CAROL (1952) by Patricia Highsmith

Highsmith_Carol_penguinThis was Highsmith’s second novel and superficially is quite different from her usual tales of tortured suspense. It first appeared as by ‘Claire Morgan’ under the title The Price of Salt, the switch in identity due to the fact that it depicted a fairly unorthodox romance. Its love story between two women was perhaps a bit racy for its day though, given the author’s generally morbid proclivities, what really surprises is how generally upbeat it is. We begin at Christmas in a Manhattan department store a bit like Bloomingdale’s …

I offer the following reviews as part of Bev’s 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge; and Friday’s Forgotten Books meme run by Patti Abbott at her fab Pattinase blog.

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Posted in 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge, Friday's Forgotten Book, New York, Patricia Highsmith | 2 Comments

THE LITTLE SISTER (1949) by Raymond Chandler

This is one of my favourite Raymond Chandler novels but I’m probably in a minority on this. In fact, even the author professed to dislike it! I loved this book when I first read it as a kid but wondered how it might seem some three decades hence. Is my affection only due to my exposure to it as an impressionable teen? After all, it seems that the critical consensus is not with me … So, a contender as the greatest novel in the Philip Marlowe pantheon? Or should we set childish things aside? Time to tell …

I submit this review for Bev’s Vintage Mystery Challenge; Rich Westwood’s celebration of 1949 at Past Offences; and Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme over at Sweet Freedom.

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Posted in 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge, Five Star review, Friday's Forgotten Book, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Philip Marlowe, Private Eye, Raymond Chandler, Scene of the crime | 58 Comments

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 | 42 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 | 30 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