The classically-styled mystery on film got a shot in the arm recently from Knives Out (2019), but my understanding is that two films above all others seem to earn knowing nods of approval from mystery mavens: The Last of Sheila (1973) and Sleuth (1972).Continue reading
The subgenres by which we carve up any broad classification of fiction admit a degree of specialisation but raise problems in terms of enjoyment. For instance, Fear Stalks the Village (1932) as a Village Mystery must supply satisfaction on two fronts: it must have both a great village and a great mystery — and, while it has the former in spades, it lacks sorely to my tastes on the latter half of that expectation. And while The Voice of the Corpse (1948) by Max Murray shows that such a mixture can fall favourably upon my experience, White’s tale of poison pen letters seems to love its village a little too much to allow the mystery to ever really gain traction.
God, this was tedious.Continue reading
After watching detective fiction play out in the drawing rooms of ivory towers for too long, I’m heading into the mean streets to get some grease under my nails, a shiv waved in my face, and probably a cosh to the back of my head. Thankfully, Sergio, who oversaw a great deal of this stuff in books and on film at Tipping My Fedora has consented to accompany me and keep me as safe as he can.Continue reading
I first read The Red Right Hand (1945) by Joel Townsley Rogers about a decade ago — maybe more, maybe less, it’s fitting given the nature of the narrative herein that I’m a little hazy on the precise details. I’m unsure how it came to my attention, but I do know that I had expected a traditional suspects-murder-investigation-solution structure and that, when the book absolutely did not deliver this, it proved to be a frustrating read. This reissue by the American Mystery Classics range, then, was to be celebrated for a chance to re-evaluate the novel — my previous copy having gone who knows where — knowing what I was getting. And, well, it is still a frustrating read.
Picture the scene: it is 1946 and T.C.H. Jacobs is discussing his next novel with his agent, lamenting “So many types of detective story have successful during this Golden Age, in what style should I write? Some scientific detection? A police procedural? A pulpy shocker? Should I have an amateur detective? A gentleman detective? A criminal gang?” and his agent leans forwards slowly, steeples his fingers, and says simply, “Yes”.Continue reading
There’s so much depth in Golden Age detective fiction — it was a golden age, after all, irrespective of how narrow you make the window of admissible dates — that one could never read everything. Instead, we must find 60 or so authors who interest us, and hope to get a good coverage elsewhere. Well, if you’ve yet to read Baroness Emmuska Orcy’s Old Man in the Corner stories, I urge you to start as soon as possible.Continue reading
When a wealthy businessman bestows his fortune upon a lowly member of his household to the chagrin of his rapacious offspring, you can bet your bottom dollar that some heads are going to (sometimes literally) roll. Rian Johnson’s Knives Out (2019) might be the only time this setup hasn’t resulted in a bloodbath, but The Inugami Curse (1951) by Seishi Yokomizo is from further up the scale. Old sins and their long shadows will get a good airing as stabbings, poisonings, decapitations, stranglings, and even some homicidal wordplay get a murderous field trip to remember. It is, to say the very least, memorable.
The joy of running this blog comes not from the screaming fans that hound my every step, nor the piles of untaxable cash that seemed to just appear from day one, but from the discussions it and others allow me to have with like-, and sometimes unlike-, minded enthusiasts of Golden Age detective fiction. What to do, then, when I have a book that probably no-one is going to want to talk about?Continue reading
Let’s get the new year off to a happy start by showing some appreciation for contemporary authors who make life difficult for themselves by upholding the traditions of Golden Age detective fiction in their own works. And, if you want to discuss modern detective fiction, few are better-placed than Puzzle Doctor, a.k.a. Steve from In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel.Continue reading