Bruce_Murder-in-MiniatureThis 1991 collection brought together all the (then) known uncollected short stories by Leo Bruce, the pseudonym used by Rupert Croft-Cooke (1903-1979) for his murder mysteries, which first featured Sergeant (later Inspector) Beef (1936-1952) and later the amateur sleuth Carolus Deene (1955-1974). Beef appears in ten of the stories in this collection, which otherwise features another detective, Sergeant Grebe  (who however never appeared in any of the novels), along with a variety of ironic tales with no series character.   

I submit this review for Bev’s 2016 Vintage Scavenger Hunt; and Friday’s Forgotten Books meme hosted today by Todd Mason at his fab Sweet Freedom blog.

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Posted in 2016 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt, England, Friday's Forgotten Book | 22 Comments

Strait-Jacket (1964) – Tuesday’s Overlooked Film

Despite the lurid (and irrelevant) title and advertising campaign to match, this is a pretty typical late Joan Crawford vehicle, a bit camp and over-the-top, but full of interest none the less. Robert Bloch’s tale of a convicted axe-murderer who returns home after 20 years in an asylum is handled by producer-director William Castle without recourse to any of his usual gimmicks, though there is plenty of deception here – indeed, this is a very good example of a film marketed as a Grand Guignol horror that is actually a whodunit.

This review is offered for Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme hosted by Todd Mason over at Sweet Freedom.

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Posted in Robert Bloch, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | Tagged , | 64 Comments


Ripley_Campions-FaultAlmost exactly fifty years after the death of Albert Campion creator Margery Allingham (1904-1966), her celebrated sleuth is back in action thanks to Mike Ripley with Mr Campion’s Fault, the third in his new series, following on directly from the original books.

The first two were Mr Campion’s Farewell (2014), which I previously reviewed here, and Mr Campion’s Fox (2015). So what next for our aging but still agile ‘tec and his extended family?

Here’s the blurb, beneath the fold:

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Posted in Albert Campion, Margery Allingham, Mike Ripley | 14 Comments


9781933586982In the 50s and 60s ‘Vin Packer’ was the pulp fiction alter ego of Marijane Meaker, better known today as YA author M.E. Kerr. Originally published as a Gold Medal paperback, her novel is a smart and deliciously back-handed riff on Grace Metalious’ Peyton Place, the sensationalist small town exposé modelled on the uncouth author’s own life. The idea behind Packer’s book is simple and clever: what if one of the real people behind the thinly disguised characters in the book took umbrage and decided to get even?

I submit this review for Bev’s Vintage Scavenger Hunt; and Friday’s Forgotten Books meme hosted today by Todd Mason at his fab Sweet Freedom blog.

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Posted in 2016 Silver Vintage Scavenger Hunt, Friday's Forgotten Book, Stark House Press, Vin Packer | 58 Comments

THREE BEDROOMS IN MANHATTAN (1946) by Georges Simenon

Simenon-Three-BedroomsRecently reprinted with an appreciative intro by Joyce Carol Oates, this is one of Simenon’s ‘Romans durs’ – that is to say, a mainstream stand-alone fiction that does not include Maigret (though some of his subalterns occasionally appear). Instead we get a ‘harder’ depiction of people and their failings in the Noir tradition. Originally published in French as ‘Trois Chambres à Manhattan’ it tells the anguished story of a pair of malcontents who find a very tortured kind of love. It is said to be closely modelled on how the author met his second wife …

I submit this review for Tuesday’s Overlooked Media meme hosted by Todd Mason over at his fab Sweet Freedom blog.

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Posted in Georges Simenon, Joyce Carol Oates, New York, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | 20 Comments

BRIT NOIR by Barry Forshaw

Brit-Noir-9781843446408This is the third in the author’s guides to contemporary crime fiction, following on from Nordic Noir (2013) and Euro Noir (2014). This, the Pocket Essential Guide to the Crime Fiction, Film & TV of the British Isles, looks at the state of crime fiction in the UK more or less since the turns of the millennium, which is especially welcome for readers like myself often stuck into the Golden Age past. However, to get one cavil out of the way, the author makes it clear that he uses the term Noir synonymously with ‘crime’ when it comes to fiction. I don’t think this is quite right, but you need to know this so as to not get confused by the inclusion of such cosy authors as Caroline Graham and Simon Brett. OK, so, cracking on …

Don’t forget to check put the submissions today for Friday’s Forgotten Books meme run by Patti Abbott at her fab Patinase blog.

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Posted in England, Noir, Police procedural | 36 Comments

THE CLUE OF THE NEW PIN (1923) by Edgar Wallace

Wallace_TheClueOfTheNewPin_hodderIn 1961 Clue of the New Pin became one of the first of the Edgar Wallace Mysteries series made at Merton Park studios to sit on the lower birth of a cinema double bill. Originally released in Britain at a rate of roughly one-a-month between 1960 and 1965, they proved hugely popular (for a complete list of the films, with links to my reviews to be added as I go along, visit my dedicated page here). Based on the 1923 book of the same name, it offers a locked room mystery with an oriental flavour …

The following is offered for Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme hosted by Todd Mason at his fab Sweet Freedom blog and Bev’s Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt.

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Posted in 2016 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt, Edgar Wallace, Locked Room Mystery, London, Scene of the crime, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | 40 Comments