Classic crime in the blogosphere, July 2013

England InvadedI thought this was absolutely fascinating – How to Use Agatha Christie, David Suchet, Conan Doyle and Robert Downey Jr. To Rip Off Readers.

The author Bill Peschel has done some sterling detective work unmasking some pretty blatant piracy, including find-and-replacing the suspicious Inspector Whicher into an out-of-copyright R. Austin Freeman work, and stealing movie posters for book covers (pictured is a cropped-and-tinted The Riddle of the Sands).

(Thanks to Mary Reed on the Golden Age Yahoo! Group for finding this one.)

Vintage Pop Fictions reviews Nordenholt’s Million, an odd book by the Golden Age author J. J. Connington which is also examined in detail in Masters of the “Humdrum” Mystery.

one of the more interesting early post-apocalyptic science fiction stories, offering a more thorough examination of the social, cultural and political consequences of disaster. Recommended.

Speaking of the ‘Humdrum’, Curt at The Passing Tramp reviews Fredric Brown’s The Far Cry (1951):

The Far Cry has that “noir” quality of despair and impending doom that is all the modern rage, combined with a Christiesque plotting skill that is rather less respected today (among Brown’s contemporaries, I would compare his plotting deftness to that great psychological suspense writer Margaret Millar).

Janet Hutchings, the EQMM editor, blogs at Something is Going to Happen. This month she wrote about confession scenes, going back to Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart and its real-life inspiration, a prosecution speech by US lawyer Daniel Webster:

The secret which the murderer possesses soon comes to possess him, and like the evil spirits of which we read, it overcomes him, and leads him whithersoever it will. He feels it beating at his heart, rising to his throat, and demanding disclosure.

Best thing about the speech? Whithersoever.

I haven’t mentioned Tipping My Fedora for a while. In a pair of articles, Sergio covered the 1971 Sam Peckinpah movie Straw Dogs and the book which inspired it, The Siege of Trencher’s Farm (1969):

A worm-that-turned story of revenge in a remote English community, this harrowing snow-bound thriller has been filmed twice as Straw Dogs – and greatly altered, much to novelist Gordon Williams’ displeasure. The frustration felt by the author is easy to understand given just how much the movie has eclipsed the book in popular memory – but how do they compare?

Follow the links to find out…

I’ve been neglecting Father Brown (despite him being responsible for about 70% of my blog traffic). Inspired by the BBC’s recent adaptation appearing on ABC in Australia. Fr John Corrigan, in the Blog of a Country Priest, has done a good job at digging up links to various adaptations of Chesterton’s stories: Father Brown on Film and TV.

…nothing would compel me to watch Sanctuary of Fear, a 1979 telemovie which transplants Fr Brown to 1970s Manhattan. The movie was intended to launch a TV series, but the pilot’s so bad that the series was axed before it started.

Jose Ignacio at The  Game’s Afoot, in possibly his first mention in my classic crime round-up, reviews the ‘tartan noir’ classic Laidlaw (1977) by William McIlvanney, the first of the three novels featuring DI Jack Laidlaw.

One of the greatest pleasures of reading is to discover an author whose existence we were unaware of, but whose significance has been essential to the development of what has been written later on. Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö are a good example of what I mean to say for their contribution to the development of modern Scandinavian crime fiction. In the same sense, the development of modern Scottish crime fiction can’t be understood without the novels of William McIlvanney. It is said that his novels inspired Ian Rankin to create the character of John Rebus.

Finally, this looks like a fascinating book. Arun at The Ingenious Game of Murder looked at Locked Rooms and Open Spaces, an anthology of Swedish locked-room mysteries from the nineteenth century to 2002, published by an intriguing outfit called Battered Silicon Dispatch Box. It kicks off with:

Lars Blom and his Disappearing Gun: This story was first published in 1857 which would in all probability make it the second modern “into-thin-air” story after Edgar Allan Poe’s The Purloined Letter. The story involves the disappearance of a gun on two different occasions when the lowly paid gardener threatens his employer “The Colonel” with a gun. The Colonel calls in for reinforcement each time and by the time people come into the room and overpower the gardener, the gun has vanished – neither to be found on the person nor anywhere in the room.

See also:

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Past Offences by Rich Westwood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

About pastoffences

Past Offences exists to review classic crime and mystery books, with ‘classic’ meaning books originally published before 1987.
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8 Responses to Classic crime in the blogosphere, July 2013

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Thanks for this great summing up, Rich!


  2. Excellent round up – thanks!


  3. Thanks for the kind words Rich.


  4. Jose Ignacio says:

    I much appreciate your mention and kind words, Rich


  5. Curtis Evans says:

    Glad to see Nordenholt’s reviewed. I’m one of the people who takes a dimmer view of the title character, but perhaps I’m a sentimentalist! This book is being reprinted by Orion Books, I believe.


  6. FictionFan says:

    Thanks for the mention, and the great round-up!


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