I thought a useful thing I might do on Past Offences is record classic crime articles appearing elsewhere in the blogosphere. My intention is to point visitors to other blogs rather than recycle content, so I will restrict myself to quoting single paragraphs. If any of the bloggers mentioned below object, I will of course rethink the approach – let me know if this welcome or not. So here goes. August was a busy month: The always excellent Passing Tramp presents a retrospective on Joyce Porter, creator of the unpleasant Inspector Wilf Dover:
Generally, Dover and MacGregor will arrive on the scene of the murder, Dover complaining all the while, because work is anathema to him. Dover will look for the most comfortable chair and start a snooze. Eventually he will expect to be provided with cigarettes and drink. He will spend a considerable time in the bathroom (bowels trouble). Then he will start looking for small articles to nick. After that he starts thinking about lunch. Somehow (this must have taxed Porter’s ingenuity greatly) he usually does manage to solve the crime, however!
I read Dover One last year and found it a little bit on the racist side, but Dover is certainly a breath of fresh air, or rather its exact oppostite. By the way, the Passing Tramp is getting good reviews for his book Masters of the “Humdrum” Mystery – one to look out for. Early in the month, Finnish pulp blogger Pulpetti posted a review of Gideon’s Risk (aka Gideon Ottaa Riskin) by J. J. Marric (aka John Creasey), pointing out its importance in the history of the police procedural.
It’s interesting to note however that many aspects of the police procedural genre we usually associate with TV series like Hill Street Blues and The Wire and writers like Joseph Wambaugh were already fully used by a Briton like Creasey.
Gideon’s Day, the first in this series, is one of my favourite books this year. Meanwhile, locked-room afficionado (and fellow Mentalist fan) the Puzzle Doctor reviewed a Mysterious Press reissue of Clayton Rawson’s No Coffin for The Corpse, a case for Rawson’s magician-sleuth the Great Merlini.
What we have here is a densely-plotted, multi-layered, twist-filled mystery with a liberal sprinkling of charm and humour … a very enjoyable Golden Age mystery with plenty of asides about the history of magic. Highly recommended.
Puzzle Doctor also looks at Caroline Graham’s The Killings at Badger’s Drift, the first Midsomer murder, inspiration for innumerable Barnaby, Troy, Jones, and now ‘other Barnaby’ TV adventures. Badger’s Drift only just qualifies for Past Offences, being published in 1987, the same year as James Ellroy’s barmily hard-hitting The Black Dahlia – and they call this a genre? A new blog I’m following, Man of la Book, is reading through the novels which inspired Alan Moore’s excellent graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. This month he reports on Sax Rohmer’s The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu
The dialog in the book is somewhat stiff and the writing is wooden at times. A word of warning to the easily incensed – this novel’s sentiments about race and morality are… well… over 100 years old and we shall leave it at that…
At Do You Write Under Your Own Name?, the crime-writer Martin Edwards continues his exploration of forgotten golden-age classics with Murder at 23-10.
Newton Gayle is one of the most obscure writers to have been elected to membership of the Detection Club during the Golden Age. In fact, the pseudonym conceals the identities of two writers: the American poet Muna Lee and the British businessman Maurice Guinness.
Genre-fiction collector Admiral Ironbombs at Battered, Tattered, Yellowed and Creased reviewed a Hard Case Crime edition of House Dickby E. Howard Hunt.
Hunt is a damn fine author with impressive prose … His writing has an innate dynamism, and flows with a nice rapid rhythm, bounding over a tight-knit plot with abandon. It’s laden with slang and jargon, and while most of it has been lost to the ages, it’s not as overwhelming or baroque as in other novels. Hunt’s strength is with characters: they’re all developed and quite memorable, with unique personalities fleshed out by the first time you see them.
Moira at Clothes in Books was one of many bloggers to mark the passing this week of author Nina Bawden. Bawden was best known for her children’s books but also tried her hand at crime. Moira looks at her 1954 novel The Odd Flamingo:
a rather serious, dark book contrasting bourgeois suburbia with the louche underworld of London, and sinister nightclubs like The Odd Flamingo
Finally, did you know why old books smell? New twitter chum @Sofaflyer pointed out this article on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/pin/100697741637859424/