The indefatigable and always welcoming Bev of My Reader’s Block regularly corrals us mystery buffs with her Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge, which focuses on mystery fiction published pre-1960 to be eligible for inclusion. I’ve had a great time this year with … Continue reading
Posted in 2013 Vintage Mystery Challenge, Albert Campion, Boileau-Narcejac, Edgar Wallace, Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, George Axelrod, Georges Simenon, James M. Cain, Maigret, Margaret Scherf, Margery Allingham, Michael Gilbert, Nero Wolfe, Philo Vance, Rex Stout, Richard Matheson, Sherwood King, SS Van Dine, Stanley Ellin, Wade Miller, Whit Masterson, World War II
This was the snowy swan song for amateur sleuth Philo Vance. It is also, stylistically, Van Dine’s most atypical book, told in a brisk, direct and light manner almost completely free of those adornments (footnotes and expansive digressions etc.) that … Continue reading
Does anyone read the rarefied intellectual puzzles investigated by Philo Vance anymore? I have been looking again at this series written and narrated by ‘SS Van Dine’ mainly with great pleasure (and will provide a couple of reviews here at Fedora very … Continue reading
This is a minor milestones for Tipping My Fedora as the blog has now reached its 101st post. So, seeing as it is also my birthday today, what better way to celebrate than with a small indulgence in the company of … Continue reading
Posted in 'Best of' lists, Charlie Chan, Columbo, Dashiell Hammett, Dorothy L. Sayers, Film Noir, Giallo, Inspector Morse, Jonathan Latimer, London, Lord Peter Wimsey, Los Angeles, Nero Wolfe, New York, Oxford, Paris, Parker, Philip MacDonald, Philip Marlowe, Philo Vance, Raymond Chandler, Rex Stout, Richard Stark, Robert Culp, Ross Macdonald, San Francisco, Scene of the crime, Scott Turow, Sherlock Holmes, SS Van Dine, The Thin Man, TV Cops, William Goldman
“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
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
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
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
This gallery contains 8 photos.
‘S.S. Van Dine’ was the pseudonym of Willard Huntington Wright (1888-1939) who was regarded in the teens and twenties as the greatest American authority on Nietzsche (my copy of Beyond Good and Evil has an introduction by Wright, who is called therein “..one of the foremost students and interpreters of Nietzsche in America”). According the publicity of the time, he created his fictional sleuth Philo Vance following a long illness during which he had been banned from reading anything more stimulating than detective stories (!!). The character is similar to Dorothy L Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey, also being a rich aristocrat who likes to solve crimes and is prone to dropping quotes and citations as he goes. In the case of Wright the erudition was pretty impressive and usually linked to the cases fairly convincingly. Continue reading