Saturday, June 9, 2012

More on J. F. W. Hannay and Todd Downing

author J. F. W. Hannay
I heard from Owen Hannay (also of Dallas, Texas) and he provided me with a photograph of his grandfather, author and cotton broker James Frederick Wynne Hannay (1906-1984), the son of writer James Owen Hannay (George A. Birmingham) (1875-1950) and subject of my immediately previous blog post, Death in Dallas.

J. F. W. Hannay published his first mystery novel, The Thirteenth Floor, in his twenty-fifth year, making him one of the more precocious Golden Age mystery writers (John Dickson Carr, also born in 1906, published his first detective novel only a year earlier, in 1930).  Hannay migrated to Dallas at an even younger age (about nineteen), in order to join his elder brother Robert's cotton brokerage business.

Arguably Hannay should be seen as a John Dickson Carr in reverse, a Briton who became an "American" mystery writer; yet only his first crime novel, I believe, is set in the United States.  Of the additional two I have read, one, Gin and Ginger, is set on a trans-Atlantic ocean liner, while the other, the inverted tale When the Wicked Man..., takes place in England.

I plan to review this pair of novels over the coming weeks, as well as the detective novel authored by one of Hannay's sisters, Theodosia Frances Wynne, and The Hymn Tune Mystery, the best detective novel by Hannay's eminent father.  Though less well known than the Knoxes (of Ronald Knox fame), the Hannays were a talented British writing family who deserve more of a spotlight (or perhaps I should say bloglight) than they have received in the last sixty odd years.

author James Owen Hannay (George A. Birmingham)
like father, like son

On the Todd Downing front, I got the page proofs for chapter one back today so have hopes of having the book out next month (this will be a less expensive book!).  I will be writing more over this month about this project, which began back in late November after a trip I made to the author's home town.  Some interesting things are happening with it. Here are my previous posts on Todd Downing:

Todd Downing: Murders in Mexico

The Todd Downing House in Atoka, Oklahoma

The Precious Right to Read a Murder Mystery

I hope to be back with a new review post on Sunday-TPT.

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