THE BLACK SPECTACLES (1939) by John Dickson Carr

Carr_Problem-of-the-Green-Capsule_IPLI was always predisposed to love this book: first off, it’s an impossible crime mystery, second it’s by John Dickson Carr and third it involves movie-making equipment – perfect! It sees the titanic powers of lexicographer detective Gideon Fell at their peak (Carr, in the dramatis personae, bills him as: ‘The expert – there are no words to describe him.’) This novel takes the Holmesian maxim that people ‘see but do not observe’ to pull off a seemingly impossible poisoning despite a camera filming every moment of the murder. We begin in Pompeii …

I submit this review for Bev’s Golden Age Vintage Mystery Challenge; and Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme over at her fab Pattinase blog.

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Posted in 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, England, Gideon Fell, Italy, John Dickson Carr, Locked Room Mystery | 63 Comments

Callan is back!

Callan[-UncoveredMore great news from Mike Ripley and those great people at Ostara Publishing. Almost half a century after he first electrified British television screens in the “one-off” drama  A Magnum for Schneider, the enigmatic, ruthless and tragic hero David Callan (so memorably portrayed by Edward Woodward) is back in a new anthology, Callan Uncovered, published as an Ostara Original simultaneously as a hardback, trade paperback and eBook.

The 24 stories, written by Callan creator James Mitchell (1926-2002), appeared in the Sunday Express newspaper between 1973 and 1976 and have never been published in book form before. Along with the first Callan story written for the TV Times in 1967, they form the basis of Callan Uncovered, along with an original treatment for an episode of the TV series,  a previously unseen complete script that was never filmed, and an introduction by James Mitchell’s son Peter.

Ostara editor Mike Ripley spent the best part of a year tracking down the stories for the collection, with the help of the British Library and a network of die-hard Callan fans. The story of “uncovering Callan” has been posted on the Ostara website along with details of James Mitchell books now back in print as Top Notch Thrillers, at

A review of this book will be appearing here at Fedora very, very shortly.



Posted in David Callan, James Mitchell, Mike Ripley, Ostara Publishing | 30 Comments


Dragon-Murder-Case_poster A man dives into an open air swimming pool and vanishes, never to be seen alive again. When the pool is drained, the only clue to be found is what looks like the footprints of a dragon on the muddy sediment … It’s time for super sleuth Philo Vance to investigate what many now think was perhaps his last major case, both in print and (the following year) onscreen.

I submit this review for Bev’s Golden Age Vintage Mystery Challenge; Katie’s Book to Movie Challenge at Doing Dewey (for review links, click here); and Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme at Todd Mason’s Sweet Freedom blog.

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Posted in 2014 Book to Movie Challenge, 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, New York, Philo Vance, SS Van Dine, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | 34 Comments

Lone Star (1996)

Lone-Star-PenaThis is one of my favourite films and I am always slightly appalled that more people haven’t heard of it. I was reminded of it again when it was announced a few days ago that the versatile American actress Elizabeth Peña had died at the age of 55. She was always busy, appearing in films as different as The Incredibles (she voiced the character of Mirage) and La Bamba, though it is for her two collaborations with John Sayles that I will always remember her best: the short-lived legal drama Shannon’ Deal (currently AWOL on video), and Lone Star (1996), the ground-breaking historical mystery he wrote, edited and directed.

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Posted in Film Noir, John Sayles, Noir on Tuesday, Scene of the crime, Texas, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | 36 Comments

THE SNATCH (1971) by Bill Pronzini

Pronzini_Snatch_sphereAfter reading Marcia Muller’s first Sharon McCone series (click here for the review), I thought it might be fun to go look at the debut of another San Francisco private eye, one that she would subsequently meet. “Nameless’ was created by Bill Pronzini (now Muller’s husband), who later partnered McCone in Double (1984, co-written with Muller). In his debut, the anonymous detective is hired to drop off a ransom for a kidnapped child, but at the exchange the kidnapper is killed, the money stolen and our narrator stabbed …

I offer this review for Bev’s Vintage Silver Age Mystery Challenge; and Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme over at her fab Pattinase blog.

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Posted in 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, Bill Pronzini, Friday's Forgotten Book, Private Eye, San Francisco | 42 Comments

The Empty Beach (1985) – Tuesday’s Overlooked Film

Corris_The-Empty-Beach_unwinBryan Brown played Australian private investigator Cliff Hardy in this adaptation of the fourth in the continuing series of mysteries by Peter Corris. As of this year Hardy has featured in 40 books, and as the author is usually credited with establishing the first contemporary Antipodean PI series, I thought it was time I gave it a look. The eponymous place in the title is Bondi in Sydney …

I offer this film & book review for Katie’s Book to Movie Challenge at Doing Dewey (for links, click here); Bev’s Vintage Silver Age Mystery Challenge; and Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme hosted by Todd Mason over at his fab Sweet Freedom blog.

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Posted in 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, Australia, Peter Corris, Sydney | 24 Comments

DETOUR (1953) by Helen Nielsen

Nielsen_Detour_blacklizardDanny Ross is 18 years old and heading south, anxious to start a new life. A few hundred miles from the Mexico border his car packs up but is offered a lift by old Doc Gaynor, who is heading to Cooperton. They stop at a roadside cafe in nearby Mountain View, where talk is focused on the death the night before of town lush, Francy. When Danny goes back to the car to rejoin the Doc, he finds the old man bludgeoned to death and is promptly accused of killing him and maybe Francy too. It’s not long before he is on the run …

I submit this review for Bev’s Golden Age Vintage Mystery Challenge bingo; and Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme over at her fab Pattinase blog.

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Posted in 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, Friday's Forgotten Book, Helen Nielsen | 34 Comments