Detective story

World’s Favourite Agatha Christie

Dead Man

What is your favourite book by Agatha Christie? Which are the most popular amongst readers worldwide? Here are a few titles to choose from, as presented on the website http://worldsfavouritechristie.com/books :  This website  asked fans to vote for the World’s Favourite Christie book and will release the results in September.

AGAC

AC

For more information on the vote

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/apr/27/famous-fans-vote-for-worlds-favourite-agatha-christie-novel

Advertisements

Comics Noir : Dick Tracy

DickTracy

The fame and multimedia durability of the Dick Tracy series are fascinating. They show how, from a very early stage, the Noir genre advanced internationally as a transmedial cultural industry. Interesting also are the circumstances in which they were produced, and how they created a career-defining relationship between this character and its author. Described as “A Museum of Atrocious Death” (Francis Lacassin), the violent and popular Dick Tracy strips originated in the classic age of “hardboiled America” (O’Brien). Their creator, Chester Gould introduced the plainclothes detective officer Tracy in The Detroit Mirror in October 1931, and within the same month in The New York Daily News. Later published in The Chicago Tribune, the strips appeared every day for forty-six years, until December 1967. During that time (exactly forty-six years, two months and twenty-one days, according to his own account) Chester Gould delivered six daily strips in black and white and a colour page on Sunday, writing and illustrating all the stories himself.

A DickTracyTheThirtiesEnglishjpg

Dick-Tracy

Two Shilling Yellowjackets

Creasey Hodder 1954

John Creasey, Inspector West Cries Wolf, Hodder & Stoughton, 1954

Hodder & Stoughton original Yellow Jacket series were published in England from 1926 until 1939. A second series was launched in 1949. Each book cost 2 shillings. The covers remained yellow until 1957, when the series gave way to Hodder Pocket books.  Uber-prolific English author John Creasey  (1908 – 1973) published there some of the six hundred novels he is credited with (under twenty-eight pseudonyms). Hodder & Stoughton published  notably   books with his Inspector Roger West , and his eccentric,  aristocratic,  “Saint”- like character, the “Toff”, a sort of later days Arsène Lupin.  The Toff was created in 1938.  Charteris’s The Saint was also published and republished in the same series, as were many successes from the first,  interwar series : Wallace,  Oppenheim and Sapper amongst many others. Or  Patricia Wentworth, with her upper-class compatible, governess-detective, Miss Silver.  The yellow covers signal classicism, in the detective novel or the thriller traditions.

The Golden Age of Murder

Print

The highly anticipated book by Martin Edwards on  “the mystery of the writers who invented the modern detective story” is being released today. It promises to shed new light on the 1930s authors who published in Britain and formed part of the Detection Club. It invites readers to undertake a long overdue reconsideration of both their literary output and their worldviews. The problem with authors who were, for so long, as famous and dominant as Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and John Dickson Carr is that it is easy to feel complacent about them. For a very long time, golden age authors have been seen as unfashionable in both literary and political circles. The noir genre, especially after WWII, seemed more exciting, modern and transgressive. While structuralists and narrative theorists have, from Todorov in the 1960s to Pierre Bayard, more recently, praised golden age authors’ artful plot construction, their politics had never really been reappraised. Chandler, in distancing the realistic, street-savy, brand of crime fiction he represents from the world of privilege and pure intellectual speculation he identified with the golden age output, inflicted terrible and certainly unfair damage to this group of authors. But treating them in an undifferentiated way, as conservative stalwarts of the established narrative and the social order, does not do justice to the great variety of authors and circumstances represented within the Detection Club. Continue reading

Ruth Rendell (1930-2015) and the meaning of exclusion

 Analphabete

Ruth Rendell, L’Analphabète, Paris, Librairie des Champs-Élysées (Le Masque no 1532, 1978 ) new translation, 1995

Ruth Rendell, who died yesterday, was not only  one of the most distinguished English crime fiction authors, the impeccable writer of more than 60 best selling books  (25 of them featuring Inspector Wexford – often presented as a British Maigret-  and 14  written under the pen-name Barbara Vine).   She was a peer for the Labour Party in the British Parliament. Her attention for the social context and the particular settings of her novels was commanded for modernising British Crime Fiction.

Her 1977 novel A Judgement in Stone (London, Hutchinson) begins with the line :  Eunice Parchman killed the Coverdale family because she could not read or write.  This is a cool statement about the Crime genre, saying that it is not just about  to the whodunit.  And a  clear  indication that crime is a product of socio-cultural circumstances. Rendell  was comimtted to represent it that way.  The plot, and the social classes  antagonism it is based on (servant kills masters) is reminiscent of  a well-publicised French Criminal affair: the  savage murder of their employer by two young women, the sisters Christine and Léa Papin, two maids from Le Mans, in 1933. Continue reading

Edgar Wallace and the Global Thriller

4justposter Walpic

Edgar Wallace (Greenwich, 1875- Beverly Hills, 1932) is probably one of the  crime authors whose academic reappraisal stands to gain the most from the shift in methods and objects advocated in this blog. A sort of consensus  has hitherto prevailed, consigning his books (famously written  over amazingly brief, but sustained, periods of concentration) in the category of  hastily churned out yarns.  Successful, but ultimately forgettable.  Mass market products of their time, which have now become less appealing, and promise little reward to the modern reader. This is certainly very unfair.  One needs only to consider  his books’ capacity to thrill all across the world to be inclined to revise such judgement. Or to reflect on the number of adaptations to the screen (more than 150, making him one of the world leading authors) his novels have received Continue reading

Internationalisation and Criminalisation in Germany : The Goldmann’s Roman-Bibliothek

Goldmann 35

Leipzig publisher Wilhelm Goldmann started in 1935  the series “Goldmanns Roman-Bibliothek”.  Agatha Christie was published there from  1935 : Nikotin (1935), Ein Schritt ins Leere (1935).  More than its more ancient competitor the Gelbe Reihe (Ullstein), this series shows the  increasing importance of translations, alongside German original editions. Going hand in hand  with this process of internationalisation, the series shows a progressive focalisation on Crime Fiction, and a tendency towards a replacement of  adventure novels with Crime novels.

Goldmann Continue reading

The Seven Types of Locked Room Mystery

The Bodies From The Library

According to John Dickson Carr, there are no less than seven distinct types of locked room mystery. At least that is what his character Dr Fell tells the readers in chapter seventeen of his 1935 classic The Hollow Man (widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of that genre). Having mentioned this last week, I have been prevailed upon to summarise Dr Fell’s categorisations as a reminder for those who have read the book some time ago or to enable those who have yet to do so to benefit from Dr Fell’s elucidation while skipping over the relevant chapter (as Dickson Carr invites them to do) so they can get on with the plot.

1 The murder is not a murder but is, in fact, an accident. The circumstances are such that it appears there has been a murder but this is not the case. Instead there has been a fatal…

View original post 612 more words

Georges Simenon in Penguin

 PCCWordItOut-word-cloud-734167
(Click to enlarge)

A simple wordcloud, when it displays hierarchically structured information, can tell instantly something both very significant and  onerous to establish otherwise.  One would have to browse through hundreds of bibliographical data and to sort them, before being able to discover what the cloud above suggests simply and immediatly.

PCC1WordItOut-word-cloud-734160

The author who published the most books in the Penguin Crime Club,  the famous British pocketbooks publisher’s subseries devoted to the classics of crime fiction, is actually not  Agatha Christie, nor a member of the detection club,  nor any  British author. Neither is it one of the prolific American masters, such as Ellery Queen, or Erle Stanley Gardner. It is actually Georges Simenon, with 48 books published under the universally recognised green cover.

Moorings revolver Wife

Continue reading