05 May 2021

Today in Mystery History: May 5

This is the eighth in my occasional series about the history of our beloved field.  I haven't run out of days yet. 

May 5, 1902.  Bret Harte died on this day.  He  was best known for his short stories about the California gold rush but in our field he is remembered for "The Stolen Cigar-Case."  No less an authority than Ellery Queen called this story "probably the best parody of Sherlock Holmes ever written." In the field of true crime, he wrote about the Wiyot Massacre, in which more than 100 Indians were slaughtered by White settlers.  Death threats followed and he had to leave the region.

May 5, 1950. This is the birthday of Susan Grafton's great character, P.I. Kinsey Milhone.  I'll bet you didn't send her a card.

May 5, 1961.  Today saw the publication of Ross Macdonald's ninth Lew Archer novel, The Wycherly Woman.

May 5, 1973.  Peter Falk was the cover boy at TV Guide today, playing a certain L.A. police lieutenant. 

May 5, 1980. The issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine with this date included Edward D. Hoch's very clever "The Most Dangerous Man Alive," which was an Edgar nominee.  I still remember it.

May 5, 1992.  Kinsey Milhone celebrated her birthday with the publication of I is for Innocent.  Exactly a year later came J is for Judgment.

May 5, 2014.  Trace Evidence, the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine blog, posted "Shanks Holds The Line," which I offered to them for free as a sort of public service announcement.

May 5, 2015. Craig Faustus Buck's novel Go Down Hard was published on this day.  It's about an ex-cop trying to solve the decades old murder of a rock singer.


  1. Interesting blog-post, Robert. And how nice that it comes with two short stories. I'm glad to be able to read a sample of your writing now. Thanks!

  2. I loved Bret Harte. Beat the heck out of Owen Wister. And often as funny as Mark Twain.

  3. What a busy day with Hemlock Jones and Kinsey Milhone. I've heard there's something else… Cinco… Cinco…

  4. Anne, if you enjoy my story I have a whole book of tales about Mr. Longshanks. Eve, Harte was an interesting guy. I had no idea his father was an Orthodox Jew, for instance. Leigh, just don't call it Mexican Independence Day.

    1. Robert--yes, I know you have a story collection about Shanks, and it's on my wishlist for a couple of weeks now. I'll purchase it when I have enough time to read it.

    2. Roberto, I mean, Rob, I got my Saturday Evening Post fiction issue last week and it includes a part of one of Harte's stories, tantalizingly called "The Mermaid of Lighthouse Point." (It's not about a mermaid!) And no, I didn't send Kinsey a card, I barely remembered to send my former boss one!


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