Sometime 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
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: www.columbopodcast.com/
This 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.
It 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.
A wartime story of espionage and guilt, this was the last and personal favourite of Graham Greene’s self-styled ‘entertainments,’ the term he used to differentiate his thrillers from his more mainstream novels, though several of his books fall into that category too (see the list below). It all begins when Arthur Rowe, in an England trying to cope with the horrors of the Blitz, wins a cake at a village fête and unwittingly gets involved with enemy agents …
I submit this review for Bev’s Vintage Mystery Challenge; Rich Westwood’s Crime of the Century meme; and Friday’s Forgotten Books meme hosted today by Todd Mason at his Sweet Freedom blog.
“You wrote my note! My suicide note! You want to kill me!”
Although the term ‘gaslighting’ has existed for decades, it is very popular at present to describe stories in which men manipulate the minds of women – and this clever suspense novel definitely fits the bill. Monica had an accident five years ago and is now in a constant state of neuropathic pain. She used to be a powerful actor’s agent but now, due to side effects from her medication, can barely remember anything of her old life. Her husband Dominic has seemingly been very supportive, putting up with all her vicious emotional outbursts; but when she finds a forgotten old suicide note, in clear handwriting she physically couldn’t have written, Monica starts to doubt everything, and everyone, around her.
And don’t forget to check out the reviews posted as part of Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme over at her fab Pattinase blog.
Posted in Alfred Hitchcock, Amnesia, Boileau-Narcejac, England, Film Noir, Hammer Studios, Jimmy Sangster, London, Nev Fountain, Patrick Hamilton, Robert Bloch, Ruth Rendell
This books starts off with a premise reminiscent of the Hitchcock movie Rear Window (or rather, the short story on which it was based, ‘It Had to Be Murder’ by Cornell Woolwich / William Irish): looking through a window a person see a crime and become the target of the culprit. But beyond this simple situation, this book goes in quite a different direction, exploring the themes of paranoia, voyeurism and, most surprisingly, a sympathetic treatment of mental health issues, in port-war America.
I submit this review for Bev’s 2017 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt; and Friday’s Forgotten Booksmeme run by Patti Abbott at her fab Pattinase blog.
I rarely review Christie’s books, mainly because her work is already so well covered out there on the blogosphere. But now that my amazing oldest niece (of two, by 12 minutes) is getting into crime fiction, its time for one of my rare posts on her work – but in fact, not by me at all as this is going to be a guest review. She is already a GAD veteran, having read Carr, Marsh and Queen, but this is her first Christie, which I suggested for its clever plot, lack of scary bits and the international setting. But now, over to: Littlemisscrime47
We submit this review for Bev’s Mystery Scavenger Hunt; and don’t forget to check out Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme over at her fab Pattinase blog.
This tale of thieves falling out is lifted out of the ordinary by Thompson’s uncanny ability to create chillingly credible portraits of criminals, misfits, felons and psychopaths at the extremes of human behaviour. He then caps it all with a hellish finale that goes where no pulp paperback had gone before, which was predictably excised from both movie versions .. but which unexpectedly surfaced in a George Clooney movie written by Quentin Tarantino …
I submit this review for Bev’s Vintage Mystery Challenge; Rich Westwood’s Crime of the Century meme; and (in hope, and admiration) Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme hosted by Todd Mason over at Sweet Freedom.
This is one of a series of books published under the ‘Red Eye’ banner from Little Tiger/Stripes Publishing and aimed at young adults. I picked this one up for my amazing niece (youngest of the two by 12 minutes) while I was visiting her in Sydney. It’s a mixture of Gothic mystery and horror, but also a contemporary story that greatly appealed to her. As she has a lot more experience than I do in this genre, I have asked her to review this for Fedora. So, now, it’s over to Frozencharlotte12, for her first ever blog post.
After reading this, don’t forget tomorrow to check out the other reviews posted as part of Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme over at her fab Pattinase blog.
Scary, that’s what that is … It’s all the fault of the Puzzle Doctor and Mrs P, who six years ago provided such good examples of delivering accessible and enjoyable crime fiction blogs that I had to give it a go too … I’m glad to say that they are both still hard at it while other blogs (and sadly, even some bloggers), are no longer with us. I am now having to slow down as I reach middle age, which is a shame – but happens to the best of us! But I regret nothing and have made a lot of new friends through Fedora and that has been incredibly rewarding, so thanks so much for stopping by. I hope to continue for a little bit longer.
Rather than dwell on the past – which this blog does on a rather regular basis, let’s face it – here beneath you will find a quick look at some of the books and movies I hope to review in the near future (the first will be The Getaway, in about a week), a mixture of old and new, well-known and obscure … just the way I like it! I hope you do too …
The blog will be quiet for the next few weeks as I head off to see the family in Sydney for the New Year.
As always, special thanks to my followers (apparently several hundred of you!) and all my great blogging buddies out there – you know who you are, but it wouldn’t have been the same without your supports, so extra special thanks to (in alphabetical order): Bev, Chris, Colin, Curtis, Elgin, JJ, Jeff, John F, John/Paul, Karen, Margot, Martin, Matt, Michael, Mike, Moira, Mrs P, Neeru, Prashant, Rich, Richard, The Ripster (not to be confused with the other Mike), Santosh, Steve, TomCat, TracyK, and the redoubtable Yvette. And as always, special thanks to Todd and Patti for making Tuesdays and Fridays especially memorable.
Hope you have a great Christmas and see you sometime in 2017.
Tanti auguri …
For as long as I’ve been hosting this blog, I’ve participated in Bev Hankins’ irresistible vintage mystery reading challenges. The rules have been amended over the years, but the basic criteria is the same – review a mystery from two eras, Golden (up to 1959) or Silver (1960 to 1989) and then post the links to these over at her site, My Reader’s Block (which is a very ironic name when you see just how many book reviews she posts there).
Here’s how it went for me this year:
Posted in 2016 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt, 2016 Silver Vintage Scavenger Hunt, 87th Precinct, Albert Campion, Bill Pronzini, California, Canada, Catherine Aird, Chicago, Cosy Cozy, David Callan, Don DeLillo, Dorothy L. Sayers, Edgar Wallace, Ellery Queen, England, Fletcher Fliora, Florida, Germany, Gideon Fell, Inspector Wexford, Italy, James Hadley Chase, James Mitchell, John Dickson Carr, John le Carre, Kansas City, London, Louisiana, Margery Allingham, Middle East, Montana, New York, Noir, Ostara Publishing, Patricia Moyes, Police procedural, Private Eye, Radio, Ruth Rendell, San Francisco, Stark House Press, Vintage Mystery Cover Scavenger Hunt 2016
Bill Pronzini’s “Nameless” private eye first appeared in short stories from the late 1960s, some of which he later expanded into novels from the following decade, beginning with The Snatch (which I previously reviewed here). Our San Francisco private eye now returns for his second full-length case, investigating the disappearance of a man who just got out of the army with seemingly everything to live for.
I offer this review for Bev’s Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt; and Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme, which today celebrates the work of Bill Pronzini and Marcia Muller over at her fab Pattinase blog.
While we now live in the era of binge viewing with ‘box sets’ available from Netflix, Prime etc, I have been watching this show steadily in weekly episodes when I go visit my folks. Its mixture of a modern-day Western with extended character arcs and season-long plots has proved very entertaining to them, so I thought I’d share some thought on it, though with one caveat: we have been watching it dubbed into Italian. So it’s kind of like a modern-day ‘spaghetti western’ to us …
The following review is offered as part of the Tuesday’s Overlooked Film/TV meme hosted by Todd Mason over at his Sweet Freedom blog.
This was designed as the last in the series of 13 Florida-based thrillers featuring lawyer Matthew Hope and to celebrate, Ed McBain turned it into a cross-over with his 87th Precinct mysteries, producing an entertaining legal-procedural-caper hybrid. For the purposes of this blog, I am treating it as the 48th book in the 87th Precinct series. Hope is recovering from a shooting which left him in a coma and in unsure about where his life might lead. In the meantime he gets involved with a wife, Jill, who is looking for her errant husband, Jack, last seen in Isola …
I offer the following review for Friday’s Forgotten Books meme run by Patti Abbott at her fab Pattinase blog
Today’s post is dedicated to a show that lasted just one season but which deserves to be remembered. Filmed in LA but set in New York, the half-hour adventures of Johnny Staccato (Revue/NBC; US 1959-60) featured great jazz music, some amazing actors and was an unusually intense production, as befitting its extraordinary lead actor.
The following review is offered as part of Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme hosted by Todd Mason over at his Sweet Freedom blog, who also celebrates great music on his blog, so I’m hoping he’ll be doubly interested in this particular post!
Welcome to something a bit special today folks. After years of pleading and cajoling, our pal Colin (aka ‘Livius’) of the mighty fine Riding the High Country blog has agreed to write a guest post for us here at Fedora. As befits such a special occasion, we have a very unusual book from one of the great names of Golden Age detective fiction. Published to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the first Queen novel, this is a non-series novel that is often overlooked. Let’s see how well it holds up – over to you Livius, me old china:
I submit this review for Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme over at her fab Pattinase blog.
Today would have been John Dickson Carr’s 110th birthday and JJ, over at his blog, The Invisible Event, is celebrating the great writer’s work. So I thought I should chip in, as Carr is my favourite Golden Age detective story author of all time, after all. This was the book that marked the debut of Dr Gideon Fell, the longest-serving of all of Carr’s detectives, ultimately appearing in 23 novels between 1933 and 1968 as well as a handful of short stories and radio dramas too. Set in Lincolnshire in 1930, this clever detective story is also a love letter to the English character, its history and its landscape, as experienced by a young American.
I submit this review for Bev’s Vintage Mystery Challenge.
Cotton Hawes finally comes (slightly) out of the background for the 47th book in the 87th Precinct series, which as the title suggests all takes place in the course of a couple of nights (around the 21st of January) and which, as a result, wastes no time at all in setting him off with Steve Carella to investigate the murder of a once famous concert pianist who has ended up on skid row and who turns out to have a strange personal history. In tandem, Fat Ollie Weeks of the 88th Precinct investigates three murders, the various cases ultimately intersecting a little bit …
I offer the following review for Patti’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme, hosted today by Todd Mason at his Sweet Freedom.
News reached Fedora of some light-hearted crime shenanigans courtesy of Independent publisher Ostara publishing, who are playing it strictly for laughs with their Autumn crime releases, with new editions of two Nick Madrid ‘escapades’ by novelist, critic and doyen of the literary festival scene, Peter Guttridge.
The adventures of the yoga-practising, accident-prone, self-depreciating journalist Nick Madrid combine a deep affection for the worst excesses of Fleet Street with outrageously farcical situations and the delivery of a stand-up comedian. In Foiled Again the plot ranges from an accidental death during an international fencing competition to the uncovering of a piece of shady family history from the 1930s and the rise of the fascist Blackshirt movement. Along the way, there’s a rather revolting art exhibition called ‘The Shock of the Poo’, a nightclub for sadomasochists, a coven of Sylvia Plath fanatics, Russian Mafiosi, Colombian drug lords and the vexed question of why Madrid is such an unusual surname in Burnley …
Cast Adrift reflects one of the author’s other areas of expertise, Hollywood, in a merciless satire on movie-making, specifically the making of a low-budget (a very low-budget) pirate movie, which is also a musical, on location somewhere suspiciously near the Caribbean. When the main cast of characters get involved with real, modern-day pirates and the sole survivor of a desert island survivalist TV game show, there seems little chance of anyone sticking to the script – assuming there ever was one. The late Reginald Hill described Peter Guttridge’s early comic crime novels as‘fast-moving, laugh-a-line frolics’ and the Nick Madrid novels became famous for their trade-mark trait of having the hapless hero always falling foul of the local wildlife wherever the story was set.
Foiled Again and Cast Adrift are now available as Ostara Crime paperbacks and eBooks. Full details of all titles can be found on www.ostarapublishing.co.uk.
No Way Out, adapted from Kenneth Fearing’s classic suspense novel, The Big Clock (which I previously reviewed here), is a terrific thriller starring a young Kevin Costner and quirky and beautiful Sean Young as young lovers who get caught in a deadly love triangle with evergreen Gene Hackman. The setting is Washington DC, the time Reagan’s Cold War and 1980s Soviet paranoia provides a convenient cover for murder.
The following (re)review is offered as part of Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme hosted by Todd Mason over at his Sweet Freedom blog and you should head over there to see the many other fascinating titles being offered.
This locked room mystery comes at the suggestion of JJ, author-in-chief of The Invisible Event, for which many thanks (I think). Its central conundrum is certainly an absolute doozy: how can a murderer flee a room in which the only exit is blocked by an immovable piece of stonemasonry? Told in a light, breezy style, this is a cosy mystery that refuses to take itself seriously and which would make a great episode of the Midsomer Murders TV series. We begin on a hot July day …
I submit this review for Bev’s 2016 Silver Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt; and Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme over at her fab Pattinase blog.
That inveterate Challenge setter Bev Hankin, she of My Reader’s Block, keeps finding new and fiendish ways to get us vintage mystery fans into action – and here is her latest reading challenge:
Here’s the plot premise for 2017:
There was a two-year break following the publication of Mischief (1993), but McBain picks up directly from the end of the previous volume – indeed, the first 5 pages of this new novel are taken from the end of the previous one. We also find the author in a very playful mood as we switch to a scene set in Manhattan and featuring the NYPD – has McBain forgotten to substitute Isola? No, it turns out we are watching a play in rehearsal, though I have no idea where New York lies in the fictional McBain universe – probably on the East Coast, shall we just leave it at that?
I offer the following review for Friday’s Forgotten Booksmeme run by Patti Abbott at her fab Pattinase blog
This was the the third in a quartet of books featuring FBI profiler turned private investigator Robert Payne, who is called in by an old school friend to look into the death of a parish priest at St. Mallory’s Catholic School. Father Daly has in fact been found in a motel where he used to pursue assignations with his parishioners – but why was his tongue cut out? And does it link to other recent deaths, where one victim had their ears cut off and another their eyes gouged out? There is also trouble on Payne’s domestic front …
Please don’t forget to check out Patti Abbott’s Tribute to Ed Gorman, who today would have been celebrating his 75th birthday, over at her fab Pattinase blog
Subtitled ‘A Simple Tale’ and dedicated to HG Wells, Conrad’s novel of anarchists, spies, treachery and a terror campaign gone wrong was based on the Greenwich bombing of 1894, though it is actually set eight years before that. Recently adapted for TV and made into an under-regarded movie by Hitchcock in the 1930s, this is a story that has lost little of its relevance since its original publication.
The following is offered (a bit early) for Todd Mason’s Overlooked Film meme at Sweet Freedom; Bev’s 2016 Golden Age Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt; and Rich Westwood’s Crime of the Century meme, this month celebrating all things 1907 over at Past Offences.
I think this is a terrific book and so offer this review by way of a small tribute to prolific author and blogger Edward Joseph Gorman, who died last Friday just a few weeks shy of his 75th birthday. This powerful suspense story had a special significance for its author, who not only had to struggle greatly to get it published but who was inspired by the career and tragic later life of his cousin, Bobby Driscoll, who in the late 40s and early 50s was a huge Disney film star. The protagonist is Cobey Daniels, loved by all for his role in a family sitcom but who has some very serious ‘issues’ …
Don’t forget to check out Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme hosted today by Todd Mason as Sweet Freedom
Not to be confused with Don Winslow’s book of the same name, this powerful study of revenge and repressed emotion is too little-known and unlikely to turn up on anybody’s list of classic crime fiction. But don’t be fooled – there is a chilling murder mystery at its heart, one that needs solving, though you have to wait until the very last line to discover exactly who was murdered, how and why. Set in 1920s Montana, it tells the story of two brothers, Phil and George Burbank, and examines what happens when one of them suddenly and unexpectedly gets married.
I submit this review for Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme over at her fab Patinase blog and Bev’s 2016 Vintage Mystery Scavenger Hunt.
Today I thought I would post something on the lighter side of the mystery genre, a potentially grim story of a cold case told with bawdy humour and plenty of vim and vigour. Leslie Thomas (1931–2014) came to prominence in 1966 with his fictionalised memoir, The Virgin Soldiers, and followed it up with a series of increasingly ribald tales. But he also created an unusual detective in “Dangerous” Davies, a low-achieving but honest London copper who solves cases with ‘Mod,’ his only friend.
I submit this film/book review for Bev’s 2016 Vintage Scavenger Hunt and Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme over at Todd Mason’s fab Sweet Freedom blog.