Please carry on all conversations without shouting, excessive ranting, or crudity. Profanity and personal attacks will not be tolerated. I am delighted to have you in my house - well, on my blog, anyway - and look forward to discussions. But please remember that we are all trying to carry on a civilized discussion. Your views are valuable. Please treat them that way. Thank you.
Rue Morgue Press "Rue Morgue Press is the old-mystery lover's best friend, reprinting high quality books from the 1930s and '40s."
—Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
Felony & Mayhem This publisher specializes in classic mysteries, broadly defined, including newer mysteries that adhere to classic standards. They have just overhauled their website to make it much more informative and user-friendly.
Merion Press The Merion Press is an independent publisher of out-of-print works that were originally published over 75 years ago, but are enduring even today.
Mystery Guild This book club mostly publishes current thrillers, spy and horror stories, etc., but has a few "lost classics" by the likes of Ellery Queen and John Dickson Carr. As such, it may be worth your attention. Be warned though that it's a "negative option" club - if you join, you have to reply to each offer every few weeks to keep them from being sent to you.
Crippen & Landru Crippen & Landru publish mystery short story collections. Of particular interest is what they call "Lost Classics," a series of anthologies of mostly uncollected stories by authors who might be enjoyed by a new generation of readers.
Poisoned Pen Press Based in Scottsdale, Arizona, the Poisoned Pen Press publishes a fairly wide variety of mysteries. Some are reprints; many are new, by newer authors. Their website has a great deal of information about their books and authors.
Academy Chicago Publishers A number of interesting authors, most long out of print, plus some other odds and ends, including some horror stories by Conan Doyle.
Langtail Press A fairly new Print On Demand publisher specializing mostly in classic mysteries. The managing director, James Prichard is the great-grandson of Agatha Christie, and his lineage shows. Authors include John Dickson Carr, Ellery Queen, Anthony Berkeley, and Freeman Wills Crofts, among others. Many are also published as ebooks for the Amazon Kindle.
Mysterious Press The brainchild of editor/anthologist/author/bookstore-owner Otto Penzler, the Mysterious Press has recently returned to life as an electronic book publisher. It is already republishing the work of a lot of classic authors, with more books on the way.
Ostara Publishing "Ostara Publishing re-issues titles that have unjustifiably become unavailable either through the ravages of time or the forces of publishing economics. We specialise in Crime and Thriller fiction titles and our range goes from the1920s through to the 21st century. We publish thematically and currently have six series available. All our titles are published in a 'trade paperback' format and printed to order."
Locked Room International A small press, specializing in very good English-language translations of (so far) mostly-French authors of locked room and impossible crime stories. They publish in Print-On-Demand and electronic editions.
Oleander Press This small eclectic British publisher has begun publishing a series of classic British mystery novels, primarily from the Golden Age. The series is grouped into a section of their catalogue named "London Bound," as the books are set in London.
Oconee Spirit Press A small, independent publisher committed to publishing "lively fiction, and provocative non-fiction." Most of their list covers early works by established authors writing traditional mysteries, such as Carolyn Hart and Margaret Maron.
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The primary awards presented at Bouchercon each year, the Anthony Awards, won't be presented until Saturday night. But other awards have come to be associated with, and presented at, Bouchercon earlier in the conference.
So tonight we offer congratulations to the winners of the Barry Awards, presented by Deadly Pleasures magazine, and the Macavity Awards, from Mystery Readers International.
One of the best features of Bouchercon is the ability to attend dozens of panels talking about all aspects of mystery fiction.
This year, there is more discussion than usual of the "traditional" mystery, which certainly includes the kinds of mysteries most of us - myself and you good visitors - enjoy most. One of the opening panels this morning was on "The Resurgence of the Traditional Mystery."
The authors on the panel (from the left) were Terrie Farley Moran, Marcia Talley, Dorothy Cannell, Wendy Corsi Staub and Helen Smith, who was the moderator.
There was a lot of discussion about cozies, and where they fit in the traditional mystery (I've always held to the idea that cozies are a sub-genre within the traditional genre). That included some discussion of Agatha Christie, who, it was pointed out, was certainly traditional but hardly cozy.
There will be more panels between now and Sunday afternoon, including several more on traditional mysteries.
Bouchercon 2015 kicks off officially this morning. Spent the past day-and-a-half working as part of a team assembling the giveaway book bags which are presented to each attendee at registration. Each book has six (or more) books chosen at random and stuffed into bookbags. We filled 1400 bags. Let's see...1400 bags times six books per bag would be...8400 books, donated by the publishers and authors and sorted by a volunteer team, including Leslie and myself. And that's just the beginning. Already seeing so many friends from past conferences - and so many more still to meet. As Jackie Gleason used to say...and away we go...
I'm finishing my packing and preparing to depart for Raleigh, North Carolina, and this year's Bouchercon. For those of you who don't know about Bouchercon, it's the world's oldest and largest convention of mystery authors and mystery readers, named in honor of the late Anthony Boucher, a mystery author and critic for the New York Times and others. Picture hundreds of readers talking to, and with, hundreds of mystery writers and you'll get some idea of the scope of the conference.
There will be panels, featuring authors talking about just about every facet of mystery writing and reading. This year, I'm delighted to see that there are several panels about the resurgence of the traditional mystery. My wife and I will be moderating a Meet the New Authors (and New Publisher) breakfast featuring presentations by 58 authors whose first crime book has been published since the last Bouchercon.
If you've never attended a Bouchercon, come join us next year in New Orleans. If you're attending this one, please look me up to say hello in Raleigh. I'll try and post here sporadically through the week.
The nude body of an unknown man was found entombed in a storage locker inside the Split Point Lighthouse, located on the southeast coast of Australia. Nobody claimed to know him or ever to have seen him before. Police came, looked, asked some questions, got nowhere, scratched their heads, and - eventually - gave up and went home.
That's why, a few months later, a gentleman named Rawlings arrived in Split Point. Mr. Rawlings actually was a very capable policeman indeed - Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte, a man who had never failed to "finalize" an investigation. The details of that investigation make up one of the finest books Arthur Upfield ever wrote about Bony. That book, The Clue of the New Shoe, also known simply as The New Shoe and first published in 1952, is the subject of today's audio review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the entire review by clicking here.
If you're familiar with Bony - all his friends call him Bony, and I suspect you will too after you have met him - you know that he is a remarkable person. The child of a Caucasian father and an Aboriginal mother, Bony has inherited the best abilities of both races, and he puts them to good use during his investigations. Many of the Bony books are set in the unforgiving landscape of the Australian Outback. Not so with The Clue of the New Shoe, set around the Split Point Lighthouse along the coast, not far from Melbourne. Bony arrives for his undercover investigation of the murder several months after the initial investigation had gotten nowhere. But Bony is persistent and patient. He figures that somebody must know the identity of the dead man. And, by careful work, disguised as a sheep rancher named Rawlings, he manages to discover a variety of clues, not least among them the new shoe of the title. And his success will, more than once, put Bony's own life in danger.
This isn’t really a mystery that relies on solving puzzles – Bony comes by his clues (and shares them with us) through solid detective work, observation and interviews. It’s really a police procedural in form. But the book really comes alive through the characters and the settings.This is one of my favorite Upfield novels. It's a good deal darker than most of the series, and those characters are well-defined and quite memorable. And it's nice to see Bony, with his innate sense of justice and his need to fight his own personal devils, also finding some compassion for the people caught up in what is ultimately a tragic story. It's quite beautifully written. At the moment, it is available in e-book formats (and the Amazon link above will take you to the Kindle version), but there are also used print editions you may want to check out. I recommend it very highly indeed.
If you haven't been following the challenge, which has been under way since January and continues through December, participants were challenged to read mysteries, all published before 1961, as described on the Bingo Score Card:
Each book read must meet the criteria set by one of the boxes on the score card. As with traditional Bingo, the idea was to fill in at leastone row or column. Of course, if you wanted to do more...
I did, in fact, want to do more. As a result, I have read 36 books for the challenge and completely filled my Golden challenge card.
Here are the links to the individual reviews as posted here on Classic Mysteries. They are listed row by row, from left to right:
Color: in the title or cover color:The Red Box, by Rex Stout
Word today (via Janet Rudolph's Mystery Fanfare blog) that two good friends, Bill and Toby Gottfried, are being awarded the David S. Thompson Award for what are called their extraordinary efforts to develop and promote the mystery and crime fiction community. Bill and Toby have been regulars at every Bouchercon I've attended, and I've spent a great deal of time talking about the classic books we all love. They also have a home crammed full of mystery books, and I can think of few better ways to use space that might otherwise just be wasted on bedrooms and such.
As a young woman living in New York City in the early years of the 20th century, Violet Strange certainly stood out. She was, to be sure, one of the leading social lights of New York society, constantly attending parties and other affairs. But she also had another, more secret life as a detective, working very discreetly with another, male, detective - and commanding a large sum of money for her work. Why? That's just one of the mysteries to be discovered in a thoroughly enjoyable collection of short stories called The Golden Slipper: and Other Problems for Violet Strange, by Anna Katharine Green, originally published a century ago, in 1915. The Golden Slipper is the subject of today's audio review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the full review, together with brief summaries of the nine individual stories that make up the book, by clicking here.
Anna Katharine Green is remembered today primarily as the author of The Leavenworth Case, which was reviewed here and on the podcast several months ago. In Violet Strange, Green gives us a fascinating character, one whose real motive for the work she does - and for keeping it secret - is only revealed to us in the final story in The Golden Slipper. We meet her first in a story where her acceptance and admittance into society functions give her the opportunity to solve a puzzling series of thefts. We go on to stories of murder and intrigue, some of them quite dark and unhappy - think of it as "early noir." There is a tendency (shared with many other authors and books of the period) to use very emotional and florid prose, but it feels justified in these stories, right for the period and right for the characters.
Nine problems, nine interesting stories, ranging from intricate puzzles to full-fledged Gothic and emotional nightmares. Violet Strange is a remarkable heroine – there’s not much of the "had-I-but-known" vapors about her. The Golden Slipper: and Other Problems for Violet Strange is available in a variety of formats, including an ebook edition from MysteriousPress.com and Open Road Media. It's definitely worth your reading time.
The 2015 Bingo Challenge
We're closing in on the last few titles to fill the remaining squares in the 2015 Vintage Mystery Bingo challenge. under way at the My Reader's Block blog, The Golden Slipper: and Other Problems for Violet Strange is my entry for the square (third row, fourth column) calling for one book already read by a fellow challenger. In this case, the book was reviewed back in January by Bev Hankins at My Reader's Block. Just one more week to go for the challenge!
There was definitely something peculiar going on within the Bradlock family. Book and document expert Henry Gamadge had been invited to look over some papers belonging to the late poet, Paul Bradlock, who had been murdered in Central Park a couple of years back. But then, just as Gamadge was being invited to look at those papers, Paul Bradlock's widow sold them - sight unseen - to a friend of the family, who promptly had them carted away - under Gamadge's nose, so to speak - without letting him have a look at it. Now what could cause that kind of behavior?
Well, ultimately, murder, I suppose. At least that's what eventually may underlie the strange behavior of the Bradlocks. The details may be found in Elizabeth Daly's 1948 mystery, The Book of the Lion. It is the subject of today's audio review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the entire review by clicking here.
There is something about the sale of those papers, a sale carefully arranged for Gamadge to witness, which strikes him as being fishy. And so he begins to dig a little deeper...and that inquiry soon leads to murder. With the police dubious about the whole thing – any link between those literary papers and the murder of Paul Bradlock, for example, or the apparent suicide of another character – it is up to Gamadge to discover what is really happening and the true story of Paul Bradlock’s life and death. And that will involve a number of unexpected twists and turns.
I certainly enjoyed The Book of the Lion, one of the sixteen books written by Elizabeth Daly featuring Henry Gamadge. But I think there are better ones, for newcomers to both Daly and Gamadge, to choose for a starting place. Still, if you've already met Gamadge and liked his previous outings, I think you'll enjoy this one as well. It's available in a good trade paperback edition and e-book versions, all from the Felony & Mayhem Press.
The 2015 Bingo Challenge
We're closing in on the last few titles to fill the remaining squares in the 2015 Vintage Mystery Bingo challenge. under way at the My Reader's Block blog, The Book of the Lion is my entry for the square (first row, sixth column) calling for one book with an animal in the title.
All right, let's see a show of hands, please, from all those readers out there with enough strength of character (or something) to resist picking up a book with a title like "The Shrieking Pit"? Especially when, as it will turn out, those shrieks are attributed to a mysterious and possibly ghostly figure known as the White Lady of the Shrieking Pit?
I thought not. Me neither.
The Shrieking Pit, by Arthur John Rees, is a very tidy little mystery indeed. Originally published in 1919, it was the first of nearly two dozen mysteries written by an author about whom remarkably little is known or remembered today. The Shrieking Pit is the subject of this week's audio review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to that review by clicking here.
The book takes place in the tiny English town of Flegne-next-sea - which, Rees tells us, is "pronounced 'Fly' by the natives, 'Fleen' by etymologists, and 'Flegney' by the rare intrusive Cockney." It begins with the odd behavior of a young man named Ronald Howard – behavior unusual enough to pique the curiosity of an American detective staying nearby, Grant Colwyn. This is during World War I, and the young man appears to Colwyn at least to be suffering from a form of shell-shock. Soon, however, there is a murder at another nearby hotel – and the young man, who apparently ran from the hotel that morning, quickly becomes the prime suspect.
Colwyn isn’t convinced by the evidence that Howard was the murderer, but he has no facts that might refute the police case. At any event, the young man is located, arrested, and put on trial. Even at the trial, he refuses to say anything in his own defense, and he is quickly convicted.
But Colwyn is called back into the case and learns some facts which make Ronald Howard’s guilt appear unlikely and even impossible. The rest of the book is a race for Colwyn to discover more evidence before Howard is executed – including the secret of why the convicted man refuses to say anything on his own behalf. Meanwhile – just to keep the pot boiling – there are unconfirmed reports that the infamous White Lady of the Pit has been heard shrieking regularly since the murder.
This is the second book by Rees that I have read, and I'm beginning to think it might be worth hunting down more of them. He has a deft touch and a witty writing style; I like his descriptions of characters and settings. And, of course, that "shrieking pit" is a brilliant touch.