Evans_Mysteries-UnlockedCurtis Evans, he of The Passing Tramp blog and the Masters of the Humdrum Mystery book, has edited the new anthology, Mysteries Unlocked – Essays in Honor of Douglas G. Greene. It’s a celebration of the work of the founder of Crippen & Landru publishers and author of the authorised biography of John Dickson Carr, The Man Who Explained Miracles, though this volume is much more besides. Any post from me would be a bit partisan as I am not only one of the contributors, but I also think that some of the nicest people on the blogosphere have written terrific original essays for this equally terrific book. But this is a volume that really does speak for itself – here’s why you should really get this …

Prologue: Meeting Doug Greene (Steven Steinbock)

Introduction: Douglas G. Greene: The Man Who Explained Detective Fiction (Curtis Evans)

Section One: Detection by Gaslight
The Incandescent Claptrap of Hamilton Cleek (William Ruehlmann)
The Strange Case of Max Rittenberg (Mike Ashley)
J. S. Fletcher: Man of Many Mysteries (Roger Ellis)
From the Sublime to the Ridiculous: The Fleming Stone Detective Novels of Carolyn Wells (Curtis Evans)

Section Two: Classic English Crime
The Reader Is Warned: Discovering John Dickson Carr and the Works of Douglas G. Greene (Michael Dirda)
Agatha Christie and the Impossible Crime (John Curran)
Anthony Berkeley’s Golden Age Gothic Follies (Martin Edwards)
The Left Hand of Margery Allingham (B. A. Pike)
“Intuition’s Reckless Compass”: Margery Allingham’s The China Governess and a Problem of Literary Biography (Julia Jones)
And Carr Begat Crispin: A Meeting of Criminal Minds (David Whittle)

Section Three: Classic American Crime and Intellectuals
Patrick Quentin/Q. Patrick/Jonathan Stagge: A Phantasmagoria of Crime Writers (Mauro Boncompagni)
Now You See It: Hake Talbot, Magic and Miracles (Steven Steinbock)
Murder in The Criterion: T. S. Eliot on Detective Fiction (Curtis Evans)
An Intellectual and the Detective Story: The Problems of Fernando Pessoa (Henrique Valle)

Section Four: Tough Stuff
“The Amateur Detective Just Won’t Do”: Raymond Chandler and British Detective Fiction (Curtis Evans)
Dying Is Easy, Comedy Is Hard: Craig Rice, Mistress of Madcap Mystery (Jeffrey Marks)
A Deluge of Drunken Detectives: A (Strictly Sober) Look at Four Fredric Brown Novels (Jack Seabrook)
“Stella Maris”: Poetry in Ross Macdonald’s The Galton Case (Tom Nolan)

Section Five: Murder in Miniature, Death on the Air, Murder in Pastiche
Douglas G. Greene: Savior of the Short Form Mystery (Marvin Lachman)
Experimenters, Pioneers, Prodigies and ­Passers-By: Ten Detective Story Writers in Search of an Anthology (Jon L. Breen)
Knife Chords: The Radio Mysteries of John Dickson Carr (Sergio Angelini)
Adventures in Radioland: Ellery Queen On (and Off) the Air (Joseph Goodrich)
Parody, Pastiche and Presentism in Mystery Fiction: Sherlock Holmes, Lord Peter Wimsey and the Immortal Jane (Helen Szamuely)
“Parlez-Vous Francais?” The Riddles of Rene Reouven (Patrick Ohl)

A Final Toast: Clubland
The Secret Life of Eric the Skull: Dorothy L. Sayers and the Detection Club (Peter Lovesey)
Afterword: Prayers to Kuan Yin (Boonchai Panjarattanakorn)

Appendix One: Works on Mystery Fiction by Douglas G. Greene
Appendix Two: Short Crime Fiction Collections Published by Crippen & Landru

The book is available directly from the publishers and from the usual online retailers – but the sheer breadth of its content, and the expertise of its authors as well as some very welcome star turns alone should make any self-respecting mystery fan want to pick it up!

***** (5 fedora tips out of 5)

This entry was posted in Agatha Christie, Edmund Crispin, Fredric Brown, John Dickson Carr, Margery Allingham, Patrick Quentin, Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Sounds excellent – I shall search it out!

  2. Santosh Iyer says:

    Too costly !

  3. Sergio, this sounds like an excellent anthology given the coverage of some of the distinguished writers of detective-mystery. I liked the titles of all the essays and none more so than “Knife Chords: The Radio Mysteries of John Dickson Carr” which I’d obviously read first. Congratulations to you and Curtis Evans, Sergio!

  4. Margot Kinberg says:

    Sergio -This does sound terrific. Definitely one for the crime fiction lover’s library.

  5. Colin says:

    Sounds really good – thanks for highlighting it.

  6. I am going to have to read this – some very tempting-sounding essays indeed, including your own.

  7. Richard says:

    Books “in honor of” are usually for a someone deceased, aren’t they? I wasn’t aware Doug had died. McFarland books are often pricey, but I was surprised t he price for a paperback.

    • John says:

      It’s in honor of Doug’s 70th birthday, Rick. It’s called a festschrift in the publishing world. The definition is “a book honoring a respected person, especially an academic, and presented during his or her lifetime.” It’s a term I heard for the first time when Curt was soliciting contributions. I was supposed to have an essay in this book, too, but for various reasons I had to bow out. McFarland is primarily an academic publisher and their prices as such will always be higher than mainstream publishers. You’re not going to find this at the local Barnes and Noble or even your neighborhood independent bookstore.

    • Glad to say he is very much with us Richard – and indeed Doug very kindly signed my copy of the book. This publication has been timed for his birthday.

    • Yes, let me stress Doug is very much alive! It’s an established practice to honor distinguished scholar with essay collections during their lifetimes, at milestone birthdays.

      There is a cheaper Kindle version, though even it is pricey for Kindle. I’m afraid that’s how scholarly presses are, for they market more to university libraries. Perhaps it will come to a library near you.

  8. Oh, and thanks again for the essay, Sergio. I too love your title and Carr very much deserves the attention for his radio plays!

  9. patrickohl says:

    I must say, Sergio, I enjoyed this book. Though I’m obviously biased to an extent (which is why I haven’t reviewed it on my blog, but I really should write something about it), I had no idea what the other contributions would be like. I’m glad to say the essays were some of the most insightful pieces of mystery criticism I’ve read ever, period. Though there’s some schmuck rambling on and on right before Peter Lovesey’s piece… 😉

  10. Kelly says:

    McFarland books are pricy, but they often turn up in libraries. I’ll keep an eye out.

    • It’s the side of the field that they plough, unavoidable – some of the essays are really great though! I hope the e-version comes down in price a bit, that really would be sensible.

      • Todd Mason says:

        McFarland books range wildly and widely in quality, though are pretty stiff in expense, but this one seems likely to be worth the effort and pelf (even without something noting Doug’s good work with Willaim Campbell Gault and some others!)…but asking at any library often will lead to them considering purchase, at very least, or seeking out an interlibrary loan. And, hey, fratello, we ain’t got no stinking MPs in this here country, and their equivalents at the national level do their level best never to pay attention to libraries that aren’t being named for themselves (and usually even then). Most public libraries here are funded on the local level, to allow the local blowhards to infrequently natter on about corruption of the youth while cutting funding. (Though most of the contumely in that regard is from busy-bodies, some even occasionally parents, upset about public school libraries and texts.)

  11. TracyK says:

    Sounds like a wonderful book, I will see if I can add it to my collection of mystery reference books. Scholarly reference books are very expensive, unfortunately. My husband pays this much often for photo books or art books, so I should not complain, but then he buys less fiction than I do.

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