Showing posts with label TIMH. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TIMH. Show all posts

01 June 2022

Today in Mystery History: June 1

Today we have the 11th episode in our continuing celebration of the history of our field.  Enjoy.

June 1, 1879. Freeman Wills Crofts was born this day in Dublin, Ireland. He was a railroad engineer and an interest (or obsession) with railroad timetables showed up in many of his novels.  (Monty Python did a sketch I can't find on Youtube which is clearly a parody of  Crofts.)

June 1, 1923.  An important day indeed!  The issue of Black Mask with this date featured Carroll John Daly's story "Knights of the Open Palm." It is the first appearance by Race Williams, who is recognized as the first hardboiled private eye character.

June 1, 1929.  Thriller Magazine featured "The Judgement of the Joker," apparently the first short story to feature Lesley Charteris' immortal character Simon Templar, alias The Saint.

June 1, 1934.
Dime Detective featured "The Corpse Control" by John Lawrence.  It stars New York private eye Cass Blue.  Kevin Burton Smith said the Blue stories were "all rendered in pulpster Lawrence's trademark first person, over-boiled prose style, full of gunflights and plot holes."

June 1, 1950. Michael McDowell was born in Enterprise, Alabama.  He co-wrote several mystery novels with Dennis Schuetz under the name Nathan Aldyne.  He also wrote a very weird series of detective books about Jack and Susan, who never age.  He is probably best known for a non-mystery screenplay: Beetlejuice.

June 1, 1959. Sax Rohmer died in London.  Born Arthur Henry Ward, he became famous for inventing the ultimate sinister Oriental, Dr. Fu Manchu.  For obvious reasons, his works are not held in high regard today.  Ironically (?) he died of the Asian Flu.

June 1, 1968.  Not really mystery, but maybe mystery adjacent?  On this date Patrick McGoohan's  fascinating, infuriating, spy-science-fiction-sui-generis-none-of-the-above TV series, The Prisoner, made its American debut on CBS.  It looks dated today, but it was a stunning piece of storytelling for its time.

June 1, 1969.
The front page of the New York Times Book Review  was a rhapsodic review of Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer novel The Underground Man, crafted by famous screenwriter William Goldman.  It was supposedly a deliberate attempt by editor John Leonard to promote his favorite mystery writer to bestseller-dom and recognition as a major mainstream writer.  The review achieved at least the first goal. 

June 1, 1991.  The publication date for The Summer of the Danes, Ellis Peters' eighteenth medieval mystery featuring Brother Cadfael.

June 1, 2021.  The Bombay Prince, Sujata Massey's third novel of 1920s India, was published.  It was nominated for the Agatha Award for Best Historical Mystery.

05 January 2022

Today in Mystery History: January 5

This is our tenth adventure in stalking the history of our genre. 

January 5, 1909.   Harry Kurnitz was born on this date in New York City.  He wrote mysteries under the name Marco Page.  MGM bought the rights to his book Fast Company and brought him to Hollywood to write the screenplay.  Among the more than forty movies he wrote were Witness for the Prosecution, and How to Steal a Million.

January 5, 1921.  Friedrich Durrenmatt was born in Bern, Switzerland.  Best known as a playwright, he wrote three crime novels which are considered classics: The Judge and his Hangman, Suspicion, and The Pledge.  The last of these was made into an excellent movie directed by Sean Penn and starring Jack Nicholson as a cop who, on the day he retires, promises parents that he will find the man who murdered their daughter.

January 5, 1932.
  Umberto Eco was born in Piedmont, Italy.  He was known as a philosopher until he wrote the astonishingly successful medieval crime novel, The Name of the Rose, in which a monk named William of Baskerville investigates a series of grisly murders in a monastery.

January 5, 1939.  Homicide Bureau was released. Bruce Cabot starred as a cop under pressure to solve crimes without violating suspects' civil rights (hmm... sounds vaguely familiar). Rita Hayworth  plays the head of internal affairs.

January 5, 1946.  Arthur Lyons was born in Los Angeles.  Most of his novels were about reporter-turned-private-eye Jacob Asch.  The movie Slow Burn was based on his novel Castle Burning. 

January 5, 195?. On this date the action begins in John LeCarre's Call For The Dead, which means master spy George Smiley is introduced to the world.  Smiley quits his employment in this book, which is no surprise.  In most of the novels about him he quits the Circus or gets rehired there.  Man can't seem to keep a job.

January 5, 1965.  On this date Mrs. Rachel Bruner came to Nero Wolfe with an impossible assignment: make the FBI stop bothering her.  Naturally, he succeeds and The Doorbell Rang became Rex Stout's biggest success, pushing his fame and sales to unheard of levels.   Reporters who asked the FBI for comments on the book were referred to the Criminal Division, with the implication that something vaguely illegal was involved in criticizing the Bureau and its director.

January 5, 1970.  This date saw something doubly rare: fiction in Sports Illustrated, and a short story by novelist Dick Francis.  "A Carrot for a Chestnut" is one of my fifty favorite crime stories.  If you don't happen to keep half a century worth of old magazines around you can find it in Francis's collection Field of Thirteen. 

January 5, 1974. Vincent Starrett died in Chicago.  Canadian born, he was an early member of the Baker Street Irregulars and wrote "The Adventure of the Unique 'Hamlet,'"  and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.  (No relation to the later movie with the same title.)