Did you know that at the end of his illustrious career Ellery Queen retired to Italy, got married and sired a son? And that ‘Queen’ was not his real name, even in the fictional sense? Well, this is the information … Continue reading
Kerrie’s Alphabet of Crime community meme over at the Mysteries in Paradise blog has returned for 2012. Each week those participating will post a review, author biog or a thematic item in which either the first letter of the title … Continue reading
Posted in 2012 Alphabet of Crime, Agatha Christie, Amnesia, Cornell Woolrich, Crime Fiction Alphabet, Ed McBain, Ellery Queen, Espionage, Film Noir, James Bond, LP Davies, Margaret Millar, Patrick Quentin
What is it about the crime and mystery genre that draws people together? More to the point, what is it about the genre that drawn authors together? One can of course look for a variety of psychologicial or sociological rationales … Continue reading
“Philo Vance / Needs a kick in the pance” – Ogden Nash It is only with hindsight that we can properly discern the ebb and flow of patterns in crime fiction and separate the true trend setters, those destined to … Continue reading
Unaccustomed as I am to blogging (with apologies to the immortal British comedy duo Morecambe and Wise and their scriptwriter Eddie Braben), I just thought I’d stop for a minute or two to point with amazement at the apparent synchronicity surrounding the great time I have been having of late participating in the blogosphere. Without realising it, I seem to have joined a group of bloggers all of whom celebrate fairly traditional detective stories, with most of us in particular being great fans of John Dickson Carr and Ellery Queen.
There’s a lot of great crime and mystery bloggers out there and I have to tip my hat to several that I have recently had the pleasure of getting better acquainted with Continue reading
The plan was to come up with a top 100 that I was prepared to stand by – but I wanted to re-read so many of the books that I might have included but now remembered too vaguely (such as Ngaio Marsh’s output or books like Tey’s hugely popular The Daughter of Time) that I thought I should publish only a partial list. Not to mention finding it a bit hard to just settle on one book by Georges Simenon given the enormity of his output – I have placed a list of 80+ titles on the site and am extremely open to suggestions …
So here are My (Nearly) Top 100 Mystery Books Continue reading
I first published this brief review over at my Audio Aficionado blog but I think it belongs more properly here with my other Fedora tips.
This four part BBC radio drama is an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s eponymous 1949 novel, one which on several occasions she claimed to be the favourite amongst her own works.
The title is derived from the familiar nursery rhyme:
“There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse.
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.”
As the Alphabet of Crime community meme over at the Mysteries in Paradise blog reaches the letter O, my second nomination this week, also eligible under the guidelines of Bev’s 2011 Mystery Readers Challenge, is …
O is for … THE ORIGIN OF EVIL by Ellery Queen
This is the third and last of Ellery Queen’s ‘Hollywood’ novels and indeed the three have been published together as an omnibus, though this does tend to emphasise the massive change of style in the final volume.
Indeed, what we are offered here is a jaundiced view of Hollywood and of the great detective himself, who here acts without the help and support of his father in a story which is much more redolent of the post-war noir sensibility we would more normally associate with Woolrich or Chandler for instance. It is a rich and strange novel, one that while being unmistakably ‘Queenian’ shows authors Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee continuing to explore new formulas to try and incorporate increasingly complex themes within the mystery genre. Continue reading
Jeffery Deaver originally studied journalism and he employs and unfussy, nuts and bolts prose style that partially explains why he has recently followed a long line of authors – including John Gardner, Raymond Benson, Sebastian Faulks and (in a junior capacity) Charlie Higson – in continuing the literary adventures of James Bond with the forthcoming publication of Carte Blanche. Deaver is also, like Fleming, drawn to pulpy plots involving grand schemes from master professional criminals and heroes with well-hidden human frailties and vulnerabilities. In other respects though he is very different from Fleming, most notably his trademark love of puzzles and endless twists and turns and his general avoidance of descriptive passages. Undeniably though he is a very capable writer of thrillers as well as a best-selling author (the two don’t always go together, let’s face it). He is best know for the series featuring Lincoln Rhyme, a forensic detective who, being a quadriplegic, is in a very real sense a ‘armchair detective’. He was played by Denzel Washington in The Bone Collector, a reasonably successful movie adaptation of the first of the series. Rhyme makes a guest appearance in The Devil’s Teardrop, but the main character is Parker Kincaid, a graphologist working in Washington DC who retired from active FBI duties to keep his two young children out of harm’s way. Continue reading
Why 9? Well, 40 seemed too many, 5 was too few while the number 9 features heavily in the last Queen novel which was always going to be the last of my list, so … QED (a latin maxim which in one of the stories is amusingly mis-translated as ‘Queens’s Experiments in Deduction’).
Along with John Dickson Carr, Queen was the great detective story writer of my youth – when I turned 13 I began devouring their stories, marvelling at the ingenuity as they caught me out time and again. I’ll get round to Carr soon, but then again such a good job has already been done over at the ‘In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel’ blog that it is going to take a lot more effort to come up with something new to say.
“Ellery Queen” was the pseudonym of the cousins Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee, who also used the name for the detective, who is himself an author of detective stories. This is typical of the convolutions within their stories, which initially offered a ‘Challenge to the Reader’, claiming that at a certain point all the clues existed to deduced (never ‘guess’) who the murderer was. Lee later was polite enough to admit that this was probably only true if the reader was a genius! Continue reading