12 months and 72 book reviews later and the Vintage Mystery Challenge bingos, both Golden (pre-1960) and Silver (1960 to 1989) varieties, are complete! The indefatigable Bev of My Reader’s Block gives structure and meaning to the reading habits of us mystery … Continue reading
Posted in 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, 87th Precinct, Agatha Christie, Bill Pronzini, Carter Dickson, Charlotte Armstrong, Cornell Woolrich, Dashiell Hammett, David Callan, Dorothy Dunnett, Ed McBain, Edward D. Hoch, Erle Stanley Gardner, Evelyn Anthony, Georges Simenon, Gideon Fell, Gil Brewer, Gillian Freeman, Graham Greene, Harold Q. Masur, Helen Nielsen, James Hadley Chase, James M. Cain, James Mitchell, John Blackburn, John Dickson Carr, John Sladek, L. Ron Hubbard, Lange Lewis, Lawrence Sanders, Leslie Charteris, LP Davies, Maigret, Marcia Muller, Miss Marple, Nero Wolfe, Ngaio Marsh, Noir, Orson Welles, Parker, PD James, Perry Mason, Peter Corris, Philip Marlowe, Philo Vance, Poirot, Police procedural, Private Eye, Raymond Chandler, Rex Stout, Richard Stark, Robert B. Parker, Robert Bloch, Roderick Alleyn, Science Fiction, Shirley Jackson, Somerset Maugham, SS Van Dine, Stanley Ellin, Stark House Press, The Shadow, Thomas M. Disch, Walter B Gibson, William Goldman
Robert B Parker’s Boston private eye Spenser made his debut with this campus investigation, first into the theft of the eponymous precious artefact (he never does find it) before looking into several murders linked to a student revolutionary group. Like … Continue reading
The recent BBC TV adaptation of Dickens’ The Mystery of Edwin Drood, that classic crime novel left unfinished at the time of the author’s death in 1870, got me thinking about ‘enforced collaborations’ where works were completed post-mortem by other … Continue reading
Posted in 'In praise of ...', 2012 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge, Cornell Woolrich, Craig Rice, Ed McBain, Golden Age Girls, Hildegarde Withers, Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler, Robert B. Parker, Stuart Palmer
Samuel Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) came to prominence in the 1920s with his short stories about the ‘Continental Op’, published in Black Mask magazine under the editorship of Joseph T. Shaw. His longer works, including his five novels, initially began as … Continue reading
What is it about the crime and mystery genre that draws people together? More to the point, what is it about the genre that drawn authors together? One can of course look for a variety of psychologicial or sociological rationales … Continue reading
“Being a homicide cop wasn’t like anything on television, but there wasn’t much point in trying to explain that someone who could never know.” The late Robert B. Parker will most likely be remembered best for his books featuring Boston … Continue reading
With the closure at the end of this month of The San Francisco Mystery Bookstore (as reported here) I thought I would dedicate a post this week to that fine city in Northern California where, once upon a time, I used to visit a very good friend of mine. I did a lot of growing up there in the 80s and 90s and also bought a lot of great mystery books.
I haven’t been there in over a decade now but along with its undoubtedly beautiful setting on the Bay, the vibrancy of its culture (and counter-culture) and of course the wonderful food, fascinating people and amazing architecture, the potential for squalor and seediness seemed often remarkably ever-present to me as a European tourist, requiring little more than a short step in the ‘wrong’ direction – especially before the regeneration of SOMA. This mixture of high and low culture, of beauty and darkness, have made it the perfect setting for all kinds of mysteries, from the misanthropic romance of Hitckcock’s Vertigo to the hard- and soft-boiled worlds of Hammett found in the gritty adventures of Sam Spade and upper class sleuths Nick and Nora Charles. In some ways the most valuable works here for me are those by Bill Pronzini and the late Joe Gores, who use the city and its environs as the backdrop for so much of their work. They offer a particularly fascinating and diverse look at a city and how it has changed over the decades.
Limiting this list to just 10 inevitably meant plumping for some personal favourites and some unavoidable but great, even classic, books that somehow you just can’t do without. So, for today, these are my top mystery books set in and about San Francisco, still beautiful and mysterious – just like my old friend. I present these in strict chronological order. I hope to blog on each separately, as time goes by … Continue reading