Tuesday, June 27, 2017

6/27/1991 Shot appears

June 27, 1991.  I almost went with the headline "Parnell Hall gets Shot," but I didn't want to traumatize anyone.  This was the publication date for Shot, the seventh volume in Hall's series about Stanley Hastings, private eye and part-time actor.  (Most of them have one-word titles: Detective, Scam, Juror... But the latest is A Fool For A Client.) In The New York TImes Book Review, Marilyn Stasio called it a "forever-fresh series."

Monday, June 26, 2017

6/26/1904 Peter Lorre slithers into the world

June 26, 1904.  Think how much poorer our genre would be without Peter Lorre, who was born on this date in Austria-Hungary (now Slovakia).  His first big success was starring as a serial killer in the Fritz Lang masterpiece M.  When the Nazis took over Germany in 1933 he got the hell out (as did Lang).  His first English language flick was Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (the first version).  He learned most of his lines for that one phonetically.

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

6/25/1971 Talking about Shaft

June 25, 1971. This date saw the release of the movie Shaft, based on the novel by Ernest Tidyman.  Directed by Gordon Parks and starring Richard Roundtree, it is considered the first major film of the "blaxploitation" genre.  It led to a dozens of rip-offs, and a few sequels, and saved MGM from bankruptcy.  Oh, it won an Oscar for that memorable Theme.  And in 20oo it made the National Film Registry.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

6/24/2014 Murder on the Mediterranean

June 24, 2014.  This date saw the publication of Murder on the Mediterranean, the fifth novel in Alexander Campion's series about detective Capucine Le Tellier and her husband, Alexandre, a reataurant critic.  There's murder on a sailboat and Publishers' Weekly called it a "zesty stew of a mystery."

Friday, June 23, 2017

6/23/1964 A Shot in the Dark is fired

June 23, 1964.  This date saw the release of A Shot in the Dark.  It is the second Inspector Clouseau movie, and the only one without Pink Panther in the title.  It was based on a French play which is why it involves murder instead of theft and has an actual mystery in it.  But most important it has Peter Sellers.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

6/22/1958 Steve Carella becomes a daddy

June 22, 1958.  On the day of his sister's wedding 87th Precinct detective Steve Carella becomes the father of twins.  Oh, and tries to prevent his new brother-in-law from getting murdered.  That's the plot of Ed McBain's Til Death.  Literary Review called it “zestful, inventive, and utterly compulsive.”

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

6/21/2002 Minority Report is released

June 21, 2002.  On this date Hollywood made a big step forward in its effort to film everything Phillip K. Dick ever wrote when they released Minority Report.  Tom Cruise played a cop in a future in which computer-wired people can predict who will commit a crime.  HIs job is to arrest them in advance.  Scary stuff. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

6/20/1925 Hugh Pentecost enters Room Number 23

June 20, 1925.  The issue of Flynn's Magazine with this cover date featured "Room Number 23," the first published story by a Columbia University student named Judson Philips.  He went on to write more than one hundred crime novels, mostly under the name Hugh Pentecost. The Mystery Writers of America gave him the Grand Masters Award in 1973.   

Monday, June 19, 2017

6/19/1863 Max Pembleton arrives

June 19, 1863.  Max Pemberton was born on this day in London.  He grew up to write mostly adventure novels, most famously The Iron Pirate about a modern day vessel terrifying the seas. 

You can read "The Ripening Rubies," which some consider his best crime story, here.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

6/18/1992 Bodies of Evidence

June 18, 1992.  It's hard to imagine George Clooney playing second fiddle in a TV show, much less being in a non-hit.  But the fact is that he ranked below Lee Horsley in Bodies of Evidence, which premiered on this date on CBS.  It ran for eight episodes that summer and another eight in the following spring.  Horsley and Clooney played homicide cops in an unnamed city.  Then Clooney went off to deal with  live bodies in the ER.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

6/17/1995 Shamus goes home with a long line of dead men

June 17, 1995.  On this date Lawrence Block added yet another award to his long list of trophies.  The Private Eye Writers of America gave him the Shamus Award for A Long Line of Dead Men.  The Shamus Award is given to books about private eyes or other people who don't work for the government but are paid to investigate crimes.  That includes lawyers, reporters, and unlicensed, unofficial private eyes like Matt Scudder, the hero of this novel.  In fact, I think of that part of the Shamus rules as the Scudder Exception.  But it would certainly make no sense to leave this great series out.

Friday, June 16, 2017

6/16/1920 Isabelle Holland is born

June 16, 1920.  Isabelle Holland was born on this date in Basel, Switzerland to American parents.  She wrote mostly young adult novels on controversial subjects, and gothic mysteries.  Mel Gibson's movie The Man Without a Face was based on her novel of the same name.   She didn't get published until she passed forty, but she wrote more than fifty books. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

6/15/191? An assassination is planned

June 15, 191?.  This is the planned date for the assassination whose prevention is the McGuffin that fuels John Buchan's first novel, The Thirty-nine Steps.

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

6/14/1939 Montalban born in Barcelona

June 14, 1939.  Manuel Vázquez Montalbán was born on this date in Barcelona.  He wrote many books and more than a dozen involved a detective named Pedro Carvalho.  The first book (1972) was entitled I Killed Kennedy.  Among Carvalho's bad habits was a tendency to use books from his own library as firewood.  (Shudder.)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

6/13/1953 Carr does Holmes

June 13, 1953.  Collier's Magazine, with this cover date, featured "The Adventure of the Sealed Room" by Adrian Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr.  It was part of a series of stories about the Master all co-written by the original author's son and the master of locked room mysteries.  They were collected under the title The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes, which always made me wonder: did they know that one meaning of exploit is "use selfishly for one's own end?"

Monday, June 12, 2017

6/12/1990 Stardust arrives

June 12, 1990.  This date saw the publication of Stardust, the seventeenth novel in Robert B. Parker's series about Boston private eye Spenser.  A TV star is being stalked and the Man With No First Name is called  to California to investigate.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

6/11/1923 George Baxt is born

June 11, 1923.  George Baxt was born on this date in Brooklyn.  After years as a screenwriter, he produced his first novel, A Queer Kind of Death, in 1966.  Talk about groundbreaking: his private eye, Pharaoh Love, was gay and Black, either of which was pretty unusual in a mystery hero back then.  Anthony Boucher, in the New York Times, said "you must not miss it."

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

6/10/1940 Where There's a Will there's a Wolfe

6/10/1940  This date saw the publication of Rex Stout's Where There's A Will, in which Nero Wolfe tries to solve a crime involving the Secretary of State's family.  It's a weird book, full of symbolism that, to my mind, never goes anywhere.

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

6/9/1870 The Mystery of Charles Dickens

June 9, 1870.  Charles Dickens died on this date.  I usually only mention the births of mystery writers, but I will make an exception for this one, because it had effect on our field. 

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

6/8/1950 Armored Car Robbery released

June 8, 1950.  This was the release date for Armored Car Robbery, a movie starring the legendary Charles McGraw and Adele Jergens.  Not legendary?  Well, third place went to William Talman, who later played Hamilton Burger in ten zillion episodes of Perry Mason.

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

6/7/1866. Hornung horns in

June 7, 1866.  E.W. Hornung was born in Middlesborough on this date.  He became a published writer at age twenty.  His great claim to fame was his invention of A.J. Raffles, "the amateur cracksman."  In other words, Raffles was a gentleman burglar, essentially the first hero-rogue in the mystery genre.  The stories were narrated by Bunny Manders, Raffles' faithful companion.

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

6/6/2014 The Red Box opens

June 6, 2014.  Rex Stout's first novel about Nero Wolfe appeared in 1934, but it took 80 years before the fat genius detective waddled onto a stage.  Joseph Goodrich adapted The Red Box for a production by Park Square Theatre in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

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

6/5/2008 Inspector Endersby meets Arthur Ellis

June 5, 2008.  On this date the Crime Writers of Canada gave the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Mystery Novel to John Redfern for Trumpets Sound No More.  The book, set in London in the 1840s, featured Inspector Owen Endersby, on the trail of the killer of a theatre manager.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

6/4/1940 George Chesbro arrives

June 4, 1940. George C. Chesbro was born on this date in Washington, D.C.  His most famous novels featured a criminologist named Dr. Robert Ferguson, better known as Mongo the Magnificent.  If that seems like an unusual nickame for a criminologist, you are probably not aware that Mongo was a dwarf and in his early years had been an acrobat in the circus.

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

6/3/2012 Longmire is ready for his close-up

June 3, 2012.  This date saw the premier of Longmire, based on Craig Johnson's novels about the sherriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming.  The show has had five seasons, first on A&E and then on Netflix.  Australian Robert Taylor plays the laconic Walt Longmire, with backup from Katee Sackhoff and Lou Diamond Phillips, among others.

Friday, June 2, 2017

6/2/19?? Lew Archer's birthday

June 2, 19??.  Happy birthday to Lew Archer, the private eye hero of Ross Macdonald's well-loved novels. 

"The greatest P.I. series ever written? Probably." -Thrilling Detective

Thursday, June 1, 2017

6/1/1923 The hardboiled detective is born

June 1, 1923.  The issue of Black Mask with this cover date fetured "Knights of the Open Palm," by Carroll John Daly.  It is not quite the first story about a two-fisted private eye - that was Daly's "Three Gun Terry," which appeared a month earlier -- but its hero Race Williams, was the first PI to continue in a series of short stories. 

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

5/31/1985 Here's Fletch

May 31, 1985.  On this day the movie Fletch was released, based on the great novel by Gregory MacDonald.  Michael Ritchie directed from a script by Andrew Bergman.  Chevy Chase played a rough approximation of I.M. Fletcher.

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

5/30/1992 Bloody Ten

May 30, 1992.  This was the publication date for Bloody Ten, William Love's third mystery starring  Francis X. Regan, a wheelchair-using bishop, and his assistant Davey Goldman.  In this case an acquaintance of Davey is blamed for the murder of his newly-discovered half-brother. 

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

5/29/1874 Father Brown's father is born

May 29, 1874.  G.K. Chesterton was born on this date in London.  He was  a playwright, poet, journalist, theologian, blah blah blah... He's on this page because he created one of the immortal sleuths of mystery fiction: Father Brown (no first name, although once we are told his first initial was J and in another he is casually referred to (by the narrator) as Paul).  The character was inspired by a Catholic priest named John O'Connor who astonished the author with his knowledge of the seedy side of human nature.  Father Brown never appeared in a novel but he did wonderful work in 53 short stories, beginning with "The Blue Cross," which is still rated a classic.

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

5/28/1954 M is dialed on the big screen

May 28, 1954.  This date saw the release of Alfred Hitchcock's version of Dial M For Murder, starring Ray Milland and Grace Kelly.  It is a tale of adultery, blackmail, and attempted murder, featuring a perfect crime that doesn't go perfectly.

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

5/27/1894 The Thin Man, Sam Spade, and the Continental Op welcome their father

May 27, 1894.  Dashiell Hammett was born this day in Maryland.  If I have to tell you who he was, why the hell are you reading this blog?

Friday, May 26, 2017

5/26/1995 Wanda Fuca is identified

May 26, 1995.  This date saw the publication of Who the Hell is Wanda Fuca?  It is G.M. Ford's first novel about Seattle private eye Leo Waterman.  The unique feature of the series is that Leo has found the perfect operatives, folks who can spy on anyone anywhere without being noticed: homeless people.

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

5/25/1956 Stuart Bailey shows up, but not on Sunset Strip

May 25, 1956.  The issue of Saturday Evening Post with this cover date featured a short story by Roy Huggins called "Now You See It."  Why is that important?

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

5/24/192? Ellery Queen takes a powder

May 25, 192?.  On this date a model in the show window of a New York City department store pushed a button on a folding bed, which unfolded, revealing a dead body.  Thus began The French Powder Mystery, the second novel written by Ellery Queen, starring mystery writer Ellery Queen, who is not the mystery writer who wrote the book... Oh, you know what I mean.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

5/23/2000 Johnny Cash commits murder... sort of

May 23, 2000.  This date saw the release of Johnny Cash's CD Murder.  Actually it was part of a three album set called Love, God, Murder. It featured his classic "Folsom Prison Blues," along with songs by Bruce Springsteen, "Cocaine Blues," and many more songs that don't end with love and kisses.


Movie director Quentin Tarentino wrote the album notes.

Monday, May 22, 2017

5/22/1991 The Cruellest Month arrives

May 22, 1991.  The Cruellest Month was published on this date.  (Shouldn't it have been in April?  T.S. Elliott said that April... oh, never mind.)  It was the second book in Hazel Holt's series about Mrs. Malory.  Mrs. M is doing research at Oxford and a librarian is killed.  Boo!

Publishers Weekly called it "a civilized and tantalizing mystery"

Sunday, May 21, 2017

5/21/1917 Perry Mason and Robert T. Ironside is born

May 21, 1917.  Raymond Burr was born on this date New Westminster, British Columbia, in Canada.  In the forties and fifties he played villains, mostly in noir films.  The most meorable of those parts was Jimmy Stewart's mysterious neighbor in Rear Window.

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

5/10/1904 Albert Campion's champion arrives

May 20, 1904.  Margery Allingham was born on this day in London.  Her breakthrough novel was The Crime At Black Dudley, which included a minor character, a bit of a rogue, named Albert Campion.  At her publisher's suggestion she moved him to the front in her next novel and he became her master sleuth.  Campion was somewhat mysterious; his family had royal connections that were never clarified.  He featured in more than a dozen novesl and several books of short stories.  Peter Davison played him on television starting in 1989.

 Allingham's husband, Pip Youngman Carter, created the covers for her books and sometimes collaborated with her.

Friday, May 19, 2017

5/19/1992 The Woman Who Married A Bear

May 19, 1992.  The title gets your attention, doesn't it?  The Woman Who Married A Bear was John Straley's first novel about Cecil Younger, a private eye in Sitka, Alaska.  The title refers to a Tlingit myth, which is told to Cecil by an elderly native AMierican who hires Tlingit to investigate the murder of her son.

Publishers Weekly  said it was "a book whose unique, fully fleshed-out characters readers will be eager to see again."

Thursday, May 18, 2017

5/18/1955 Kiss Me Deadly at the movies

May 18, 1955.  Well, that is one ugly poster.  On this date Kiss Me Deadly was released, the second movie based on one of Mickey Spillaine's Mike Hammer novels.  Ralph Meeker starred as Miss Marple.  Okay, he played Mike Hammer.  In 1999 it was added to the National Film Registry, along with Laura, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Duck Amuck, among others.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

5/17/1991 Invitation to a Yellow Dog Party

May 17, 1991.  Earl Emerson had two careers for many years.  He said that one reason he became a fireman was he knew that, while waiting for a call, he would have time to work on novels. 

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

5/16/1956 The Man Who Knew Too Much knows it again

May 16, 1956. People complain  a lot these days that Hollywood has run out of new ideas.  It's all sequels, series, and remakes.  Remember when Gus Van Sant remade Psycho shot by shot, in color?

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

5/15/1926 The Shaffer twins arrive

May 15, 1926.  Twin brothers Anthony and Peter Shaffer were born on this day.  Anthony is best remembered for the classic crime dramedy Sleuth, which won him two Edgars (Best Play and later Best Screenplay)  He also wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's return-to-England movie, Frenzy.

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

5/14/1993 Robert Randisi takes a Hard Look

May 14, 1993.  This date saw the publication of Robert Randisi's novel Hard Look. It was his fifth novel about ex-boxer Miles Jacoby, now a private eye.  a missing wife case takes Jacoby from New York down to Florida, where, surprise, surprise, trouble awaits...

Saturday, May 13, 2017

5/13/1901 Lord Saltire Disappears

March 13, 190?.  This day saw the disappearance of Lord Saltire, ten year old son of the Duke of Holdernesse.  This event sent Sherlock Holmes into action in "The Adventure of the Priory School."  Arthur Conan Doyle's plot involves murder, blackmail, and horses disguised as cows.  Sort of.

Friday, May 12, 2017

5/12/2011 A Drop of the Hard Stuff is poured

May 12, 2011.  Lawrence Block wrote several novels about ex-cop Matt Scudder in which the guy sank deeper and deeper into alcohol.  The fifth book, Eight Million Ways to Die, and its sequel When the Sacred Ginmill Closes, see Scudder joining AA.  In my opinion they were the best two books of the series.

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

5/11/1875 Leroy Scott arrives in Indiana

May 11, 1875.  So when do you think the first novel appeared starring a female criminal attorney?  Did you guess 1912?  I didn't think so.

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

5/10/2006 Elmore Leonard grasps a Diamond Dagger

May 10, 2006  On this date the Crime Writers Association gave their lifetime acheivement award, the Cartier Diamond Dagger, to Elmore Leonard.  CWA is British, Leonard was American.  Nice to see trans-Atlantic cooperation.

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

5/9/1897 The Conjure-Man arrives

May 9, 1897.  Rudolph Fisher was a part of the Harlem Renaissance.  He was a musician, a physician, and a playwright.  But narrowly-focused little rascals that we are, this page is primarily interested in him for one reason.

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....