, and was made into an Oscar-winning movie and a TV series. 

One thing he did with his new money was start collecting jade.  Unfortunately those precious stones collected unwanted attention.  On this date, early in the morning, Ball opened the door and found himself looking at a huge man with a .38 automatic in his hand.  Ball, with a black belt in karate, decided not to fight.  He was soon bound in masking tape, barely able to breath.  In less than twenty minutes the precious jade figurines "some of which I had carried back from the Orient on my lap to guard against breakage," had been dumped into a pillow case and carried off.

The cops, using a variety of methods - including hypnosis! - identified the bad guy, who was caught and convicted. 

You can read Ball's whole account of the ordeal (titled "211 Dossier") in I, Witness, a remarkable collection of essays by mystery writers about their experiences with true crimes.  My favorite part of his essay is the TV reporter who asked him to "please remove the bust of Hitler from the mantlepiece" before they started filming.  Ball explained that it was Poe not Hitler (his Edgar award), and it wasn't going anywhere.

Monday, April 3, 2017

4/3/1953 Chester Himes moves to Europe

April 3, 1953.  On this date Chester Himes left the United States for Europe, thinking a Black man might have an easier time in France than in New York.  He joined a group of ex-patriates that included Richard Wright and James Baldwin.

He will always be remembered for his books about Harlem cops Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

4/2/2012 Greenfellas begins

April 2, 2012.  On this date Sal Caetano orders the killing of a member of his New Jersey  mob family who had made a big mistake.  This decision will come back to bite him.

But Sal's life really gets interesting a few days later when he becomes a grandfather - and discovers that climate change might make his little granddaughter's future unlivable.  So Sal decides to use all his Mafia skills to save the environment.  Hey, how hard can it be?

Kings River Life Magazine called Greenfellas one of the best mysteries of 2015.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

4/1/1934 The Mystery Man of Soho

April 1, 1934.  The issue of the British magazine Thriller with this cover date featured "The Mystery Man of Soho," by Margaret Allingham.  It did not feature her upper class detective, Albert Campion. She republished it in her Minibus under the title "A Quarter of a Million."  Nice cover.

Friday, March 31, 2017

3/31/1922 Lionel Davidson is born

March 31, 1922.  On this date Hull, Yorkshire, welcomed Lionel Davidson to the world.  He went on to write some excellent spy novels, winning the Crime Writers Association's Gold Dagger Award three times, as well as their Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement. The Telegraph called him "the best spy novelist you might not have read."

Thursday, March 30, 2017

3/30/1894 Ronald Adair dies before an empty house

March 30, 1894.  On this date the Honourable Ronald Adair was murdered by (spoiler alert) Colonel Sebastian Moran, formerly the right-hand-man of the evil Professor Moriarty.  This was the case that brought the supposedly dead Sherlock Holmes out of exile in "The Adventure of the Empty House."  And you thought he came back because Doyle needed the money.  Shame on you.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

3/29/1996 Nash Bridges shows up

March 29, 1996.  On this date Don Johnson, star of Miami Vice, returned to TV as Nash Bridges, a fun-loving San Francisco cop.   Cheech Marin played his partner.  The show was filmed in the city by the bay, with permanent sets on Treasure Island. 122 episodes of this San Francisco treat. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

3/28/1912 Lucille Fletcher is born

March 28, 1912.  How many people are best known for writing radio drama?  One of them was Lucille Fletcher, who wrote the classic Sorry, Wrong Number.  Orson Welles, no slouch himself in the field, called it "the greatest single radio script ever written." She adapted it into a hit movie starring Barbara Stanwyck.  It has also been turned into not one but two operas.

Speaking of Orson Welles, he performed her radio drama "The Hitch-Hiker," which later appeared on The Twilight Zone.

Fletcher also wrote novels, but her heart belonged to the wireless.

Monday, March 27, 2017

3/27/1973 The Godfather makes an offer Oscar can't refuse

March 27, 1973.  On this date Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of Mario Puzo's stunning mafia novel, The Godfather, won the Oscar for Best Picture.  It also won for Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay.  Oh, and eight other nominations.

The Mystery Writers of America, having one of their special moments, gave the Edgar for Best Motion Picture to Sleuth, which is reasonable, I guess.  But the other movies they nominated were The Hot Rock, Frenzy, The Carey Treatment, and Travels With My Aunt. 

The Carey Treatment?

Anyway, Coppola/Puzo repeated a few years later with Best Picture for Godfather Part II but couldn't quite pull off the hat trick, since Part III only got a nomination.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

3/26/1904 J.F. Straker born

March 26, 1904.  I can't tell you much about J.F. Straker because there isn't much about him on the web.  Born on this date in Kent, UK.  Served in the army during World War II.  Taught math.  And wrote some mystery novels with amazing titles, like Goodbye, Aunt Charlotte!,  Sin and Johnny Inch, and A Pity It Wasn't George.  His Hell is Empty (another great title) was filmed in 1967. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

3/25/1951 Lady, You're Dead!

March 25, 1981.  Ellery Queen's story "Lady, You're Dead!" appeared in This Week magazine on this day.  When it appeared in an Ellery Queen book the title changed to "Driver's Seat,"  which was presumably the one they preferred.

Perhaps this was karma striking back at Frederic Dannay, one half of the writing team, since he had a reputation for ruthlessly changing titles of stories  that appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, which he edited.

Friday, March 24, 2017

3/24/2015 MWA gets cooking

March 24, 2015.  This date saw the publication of the Mystery Writers of America Cookbook.   It features recipes by such stalwarts as Rhys Bowen, Alafair Burke, Nelson DeMille, Lindsay Faye, BIll Fitzhugh, Sue Grafton, David Housewright, Margaret Maron, Sarah Paretsky, James Patterson, and on and on.

Consdiering how many fictional poisonings they are responsible for I don't know if I want to put them in charge of my dinner.  Maybe you'll be safe with Lee Child's "Coffee, Pot of One."

Thursday, March 23, 2017

2/23/1994 Death gets Superior

3/23/1994.  This was the publication date for A Superior Death, a Nevada Barr novel about park ranger Anna Pigeon.  This time she is on the north shore of Lake Superior,dealing with an extra corpse in the wreck of an old ship.  Kirkus Reviews called it "A crackling good mystery, fleshed out by a detective and a supporting cast far more human than they need to be."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

3/22/1971 Ross Macdonald, cover boy

March 22, 1971.  The issue of Newsweek with this cover date featured Ross Macdonald on the cover.  The occasion was the publication of The Underground Man, a Lew Archer novel that earned a front page review in the New York Times Book Review from no less than Eudora Welty.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

3/21/2014 The Girl Next Door wins a prize

March 21, 2014.  In this date Brad Parks' novel The Girl Next Door won the Lefty Award, which is given out each year at Left Coast Crime for the best comic crime novel of the year.

The book was part of his series about Carter Ross,a newspaper reporter in Newark, NJ. The Girl Next Door involved union negotiations and Booklist called it a masterpiece.

Monday, March 20, 2017

3/20/1937 The Murderous Mr. Coon

March 20, 1937.  The issue of Detective Fiction Weekly with this cover date featured "The Murderous Mr. Coon," by Richard Sale.  You can read it here, courtesy of Evan Lewis, an excellent contemporary short story writer.

The story stars Daffy Dill, a New York newspaper reporter with an unfortunate name.

Sale also wrote novels, such as Not Too Narrow...Not Too Deep, and directed some movies, including Let's Make It Legal, one of Marilyn's first flicks.  (Oh, you know perfectly well which Marilyn.)

Sunday, March 19, 2017

3/19/1987 Inspector Rebus arrives

March 19, 1987.  Ian Rankin wrote Knots and Crosses, published on this date, while a postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh.  It was the first novel to feature John Rebus (who happened to live just across the street from Rankin.  Amazing coincidence.)  Rankin claimed he was amazed to discover that he had written a crime novel, a genre with which he was unfamiliar.  He seems to have warmed up to the field. Rebus #20 will be published soon.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

3/18/1954 Marko Vukcic is murdered

March 18, 1954.  On this date Marko Vukcic was gunned down in New York City.  Besides being the owner of Rusterman's, a posh eatery, he was also the best friend of Nero Wolfe.  His death led Wolfe and Archie Goodwin on one of their most spectular - and frankly unbelievable - adventures.  The Black Mountain found the rotund detective marching his seventh-of-a-ton through the hills of Yugoslavia, his homeland, in search of the killer.  Does Wolfe find him?  Well, duh.

Friday, March 17, 2017

3/17/1904 Patrick Hamilton is born

March 17, 1904.  Happy St Patrick's Day.  This holiday no doubt had something to do with the first name of today's subject.  Patrick Hamilton was born near Brighton, England on this date.  Doris Lessing called him "a marvelous novelist who's grossly neglected," but we are mostly interested in two plays he wrote; Gaslight and Rope..Yes, that is where the idea of gaslighting someone (to make them think they are going crazy) came from.  And Rope was made into a very creepy movie by Alfred Hitchcock, remembered today mostly because Jimmy Stewart played a somewhat sinister philosophy professor who inspires the bad guys to murder, and because Hitchcock filmed it as if it were one long camera shot.  (Many years later Birdman used the same stunt.)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

3/16/1897 Sherlock Holmes sees the Devil's Foot

March 16, 1897.  On this date, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, in Cornwall for Holmes's health, encounter a bizarre case of madness and murder.  "The Adventure of the Devils Foot" was one of Conan Doyle's favorite Sherlock Holmes stories.  One stand-out feature: Good old Watson saves Holmes' life.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

3/15/1948 Ludwig Wittgenstein praises you-know-what

March 15, 1948.  Ludwig Wittgenstein was one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century.  One doesn't necessarily think of such folks as reading hard-boiled detective fiction, but one might be wrong.

On this date he wrote a letter in which he compared philosophy journals to crime publications: "Your mags are wonderful.  How people can read Mind if they could read Street & Smith ['s Detective Story Magazine] beats me.  If philosophy has anything to do with wisdom there’s certainly not a grain of that in Mind, and quite often a grain in the detective stories.”

A few years earlier he had jokingly complained about the end of the lend-lease agreement between the United States and his adopted home of Great Britain: "if the U.S.A. won’t give us detective mags we can’t give them philosophy ...”

You can read more about this at Mystery*FIle's article.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

3/14/1869 Algernon Blackwood breaks the silence

March 14, 1869.  Algernon Blackwood was born on this date in Kent.  He is considered one of the great horror writers. His works include a collection of short stories about Dr. John Silence, one of the first "psychic" investigators.  The physician copes with a variety of ghosts, werewolves, and ghoulies and modern reviewer Marvin P. Vernon said the collected Silence stories are "an essential collection" fr any fan of British supernatural fiction.

Monday, March 13, 2017

3/13/1963 Miranda arrest

March 13, 1963.  On this date Ernesto Miranda was arrested by the Phoenix, Arizona police.  He signed a confession of kidnapping and rape, saying he had "full knowledge of his legal rights," but no one had told him he was entitled to a lawyer, nor to remain silent.

Eventually the Supreme Court ruled that was unconstitutional, leading to the Miranda Warning, famous in many court cases and thousands of crime novels.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

3/12/2001 Rubert Ludlum passes

March 12, 2001.  I don't usually discuss the deaths of authors, preferring to stick to their births like the chipper little optimist I am.  But some special cases deserve a mention.

Robert Ludlum's thrillers made him quite rich.  Movies like The Bourne Identity made him more so.  In January 2001 he signed a new will leaving his second wife, Karen Dunn, something in the range of five million dollars.

Less than a month later firefighters were called to his house and found him on fire.  That's right;  he was  in a reclining chair, too weak to get up, and he was burning.  According to his nephew:

The cause of the fire was inexplicable. Fire crews were astonished to find Robert still ablaze a full six minutes after the emergency services had first been called. Our investigators have also established that fire extinguishers throughout the house had been left untouched. Certainly, Karen had not bothered to put out the flames.

Instead firefighters found her in the kitchen, belligerent and uncooperative. 'F*** off, I'm fixing myself a drink,' she told them.

He died a month later, not long after returning home from the hospital.  No charges were filed.

Read the whole article here.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

3/11/1952. Douglas Adams meets life, the universe, and everything

March 11, 1952.  On this date Cambridge, England welcomed the newborn Douglas Adams.  He wrote for radio, Doctor Who, computer games, and brilliant, hilarious novels.  He was best known for the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, but he also wrote two novels about the unique private eye Dirk Gently, owner of the world's only holistic detective agency.  "We solve the WHOLE crime.  We find the WHOLE person."  His cases involved an electronic monk (who believed in things so you didn't have to) and the god Thor (and his odd relationship with a soda machine).  Douglas, alas, died young, in 2001.

Friday, March 10, 2017

3/10/1992 Prey gets Silent

March 10, 1992.  Silent Prey was published on this date.  It was John Sandford's fourth book about Minneapolis cop Lucas Daveport.  Publsihers Weekly  called it a "streamlined thriller" with a story that "never drags."

Thursday, March 9, 2017

3/9/1910 William Campbell Gault is born

March 9, 1910.  William Campbell Gault was born on this date.  He won the Edgar for Best First Novel in 1953, for Don't Cry For Me.  Exactly 30 years later he won the Shamus for Best Paperback P.I. novel for The Cana Diversion.  A year after that the Private Eye Writers of America gave him the Eye for lifetime achievement. His most famous character was Brock Callahan, football player turned Beverly Hills  private eye.