THE VENGEFUL VIRGIN (1958) by Gil Brewer

This is a ripe piece of pulp noir, from its alliterative, catchpenny title to the de rigeur cover art featuring piles of cash, a disrobed woman and a gun. One of the many  paperback originals written by Gil Brewer in the 1950s, it was recently reprinted by Hard Case Crime. It provides an interesting variant on the beloved plot used by James M. Cain in Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice where a couple decide to murder a rich old man for his money and then fall out.

I submit this review for Bev’s 2014 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, Florida, Friday's Forgotten Book, Gil Brewer, Hard Case Crime, James M. Cain, Noir | 29 Comments

Mr Arkadin (1955) – Tuesday’s Overlooked Film

Welles-Arkadin-novelIn considering this quirky and delirious movie and book by Orson Welles, I am reminded of Winston’s Churchill’s quote about pre-war Russia: “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key.” Arkadin tells the story of a rich man who tasks another with investigating his early life as he claims to be suffering from amnesia. We begin with a plane flying blind …

I submit this review for Bev’s 2014 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Challenge bingo; Katie’s 2014 Book to Movie Challenge at the Doing Dewey blog (for review links, click here); and Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme hosted by Todd Mason over at Sweet Freedom.

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Posted in 2014 Book to Movie Challenge, 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, Amnesia, France, Italy, Mexico, New York, Novelisation, Orson Welles, Spain, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | 26 Comments

BLOOD RELATIVES (1975) by Ed McBain

McBain-Blood-Relatives-panWe really like Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct books here at Fedora and for the last couple of years have been re-reading them in chronological order (links to all the reviews can be found here). All are lively and engrossing, with some undeniably more successful than others. In much the same way that Steve Carella is first among equals within its range of corporate heroes, so this is one of my favourites among the later volumes. Indeed, for me the series here reached a peak that it would never quite be able to scale again. We start on a rain-soaked night and a pair of bloody palm prints …

“I hate knife wounds, don’t you?” Monoghan said.

I submit this review for Katie’s 2014 Book to Movie Challenge at Doing Dewey (for review links, click here); Bev’s 2014 Silver Age Vintage Mystery Challenge bingo; and Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme over at her fab Pattinase blog, which today celebrates the work of Ed McBain (aka Evan Hunter).

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Posted in 2014 Book to Movie Challenge, 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, 87th Precinct, Claude Chabrol, Ed McBain, Friday's Forgotten Book, New York, Police procedural | 36 Comments

BREAD (1974) by Ed McBain

McBain-Bread-panAfter much too long a break, Cotton Hawes is brought back centre-stage for this story involving drugs, porn, insurance scams, pyromania and a few murders. It also gives a pungent, heartfelt depiction of the degradation of the slums of the city – and introduces a new if often repellent character to the roster of regulars … get ready to say hello to ‘Fat’ Ollie Weeks.

“People in America keep guns the way Englishmen keep pussycats”

The following review is offered (slightly in advance) as part of Patti Abbott’s celebration of Ed McBain this Friday over at her fab Pattinase blog and Bev’s 2014 Silver Age Vintage Mystery Challenge.

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Posted in 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, 87th Precinct, Ed McBain, Friday's Forgotten Book, New York, Police procedural | 26 Comments

HAIL TO THE CHIEF (1973) by Ed McBain

McBain-Hail-to-the-Chief.pbThis story of rival gangs plays some interesting narrative tricks and demonstrates an unusually strong satirical and political edge but is usually seen as one of the weaker entries in  the 87th Precinct series. How does is stand up today?

“Why? What do you mean, ‘why’? I’m the President, that’s why. I’m the elected leader, I can do what I want.”

The following review is offered (slightly in advance) as part of Patti Abbott’s celebration of Ed McBain this Friday over at her fab Pattinase blog and Bev’s 2014 Silver Age Vintage Mystery Challenge.

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Posted in 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, 87th Precinct, Ed McBain, Friday's Forgotten Book, New York, Police procedural | 33 Comments

NOTHING IN HER WAY (1953) by Charles Williams

Williams-nothing-River-StarkHouse“Charles Williams remains the best kept secret in noir fiction” - Max Allan Collins

Charles Williams (1909-1975), one of the masters of the 1950s paperback original, has gone through a long period of neglect, probably more read in translation on the Continent than in English. So it is great to have this new edition of two of his early works from those very nice people at Stark House Press. The first book in the volume is Nothing in Her Way, a complex story of gamblers and con artists that begins with a seemingly chance encounter in a New Orleans bar …

I offer this review as part of Bev’s 2014 Vintage Golden Age Mystery Challenge, Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme over at her fab Pattinase blog and Katie’s 2014 Book to Movie Challenge at Doing Dewey (for review links, click here);

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Posted in 2014 Book to Movie Challenge, 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, Charles Williams, Friday's Forgotten Book, Noir, Stark House Press | Tagged , | 29 Comments

Women of Twilight (1953) – Tuesday’s Overlooked Film

Brit-Film-Noir-Twilight-SlasherNothing to do with Stephenie Meyer, this stark social drama (aka Twilight Women) was based on Sylvia Rayman’s groundbreaking all-female play. The up-and-coming Lois Maxwell and Laurence Harvey co-star, though the film is dominated by René Ray as unlikely heroine Viviane and Freda Jackson as an evil landlady. It begins in Noirish fashion with a couple of policemen looking for a good-for-nothing crooner and the tortured woman trying to help him escape a murder charge.

The following review is offered as part of the Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme hosted by Todd Mason over at his fab Sweet Freedom blog.

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Posted in Film Noir, Hammer Studios, London, Noir on Tuesday, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | 24 Comments