Oct 192014

Exciting news about one of my favorite authors, Arthur. W. Upfield, the creator of Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte of the Queensland, Australia, police. Upfield has long been nearly impossible to find in print - in the U. S., I believe only The Bone Is Pointed and The Bachelors of Broken Hill have remained in print out of the 29 novels featuring Bony.

Apparently, Upfield's estate has released e-book versions of all 29 of the Bony novels, in a variety of popular formats. According to Wikipedia, this website (with links to the available books) is maintained by Upfield's grandson, William Upfield, and it promises that all 26 of the Boney television series which was made from the novels will be made available as downloads.

If you're not familiar with Upfield and/or with Bonaparte, you should be. Bony (note that the TV series did add an extra "e" to the name "Boney" to make it clear how the name should be pronounced) was a half-White, half-Aboriginal detective. Writing at a time when such characters were rare, Upfield made Bony a wonderful, warm character, a man who never failed to solve the most difficult case because of his abilities inherited from his White father and Aborigine mother. He has been out of favor among the politically correct in Australia and elsewhere, which merely reinforces my low opinion of political correctness. 

I've reviewed five of the Bony books on my podcast over the years, and you can find those reviews on my backlist page (just scroll down to "Upfield"). I haven't done more because they have been so hard to find - I didn't think it would be fair to my readers. Now that they have all been released as e-books, I intend to go back and review several more of my favorites. If you like traditional mysteries, made more exotic by the Australian outback setting of so many, with a wonderfully warm and charismatic central character, you will love Arthur Upfield's books about Bony.

This is exactly what I have believed e-book publishing should be about: making great books available to a new generation of readers (and, I hope, generating some additional income for the authors' estates as well). Bravo, Mr. Upfield, bravo!

Oct 162014

Okay, I've been talking about the panels that will be happening at this year's Bouchercon in Long Beach, CA, now just four weeks away. As a person who specializes (at least for blogging purposes) in traditional mysteries in general and "classic," often older, mysteries in particular, will I have trouble finding panels of particular interest?

Why, no, no I won't, as a matter of fact. A couple of examples which jump out at me from the list of panels (and I wish they'd stop doing that, it's very unnerving):

  • "Murder in a Locked Room: Solving the 'Perfect' Crime" will be happening on Thursday, 11/13, at 1 PM. Moderator is Bill Gottfried; panel members include Janet Dawson, Jeffery Deaver, Laurie R. King, Marvin Lachman and Gigi Pandian;
  • "Sherlock Through the Ages" happens on Saturday, 11/15, at 11:30 AM. Leslie S. Klinger moderates, with Lindsey Faye, Laurie R. King, Michael Kurland and Michael Robertson on the panel;
  • "You Say Traditional, I Say Cozy: Exploring the Boundaries of the Classic Mystery Novel," with Sarah Chen moderating, happens on Saturday at 4:30 PM, with John Billheimer, Pal Bishop, Linda Joffe Hull, Eric James Miller and Ilene Schneider on the panel.

Mind you, those are just a few of the panels I've already marked off to attend, but these are directed specifically at my own favorite part of the mystery genre. If these aren't the areas that appeal to you, check out the panels list - you'll have no trouble finding better choices to match your own interests.

Again, I'm hoping that at least some of the visitors to this blog will also be attending in Long Beach next month - and please do stop by to say hello. I hear that there are about 1500 people signed up to attend at this point, and I hope you're among them. And it's not too late to sign up yet...

Oct 132014

Today is October 13, which means that Bouchercon 2014: Murder at the Beach will begin officially in Long Beach, CA, one month from today. As I've noted elsewhere, I'll be at Bouchercon (along with my wife) and look forward to meeting, speaking with, learning from and laughing with well over a thousand (maybe closer to two thousand) mystery readers and mystery authors.

While there, I'm scheduled to moderate a panel on Thursday, Nov. 13th, called "Just the Facts: Journalists Solving Crimes," with authors R. G. Belsky, Ellen Crosby, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Susan Union and LynDee Walker. The next morning, Friday, November 14th, I'll be on the panel discussing "Collecting 101: Tips and Tricks from the Experts on Building Your Collection," which will be moderated by Otto Penzler with other panelists including Al Abramson, Bill Gottfried, Tom O'Day and Donus Roberts. In the off chance that you're not coming to Bouchercon primarily to hear me speak - an unlikely thing, I know - rest assured that you will be choosing from well over 100 different panels over the four days of the conference. There are authors you'll know, authors you don't know yet but will want to meet, and a lot of readers who may share your tastes or be willing to debate the advantages of their tastes.

That's not even counting all the extra events, off-site dinners and brunches, charity auctions and, of course, the Anthony Awards. I certainly hope you'll be there. And if so, even if you don't attend my panels, be sure to stop me in the halls and say hello.

Oct 092014

When it comes to books by Ellery Queen, there's a lot of disagreement among traditional mystery readers about which of those books are their own personal favorites.  

Frederick Dannay and Manfred Lee, the two cousins who wrote as "Ellery Queen" went through at least three more-or-less distinct periods in their writing. Personally, I prefer their early novels, the first nine books about Ellery Queen - for newcomers to EQ, the detective character has the same name as the pseudonym used by the authors. Those early books all have titles that include a nationality, a noun and the word "mystery." The Egyptian Cross Mystery, the book we are discussing here this week, is one of those books. My own favorites among them would be The Siamese Twin Mystery and The Greek Coffin Mystery, but they're all pretty good. 

Some readers prefer books from Queen's later periods, especially those set in and around the fictional town of Wrightsville - books, they argue, that are more mature than earlier Queen novels and have less of the puzzle element, while the books' characters are better developed and the overall tone is darker. Personally, I prefer the earlier ones, where there's more of a direct challenge to the reader to uncover the clues and solve the mystery before everything is revealed at the end of the book. But it's purely a personal choice. Among the later books, I'm very fond of Cat of Many Tails, their venture into the world of a serial killer.

If you enjoy the Ellery Queen books, I think you might enjoy two non-fiction books in particular that will give you more insight into Dannay and Lee and ow they worked and wrote. They divided the labor very strictly: Dannay came up with the plots and provided detailed outlines; Lee took the outlines and turned them into finished novels. They fought often, and bitterly, over their work - but they wound up writing some incredible books, and their influence on the American traditional detective story cannot be overstated. Francis M. Nevins' Ellery Queen: The Art of Detection is a first-rate critical biography by someone who knew the cousins very well. And Blood Relations: The Selected Letters of Ellery Queen, 1947-1950, edited by Joseph Goodrich, is a fascinating book of letters exchanged between Dannay and Lee when they were working on three books between 1947 and 1950 - not the "nations" books, but among their best.

Sep 142014

Never been to a Bouchercon? Wonder what goes on there? Wonder if there's anything happening that you would find interesting? For that matter, are you a seasoned veteran or even a newbie getting ready for your first Bouchercon and wondering what awaits you there?

Here you go, my friend. The programming people in charge at Bouchercon 2014 in Long Beach, CA, just two months from now, have released their preliminary lineup of panel discussions. Go ahead. Take a look.

What you'll find is up to NINE SEPARATE PANELS taking place during every hour-long time slot. The topics cover just about every sub-genre, from traditionals, thrillers and cozies to paranormals, historicals and serial killers. The problem, for those of us in attendance, won't be trying to find something interesting - it will be trying to decide which panel to attend out of two or three competing in the same time slot.

Naturally, I hope you'll attend the two in which I am taking part - but if you find other choices that are too tempting, I'll certainly understand. 

Sep 132014

The programming gurus for this year's Bouchercon in Long Beach, California have invited me to serve on two of the conference's many great discussion panels this year, both of which sound like a lot of fun.

The first, "Just the Facts: Journalists Solving Crimes," takes place Thursday afternoon, November 13, at 4 PM. I'll be moderating that panel featuring authors Richard Belsky, Ellen Crosby, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Susan Union and LynDee Walker.

The second, "Collecting 101: Tips and Tricks from the Experts on Building Your Collection," will be Friday morning, November 14, at 8:30 AM. This time, I'll be a member of the panel, along with Al Abramson, Bill Gottfried, Tom O'Day and Donus Roberts, and the moderator will be Otto Penzler (who is already complaining vociferously about that 8:30 AM starting time...:-).

I know most of the people on both panels, and I can promise you a good time at both of them. I hope I'll be seeing you there - you west coasters in particular should be there!

Sep 052014

Some continuing computer problems and the need to devote some real-life detective work to figuring out how to achieve some results in Windows has caused me to fall behind in some posting. Before September gets entirely out of hand, let me make two recommendations to you.

First, there is a new issue of the I Love a Mystery Newsletter, Sally Powers's bimonthly gathering of reviews of all that is new in crime fiction of all genres. Whatever your taste - cozy, traditional, thriller, espionage, medical, procedural, serial killer, you name it - you'll find reviews here of the newest releases. If you're looking for your next book, you may well find it here.

And then there's Mike Ripley's monthly  "Getting Away with Murder" column for the Shots Crime & Thriller eZine. This time, there are several items which may be of particular interest to Classic Mysteries visitors, including a long section on the classic spy novels of E. Phillips Oppenheim, John Creasey's long and incredibly prolific career and the republication of one of those Detection Club collaborative books that was written by Margery Allingham, Anthony Berkeley, Freeman Wills Croft, Ronald Knox, Dorothy L. Sayers and Russell Thorndike, which is a pretty powerful combination.

Aug 212014

So here we are in the infamous dog days of August and Your Friendly Host is planning to do a bit of relaxing before the Fall arrives. All that I'm saying is that the next Classic Mysteries podcast will be released this Sunday, August 24 rather than Monday, August 25. The following podcast will be released on Monday, September 1, which is Labor Day. So it's pretty much a one-time thing.

Should you come back? Well, the review this Sunday will be of J.J. Connington's Tragedy at Ravensthorpe, while the one for Labor Day will be Craig Rice's 8 Faces at 3. Both are worth your attention!

In between, Your Friendly Host plans to do some cruising, enjoying some Mouse time and generally unwinding. See y'all in September. Oh, and if you're reading anything good...why not tell me about it in the comments?

Aug 102014

Elspeth McGillicuddy was quite sure what she had seen. While riding on a train, the elderly woman was looking out her window as another train passed slowly by hers. And through the window in one of the carriages on that passing train, she had seen a man murdering a woman. She reported it, of course - but, as no dead bodies were discovered on any train that afternoon, and as nobody else had seen the crime, they assumed that the elderly woman had fallen asleep and dreamed it all. That's what everyone said.

Everyone, that is, except Miss Jane Marple, a good friend of Mrs. McGillicuddy. When Miss Marple heard about her friend's experience, she decided that some more investigation was in order. What she found out is revealed in , by Agatha Christie. The 1957 mystery, originally published as What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw! is the subject of today's audio review on the Classic Mysteries podcast, and you can listen to the full review by clicking here.

I have always enjoyed 4:50 from Paddington, which I think is one of Christie's better Miss Marple novels. The puzzle is fascinating - how could that body have disappeared? And Miss Marple's way of dealing with that problem is quite clever. The book is full of Christie's usual subtle - but fairly clued - misdirection, and I think newcomers are likely to be surprised by the eventual solution of the murder.

The Challenge

As part of my continuing commitment to the Vintage Mystery Bingo Reading Challenge under way at the My Reader's Block blog, I am submitting this to cover the Bingo square calling for one book with a time, day, month, etc., in the title. For details about the challenge, and what I'm doing for it, please click here.