So 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)
- Lawrence Block’s The Thief Who Couldn’t Sleep (1966)
Australian Crime Writers’ Association
- June Wright’s Murder in the Telephone Exchange (1948)
Battered, Tattered, Yellowed and Creased
- David Goodis’s Night Squad (1961)
Beneath the Stains of Time
- Craig Rice’s To Catch a Thief (1943)
- K. K. Beck’s Death in a Deck Chair (1984)
- H. C. Bailey’s The Bishop’s Crime (1940)
- Helen MacInnes’ The Hidden Target (1980) and Cloak of Darkness (1982)
Bitter Tea and mystery
- Frances Crane’s The Indigo Necklace (1945)
- H. R. F. Keating’s Whodunit? A Guide to Crime, Suspense, & Spy Fiction
The Broken Bullhorn
- Margery Allingham’s Mystery Mile (1930)
- Joe Gores’ Dead Skip (1974)
Clothes in Books
- Francis Beeding’s The Norwich Victims (1931)
- Margery Allingham’s The Fashion in Shrouds (1938)
- Anita Boutell’s Death has a Past (1939)
Col’s Criminal Library
- Brian Freemantle’s Charlie Muffin series
Confessions of a Mystery Novelist
- Scott Young’s Murder in a Cold Climate (1988)
The Crime Segments
- Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye (1953)
- John Greenwood’s Murder, Mr Mosley (1983)
Ela’s Book Blog
- Helen MacInnes’ Agent in Place (1976)
- W. Somerset Maugham’s Ashenden, or, The British Agent (1928)
Felony and Mayhem
Five Minute Mysteries
- Robert Barnard’s A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie (1980)
The Game’s Afoot
- Ed McBain’s Sadie When She Died (1972)
- Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s The Inspector Barlach Mysteries
International Noir Fiction
Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings
- William E. Burton’s The Secret Cell (1837)
The Locked Room
- Dorothy L. Sayers’ Strong Poison (1930)
- Margery Allingham’s Look to the Lady (1931)
- Edmund Crispin’s Swan Song (1947)
- Gypsy Rose Lee’s The G-String Murders (1941)
Mesdames of Mystery
Ms. Wordpolis Reads
George Simenon’s Maigret and the Black Sheep (1962)
- Ellery Queen’s The Greek Coffin Mystery (1932)
The Passing Tramp
- Russell Thorndike’s The Slype (1927)
- Kenneth Taylor Perkins
- Kenneth Perkins’ Voodoo’d (1931)
- Agatha Christie’s The Secret Adversary (1922)
- Margaret Millar’s Beyond This Point Are Monsters (1970)
- Sapper’s Knock-Out (1933)
- Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime (1929)
- Anthony Rolls’ Scarweather (1934)
Peggy Ann’s Post
- Joanna Cannan’s Death at The Dog (1941)
A Penguin a Week
- Georges Simenon’s Maigret and the Burglar’s Wife (1953)
- John Trench’s Docken Dead (1953)
Pretty Sinister Books
- Elizabeth Curtiss’s Nine Doctors and a Madman (1940)
- Joanna Cannan’s The Body in the Beck (1952)
- Joan Fleming’s The Chill and the Kill (1964)
- Kathleen Moore Knight’s Death Goes to a Reunion (1952)
- P. B. Yuill’s Hazell Plays Solomon (1974)
In Search of the Classic Mystery
- Carter Dickson’s The Judas Window (1938)
- Agatha Christie’s They Do It With Mirrors (1952)
- Lawrence Block’s The Sins of the Fathers (1976)
- Margery Allingham’s The Tiger in the Smoke (1952)
She Reads Novels
- Agatha Christie’s Cat Among the Pigeons (1959)
Tipping my Fedora
- Earl Stanley Gardner’s The Case of the Lucky Legs (1934)
- Charles Williams’ Nothing in her Way (1953)
- Ed McBain’s Hail to the Chief (1973)
- Ed McBain’s Bread (1974)
- Ed McBain’s Blood Relatives (1975)
- Gil Brewer’s The Vengeful Virgin (1958)
Vintage Pop Fictions
- Agatha Christie’s Appointment with Death (1938)
- Edgar Wallace’s Terror Keep (1927)
- Vincent Cornier’s The Duel of Shadows (1930s shorts)
What Are You Reading For?
- James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934)
Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog
- Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s The Judge and His Hangman (1950)
Past Offences by Rich Westwood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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.
I was distracted by her eyebrows…
Terrific roundup Rich – and I certanly went to get hold of the June Wright book – thanks chum.
Rich – Many thanks for the kind mention. I do love this roundup – lots for me to check out.
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)
Oh course you can – very glad to have you. Sorry I’d never come across your blog.
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.
Thanks for the mention, for recommending the Norwich Victims, and for doing this great monthly roundup, from which I always get useful tipoffs.
Appreciate the list. Thanks.
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.
Thank you for the mention – and SO much here to explore: I always find something new when I visit. (Vicki @ Bibliolathas)
No problem 🙂