THE PLEDGE (1958) by Friedrich Dürrenmatt

Durrenmatt_The-Pledge_penguinThis is a police procedural with a real difference. The story of an investigation that goes wrong, it tries to bring the reality of crime investigation (circa 1958) in a face-off with the conventions of the mystery genre. Indeed, it was originally published in German as Das Versprechen: Requiem auf den Kriminalroman, so the full title should be The Pledge: Requiem for the Detective Novel. However, the subtitle is usually omitted despite the fact that it is such a crucial indicator of its aims and ambitions. For example, you can see it is absent from my rather nice-looking Penguin paperback (on the right), featuring a cover by George Mayhew (1921-1971), translated by Clara and Richard Winston for the US edition first published by Knopf in 1959.

I submit this review for Bev’s 2015 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Challenge and Todd Mason’s Tuesday’s Overlooked Movie meme over at his fab Sweet Freedom blog – you should head over there right now.

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Posted in 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge, Film Noir, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Switzerland, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | Tagged , , | 25 Comments

FRANTIC by Katherine Howell

Howell_FranticThis was Howell’s first book and launched the Ella Marconi series, which has reached its 8th volume (so far). Set in Sydney, Australia – I place I have recently come to know and love – this is a tense thriller set across five days involving bank robbers, police corruption, murder and kidnapping. The latter element makes this book as much about the parents, Sophie and Chris, as the investigator and indeed Marconi does tend to recede in the background. But this is an unusual book in many ways, remarkably tough on its very, very flawed characters.

I offer the following review for Friday’s Forgotten Books meme, hosted today by Evan Lewis at Davy Crockett’s Almanack.

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Posted in Australia, Friday's Forgotten Book, Sydney | 40 Comments

Once Upon a Time Challenge IX

oncetimenine250The Once Upon a Time Challenge IX runs until 21 June and describes itself as “a reading and viewing and gaming event that encompasses four broad categories: Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology and allows for very minor (1 book only) participation as well as more immersion depending on your reading/viewing/gaming whims.” I have signed up for ‘The Journey’ which is the lowest level entry point, committing me to just one book review over the period. I hope I can manage that! I definitely plan to read Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart and hopefully a few others too. For more info, see what host Carl V. Anderson has to say over at his blog, Stainless Steel Droppings.

And thanks as always to TracyK of Bitter Tea and Mystery for drawing my attention to the Challenge.

Posted in Once Upon A Time IX Challenge | 14 Comments

Cash on Demand (1961) – Tuesday’s overlooked movie

Cash-on-Demand_posterThis tense real-time thriller ultimately becomes, somewhat surprisingly, a variant on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Peter Cushing plays the austere and unyielding manager of the City & Colonial Bank in Haversham, disliked, with reason, by all his staff. Enter André Morell, a charismatic crook who threatens to destroy all that the uptight manager holds dear, both at work and at home. Hammer Films made it on a miniscule budget and had little confidence in it – in fact it was held back for release in the UK for nearly two years. It deserved much better treatment as it punches way above is weight. So, it is 9.45 on the morning of 23 December, snow is falling and peace and goodwill quickly are soon to vanish …

I offer this review for Todd Mason’s Tuesday’s Overlooked Movie meme over at his fab Sweet Freedom blog – you should head over there right now.

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Posted in Film Noir, Hammer Studios, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | Tagged , | 42 Comments

SPEAK OF THE DEVIL (1941) by John Dickson Carr

Carr_Speak-of-the-Devil_crippenlandruThis historical mystery, set around the battle of Waterloo and involving a locked room murder, a phantom woman who only our hero believes exists, a mysterious ‘man in black’ and a duel in a hot air balloon, was for decades a ‘lost’ radio serial by the great John Dickson Carr. The story began on the eve of Napoleon’s defeat, when Captain Auden claims he fell in love with a young mysterious woman who subsequently vanished. One year later he is still looking for her, even though she was reported dead …

I submit this review for Bev’s Golden Age 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, Audio Review, England, John Dickson Carr, Locked Room Mystery, London | 41 Comments

Teaser poster for SPECTRE unveiled

1$_V?_Job NameWell, we’ve had a few behind the scenes videos posted (you can find them at the SPECTRE YouTube channel) but here is the official teaser poster, which could hardly be more spartan and to the point!

Does it ring your bell and set Monty Norman’s Bond theme jangling in your noggin? And does Daniel Craig really look a bit like a cross between Norman Wisdom and Sid James? Answers on a postcard to the usual address …

In the meantime, you can enjoy this small fragment that positively bulges with 007 promise – and you can click on the image to embiggen it too!


Posted in James Bond | 26 Comments

THE MAN ON THE BALCONY (1967) by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö

Sjowall-Wahloo_Man-on-the-Balcony_gollanczAccording to the cover of my paperback (on the left) this was the second case for Martin Beck, the Stockholm police detective created by husband and wife authors Per Wahlöö and Maj Sjöwall. Actually, I’m pretty sure it was the third, but no matter, it is a highly exciting novel that conflates two manhunts and takes the Ed McBain procedural style into ever darker and muddier waters. Indeed, for 1967 this is a book that spares nobody’s blushes in its penetrating depiction of the changes taking place in Swedish society.

I submit this book & film review for Bev’s 2015 Silver Age Vintage Mystery Challenge bingo; and Rich Westwood’s celebration of all things 1967 over at Past Offences. Continue reading

Posted in 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, Police procedural, Sweden | 31 Comments