Hugh Cosgro Weir (1994-1934) was born in Illinois but moved to Ohio where he worked as a journalist at the young age of 16 in Springfield. He also began writing screenplays early on, but eventually set up his own combo advertising agency and magazine publishing house. He was a prolific writer of pulp short stories but is mainly known today for his anthology published in 1914, Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective.
Weir dedicated the book to Mary Holland, a Chicago-area detective who was a pioneering fingerprint expert and jointly published the criminology magazine "The Detective" with her husband Phillip. In fact, Weir was inspired by Holland to loosely base his young detective Madelyn Mack on Holland. In the stories, Mack is accompanied on her exploits by the reporter Nora Noraker, who also serves as the POV character, in a form of gender-swapped Holmes and Watson set in in New York City.
Madelyn Mack is every bit as quirky as Holmes in the five stories that make up the book. She collects musical records from around the world, even commissioning expensive private recordings; she wears a locket around her neck filled with cola berries to keep her awake for days at a stretch; she dresses only in either all white or all black; and her home overlooks the Hudson River and is decorated like a reproduction Swiss chalet. Although she believes women are better at crime solving than men, she employs several young men to do her paperwork.
Nora Noraker describes Madelyn's appearance upon first meeting her: "I had vaguely imagined a masculine-appearing woman, curt of voice, sharp of feature, perhaps dressed in a severe tailor-made gown. I saw a young woman of maybe twenty-five, with red and white cheeks, crowned by a softly waved mass of dull gold hair, and a pair of vivacious grey-blue eyes that at once made one forget every other detail of her appearance."
As to her sleuthing philosophy, Madelyn herself says, "I work out my problems just as I would work out a problem in mathematics, only instead of figures I deal with human motives. A detective is always given certain known factors, and I keep building them up, or subtracting them, as the case may be, until I know that the answer must be correct."
The five tales included in the volume are "The Man with Nine Lives"; "The Missing Bridegroom"; "Cinderella's Slipper"; "The Bullet From Nowhere"; and "The Purple Thumb." The stories and plots aren't as imaginative as Arthur Conan Doyle's, and there is some racism that pops in (not overtly, but as in the case of woman who was suspect because she was a "mulatto"). Still, the stories were entertaining enough to spawn two silent films, The Riddle of the Green Umbrella and The Riddle of the Tin Soldier, both starring Alice Joyce as Madelyn Mack.
If you want a literary way to "read in the new year," check out Janet Rudolph's listing of New Year's Mysteries, Crime Fiction, Thrillers, and Movies.
Just in time for New Year's Eve parties, The Guardian's Henry Jeffreys also took a look at a history of booze in books, from from Brideshead Revisited to James Bond.
The 50th California International Antiquarian Book Fair will celebrate its 50th Anniversary February 10-12, 2017 at the Oakland Marriott City Center. The special exhibit for the anniversary year will highlight the University of California, Berkeley's Bancroft Library genre fiction holdings, including items from the extensive collection of influential author, critic, and literary mentor Anthony Boucher; first editions by early members of the Northern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America; selections by popular western and adventure writer Kenneth Perkins; MWA Grand Master Ross Macdonald, and more.
A call for papers was announced on the topic of "Hardboiled History: A Noir Lens on America's Past," for an event at the University of Warwick in the UK on May 19, 2017. The main confirmed speaker is Warren Pleece, comic artist and graphic novelist, with more guests to be announced later. (HT to Ayo Onatade at Shots Ezine.)
The Seattle Times' Adam Woog reviewed the new release from Hard Case Crime, the very first publication of a lost work by Erle Stanley Gardner. Although Gardner is best known today for his Perry Mason series, he also penned hardboiled detective team of Cool and Lam, stars of 29 novels (1939 -1970). It's one of the latter that has just been published, The Knife Slipped, meant to be the second book in the Cool and Lam series until the publisher shelved it for Bertha Cool’s tendency to "talk tough, swear, smoke cigarettes, and try to gyp people."
The Rap Sheet’s "Favorite Crime Fiction of 2016" includes lists from seven of its frequent contributors, Jim Napier, Seven Nester, Kevin Burton Smith, Stephen Miller, Jacques Filippi, Ali Karim, and J. Kingston Pierce.
Editor Alec Cizak is considering resurrecting his Pulp Modern magazine in a new format and he's looking for some feedback. You can read about his thoughts on why the previous model didn't work and what he's thinking about doing via his blog. (Hat tip to Sandra Seamans.)
The new (and possibly last) Sherlock series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman premieres in just four days, but The Guardian recently posted an article that might tide you over. It takes a look at the global fascination with the show and offers a few teasers about the upcoming series. When Cumberbatch was asked, "Is it the darkest season yet?" He replied, “I would say it probably is." Co-creator Mark Gattis, who also plays Mycroft Holmes in the show, says it's time for a slightly nicer Sherlock who is "less of the irritatingly smug know-it-all we saw in earlier episodes." Meanwhile, the New York Times had an article on how "Sherlock Opens Up the Old Boys Club to Women."
Amazon announced that crime and thrillers were Audible's most popular audiobooks in the UK in 2016, with more than half of the top 20 new releases downloaded in 2016 falling into that category.
After reading Debra H. Goldstein's post earlier this week about the Sisters in Crime "We Love Short Stories" Initiative, Peter DiChellis posted "Five Reasons To Love Reading Short Mystery Stories" on the Short Mystery Fiction Society blog.
David Talbot of the San Francisco Chronicle penned the essay, "Dashiell Hammett: a hero for our time," finding parallels "between Trumpism and McCarthyism" and noting that it’s a good time for us to recall Hammett’s heroism when he stood up to Eugene McCarthy, Roy Cohn, and the Hollywood blacklists.
Music journalist and author Chris Nickson (best known for his historical mystery Richard Nottingham series) takes the Page 69 test to the latest book in his Tom Harper mystery series, The Iron Water. For those unfamiliar with the test, the Canadian academic Marshall McLuhan developed a theory of how to choose a book: first of all, read page 69. If you like it, then chances are you'll like the rest of it too.
The Guardian reported on a wave of recent police memoirs and how officers are making crime pay with "a rich stew of corruption, villainy and remorse."
Another Guardian article compiled a list of the "Top 10 slangy crime novels," or those that provide the richest seam of words and phrases.
The What Culture website compiled a listing of "8 Female Action Films You Probably Haven't Seen," noting that "there have always been female-led action movies but before James Cameron introduced Linda Hamilton and Sigourney Weaver to machine guns, they existed mainly at the fringes of cinema."
Fans of the film John Wick who are eagerly looking forward to the sequel will be happy to hear that Chapter Two will also coincide with the release of a John Wick comic book that will expand the franchise ever further.
The new issue of Flash Bang Mysteries is out, with editor BJ Bourg serving up new short fiction from Barbara Eliasson, Bruce Harris, Craig Faustus Buck, C.M. Saunders, John Frain, and John M. Floyd.
The featured crime poem at the 5-2 this week is "Who's There" by Charles Rammelkamp.
In the Q&A roundup, The Australian spoke with Patricia Cornwell about her new Dr. Kay Scarpetta novel, Chaos, and how the forensic world has changed since the first book in that series; and the Mystery People chatted with author Eric Beetner about muscle cars, 8-track tapes, and his new novel, Leadfoot.
Anonymous Content and Campanario Entertainment have acquired rights to the Federico Axat novel La Ultima Salida (Kill The Next One), which Craig Rosenberg will adapt for film. The story centers on Ted McKay, who's about to put a bullet in his brain when his doorbell rings and a stranger makes him an offer worth a temporary stay of self-execution: a last heroic act that would protect his family from the pain of his suicide, but puts him at the center of a grisly game of manipulation and death.
It seems Expendables 4 is closer to being a reality - Splendid Film has picked up the rights to screen the action franchise sequel across German-speaking Europe, with Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Arnold Schwarzenegger reprising their respective roles - however it appears this will be the last film in the series.
French director Francois Ozon (The Swimming Pool) has hired Jacqueline Bisset to team with French stars Marine Vacth and Jeremie Renier in the French language erotic thriller L’Amant Double. The project began filming last week in Paris with Ozon directing from his own script, although plot details are being kept under wraps.
Bestselling crime writer Harlan Coben French adaptation of No Second Chance will finally be available for viewing in the U.S. on Netflix (with subtitles). No Second Chance is about a doctor who is shot in a home invasion in the serene fictional Jersey suburb of Kasselton and whose baby daughter is kidnapped.
Dax Shepard, who is writing, directing, and starring in the film reboot of the buddy cop action comedy CHiPS for Warner Bros, admitted that the film is going to have an R-rating due to the more "adult" material of language, violence, and the amount of nudity and sexual situations.
The final poster and trailer were released for John Wick 2, which once again stars Keanu Reeves as an ex-hitman who came out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.
Jason Egenberg's new production company is teaming up with Alec Baldwin's production company for an adaptation of Crooked Brooklyn, the 2015 book by Michael Vecchione, former chief of the Rackets Division in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.
USA Network’s breakout new drama series Shooter, which only premiered on November 15, has already been renewed for a second season. The show stars Ryan Phillippe as a former Marine and decorated sniper who is on the run trying to clear his name and save his family.
Former Harry Potter star David Thewlis has signed on for a role as a regular in the third season of Fargo, playing V.M. Vargas, a dedicated capitalist who teams up with the folks who employ Ewan McGregor's Emmit Stussy, known as the "Parking Lot King of Minnesota." Other new cast hires also include Boardwalk Empire alum Michael Stuhlbarg, who joins in a recurring role as Sy Feltz, Emmit’s right-hand man and consigliere, as well as Scoot McNairy, Shea Whigham, Karan Soni, Fred Melamed and Thomas Mann.
The CW offered up an extended look at Season 1 of the CW’s new drama series Riverdale from Warner Bros. TV. Set in present day and based on the iconic Archie Comics characters, Riverdale is a subversive take on Archie, Betty, Veronica and their friends, exploring the surrealism of small-town life — the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome façade, including a murder mystery.
Fans of the cancelled series Hannibal, who've been hoping for bread crumbs about a possible revival of the show, may be happy to hear that director Bryan Fuller is toying with the idea of bring it back as a mini-series with occasional runs, similar to the BBC's Sherlock. The producers evidently came close to a deal with Amazon but didn't believe they could produce a Season 4 in the timeframe that Amazon wanted, so a miniseries format might have more appeal.
Criminal Minds cast member Damon Gupton, who plays newbie Stephen Walker, teased that there are surprises in store for the second half of season 12, including "some twists and turns. There are some things you wouldn't expect from a particular team member."
Blog Talk Radio welcomed author David Morrell, the award-winning author of First Blood, the novel in which Rambo was created, whose latest novel is the Victorian mystery/thriller, Ruler of the Night.
The Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast featured Andy Martin (of Reacher Said Nothing fame) and bestselling author Lee Child himself.
In the final episode of a three-part mini festive special on the A Stab in the Dark podcast, Mark Billingham was joined by Silent Witness' William Gaminara, who played Professor Leo Dalton in the pathology crime drama alongside a couple of stints on the classic long-running police show.
I was in a Girls' Ensemble in my youth, and one of the works we loved performing around the holidays was Benjamin Britten's "Ceremony of Carols," adapted from the Middle English 'English Galaxy of Shorter Poems' and the traditional choral antiphons for Christmas. Here's the choir of the Maîtrise de la Perverie, Nantes (the Choir School of the Ecole Perverie of the Sacred Heart), under the direction of Gilles Gérard and accompanied on the harp by Jung Wha Lee:
This choice for this week's Friday's "Forgotten" Books, The Man Who Didn't Fly, seemed a bit appropriate considering all the air travel people will be doing this holiday season (unless you're an aerophobe, in which case, sorry)
Scottish author Margot Bennett was born in 1912 and worked first as a copywriter in the UK and Australia and then as a nurse during the Spanish Civil War before turning to writing. Her output in crime fiction was relatively small, yet successful: The Man Who Didn't Fly was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger and was runner-up to Charlotte Armstrong's A Dram of Poison for Best Novel at the Edgars in 1956, and she won the Gold Dagger two years later in 1958 with Someone from the Past. She was also chosen to contribute a short story to the second CWA anthology, Choice Of Weapons, edited by Michael Gilbert.
But thereafter, a bit of mystery regarding Bennett herself began. She essentially stopped writing crime fiction, something discussed by Martin Edwards both on his blog and in the foreword he wrote for the Black Dagger Crime Series edition of The Man Who Didn't Fly. Bennett only wrote for television for awhile—including the early 60s UK adaptation of the Maigret novels by Simenon—with the exception of two non-mystery books (one of which had the intriguing title The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Atomic Radiation), before abandoning writing altogether in 1966. She died in 1980 at the age of 68.
In The Man Who Didn't Fly, four men are scheduled to take an ill-fated chartered flight to Dublin that crashes into the Irish Channel. Although the bodies can't be recovered, it becomes evident that only three men were on board the plane, yet all four are reported as missing. Inspector Lewis and Sergeant Young have their work cut out for them trying to coax clues out of unreliable witnesses including the Wade family, Charles and his daughters Hester and Prudence.
The lives of the Wades intersected with all four of the missing men: Harry Walters, a desperate poet, who was in love with Hester Wade; Joseph Ferguson, a businessman whose wife was more interested in Harry; Morgan Price, a nervous guest of the Wades; and Maurice Reid, something of a family friend. Slowly but surely, Lewis and Young piece together the details of the days leading up to the flight, finally uncovering the name of the missing man. But that just sets up a new problem: what happened to him and why?
Bennett's artful plotting was enough to capture the attention of the producers of NBC's Kraft Television Theater who created an episode in 1958 based on The Man Who Didn't Fly starring then 27-year-old William Shatner, Jonathan Harris (Dr. Smith of Lost in Space) and Walter Brooke (guest star in just about all TV series in the 60s, 70s, and 80s). The book was also chosen by Julian Symons as part of his 1958 "100 Best Crime Stories" for the London Sunday Times.
This is a specially-themed holiday version of Mystery Melange for the week, and I hope everyone has a very happy holiday season!
In a letter to readers he posted on Facebook, legal thriller author John Grisham suggested "10 reasons why books make the best gifts."
Janet Rudolph has updated her listing of Christmas-themed or Christmas-set mysteries over at her blog Mystery Fanfare. The list has grown pretty large over the years, so she's subdivided it into four alphabetical sections with hundreds of offerings. Hopefully that will be plenty enough book fodder to help tide you through the stressful season and give you something to do while waiting for the guests to arrive.
For a real-life Christmas literary mystery, look no further than the famous poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas." Almost 200 years after it was published in New York's Troy Sentinel, we still don't know who really wrote it.
The private investigator/attorney duo of Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman, who also operate the blog Writing PIs, remembered a few of their favorite investigation stories that occurred during the holidays, from the silly to the heartfelt.
The featured crime poem over at the 5-2 Weekly is an appropriate seasonal offering, "Depression Era Christmas Eve Bank Robbery" by Robert Cooperman.
Joining in the holiday spirit, author James Patterson donated $250,000 to indie bookstores, to be divided between 149 independent booksellers. (Full list here.)
Criminal Element wondered, "What’s Your Favorite Holiday Murder Weapon?" and offered up a poll.
Mystery Lovers Kitchen has several holiday-themed recipes for you, such as Holiday Pernil: Slow-Roasted Puerto Rican-Style Pork Shoulder from Cleo Coyle; Christmas Week butter cookie recipe from Daryl Wood Gerber a/k/a Avery Aames; and Dried Cherry and Candied Ginger Scones from LucyBurdette.
Think you know everything about the beloved Christmas special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? And How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Christmas Story? TV Guide posted "5 Fun Facts" about all three holiday classics, and I'll bet there are a few there that may surprise you.
If you're in the mood for some different holiday fare, The Guardian compiled a list of "Best Christmas Films," including a few untraditional crime-themed choices, from violent heist films to lo-fi indies. The Guardian's John Mullan also focused on "Christmas Chaos in Literature," specifcally their movie versions, and how "the real Christmas classics tell stories of fraught family gatherings, orgies of consumption and festivities for one."
Charles Dickens' tale of a holiday change of heart, "A Christmas Carol" has endured as a Christmas classic for more than 200 years and been translated into dozens of languages. Now, it's getting a fresh translation — into emoji.
Writers Digest often features writing prompts for fun, and the latest is "Rudolph's Revenge": "After years of teasing and name-calling, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has finally had it. Write a strongly-worded letter to all the other reindeer from Rudolph, allowing him to air his grievances and announce that he is quitting to join (fill in the blank)." Might make a great party game!
And if you are true die-hard fan of Dickens' iconic story, check out this fan's supercut of 400 different versions of "A Christmas Carol" in one video.
The Screen Actors Guild nominees announced last week featured a few crime-related roles, including: Best Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series nods to Sterling K. Brown and Courtney B. Vance for The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and John Turturro for The Night Of; Felicity Huffman and Sarah Paulson also received nominations for American Crime in the Best Actress/Limited Series category; and in the category of Best Actor, TV Series, Rami Malek was nominated for Mr. Robot. For the complete lists of nominations, click here.
Mauro Borrelli has sold the action thriller script, Trigger, to Cronton Media, a division of China’s Huace Film & TV. Borrelli will also direct with production taking place between China and Thailand. Trigger centers on an aging hitman who goes rogue after his employer gives him a final contract — to kill his own daughter. Borrelli is best known for his collaborations with director Tim Burton, working as illustrator and artist on such films as Sleepy Hollow, Planet Of The Apes and Dark Shadows.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story bad guy Ben Mendelsohn is eyeing another villainous role, currently in negotiations to play the Sheriff of Nottingham in Lionsgate’s Robin Hood: Origins. The movie stars Taron Egerton as the titular character, a war-hardened crusader who joins a Moorish commander in an audacious revolt against the corrupt English monarchy. Also in the cast are Jamie Foxx as Little John, Eve Hewson as Maid Marian, and Fifty Shades of Grey actor Jamie Dornan playing Will Scarlett, Robin Hood’s half-brother.
Orion Pictures and Samuel Goldwyn Films acquired U.S. rights to the Israeli thriller Past Life, written and directed by Avi Nesher. The story is set in 1977 and based on the true story of two Israeli sisters who delve into the dark mystery of their father’s story of surviving World War II and discover that it may be more complicated than they originally believed. The revelations that come to light threaten to tear their family apart.
A trailer was released for the heist comedy Going In Style, which stars Oscar winners Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin as retirees on a mission for justice. Zack Braff helmed the film, which is a remake of the 1979 picture of the same name.
The first trailer was released for Unforgettable, a thriller from producer and rookie director Denise Di Novi that stars Katherine Heigl as an unstable stalker.
Bates Motel series lead Freddie Highmore has lined up his next project, taking on the role of real life gangster George Nelson. Bates Motel executive producer Kerry Ehrin is behind the project, which takes place during the Great Depression in the 1930's and depicts the life of the notorious gangster George Nelson, who was nicknamed "Baby Face" for his youthful appearance and short stature. The drama is being described as a love story that will chronicle Nelson's rise from a small-time bank robber in Chicago to the FBI's Public Enemy No. 1.
ABC has given a straight-to-series order to Somewhere Between. The murder drama is based on a Korean project and follows Laura Price, who is certain her daughter Serena is going to be murdered. She doesn't know who the murderer is or why she's killed, but she knows exactly when, where, and how it will happen. Despite this, her attempts to keep her daughter safe fail, and Serena's fixed, unmovable, terrifying fate keeps her directly in the path of her killer.
NBC is developing an hour-long drama based on the thriller Single White Female, the 1992 movie that starred Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bridget Fonda. The story follows Allie Jones, a software designer living in New York City, who advertises for a roommate after she discovers her live-in fiancé has been cheating on her. She soon finds something very strange is going on with the tenant, who decides to move in—on Allie's life.
Fox TV picked up a script commitment for an adaptation of James Renner’s book The Man From Primrose Lane, with feature director-producer Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes) helming the project. Renner also penned the script, which tells the story of a bestselling true-crime author who investigates the murder of an old man, leading to an understanding of the reality-altering power of his own obsessions — and how they may be connected to the deaths of the old hermit and David’s beloved wife.
British actress Clare-Hope Ashitey has signed on to star in the forthcoming crime drama Seven Seconds from Killing creator Veena Sud for Netflix. When tensions run high between African-American citizens and Caucasian police officers in Jersey City after a teenage African-American boy is critically injured by a cop, an assistant prosecutor (Ashitey) is caught up in the tragic case. Ashitey joins a cast that includes two-time Emmy winner Regina King, David Lyons, Michael Mosley, Russell Hornsby, Raul Castillo, and Beau Knapp.
Reba McEntire is returning to television as the star of a potential new Marc Cherry drama series at ABC. The untitled drama project, which was picked up with a script-plus-penalty commitment, is described as "a Southern Gothic soap opera," set in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on a small town. The action kicks off when an FBI investigator arrives and has to team up with the town's local sheriff.
The Good Wife spinoff The Good Fight announced another of the GW characters is joining the new show; Carrie Preston is currently slated to return as Elsbeth Tascioni in a multi-episode arc. Meanwhile, CBS Access released the first trailer for The Good Fight.
Canada's CTV network is anchoring their mid-season lineup with the thriller series Cardinal, which premieres on January 25th. Cardinal was adapted for television by Canadian Screen Award-winner Aubrey Nealon (Orphan Black) from the award-winning novel Forty Words for Sorrow, the first of the John Cardinal Mysteries by author Giles Blunt. The series stars Billy Campbell (The Killing) as Detective John Cardinal and Karine Vanasse (Revenge) as his rookie partner, Detective Lisa Delorme.
The Oxygen network is allegedly eyeing a crime-themed makeover, according to Deadline. Oxygen's Crime Time programming block, recently expanded from three to four nights a week, boosted the network's total-day ratings on those days by 44% in 4Q vs. the same period last year. Talks are underway with prolific crime drama producer Dick Wolf (of the Chicago PD franchise), as well as other producers, about being part of the new Oxygen.
Showtime released the full Season 6 trailer for Homeland, which tackles the topic of Islamaphobia head-on. Clare Danes returns, who is joined by a new president (new cast member Elizabeth Marvel), and also features Saul (Mandy Patinkin) taken against his will and brings back Quinn (Rupert Friend) after his near-death experience in Season 5.
The latest Stab in the Dark podcast featured host Mark Billingham talking to actor Kris Marshall about his early career starring in comedy film and television before ending up as the star of the popular crime drama Death in Paradise.
Authors on the Air podcast host and thriller author Jenny Milchman interviewed authors Nichole Christoff, Michael Niemann, Hollie Overton, and Amy Shojai about why getting published is the best gift they could imagine.
Mental Floss compiled a listing of "10 Must-Listen True Crime Podcasts" for true-crime junkies.
Actor Bill Ward, a star of ITV's Emmerdale, will be taking over the role of Peter James' famous literary Detective Superintendent Roy Grace after its initial run. The play will receive its world stage premiere at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford, in January 2017, with Shane Richie playing Grace until Ward takes over the reins in April.
Friday was the anniversary of Beethoven's birth (December 16, 1770), a time to celebrate his timeless music. But I'll bet even the Great One himself never foresaw his "Moonlight" piano sonata (or excerpts thereof) being played on eight floppy disk drives. Take a listen:
Of course, if you'd rather hear the original version, here's Claudio Arrau: