Back in 2012 I began digitising the five detective novels of Simon Nash, all of which were published in the 1960s. I still have three more to finish off (the third one won’t be long I hope), but recently there has been a flurry of interest in this forgotten writer. In March 2014 CADS (Crime and Detective Stories) magazine published a great piece by John Cooper on Simon Nash in issue 67. CADS doesn’t seem to have a website, but it’s published by Geoff Bradley, who can be contacted at Geoffcads [AT] aol.com. The magazine has an old-style fanzine look about it, but the content seems very good indeed.
Yesterday (July 23) was Raymond Chandler’s 125th birthday. I meant to write a post about that, but as seems to be the case in general with my blogging at the moment, I didn’t get round to it. Anyway, today I found time to add my short biographical piece on Raymond Chandler, which appears in Steven Powell’s 100 American Crime Writers to my Articles pages. You can read all 2500 words of it here. There are quite a few Chandler-related posts and pages on this blog now, so here is a round-up:
Literary critic and amateur detective Adam Ludlow reluctantly agrees to give a talk on Sheridan’s play The School for Scandal to an amateur dramatics society. But what he thought would be an easy, if rather tedious favour for a colleague, turns into a puzzling murder mystery that reunites him with his police detective friend Montero.
This is the second in a five-book series of Adam Ludlow murder mysteries, and was among the ninety crime and detective novels named by Jacques Barzun and Wendell Hertig Taylor in their influential Catalogue of Crime, in 1971. It was republished by Garland in 1983 as one of the ‘Fifty Classics of Crime Fiction 1960-75′.
For some time now one of the most popular essays on this site as been ‘Crime and Detective Literature for Young Readers’ so I have decided offer a Kindle version. The free web version is not going away, but you can buy it for your Kindle now from Amazon (UK store and the US store). If there is some demand for this, I’ll do the same for other essays, and add epub versions as well.
Steven Powell reports over at the Venetian Vase that his book 100 American Crime Writers is now available. I handed over the reins to this book at an early stage, back in 2010 (or was it 2009?), when I found I was unable–too ill, too busy–to continue working on it. Steve took it on as a moribund project and has gone his own way with it. I’m delighted to see the book in print. Here’s what the blurb has to say:
From Edgar Allan Poe to James Ellroy, crime writers have provided some of the most popular, controversial, acclaimed and disturbing works in American literature. 100 American Crime Writers provides critical biographies of some of the greatest and most important crime writers in American history. Both an important scholarly work and an enjoyable read accessible to a wider audience, this addition in Palgrave’s Crime Files series includes discussion of the lives of key crime writers, as well as analysis of the full breadth and scope of the genre – from John Dickson Carr’s Golden Age detective stories to Raymond Chandler’s hardboiled Philip Marlowe novels, Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct police procedurals to Megan Abbott’s modern day reimagining of the femme fatale. Drawing on some of the best and most recent scholarship in the field, all of the key writers and themes of the genre are discussed in this comprehensive study of one of the most fascinating and popular of literary genres.
‘Out of the Venetian Vase’: From Golden Age to Hard-boiled
‘After These Mean Streets’: Crime Fiction and the Chandler Inheritance
James Lee Burke
James M. Cain
John Dickson Carr
Max Allan Collins
Carroll John Daly
Norbert Davis Mignon G. Eberhart
Erle Stanley Gardner
William Campbell Gault
George V. Higgins
Dorothy B. Hughes
C. Daly King
Ed McBain Horace McCoy
William P. McGivern
John D. MacDonald
Dan J. Marlowe
William F. Nolan
Robert B. Parker
Edgar Allan Poe
Melville Davisson Post
Richard S. Prather
Ellery Queen (aka Dannay and Lee)
Arthur B. Reeve
Mary Roberts Rinehart
George S. Schuyler
Viola Brothers Shore
S.S. Van Dine (Willard Huntington Wright)
Donald E Westlake
Doyle apparently “ran away” from his medical studies to join thePeterhead whaler, but it was relatively common for medical students to sign up as ship’s surgeon on Arctic whaling voyages, and in fact Doyle “inherited” the position from a fellow student at Edinburgh. As Doyle himself puts it: “I went in the capacity of surgeon, but as I was only twenty years of age when I started, and as my knowledge was that of an average third year’s student’s, I have often thought that it was as well that there was no very serious call upon my services.”
At least as far back as the early nineteenth century a voyage on an Arctic whaler was a kind of informal internship for young doctors. Their journals are among the most detailed and readable of the accounts of these voyages. Whaleship captains did not, as a general rule, mix with the crew, so besides their medical knowledge, surgeons were also recruited to provide companionship and conversation for the ship’s commander.
More on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Arctic at the Venetian Vase.
“When a student is found murdered at Mudge Hall, lecturer and literary critic Adam Ludlow pursues her killer around the seedy pubs, nightclubs, and boarding houses of early 1960s London. He meets small-time criminals, a communist cell, and a police inspector keen to show off his knowledge of English Literature. But to solve the mystery, Ludlow must discover the secret of an incriminating bracelet.”
Steve Powell has an interesting post at the Venetian Vasequoting Chandler telling Ian Fleming how a gangland killing might be arranged. The interview took place in London, and Chandler refuses to be drawn on whether there is anyone in England he might like to kill. Chandler was drunk from the start, and much of the interview is indistinct, but the post pulls out one of its great moments. Link
My review of Len Wanner’s collection of interviews with Scottish crime writers is on the Venetian Vase blog. Here’s how it starts:
Len Wanner’s book Dead Sharp (Two Ravens Press, 2011) contains nine informative, and entertaining interviews with Scottish crime writers, and a Ten Commandments for successful interviewing. In his Ten Commandments Wanner asks “Am I a good enough interviewer to tell you how to become a better one?” On the evidence of the interviews here, he is. He picks his questions well, is friendly without being gushing, presses his point to get an answer, and manages to bring a lightness and humour even to such glum and serious subjects as gender politics.
It is probably inevitable that the book begins with Ian Rankin, and that his name, and the description “Tartan Noir” should turn up more than once, even in interviews with other writers. Wanner’s interview with Rankin sets the tone for the questioning throughout the book; that is, unexpected, and revealing. The question “If Rebus is an ‘Old Testament sort of guy’, what kind of God are you?” elicits the response from Rankin that “I’m a much more forgiving God than Rebus would accept”, which tells us something about Rankin, and Rebus, but also leads to a discussion about Presbyterianism and guilt in Scottish crime writing that brings in Christopher Brookmyre and Stuart MacBride, both subjects of later interviews.