Blog Archives

V is for … SOLOMON’S VINEYARD (1941) by Jonathan Latimer

The Alphabet of Crime community meme over at the Mysteries in Paradise blog is nearing its end as it reaches the letter V – and my second nomination this week, also eligible under the guidelines of Bev’s 2011 Mystery Readers Challenge, is …

SOLOMON’S VINEYARD (1941) by Jonathan Latimer

“I fought in the war,” Jonesy said; “but it wasn’t like this.”

This is a book that comes with a lot of baggage after gaining notoriety as a mystery that was so hardboiled that it wasn’t published uncut in the US for some forty years – does it, could it, really live up to that promise? Is this the book that is to the crime and mystery genre what DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover was to ‘serious’ literature – an emancipating, liberating turning point in the genre? Well, no, not all. It’s still a damn good book though. Here’s some reasons why. Continue reading

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V is for … THE VIKING FUNERAL (2002) by Stephen J. Cannell

The Alphabet of Crime community meme over at the Mysteries in Paradise blog is nearing its end as it reaches the letter V – and my first nomination this week is …

THE VIKING FUNERAL by Stephen J. Cannell

“What happened next made no sense at all”

Graham Greene’s The Third Man is combined with a James Ellroy-style exposé involving corrupt politicians and rogue cops in the second of Stephen J. Cannell’s series featuring 20-year LA Homicide Squad veteran Shane Scully. Following directly from The Tin Collectors (2001), masterfully reviewed by Margot Kinberg over at her Confessions of a Mystery Novelist blog, we find Scully undergoing mandatory psychiatric evaluation after he took some highly ‘unorthodox’ methods to unravel a giant conspiracy to cover up a land grab involving a Hollywood mogul, the LA Mayor and his Chief of Police. He also fell in love with Alexa Hamilton, rising star of Internal Affairs (the eponymous ‘tin collectors’) and discovered he was the father of Charles ‘Chooch’ Sandoval. Continue reading

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U is for … UNNATURAL DEATH (1927) by Dorothy L. Sayers

The Alphabet of Crime community meme over at the Mysteries in Paradise blog has reached the letter U, and my nomination this week, also eligible under the guidelines of Bev’s 2011 Mystery Readers Challenge, is …

UNNATURAL DEATH (1927) by Dorothy L. Sayers

“I believe this is the case I have always been waiting for. The case of cases. The murder without discernible means, or motive or clue”

This is the third published case featuring Lord Peter Wimsey, that most upperclass of amateur sleuths, and it is one in which he declares himself fascinated by the possibility of cracking a case where no one even believes there is in fact a murder to be solved. In fact this is  a novel all about the way people perceive one reality as opposed to that which may lie underneath, about discerning secret patterns beneath a humdrum exterior and how realities are formed and perhaps even manufactured. Lord Peter comes to believe that, in one sense, he may very well be the one actually responsible for setting in motion a series of murders that, for his intervention, might not in fact have occurred at all. Continue reading

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THE DAY OF THE JACKAL – 40th Anniversary

First published in June 1971, Frederick Forsyth’s great grandaddy of the modern political thriller, The Day of the Jackal, is now celebrating its 40th anniversary. There has been a flurry of activity (not entirely unrelated to publicity for Forsyth’s latest novel, The Cobra) but I thought it might be worth pointing to a few choice bits of media coverage relating to this work. Continue reading

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Noir on Tuesday: THE SPIRITUALIST (1948)

The Spiritualist (1948), also known as The Amazing Mr X, has recently been rescued from public domain hell in the US and been added to the library of MOD (Manufactured On Demand) titles from the Warner Bros Archive and can be ordered through Amazon or directly from their website. It’s a beautifully shot, highly atmospheric mystery and a testament to the sadly curtailed directorial career of Bernard Vorhaus. Continue reading

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Blogs what I have read

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

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DVD review: THE CHINESE DETECTIVE (1981-82)

Although awesomely prolific in the crime and mystery genre, Ian Kennedy Martin will probably be best remembered as the creator of The Sweeney, even though he didn’t write a single episode of the actual series leaving immediately after setting up the template in the feature-length pilot, Regan. More recently one could still see its influence in the ‘Gene Hunt’ character from Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes. Robbed of the post-modern and fantasy trappings surrounding him, Hunt is very much recognisable as a pastiche of the kind of tough coppers played by Patrick Mower, Lewis Collins and Dennis Waterman in 1970s shows like Target, The Professionals and most potent of all, The Sweeney. Martin however went on to create several other shows with which he was much more intimately involved including the long running feminist procedural Juliet Bravo and perhaps most interesting of all, The Chinese Detective. Continue reading

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