The “Colecção Vampiro”, published from 1947 by Editora Livros do Brasil, in Lisbon, was one of the very fist series of Crime Fiction paperbacks in Portuguese. It was certainly the most popular. The “Masters of detective fiction” published there showed a large emphasis on English and American authors. The notoriety of the authors seemed of rather more importance than a clear definition of the sub-genre of crime Fiction the books pertained to. Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers appeared alongside Hammett and Chandler; Wallace with Simenon; Van Dine with Ellery Queen. The latter, and the likes of Erle Stanley Gardner were the most represented. While a close contemporary of Gallimard’s “Série Noire” (created in 1945) Vampiro was editorially much closer to Le Masque (Librarie des Champs Elysées, 1927). Vampiro favoured novels of deduction and investigation over hardboiled noir. Continue reading
Simon Templar, aka “The Saint”, the character created in 1928 by Leslie Charteris (British author Leslie Charles Bowyer-Yin, 1907-1983) soon became immensely popular. His adventures were published by Hodder & Stoughton, under the famous yellow jackets. They spread to continental Europe in the early thirties. They were so popular in France at the time, that translations were not enough. To meet the demand of the public, apocryphal stories of “Le Saint” were written directly in French (by translators Edmond and Madeleine Michel- Tyl ) . After the war his popularity would be supported by film and television adaptations. Again, there would be in France, alongside the official, international production, domestic films with the Saint played by famous French actors : Félix Marten (in Le Saint mène la danse by Jacques Nahum, 1959 ) and Jean Marais ( Le Saint prend l’affût, Christian-Jaque, 1966) Continue reading
The Club del Misterio Series (early to mid-1980’s) predates the Etiqueta Negra Series (mid- 1980’s to mid-1990). Both Series are devoted to Crime Fiction. Both have appeared post-Franco, and in a cultural context profoundly changed by the Movida. Both have published around 150 books of international Crime Fiction, the majority of them considered classics of the genre. While Etiqueta Negra is a series launched by a Madrid publisher, Jucar, Club del Misterio belongs to a Barcelona-based publisher, Bruguera.
But the most striking difference is their respective scope. The Madrid publisher puts the emphasis on selection and distinction. There are fewer authors, representing fewer countries, and a distinctive branch within the crime genre, the noir novel. On the contrary, the Barcelona series favours diversity : different subgenres, different authors, different countries. It is remarkable that the author most published in this series is Italian (Scerbanenco). Rather than American (or Spanish as is at the time the pattern elsewhere, when only local authors seem capable of resisting the American -and to an extent English- dominance). Continue reading
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
New York publisher Europa Editions features in its World Noir series important works of international crime fiction. Many of the books are translations, such as (from the French), Philippe Georget’s Summertime All the Cats are Bored (L’été tous les chats s’ennuient, Jigal Polar, 2010, Prix SNCF du Polar 2011) and Jean-Claude Izzo’s Marseilles Trilogy . Continue reading
The popular “The Owl” Series (Colección El buho), by the Barcelona publisher Planeta, published household names of international Crime Fiction in Spain in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Such as, for example Dashiell Hammett’s Ciudad de pesadilla (translated by César de Montserrat) in 1958 or Erle Stanley Gardner’s El caso de la lata vacía, in 1953 and El caso de la lámpara humeante, in 1957. Another famous Series dedicated to Crime Fiction in Spain at the time of the fascist dictatorship, and one of the most popular was GP Policíaca . Published by editorial Plaza & Janés, in Barcelona, it comprised some 200 novels, from 1957 to 1966. Continue reading
Initiated by the publisher Bastei Verlag ( Gustav H. Lübbe ), in Bergisch -Gladbach, an attempt was made to publish the San-Antonio series in Germany. The “Kommissar from Paris” was even given his own series, like in France, where it had only in he early 1970’s started to be the case (after more than 20 years of being part of the “Spécial-Police” Series). The translation of the books into German started in 1973 . Twenty-two titles were thus published until 1975. As the picture above shows, San-Antonio was marketed as a sort of Gallic James Bond. A French double of Sean Connery. Continue reading
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.
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.
The “Angoisse” Series comprised 261 novels, published by Fleuve Noir between 1954 and 1974. Much in the same ways as Gallimard’s Série Blême offered a different blend of noir and suspense from that of its more successful sister, the Série Noire, Angoisse is a series devoted to Stories of Dread, and Psychological Suspense. The heritage of Edgar Poe is manifest. Albeit putting greater emphasis on terror and fantasy literature, this series is in many respect a companion to the great Special Police series by the same publisher. Books in the Special Police Series carried advertisements like the above for the “Angoisse” series. “Angoisse” was the place were classics such as J. Redon’s Les Yeux sans visage (“Eyes Without a Face“, “Angoisse” number 59, later a famous film by Franju) were first published. Many distinguished authors published in Angoisse : Marc Agapit, Maurice Limat, Kurt Steiner, B.R. Bruss, and André Caroff.
The Feux Rouges Series, Ferenczi, 1958-1960
Last in the long string of crime fiction series launched one after the other, over the course of several decades by publisher Ferenczi, “Feux rouges” did not make a lasting impression. The 54 titles in the series are now all forgotten. The list of authors published there might nowadays seem rather uninspiring. Apart from the occasional book by Marcel Allain (who had created Fantômas, 45 years earlier, before the 1st War, together with Pierre Souvestre) or by Jacques Chabannes (who had won the prestigious Grand Prix du roman d’Aventures -the Award for the best adventure novel, in 1957 for L’Assassin est en retard, Librairie des Champs Élysées, Le Masque, 1957), most of the names are now forgotten. This is partly because most of them are French, with no international author of great standing lifting the profile of the series. But this is mainly because many of these names are only pseudonyms of better known authors. In fact, under some of the pseudonyms, one finds great crime authors. There are for example six books by a young Georges-Jean Arnaud, concealed by the pseudonym Georges Murey. An equally young Roger Faller, later a household name in the Spécial-Police Series (Fleuve Noir) is here Roger Henri Nova. And a Gallimard Série Noire author, Ange Bastiani, aka Victor Marie Lepage, is credited in the Feux Rouges Series as Vorlier.
The books announce on their covers which subdivision in the crime genre they belong to : Suspense, Policier, or Espionnage. Or indeed Noir, an indication that at this stage, in the 1950’s, the adjective is now widely accepted as a distinctive generic category.