Friday, June 30, 2017
And that has nothing to do with mystery fiction, but this is Robert Lopresti's blog. So there.
Here are a few of the facts from the four chapters on crime.
* During World War II the battle against prostitution in the United States was headed by Eliot Ness of the Untouchables.
* In the 1960's the number of women arrested for serious crimes increased at triple the rate for men.
* In 1880 there were 12 men in prison for every one woman. A statistician explained that one reason was that "if a wicked woman wants a crime committed, it is easy for her to get a man to do it for her."
* The 1990 Census was the first to try to count the number of people in Shelters for Battered Women. Forsecurity, shelter employees, rather than Census workers, did the count.
* In 2007 the government did its first study of alcohol as a weapon of rapists. An estimated 2.6 million women had been raped while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
You can read more here.
Thursday, June 29, 2017
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
We get a lot of our stereotypes about pirates from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island,but where did Stevenson get his ideas? "I broke into the gallery of Mr. Poe," he confessed. And we're all glad he did.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
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.