Monday, June 26, 2017
Among the American movies in which he played criminals are Crime and Punishment, Mad Love, The Maltese Falcon, and Casablanca. The last two also featured Sidney Greenstreet, and those two went on to make seven more movies together.
He also starred in a series of movies about John P. Marquand's Japanese spy/detective Mr. Moto, a role he came to despise. One of my favorite performances was as the hilarious plastic surgeon Dr. Einstein in Arsenic and Old Lace.
John Huston, who directed him in The Maltese Falcon, said "He's always doing two things at the same time, thinking one thing and saying something else." A great skill for an actor.
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Saturday, June 24, 2017
Friday, June 23, 2017
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Monday, June 19, 2017
You can read "The Ripening Rubies," which some consider his best crime story, here.
Sunday, June 18, 2017
Saturday, June 17, 2017
Friday, June 16, 2017
Thursday, June 15, 2017
Jason Worden argued that Buchan actually invented a new subgenre: the story in which a civilian gets chased both by the bad guys, AND by the police who think he is the bad guy. That paranoia made it perfect for Alfred Hitchcock, who not only filmed The Thirty-nine Steps, but used a similar plot in two other movies.
Buchan, by the way, went on to write a bunch of other novels. He was also one of the top figures in British Intelligence during the First World War. Then he became the Governor General of Canada. Not a bad resume for a thriller writer.
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Monday, June 12, 2017
Sunday, June 11, 2017
Baxt wrote four more novels about Pharoah Love, and about twenty other books, many of them historical mysteries set around Hollywood.
Saturday, June 10, 2017
For instance, the Secretary's wife is June. Her sisters are May, a college president, and April, an actress. They call June Juno, the most powerful goddess in the Roman Pantheon, which naturally makes one think that the spinster genius May resembles the maidenly goddess of wisdom Minerva, and the beautiful April suggests Aphrodite (or Venus). Then there is their sister-in-law who wears a veil because their brother accidentally show her in the face with an arrow. And a disputed will which bequeaths pieces of fruit to the three sisters. Apples of discord? It certainly seems like Stout had something mythological in mind here, but I don't know what.
The highlight of the book is the unexpected appearance of a second veiled widow. The only way to determine who is the phony to yank off the veil with a fifty percent chance of revealing a horrible injury. Brave Archie Goodwin is strangely reluctant to proceed...
Friday, June 9, 2017
Dickens had written a few books with crime elements. Inspector Bucket in Bleak House is one of the first fictional police detectives. But Dickens died while he was working on a genuine mystery novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. If he had finished it we would probably think of it as a minor work, notable only for its author. But since we can never know exactly what solution DIckens had in mind the story keeps capturing people's imagination. It was even turned into a musical in which the audience got to vote on the killer - with songs written for each possibility.
Thursday, June 8, 2017
Apparently the clever robber is outsmarted by a cop using the latest 1950-cop technology. Also the movie seems confused as to whether it is taking place in New York or Los Angeles. But we all have days like that.
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
If that sound vaguely familiar, you're right. The stories were a sort of parody or answer to the Sherlock Holmes stories created by Arthur Conan Doyle, who happened to be Hornung's borther-in-law. Doyle admitted the tales were of high quality but, like many reviewers, found them morally abhorrent.
Like Doyle, Hornung killed his hero, having Raffles slain during the Second Boer War. Unlike Holmes, Raffles stayed dead.
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
The Saint Paul Pioneer Press called it "a terrific introduction to the characters and the milieu." Good heavens! Is that Wolfe with a cigar?
Monday, June 5, 2017
Sunday, June 4, 2017
The Mongo books had memorable titles: Second Horseman Out Of Eden, The Language of Cannibals, and so on. They often had paranormal elements too.
Saturday, June 3, 2017
Friday, June 2, 2017
Thursday, June 1, 2017
It's good that Race Williams has that to recommend him because few readers these days love him for his brains or writing skills. He's a pretty blunt guy, though. In one story he announces his fee as "$25 an hour, plus $3.75 per man killed." And he got those bonuses often.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
It was a very popular movie (nominated for an Edgar no less), and I hated it. This was largely because they gummed up a very clever plot by going for dumb cliches. (I believe there was a rule in the 1980s that every businessman in a movie had to be a secret drug lord.) Not the worst movie made from a good book, but definitely on my list thereof.
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
If a detective who can't leave the house with a narrating assistant sounds familiar, Kirkus Reviews agreed with you. They said: "Though they still haven't escaped Nero Wolfe's portly shadow, Love's homages have now gotten to be quite a treat in their own right."
There are several editions of Bloody Ten but I chose this cover to shame the publisher for the obvious typo. Tsk and Tsk.
Monday, May 29, 2017
Chesterton also wrote The Man Who Was Thursday, a sort of spy novel cum religious allegory which is a bizarre and fascinating read.
“I am a journalist and have no earthly motives except curiosity and personal vanity.”
Sunday, May 28, 2017
The studio insisted on filming it in 3-D, which acounts for a lot of things being pushed toward the camera, but it basically went to theatres "flat." The story was by no means flat and neither was the relationship between the director and Grace Kelly which lasted for two more films and certainly influenced the rest of Hitchcock's career.
Saturday, May 27, 2017
Friday, May 26, 2017
Oh, and for those who don't live in the Pacific Northwest:the Strait of Juan de Fuca is a body of water between Washington state and British Columbia.
Thursday, May 25, 2017
It was one of three stories to feature a character named Stuart Bailey. Huggins later based a TV show on Bailey and 77 Sunset Strip was one of the most influential series in the history of TV private eyes.
Huggins went on to have a hand in the creation of The Fugitive, Maverick, and The Rockford Files.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Movie director Quentin Tarentino wrote the album notes.
Monday, May 22, 2017
Publishers Weekly called it "a civilized and tantalizing mystery"
Sunday, May 21, 2017
In 1956 Raymond Burr applied for the part of prosecutor Hamilton Burger in the TV version of Perry Mason. Erle Stanley Gardner, the creator of the character, supposedly took one look at Burr and shouted "That's Perry Mason!" The show ran until 1966.
A year later Burr was on NBC, starring in Ironside, as the San Francisco chief of detectives, crippled by a sniper bullet. That one ran for another eight years.
Other series followed but Burr didn't find success again until the 1980s when he made two dozen TV movies as that famous defense attorney. Erle Stanley Gardner certainly recognized his characters when he saw them.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Allingham's husband, Pip Youngman Carter, created the covers for her books and sometimes collaborated with her.
Friday, May 19, 2017
Publishers Weekly said it was "a book whose unique, fully fleshed-out characters readers will be eager to see again."
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
One of his series was about Seattle private eye Thomas Black. In Yellow Dog Party, published on this date, Black gets what seems like an easy job. Four middle-aged men want him to trace down the women of their dreams. Sounds like fun, right? But that's before the murder, and the three thugs in Miss Piggy masks who try to hang our hero...
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
But he was not the first to try a do-over on Alfred Hitchcock. That was the Master himself. This was the opening day for The Man Who Knew Too Much, based on a movie of the same name Hitchcock directed back in 1934. The original starred Leslie Banks, Edna Best, and the wonderfully villainous Peter Lorre. The second try starred Jimy Stewart and Doris Day. It won an Oscar, a rare thing for a Hitchcock movie. Unbelievably, it won for Best Song: "Que Sera, Sera."
Hitchcock's explanation for the remake: "Let's say the first version is the work of a talented amateur and the second was made by a professional."
Monday, May 15, 2017
Brother Peter, on the other hand, is best known for writing the plays Equus and Amadeus. TOgether they wrote some mystery novels under the name Peter Anthony. Quite a talented pair.
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Saturday, May 13, 2017
Friday, May 12, 2017
Block thought that was the end of Scudder, but then he found a way to write about the newly-sober private eye and kept doing so for another two decades. But with his seventeenth Scudder book he goes back to the era of those two great books. To be precise, A Drop of the Hard Stuff takes place around the first anniversary of Scudder's sobriety, a dangerous time for a recovering alcoholic.
And guess what? It's just as good as Eight Million and Ginmill, which is very good indeed. Block says he is too old to write novels anymore (although wonderful stories and novellas keep appearing), so this may be Scudder's last appearance. Great way to go.
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Leroy Scott was born on this date in Indiana. He was a newspaper reporter, an activist and a social worker. His fourth novel, Counsel For The Defense (1912), was decades ahead of its time. One reviewer notes that the protagonist "secures the release of two innocent prisoners, overthrows a political ring, exposes a water-works conspiracy, elects a mayor and marries him." Wow.
You can read the book here for free.
Source: James Alvin Huston. A Hoosier Sampler: An Anthology of Indiana Writers.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Leonard made a rare trip across the pond to accept the award. He said: "This is great news, by far the best kind of achievement award, to be recognised by fellow writers for the one thing I have ever wanted to do in my life, tell stories, what I’ve been doing for the past 55 years.”
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Fisher wrote The Conjure-Man Dies (1932), the first novel with a Black detective, and all Black characters. When a Harvard-trained African fortuneteller is killed in his apartment in Harlem policeman Perry Dart has to investigate all of the man's customers....