A SCENT OF NEW-MOWN HAY (1958) by John Blackburn

Blackburn_Hay_msmilljpgI’ve been looking to sample this author’s weird fiction for years after hearing him compared with LP Davies, one of my favourite British pulp authors of the 1960s. So I have decided, in my usual fashion, to start at the beginning with his debut, a Cold War tale of biological weaponry with its roots in Nazi experiments that combines espionage and horror with a dash of SF – or as the blurb has it:

“A novel of action, horror and emotion”

I offer this review as part of Bev’s Vintage Golden Age Mystery Challenge; and Rich Westwood’s celebration of all things 1958 over at his Past Offences blog. Continue reading

Posted in 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, England, Germany, John Blackburn, LP Davies | 29 Comments

SLEEP WITH SLANDER (1960) by Dolores Hitchens

Hitchens_Sleep-with-Slander_ssThis was the second, and last, of the novels featuring private detective Jim Sader published under her ‘Dolores Hitchens’ byline by Julia Clara Catharine Dolores Birk Olsen Hitchens (1907–1973), who also wrote as D. B. Olsen, Dolan Birkley and Noel Burke. Nearly 30 years ago Bill Pronzini famously called Sleep with Slander, “the best hard-boiled private-eye novel written by a woman – and one of the best written by anybody.” How does it stand up today, especially given its difficult subject – violence against children?

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, Los Angeles, Private Eye, Ross Macdonald | Tagged | 24 Comments

The Anderson Tapes (1971) – Tuesday’s Overlooked Film

Sanders_Anderson-Tapes_dellGiven how surveillance culture has jumped to the very top of the political agenda, I thought it might be intriguing, and possibly even salutary, to look at a novel and film that got there very early, even before the Watergate scandal made bugging the stuff of everyday meetings. Lawrence Sanders made his Edgar-winning debut with this satirical caper story, told entirely through transcripts of one kind or another with just the occasional contextual intro from the author.

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

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Posted in 2014 Book to Movie Challenge, 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, Donald Westlake, Lawrence Sanders, New York, Sidney Lumet | Tagged , | 38 Comments

FALSE SCENT (1960) by Ngaio Marsh

Marsh_False-Scent_fontanaI’ve been meaning to give Ngaio Marsh ‘another try’ for ages as I keep being told that my rather negative impressions, formed many moons ago, should be re-assessed. So here goes, with this comparatively late entry in her series of Roderick Alleyn mysteries. This sees her on familiar ground in the theatrical world as he investigates the murder of celebrated stage actress Mary Bellamy, an at times charming woman with a truly vile temper. After a titanic tantrum on her 50th birthday, she is found dead after being sprayed with insecticide and everybody at the party is a suspect.

I offer this review as part of Bev’s 2014 Vintage Silver Age Mystery Challenge.

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Posted in 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, London | 53 Comments

EDWIN OF THE IRON SHOES (1977) by Marcia Muller

Muller_Edwin-of-the-Iron-Shoes_womenspressThis was the first in the Sharon McCone series that so far has spawned 33 volumes. As debuts go this is a fairly traditional one but historically it remains a very important work as it is generally held to have established the female private eye in contemporary crime literature, certainly paving the way for the likes of Sara Peretsky’s VI Warshawski and Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone.

“Damned fine woman. Ought to have been a man”

I offer this review as part of Bev’s 2014 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, Friday's Forgotten Book, Private Eye, San Francisco | 30 Comments

The Missing Person (2009) – Tuesday’s Overlooked Film

The-Missing-Person-posterOn screen and on paper, the private investigator remains, for me, perhaps the most attractive of detectives to be found in fiction. You can keep your twinkly-eyed spinsters and your upper-class amateurs, for me PIs are often as interesting as the cases they investigate. And the form is so flexible that it can be taken in many truly unexpected directions. This little gem of a movie is a brilliant case in point, triumphantly updating the neo-Noir formula to the 21st century.

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

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Posted in Chicago, Film Noir, Hollywood, New York, Noir on Tuesday, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | Tagged , | 41 Comments

THE RIPPER OF STORYVILLE (1997) by Edward D. Hoch

Hoch_Storyville_crippenlandruThis volume from Crippen & Landru brings together the first 14 stories featuring Ben Snow, a 19th century adventurer often mistaken for Billy the Kid. What is particularly noteworthy about the collection is that includes both the initial stories Hoch wrote about the character in the 1960s, in the early days of his career, and the first batch published two decades later, when the series was revived by an author now at the peak of his success. All offer enticing mysteries and some of them are absolutely corkers!

I offer this review as part of Bev’s 2014 Vintage Silver Age Mystery Challenge

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Posted in 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, New York | 32 Comments