Patti Abbott chose Ray Bradbury to be the focus of this week's Friday's "Forgotten" Books feature. Although best known for his science fiction classics like Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, Bradbury also wrote numerous stories of suspense and crime, as well as a trilogy of surreal, noirish mystery novels, Death is a Lonely Business, A Graveyard for Lunatics and Let's All Kill Constance.
William F. Nolan compiled "The Crime/Suspense Fiction of Ray Bradbury: A Listing," for Armchair Detective in the April 1971 issue (unfortunately, I don't have a copy, and it's hard to find now). Of course, Bradbury continued to write prolifically until his death this year, so Nolan's listing is hardly complete.
Many of Bradbury's 600+ stories were published in dozens of collections including A Memory of Murder (which fellow author/blogger Bill Crider chose for a previous "Forgotten" Books day). Another early collection was The Vintage Bradbury (subtitle: The greatest stories by America's most distinguished practioner of speculative fiction), with 22 classic stories plus four chapters excerpted from his first mainstream novel, Dandelion Wine.
Bradbury chose all the stories for the 1965 publication by Vintage, even though his career as an author was only 15 years old at the time. Stories include "The Small Assassin," one of Bradbury's most re-published stories about a couple whose new baby may be a killer, later adapted as an episode of the television series The Ray Bradbury Theater; and "The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl," in which a murderer becomes obsessed with evidence he may have left behind.
Bradbury once had this to say about his contributions to crime fiction (In his preface to A Memory of Murder), "I floundered, I thrashed, sometimes I lost, sometimes I won . . . I hope you will judge kindly, and let me off easy." In an interview with CBC Radio, he talked about dedicating his novel Death is a Lonely Business to Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Ross Macdonald and James M. Cain. He said (about 17:50 into the interview) that he wasn't intending the book itself to be a hardboiled novel, but he simply wanted to dedicate it to them out of love. "I re-read their things every year just about. I go back through Macdonald, Cain, Chandler, Hammett, and the stuff holds up . . . It's good American literature, it's not mystery writing, it's just good literature. I'd rather read them than Norman Mailer, quite frankly."