I'm hoping to get in my Christmas mystery review and two other books this coming week, but in the meantime I thought I would review my first full year on the blog.
The biggest news was the appearance in June of my book, ten years in the making, Masters of the "Humdrum" Mystery: Cecil John Charles Street, Freeman Wills Crofts, Alfred Walter Stewart and the British Detective Novel, 1920 to 1961
. With it, I hope to persuade modern mystery critics and fans that the Golden Age of the detective novel (roughly 1920 to 1940) was a more diverse period, ideologically and aesthetically, than is admitted and also that these specific authors had their merits (some critics and fans know this already, of course, but many don't).
The book has received some excellent notices, such as Jon L. Breen's in Mystery Scene
, J. Kingston Pierce's at Kirkus Reviews
and Geoff Bradley's in CADS
. Also a great piece by Patrick Ohl on his blog, At the Scene of the Crime
I also contributed introductions to Coachwhip's new editions of titles by J. J. Connington and Todd Downing. My own book on Todd Downing will be out, after a delay, in January (you'll be hearing more about this one).
All these books are available from Amazon. Additionally, titles by Connington are being reissued in Ebook format by Orion's Murder Room. I hope they can follow suit with John Street and Freeman Wills Crofts. Those who control Street's literary estate have not been notably helpful to date.
Now to the books discussed this year on the blog!
Herewith is the list of the them, by year of publication:
Great Porter Square (1885), by Benjamin Farjeon
The Confession (1917), Mary Roberts Rinehart
Carteret's Cure (1926), Richard Keverne
The Copper Bottle (1929), E. J. Millward
Murder by Latitude (1930), Rufus King
Castle Skull (1931), John Dickson Carr
The Floating Admiral (1931), Various Authors
Maigret in Holland (1931), Georges Simenon
The Matilda Hunter Murder (1931), Harry Stephen Keeler
Six Dead Men (1931), Stanislas-Andree Steeman
The Thirteenth Floor (1931), J. F. W. Hannay
Murder on the Yacht (1932), Rufus King
Red Warning (1933), Virgil Markham
The Warrielaw Jewel (1933), Winifred Peck
Cartwright is Dead, Sir! (1934), Hugh Baker
Death of a Banker (1934), Anthony Wynne
A Girl Died Laughing (1934), Viola Paradise
Desire to Kill (1934), Alice Campbell
Give Me Death (1934), Isabel Briggs Myers
Insoluble (1934), Francis Everton
The Lesser Antilles Case (1934), Rufus King
Still Dead (1934), Ronald Knox
Crime in Corn Weather (1935), Mary Meigs Atwater
The First Time He Died (1935), Ethel Lina White
Halfway House (1935), Ellery Queen
How Strange a Thing (1935), Dorothy Bennett
Murder with Pictures (1935), George Harmon Coxe
Smoke Screen (1935), Christopher Hale
Vultures in the Sky (1935), Todd Downing
A Frame for Murder, Kirke Mechem (1936)
Murder of a Matriarch (1936), Hugh Austin
Death for Dear Clara (1937), Q. Patrick
Invitation to Kill (1937), Gardner Low
Murder a la Richelieu (1937), Anita Blackmon
The Third Eye (1937), Ethel Lina White
Todmanhawe Grange (1937), J. S. Fletcher
Banbury Bog (1938), Phoebe Atwood Taylor
The Bloody Tower (1938), John Rhode
Double Death (1939), Various Authors
Murder in Stained Glass (1939), Margaret Armstrong
The Affair in Death Valley (1940), Clifford Knight
Maigret and the Spinster (1942), Georges Simenon
The Scarlet Circle (1943), Jonathan Stagge
Absent in the Spring (1944), Agatha Christie (as Mary Westmacott)
The Vultures Gather (1945), Anne Hocking
Death in the Night Watches (1945), George Bellairs
Museum Piece No. 13 (1946), Rufus King
Death Before Wicket (1946), Nancy Spain
Poison for Teacher (1949), Nancy Spain
Knight's Gambit (1949), William Faulkner
The Arm of Mrs Egan (1952), William Fryer Harvey
Death in the Fifth Position (1952), Gore Vidal (as Edgar Box)
Venom House (1952), Arthur Upfield
Death Before Bedtime (1953), Gore Vidal (as Edgar Box)
Death Likes It Hot (1954), Gore Vidal (as Edgar Box)
Man Missing (1954), Mignon Eberhart
The Barbarous Coast (1956), Ross Macdonald
Licensed for Murder (1957), John Rhode
The Ferguson Affair (1960), Ross Macdonald
The Turret Room (1965), Charlotte Armstrong
The Protege (1970), Charlotte Armstrong
The Victorian Album (1973), Evelyn Berckman
The Black Tower (1975), P. D. James
The Blackheath Poisonings (1978), Julian Symons
Waxwork (1978), by Peter Lovesey
Nightshades (1984), Bill Pronzini
The Wench is Dead (1989), Colin Dexter
Going Wrong (1990), Ruth Rendell
Asta's Book (1993), Ruth Rendell (as Barbara Vine)
Dover: The Collected Short Stories (1995), Joyce Porter
More Things Impossible (2006), Edward D. Hoch
A Mammoth Murder (2006), Bill Crider
Not in the Flesh (2007), Ruth Rendell
73 books! This is not counting four capsule John Dickson Carr reviews I reprinted here.
|Will Ruth Rendell seize the crown next year?|
Only four volumes of short stories, by William Faulkner, William Fryer Harvey, Joyce Porter and Edward D. Hoch, but I also did a piece on Edith Wharton's superb "A Bottle of Perrier" and one comparing the short stories of Bill Pronzini and Dashiell Hammett. There is also an oddity, a lyrical murder mystery poem by Dorothy Bennett.
Most reviewed author: Rufus King, who died forty-six years ago. Runner-up: Ruth Rendell, very much with us still.
So that's 68 novels, 35 of them from the 1930s. I guess it won't surprise you to learn that I think the formal detective novel achieved a state of perfection in the thirties that has never since been bettered.
I did mean to review more recent books, and will try to do better next year. But there are so many blogs devoted to the newer stuff already. I think interesting things are being done today, to be sure, but my focus will continue to remain on older works.
I also reviewed an interesting book on Ellery Queen, Joseph Goodrich's Blood Relations: The Selected Letters of Ellery Queen, 1947-1950
, Michael Dirda's winsome and Edgar-winning On Conan Doyle: Or, The Whole Art of Storytelling
and Jon L. Breen's fine collection of genre essays, A Shot Rang Out
Lately I admittedly have been reviewing a preponderance of novels by American authors, but I have become fascinated with the sheer volume of classical detection produced by Americans.
The notion that the genre in the United States was dominated during the Golden Age by hard-boiled writers could not be more wrong, it seems to me. Aside from the so-called HIBK school of Mary Roberts Rinehart and Mignon Eberhart and other women writers (which is getting a little attention from academics now), there were numerous male writers in the classical tradition, like S. S. Van Dine, Ellery Queen, Rex Stout and Rufus King.
As critic Jon L. Breen has pointed out, Queen gets shockingly little attention today (the same is true of Stout, which is especially strange when one considers that the Nero Wolfe novels have remained in print--there is really no excuse for the critical neglect here).
Anyway, with 66 novels blogged in 2012, I think I will do a top ten (or or twenty) for New Year's. What will the Best Blogged Books of 2012
be??? Your Passing Tramp will have to do some heavy cogitation....