Women’s Mystery Month? Classic crime in the blogosphere: March 2014

Murder_in_the_Telephone_ExchangeSo last March it was apparently Women’s Mystery Month, so I assume it is this year as well? Either way, I’ve picked out some femmes fatales from the month’s blogging, starting with some rarities.

The Australian Crime Writers’ Association celebrated a reissue of a 1948 mystery by one June Wright, apparently the Antipodean Queen of Crime:

Murder in the Telephone Exchange, Wright’s debut novel, was remarkable for its ‘scene of the crime’ (a central telephone exchange), the murder weapon (a ‘buttinsky’, a piece of equipment used to listen in on phone calls) and its setting (Melbourne). According to Wright, it was the first detective novel set in Melbourne since Fergus Hume’s Mystery of the Hansom Cab was published in 1886… In 1948, Murder in the Telephone Exchange was the best-selling mystery in Australia, sales outstripping even those of the reigning queen of crime, Agatha Christie.

Not to be left out, 1940s Scandinavia had its own Queen of Crime. International Noir Fiction looked at Maria Lang, the ‘Swedish Agatha Christie’:

Maria Lang (pseudonym for Dagmar Maria Lange) published her first murder mystery in 1949 and continued to bring out one a year for 42 more years, plus some “deckare,” as the Swedish call mystery novels, for children… She was definitely in the cozy branch of the genre, and reportedly clashed with Per Wahlöö in a meeting of the Swedish society of crime novelists, and quit the organization over the direction in which the genre was heading.

Moira over at Clothes in Books read another author that was new to me: Anita Boutell, author of Death has a Past (1939):

It is a very clever book, written round a conceit. Six women are gathered in a house: most have reason to dislike or be jealous of the others. Money and love affairs are causing endless trouble. And we know from the opening pages that there will be ‘an act of violence followed by a confession and a suicide.’ The book is 198 pages long, and only on p198 do you find out who is dead and why.

But never mind clothes in books, what about when they’re coming off? The Locked Room took in Gypsy Rose Lee’s first novel, The G-String Murders, but sadly sounded less than impressed:

When The G-String Murders (1941) hit the bookstore shelves, Gypsy Rose Lee, then only 28 years old, shined as the brightest start in burlesque. The book promised not only a titillating look backstage but also an exciting murder mystery.

Finally, a little less obscure. Margery Allingham was of course one of the ‘Queens of Crime’ (whose creation, Albert Campion, has been revived this month by Mike Ripley and Severn House). The Broken Bullhorn looked at her Mystery Mile:

This is the second Campion novel and his early characteristics are nowhere more evident. The plot here isn’t much less bizarre than the protagonist. This may be the most unbelievable of the Campion novels but it is also a great deal of fun. The term “willing suspension of disbelief” comes to mind.

The Ripley novel (review soon) harks back to the spirit of the early adventures despite being based on an idea by Allingham’s more grounded husband Youngman Carter.

Finally, another revival announced this month are Tommy and Tuppence, Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime. The BBC is to film a new series starring David Walliams this year. Inspired by the news, Curt at The Passing Tramp took a look at the crime-fighting duo:

Agatha Christie’s accomplished biographers, Janet Morgan and Laura Thompson, were not particularly enamored with the Queen of Crime’s second-string sleuthing duo, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford (both are single in their first appearance, 1922’s The Secret Adversary, but they have tied the knot when Partners in Crime opens). Morgan deems them “irritatingly perky,” while Thompson goes farther yet, decrying them as “appallingly twee.”

I’ve watched 2 episodes of the 1980s version of Tommy and Tuppence, and I have to say that a) I agree with Morgan and b) I agree with Thompson. But I will be giving the stories a chance.

See also… (and do give me a shout if I’ve missed something)

Alpha-60 Books

The Atlantic

Australian Crime Writers’ Association

Battered, Tattered, Yellowed and Creased

Beneath the Stains of Time


Bitter Tea and mystery

The Broken Bullhorn

Clothes in Books

Col’s Criminal Library

Confessions of a Mystery Novelist

The Crime Segments


Ela’s Book Blog

Existential Ennui

Felony and Mayhem

Five Minute Mysteries

The Game’s Afoot

International Noir Fiction

Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings

The Locked Room

Mesdames of Mystery

Movies, Silently

Ms. Wordpolis Reads

George Simenon’s Maigret and the Black Sheep (1962)

Noah’s Archive

The Passing Tramp

Peggy Ann’s Post

A Penguin a Week

Pretty Sinister Books


In Search of the Classic Mystery

Shelf Love

She Reads Novels

Silver Scene

Tipping my Fedora

Vintage Pop Fictions

What Are You Reading For?

Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog

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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.
This entry was posted in Classic crime round-up, Classic mystery book review, Information Received and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Women’s Mystery Month? Classic crime in the blogosphere: March 2014

  1. Curtis Evans says:

    You might at least have mentioned Francesca Annis’ wardrobe, my lad! 😉

    Personally, I like the book better, but then it has all the tec pastiche stuff.

    Kudos to Clothes in Book for taking notice of Boutell.


  2. Terrific roundup Rich – and I certanly went to get hold of the June Wright book – thanks chum.


  3. Margot Kinberg says:

    Rich – Many thanks for the kind mention. I do love this roundup – lots for me to check out.


  4. Ho-Ling says:

    Mind if I leave some relevant links to my blog here?

    Oguri Mushitarou – Kokushikan Satsujin Jiken (1934, The Black Death Mansion Murder Case) (http://ho-lingnojikenbo.blogspot.nl/2014/03/the-fall-of-house-of-usher.html)
    Ellery Queen – Inspector Queen’s Own Case (1956) & The House of Brass (1968) (http://ho-lingnojikenbo.blogspot.nl/2014/03/sins-of-fathers.html)
    Carter Dickson – The Third Bullet and Other Stories (stories from 1943~1948, Japanese version) & Edward D. Hoch – Diagnosis: Impossible 4 – More and More Problems of Dr. Sam Hawthorne (1988~1993, Japanese version) (http://ho-lingnojikenbo.blogspot.nl/2014/03/mr-short-and-mr-long.html)
    Robert van Gulik – The Chinese Maze Murders (Dutch audio drama ver., broadcast sometime between 1957~59, ) (http://ho-lingnojikenbo.blogspot.nl/2014/03/maze.html)


  5. TracyK says:

    Thanks for the mention. Great group of links once again. Looking forward to your review of the Ripley novel. And I hope I like the Tommy and Tuppence series better than you did. I did enjoy The Secret Adversary, which was movie length.


  6. Thanks for the mention, for recommending the Norwich Victims, and for doing this great monthly roundup, from which I always get useful tipoffs.


  7. Keishon says:

    Appreciate the list. Thanks.


  8. Santosh Iyer says:

    After reading your post, I have become interested in 2 books: Murder In The Telephone Exchange by June Wright and Death Has A Past by Anita Boutell. I am planning to acquire both these books
    I also agree with Morgan and Thompson regarding Tommy and Tuppence. I dislike these characters. I dislike the books where they appear.


  9. Thank you for the mention – and SO much here to explore: I always find something new when I visit. (Vicki @ Bibliolathas)


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