Colin Dexter, requiescat

Colin Dexter at the Wimborne Literary Festival in 2012 (photo: Haydn)

Colin Dexter has died aged 86. To crime fiction fans he will of course be remembered as the creator of Inspector More and Sergeant Lewis, two of Oxford’s finest detectives. Dexter was also an educator and a crossword buff, and both of these elements regularly crept in to his novels and short stories.

I only got to meet his once, some 25 years ago at a book signing for his (then) latest Morse book, The Jewel That Was Ours, in London’s then premiere bricks and mortar mystery bookshop, Murder One. He was jovial, welcoming and engaged and was great to talk to. He kindly signed copies of all his Morse paperbacks for me, as a wedding present for my cousin Simon, who loves Dexter even more than I do.  Below is my celebration of the Morse books and TV series, revised from a post that originally appeared many years ago, as a tribute to the great Dexter.

Continue reading

Posted in 'Best of' lists, 'In praise of ...', Colin Dexter, Inspector Morse, Oxford | 34 Comments

Smile Jenny, You’re Dead (1974)

smile-jenny-youre-deadThis is was the second of two feature-length TV Movies that ultimately served to launch the short-lived private eye series Harry O (1974-76) starring David Janssen, which in its first season may have got as good as this genre ever got on the small screen.

Harry is hired to help solve a murder but gets tangled up in a case involving a stalker, a photographer obsessed with the wife of an older and powerful man.

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

Continue reading

Posted in California, Film Noir, Noir on Tuesday, Private Eye | Tagged | 33 Comments

OUR GAME (1995) by John le Carré

lecarre_our-gameAfter several globe-trotting excursions, including The Little Drummer Girl (1983), The Russia House (1989) and The Night Manager (1993), John le Carré got back to basics in this very compact spy novel which doesn’t set foot outside UK until the very end. It tells the story of Tim and Larry, two men bound by their past working for British intelligence but who, after being let go, are supposed to be living civil civilian lives in Somerset. But Larry just isn’t the quiet type and when he goes missing, Tim and his girlfriend Emma are dragged back into his old life …

I offer this review for Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme at her fab Pattinase blog.

Continue reading

Posted in England, Espionage, France, John le Carre, London, Russia | 34 Comments

THE DEMON OF DARTMOOR (1993) by Paul Halter

halter-dartmoorSometime in the 1930s, Dr Allan Twist and Inspector Archibald Hurst are called in when theatre star Nigel Manson is seemingly pushed off a window ledge to his death, even though he was surrounded by several apparently impartial witnesses none of whom saw anyone do it. This is one of three dozen or so homages by Halter to the Golden Age detective stories of John Dickson Carr, who for me remains the best mystery author there ever was. But how well does Halter’s pastiche measure up? My previous experiences of his work have been a bit mixed

I offer the following review for Friday’s Forgotten Books meme run by Patti Abbott at her fab Pattinase blog

Continue reading

Posted in England, John Dickson Carr, Locked Room Mystery, Paul Halter | 78 Comments

The Columbo podcast

Today is my Dad’s 79th birthday and he loves this show (almost as much as the Montalbano series). So, I’ll keep this short and sweet. Columbo is my favourite US cop show (I have explained why elsewhere, along with a list of the my top 10 Columbo episodes). Peter Falk played the role in 69 feature-length TV movies shown between 1968 and 2003. There is a terrific podcast, hosted by Scottish Columbo fan Gerry and his friend and self-confessed ‘Columbo newbie’ Iain, that devotes each episode to one of the TV Movies and which I heartily recommend, not least because their head-to-head dynamic is modelled on that of the show itself as they pick over each little facet of the story and the character motivations, just as the good lieutenant would do. It began a couple fo years ago and the project is done – all of the 69 episodes now has its own podcast, available for streaming and download from iTunes as well as:


Posted in 'In praise of ...', Columbo | 30 Comments

DEATH IN THE TUNNEL (1936) by Miles Burton

burton_death-in-the-tunnell_blThis is a bit of a special post – I have so far managed to get through life without reading a single novel by John Rhode, who often published as Miles Burton and whose real name was Cecil John Street. So I am really happy to have one of his books reviewed here at Fedora – only not by me. Instead this fine analysis come to you courtesy of our very good blogging buddy Colin (aka ‘Livius’) of the mighty party Riding the High Country blog, who has once again graciously agreed to write a guest post for Fedora.

We submit this review for Bev’s Golden Age Mystery Scavenger Hunt; and Friday’s Forgotten Books meme, hosted today by Todd Mason at his Sweet Freedom blog.

Continue reading

Posted in 2017 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt, England, Friday's Forgotten Book, John Rhode / Miles Burton, Locked Room Mystery, London | 71 Comments

DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1943) by James M. Cain

Cain-Double-Indemnity-signetIt is possible that the public conception of Noir owes more to the success of this book than any other. On the face of it, author James M. Cain just rewrote The Postman Always Rings Twice (click here for my review of that one), telling a similar story of a wife and lover bumping off her husband, finishing up with a volume that is even shorter (just under 30,000 words). But this tart serial from the Depression era ultimately tapped in to the sour mood engendered by the war when collected in a book and in its scheming protagonist created one of the first true Femme Fatales of the genre. It also served as the basis for a movie that, as adapted by Raymond Chandler and Billy Wilder, most think seriously outclassed the original.

I submit this review for Bev’s Vintage Mystery Challenge; Rich Westwood’s Crime of the Century meme; and Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme hosted by Todd Mason over at his unmissable Sweet Freedom blog.

Continue reading

Posted in 2017 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt, Billy Wilder, Film Noir, James M. Cain, Noir on Tuesday, Raymond Chandler, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | 33 Comments