I anticipated two themes for December’s round-up: Christmas crimes and Sherlock Holmes (December 2012 being the 125th anniversary of the publication of A Study in Scarlet in Beeton’s Christmas Annual. I didn’t see much of either, and didn’t even manage to get to re-reading the great detective’s first adventure myself.
One exception: Curtis at the Passing Tramp did his Yuletide bit, reviewing Edith Howie’s 1941 Murder for Christmas, although based on his review it won’t be going on my Christmas list for 2013:
When this narrator, Marcia Holgate, declared of the second murder victim: ‘But Daphne–Daphne was different. You couldn’t talk about her, think about her, in the abstract. You couldn’t!’ I was thinking, well, Marcia, my dear, I could, personally. Heck, I couldn’t even remember whether Daphne had uttered a word of dialogue before her demise.
However, December’s real theme turned out to be ‘books with silly names’.
First up, Tomcat aka The Last Century Detective, blogged about a book with the improbable title The Man Who Had Been Murdered a Few Times. I was slightly disappointed to discover it was a translation from the Dutch, however, it sounds interesting.
Ted O. Sickens’ De man die ‘n paar maal vermoord was (1942) demoted the official representative of the police, Commissioner Dijkman, to a Lestrade-like figure and threw the mantle of Sherlock Holmes on Ulysses P. Bibber – a mumbling old man who nibbles on the handle of his umbrella when he’s thinking. The old man is a doctor in philosophy, who dislikes the idea that people think of him as a detective, but that’s what you get if you successfully meddle in murder cases.
Next up was one of those Sherlock Holmes pastiches, reviewed at The Ingenious Game of Murder: Loren D. Estleman’s The Riddle of the Golden Monkeys (2012)
…it’s the great Sax Rohmer himself, the creator of Dr. Fu-Manchu, who consults Holmes to solve a perplexing riddle. Sax Rohmer reveals that the character of Dr. Fu-Manchu was based upon a Chinese master criminal known only as Mr. King, who was the principal supplier of opium to the whole of London. To the author’s dismay (Rohmer’s), he meets Mr. King on the streets of London, which invariably leads to him being kidnapped by him.
The next weird title is The Matilda Hunter Murder (1931) by Harry Stephen Keeler, also reviewed at the Passing Tramp. This is 741 pages of densely-printed golden age nonsense:
Victor Michaux [is the] supposed inventor of the Z-ray machine, which supposedly emits what I believe are known to scientists as radioactive death ray thingummies (to use advanced technological terminology).
Finally, The Broken Bullhorn reviews Roscoes in the Night, a collection of hardboiled stories featuring ‘Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective’ (1934-1950). Sounds like a lot of fun:
[Robert Leslie] Bellem was a master of hard-boiled slang. Not the thoughtfully applied jargon used by Hammett, nor the artful, literary language used by Chandler, this is slap-dash, half invented on the spot, “B” movie (or lower) language, loose and free and a little silly, which is just right for these stories.
This is the Broken Bullhorn’s 99th – 99th – review of a forgotten book – making me feel like a regular tyro, as Dan Turner might have said.
Past Offences by Rich Westwood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.