McBain_And-All-Through-The-House_warnerThis is my last review of the year and I couldn’t resist a seasonal entry from my favourite police procedural series. This 87th Precinct short story (which first appeared in the December 1984 issue of Playboy) got the royal treatment in 1994 when Warner published it as a  hardback, which charming illustrations by Victor Juhazs (it also made its way into paperback from Guild, but I don’t have that edition).

It is Christmas Eve and Carella finds himself the only detective on duty inside the station house. He is just starting to not enjoy the quiet when Cotton Hawes bursts in, covered in blood
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Posted in 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge, 87th Precinct, Ed McBain, New York, Police procedural | 60 Comments

CASTLE SKULL (1931) by John Dickson Carr

Carr_Castle-Skull_c&gHenri Bencolin visits the Rhine in his third novel, and appropriately enough there are a trio of killings to solve: the impossible attack on a magician in a train carriage under constant supervision, apparently thrown out by an unseen assailant; the burning on an old Shakespearean actor on the battlements of the eponymous castle; and the shooting and chaining up of the castle’s watchman in one of its dungeons. Bencolin is hired in a private capacity and squares off against two local policemen – who will find the solution first?

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, Germany, John Dickson Carr, Locked Room Mystery | 54 Comments

The Notorious Landlady (1962)

Notorious-Landlady-poster2Kim Novak is the beautiful landlady accused of killing her nasty husband and Jack Lemmon is the new lodger who falls madly in love with her in this quirky thriller-cum-farce. Recently transferred to London, his State Department career may very well be jeopardized by this affiliation, much to the distress of his boss (Fred Astaire), though he too is quickly charmed by Novak. Is she really the killer depicted in the gutter press, or is she being framed? And if so, why? We begin in a foggy England where little is what it seems …

The following is offered for Todd Mason’s Tuesday’s Overlooked Film at his Sweet Freedom blog.

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Posted in Blake Edwards, London, Richard Quine, Scene of the crime, Screwball, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | 24 Comments

THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR (1956) by Lionel White

White_Marilyn-House_starkThis unusual thriller comes in a new volume comprising two previously hard-to-find titles by Lionel White (1905-85) from those very nice people at Stark House Press, the imprint specialising in new and classic crime fiction. White was the king of the paperback heist story but the robbery (which of course all goes horribly wrong) only takes up a few pages in the first chapter. The rest of the book instead details what happens once the two thieves (one very seriously injured) reach their eponymous safe house.

I offer this review for Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme over at her fab Pattinase blog and Bev’s Vintage Mystery Challenge bingo .

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Posted in 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge, Lionel White, Noir, Stark House Press | 38 Comments

Top 25 TV Detectives

Hutton-Wolfe-02Well, I have been watching the BBC’s new police drama River starring Stellan Skarsgård and Nicola Walker. Whether it will be a one-off or continue I don’t know but I think it is as good as Cracker ever was and really hope it will be remembered. With that in mind, I wanted to think about shows that do stick out and last in people’s minds long after the initial screening. This post is about specific shows, not the literary sources – so in the case of Sherlock Holmes, I’m selecting the version that I think worked best on the small screen. Which is why there is no Maigret here …  I hope everyone will agree some of these TV shows deserve a shot at artistic Valhalla, but I really would love to know what you would add / subtract.

So, strictly in chronological order, here is a list of my favourites. I’ve included private, amateur and professional detectives. Most, but not all, have literary sources of some kind and I have noted these where relevant.

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Posted in 'Best of' lists, Agatha Christie, Albert Campion, Columbo, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ellery Queen, Inspector Morse, Inspector Wexford, London, Lord Peter Wimsey, Los Angeles, Margery Allingham, Miss Marple, Nero Wolfe, New York, Oxford, Paris, Poirot, Rex Stout, Ruth Rendell, San Francisco, Sherlock Holmes, TV Cops | 160 Comments

ROGUE MOYLE by I Retru Grade

rouguemoyle_post1-620x420Following on from The Bald Bowelero, which I previously profiled here, and Punschi Coins a Spin, now comes the third volume in the series featuring the misadventures of Jewish Irish shamus, Ira Retru Grade. Here’s the blurb:

A twin tale of unholy adult male circumcision and a wife’s pursuit of an absconding husband unravels before my eyes.

The trilogy features the same Jewish-Irish wisecracking yarn-spinning shamus and two or three other individuals. The background and character of the private eye and of his Bohemian late mother are built up over the three stories, which are set in the City of Fex, a fictitious mid-European metropolis in the equally fictitious country of Fexacia. This city is viewed as a European melting pot equivalent to New York. The time is indeterminate.

Now out on kindle, this is an absolute steal at £2 – you can order it here. To find out more about the series and the author (who is a mate of mine), please visit, The Heap Books.

Posted in 'In praise of ...', Ira Retru Grade, Jim Ballantyne | 10 Comments

WHO IS SIMON WARWICK? (1978) by Patricia Moyes

Moyes_Who-Is-Simon-WarwickThis smart detective story provides a really entertaining bridge between the Golden era of pure deduction and the modern scientific age. It is based on a classic scenario from popular culture – the long-lost heir of who may or not be genuine – and comes up with a terrific variation. A wealthy industrialist, on being told he has only a few months to live, decides to cut everybody out of his will if he can find a long-lost nephew put up for adoption when his parents were killed in the war. But will the real Simon Warwick step forward and take over the company?

I submit this review for Bev’s 2015 Silver Age Vintage Mystery Challenge; and Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme over at her fab Pattinase blog.

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Posted in 2015 Vintage Mystery Challenge, England, Patricia Moyes | 33 Comments