DEAD MAN’S BAY (1953) by Catherine Arley

Arley_Dead-Mans-Bay_fontanaThis tale of psychological suspense marked the literary debut of Catherine Arley (the pen name of Pierrette Pernot), who celebrated her 90th birthday last December. Originally published in France as Tu Vas Mourir (and later reissued as Mourir sans toi), it appeared in the UK in 1959 as Dead Man’s Bay in a translation by Jehanne-Marie Marchesi. It remains one of only a small number of her books to have been made available in English. It begins with our protagonist in the grip of fear in an isolated clifftop cottage in Brittany …

I submit this review for Bev’s Golden Age Vintage Mystery Challenge; and Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme over at her fab Pattinase blog.

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Posted in 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge, France, Friday's Forgotten Book | 26 Comments

PAYROLL (1959) by Derek Bickerton

Bickertn_Payroll_panThis fuel-injected thriller was an early effort by Derek Bickerton, who subsequently established himself as an eminent linguist. Set in Birmingham, it tells the story of a heist that goes wrong – but then, in fiction, don’t they always? A couple of years later it was turned into a tight little movie by the writer-director team of George Baxt and Sidney Hayers, relocating the action to Newcastle with a terrific cast headed by Michael Craig, Françoise Prévost, Tom Bell and the late Billie Whitelaw.

I submit this review for Bev’s Vintage Mystery Challenge; and Todd Mason’s Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme at Sweet Freedom.

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Posted in 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge, Birmingham, George Baxt, Newcastle | Tagged | 28 Comments

JOYLAND by Stephen King

King-Joyland-HCC-OrbikThis review is by way of a small tribute to Glen Orbik, who died on Monday after a long battle with cancer. He was the cover illustrator for many of the books published by Hard Case Crime, including this whodunit by Stephen King, which has been such a success that it has been announced that a new illustrated hardback edition is due to hit the stands in the Autumn. So, what’s it all about? Joyland is set in the summer and autumn of 1973 at an amusement park in North Carolina, where a heartbroken young man recounts a coming of age tale involving murder and the paranormal …

I submit this review for Carl V Anderson’s Once Upon A Time IX Challenge; and Friday’s Forgotten Books meme run by Patti Abbott at her fab Pattinase blog.

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Posted in Charles Ardai, Donald Westlake, Film Noir, Hard Case Crime, Stephen King | 38 Comments

Killjoy (1981) – Tuesday’s Overlooked Film

KilljoyEveryone’s a suspect in this engrossing mystery starring Kim Basinger and the late Robert Culp, both searching for the elusive Joy Morgan – but does she even exists? This CBS TV-Movie, prosaically retitled Who Murdered Joy Morgan on video, is much better than average, though admittedly it opens with what was already a cliché by 1981 – a long POV tracking shot of an unseen murderer stalking a scantily clad blonde. But in this story, things are rarely what they seem …

This 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 John Llewellyn Moxey, Robert Culp, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | Tagged | 22 Comments


Gibson_Pattern-Recognition_penguin9780241953532This tale of industrial espionage, set shortly after the World Trade Center attack, features a heroine with a most bespoke fashion sense and the search for a movie – one that may be a work of genius but which is only being made available anonymously in apparently random chunks on the Internet. This thriller comes from a great name in speculative fiction, one regarded as having fathered the ‘cyberpunk’ genre with Neuromancer (though some might argue Roger Zelazny got there decades earlier).

I offer the following review for Patti’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme, which today is being hosted by Todd Mason over at his fab Sweet Freedom blog. Continue reading

Posted in Friday's Forgotten Book, Japan, London, Moscow | Tagged | 28 Comments

Top 15 Caper Movies

StealEverybody loves caper movies just a little bit, right? Whether it’s Newman and Redford pulling off The Sting, Tom Cruise and the Mission: Impossible team breaking into the CIA or Danny Ocean’s crew knocking off casinos in Vegas, this is a world of crime with a minimum of violence and a maximum of ingenuity, in which the rich and unpleasant are relieved of their ill-gotten gains by clever and (fairly) honourable crooks. The recent Kurt Russell movie,  The Art of the Steal (2013), which has great fun leading viewers up the garden path, got me thinking about the genre as a whole, and how evil thieves got reshaped into anti-Establishment heroes as we cheer their ingenious ability to thumb their noses at convention.

I offer this post for Todd Mason’s Tuesday’s Overlooked Movie meme over at his fab Sweet Freedom blog – you should head over there right now.

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Posted in Brian de Palma, Bryan Forbes, Canada, Caper, Tuesday's Overlooked Film, William Goldman | Tagged , , , | 113 Comments

LONG TIME NO SEE (1977) by Ed McBain

McBain_Long-Time-No-See_panWell, it really has been a while – over a year to be precise! After the disappointment of So Long As You Both Shall Live (which I reviewed here), I decided to bench the 87th Precinct books for a while. But today we are back with the next volume in Ed McBain’s infinitely varied saga, titled appropriately enough, Long Time No See. And I’m glad to say that this proves to be a much more substantial effort. We begin with a double murder – first a Vietnam vet, blinded in the conflict, has his throat cut in the street. Then the next day his wife, who is also blind, is murdered at home in the same way.

I submit this review for  Bev’s Vintage Mystery Challenge. 

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Posted in 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge, 87th Precinct, Ed McBain, Friday's Forgotten Book, New York, Police procedural | 30 Comments