British author Catherine Louisa Pirkis (1841-1910) wrote many short stories and some 14 novels between 1877 and 1894, before she essentially gave up writing in favor of marriage and animal charity work (she and her husband helped found the National Canine Defence League). She is best known for her stories featuring female detective Loveday Brooke, with the first such tale published in Ludgate Monthly magazine in 1893. The Loveday Brooke stories were compiled into the volume The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective in 1894, which was to be the author's last published book.
Loveday Brooke was one of the more popular female detectives among the explosion of mystery stories that followed the success of Sherlock Holmes, and the character is said to be the first female detective penned by a female author. Unlike other female detectives of the day (mostly those created by men), Loveday is a professional business woman, around thirty years of age, who is "not tall, she was not short, she was not dark, she was not fair; she was neither handsome nor ugly. Her features were altogether nondescript." Her main weapon is her intellect and capacity for using logic and observation a la Holmes, which helps her solve cases that have stumped the male police forces. She works for Ebenezer Dyer, head of a detective agency in Lynch Court, off London's Fleet Street, but he isn't involved in her cases and simply dispatches her to do her own thing.
Loveday's cases are mostly robberies and burglaries, which might sound on the surface like the author was avoiding more violent crimes that would be too much for a woman's "delicate constitution." However, Pirkus embued her detective with a feminist (for the day) viewpoint, with the female characters often struggling to escape patriarchal tyranny. There is a religious underpinning to the stories, although it is minimized in favor of the puzzles, which, as Mike Grost of MysteryFile notes, often have three stages: stage one, the establishment of the mystery; stage three, the resolution; and the middle stage, an often elaborate and complex scheme whereby Loveday meddles in the lives of the culprits to trick them into their ultimate capture.
Loveday is notable for her role in blazing a trail for the modern female fictional detective, but Pirkis's writing isn't as pathbreaking. There is a dependence on dialogue, a wealth of coincidences, a lack of clues, and many instances of the lack of "fair play." Some Loveday stories were later dramatized as BBC radio plays, including "The Redhill Sisterhood," where Loveday Brooke takes on the role of an undercover agent as she investigates nuns who appear to have forsaken their vows and taken to burglary.
The winner of the £5,000 Telegraph Harvill Secker crime writing competition for an unpublished manuscript is Abir Mukherjee. His novel, A Rising Man, is set in Calcutta in the dying days of the Raj and opens with the brutal murder of a British burra sahib. Mukherjee's submission was picked from a pool of 400 submissions.
The latest issue of Mystery Readers Journal is out, with a focus on medical mysteries.
If you're in London on March 21st, reserve your spot at the symposium on continental crime writing and its translation into English. Sponsored by the European Commission Representation in the UK in partnership with City University London, the one-day event includes an introductory lecture and workshops with authors and translators. (Hat tip to ShotsMag)
If you're in New York City on April 30th, check out the launch party for the latest Mystery Writers of America anthology, Ice Cold, edited by Jeffery Deaver and Raymond Benson. The launch party will be held at The Mysterious Bookshop, and many of the contributors and 2014 Edgar Award nominees are scheduled to appear.
Thanks to Crime Fiction Lover for noting that Crime Story, a new festival for crime fiction lovers, is coming to Newcastle at the University of Northumbria on May 31st. The organizers have added a fun twist: they've commissioned author Ann Cleeves to invent a fictional crime which will then be investigated by various experts including forensic scientists, police detectives and legal eagles.
AM Heath is partnering with The Writers’ Workshop to offer Criminal Lines 2014, a new crime writing prize open to unagented, debut authors, born or residing in the UK and Ireland. First prize is First prize: £1,000 and the chance to meet with literary agents.
Linda Dewberry, the owner of Olympia, Washington's Whodunit? Books, has put her mystery bookstore up for sale. She's trying to find a new owner, but if a sale doesn't go through by April, the store will close for good.
Did your city make the America's "most literate" cities list?
This week over at the crime poem site The 5-2, editor Gerald So is featuring love poems for Valentine's month or, as he calls it, "Love is a Crime" and also has this week's new poem, "Salt" by Sarah Nichols; the featured short story at Beat to a Pulp is "Cop," from . . . Gerald So! He's been a very busy fellow this week.
The Q&A roundup this week includes a chat with award-winning author Paul Levine over at the Harvard Square Edition; Jim Winter takes the Short Sharp Interview test for Paul D. Brazill; Charles Salzberg stops by the Sons of Spade blog; Declan Burke wecomes fellow author Frances di Plino; and Laura Lippman has a lenghty Q&A session with the New York Times.
John Dufresne, an American author of French Canadian descent, once collaborated with Carl Hiaasen, Dave Barry, Elmore Leonard and nine other South Florida writers on Naked Came the Manatee, a detective novel. He recently picked his "Top 10 Florida Noir" titles for Shots Magazine.
George Clooney is looking to remake the Norwegian thriller Pioneer (set during Norway's old boom in the 1980s) via Clooney's Smokehouse production company. No word yet on whether Clooney will also star.
Sony Pictures won a bidding war involving multiple studios for the Joe Gazzam script Shadow Run, an action thriller said to be "in the vein of the Bourne movies."
Open Road Films picked up U.S. distribution rights to the thriller The Tank from writer-director Kellie Madison, which is about six people entering an isolation tank designed to simulate the lengthy trip to Mars.
Oscar-winner Richard Dreyfuss is joining the cast of the politically-themed thriller Zipper, about a successful prosecutor (Patrick Wilson) who risks losing his family and career to his temptation for other women. Dreyfuss will play a political "kingmaker."
Olivia Wilde has been added to the cast of the thriller Meadowland, playing a mom whose son disappears, leading her to form a dangerous relationship with a neglected boy.
Mad Men's January Jones is joining the supernatural thriller The Shuddering, playing a woman with strange visions who gets involved with a mystery that "goes back farther than she could imagine."
Omnimystery News reported that BBC Two has order a five-part original drama series written by bestselling crime novelist Tom Rob Smith. Titled London Spy, it is centered on a young romantic drawn into the dangerous world of espionage.
Jason Isaacs (Awake) will star in USA Network’s upcoming event series Dig. He'll play an FBI agent who uncovers a conspiracy while investigating the death of an archaeologist.
Author Dennis Lehane is penning an adaptation of the Douglas Perry's new biography, Eliot Ness: The Rise And Fall Of An American Hero, for WGN America. The project chronicles the two decades of the famed prohibition agent folowing his take-down of Al Capone.
TNT has decided not to order a second season of its series Mob City, about the battle between the police and mobsters in 1940s Los Angeles.
David Fincher (House Of Cards, Gone Girl), is teaming up with HBO for a U.S. adaptation of the UK drama series Utopia, to be written by Gillian Flynn. The series surrounds the die-hard fans of an iconic, underground graphic novel who find themselves plunged into a game of shifting loyalties, conspiracy and shocking twists as they learn the dark secrets behind a sequel. (Hat tip to Omnimystery News.)
BBC America is developing a Robin Hood drama titled Nottingham, with a different twist on the familiar tale: the Sheriff of Nottingham and Robin Hood are actually one and the same person: Robin Hood by night and seeming royal loyalist-turned spy by day.
Tom Hardy has joined Cillian Murphy to star in the BBC's gangster drama Peaky Blinders.
Jane Krakowski will star in Fox's comedy-mystery pilot Dead Boss, about an overachiever who's wrongfully convicted of murdering her boss and forced to rely on her train-wreck sister to prove her innocence. The projects based on the UK show of the same name.
Gavin Stenhouse has been cast as the lead in NBC thriller pilot Coercion, playing a decorated American war hero and newly-minted CIA analyst whose Russian-sleeper-cell family are tasked with turning him against his country.
British actress Sarah-Jane Potts has been cast as the replacement for Georgina Rylance in the Fox adaptation of the British procedural Broadchurch, playing attractive hotel owner Gemma.
Alec Baldwin will guest-star in an as-yet-to-be-revealed role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, in an episode directed by star Mariska Hargitay.
Deadline reported that Rose Rollins is set as one of the leads in TNT's legal drama pilot Guilt By Association, based on the novels by former prosecutor Marcia Clark, while Jamey Sheridan, (Homeland) has been cast in TNT's action-drama pilot Agent X, starring Sharon Stone.
Deadline noted two additional crime drama castings, including Gerald McRaney (House of Cards) in TNT's action-drama pilot Agent X, and Elvis Nolasco and Caitlin Gerard in ABC's American Crime.
ITV has commissioned an eighth season of Inspector Lewis, with Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox reprising their roles as Oxford detectives. This series will find Hathaway (Laurence Fox) has been promoted to Inspector after an extended break from the force, with the retired Lewis (Kevin Whately) drafted back to renew their partnership. (Hat tip to Omnimystery News.)
Former West Wing cast member Ron Canada will guest-star on an upcoming episode of Elementary a retired high school teacher from a crime-plagued Brooklyn neighborhood.
Oscar nominee Juliette Lewis will star opposite Ryan Phillippe in ABC's new drama series Secrets & Lies, about a family man who finds the body of a young boy and quickly becomes the prime murder suspect.
The reboot of The Flash on the CW network has signed Dawson's Creek star John Wesley Shipp, who played The Flash in the early 1990s CBS television series. His role in the new version is not being identified, for now.
Ahna O’Reilly is set to star in the CW pilot Identity, from executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci. It's about a young woman who receives an organ transplant from a newfound half-brother only to find her new family is the target of a CIA investigation, and the agency wants her to play informant.
TV Guide compiled the "complete pilot report" for the various U.S. networks and all the contenders vying for full season orders. This link is for ABC, but the article also includes links for NBC, CBS, Fox, and the CW).
On the most recent Crime and Science Radio podcast: Former FBI Agent George Fong.
The musical adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel American Psycho is eyeing a commercial London return this fall, with a possible U.S. run in the future. It's set in the during the 1980's era of Wall Street greed and starred AFTA Award-nominated "Doctor Who" star Matt Smith starred as serial killer Patrick Bateman.
In honor of Black History Month here in the U.S., I thought I'd repost this "classic" FFB:
Spooks, Spies, And Private Eyes is a volume edited by Paula L. Woods that brings together 22 short mystery and crime fiction offerings by black authors from around the world. Most of the stories included were otherwise out of print, not easily available or not previously published, but they provide a good overview of black mystery, crime and suspense fiction of the 20th century, with novel excerpts included among the shorts.
Some people in the crime fiction community were already aware of writer Chester Himes, and President Clinton helped make Walter Mosley well known when he included the author on his reading list. But most of the other names here will be unfamiliar to many in the general reading public.
As a matter of act, there was a time when the only public black detective most people knew was Charlie Chan's stereotyped sidekick Birmingham Brown. But long before that, Pauline E. Hopkins' locked-room mystery "Talma Gordon" was published in Colored American Magazine in 1900, and in 1932, Rudolph Fisher wrote "The Conjure-Man Dies," the first detective novel to feature a black protagonist (later made into a stage play). Woods includes both of these stories and also notes that Fisher's protagonists—John Archer, a suave Harlem physician, and his detective pal Perry Dart—provided a unique twist on the Holmes/Watson pairing and foreshadowed Chester Himes's sleuthing duo, Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones.
Other stories included range from stories by non-genre writers Richard Wright and Ann Petry, whose stories depict the impact of racism and hard times on African Americans, to political thrillers by John A. Williams, a foreign correspondent for Newsweek, and Samuel Greenlee, writing about the first black spook to be admitted to the CIA. There are also offerings from Gar Anthony Haywood and his PI, Aaron Gunner, who works out of a central L.A. barbershop, and Penny Micklebury, who writes about interracial partners and police lieutenant Gianna Maglione in a Washington, D.C. Hate Crimes Unit as they investigate the murder of black prostitutes.
Chester Himes is also represented, with the story "The Last Day," one of the works he wrote while serving time in the Ohio State Penitentiary for armed robbery. Hines later emigrated to France, where he published most of his fiction and won the prestigious Grand Prix de la Litterature Policiere in 1958. Adding to that French/international theme is the French author Njami Simon who is included here, as is CWA Silver Dagger winner Mike Phillip, whose story "Personal Woman" tackles the experiences of black immigrants to England.
Spooks, Spies, And Private Eyes was awarded the "Outstanding Contribution to Publishing" award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and was also a nominee for the Anthony and Macavity awards. Kirkus Reviews called it "a landmark collection no library of crime fiction should be without."
Italian novelist Andrea Camilleri was awarded the prestigious Pepe Carvalho prize for lifetime work, at the BCNegra noir literary festival in Barcelona last week. Previous winners include Michael Connelly, P.D. James, and Henning Mankell.
The just-held Love is Murder Conference handed out the annual Lovey Awards in several categories, including Best Series: Trickster's Point by William Kent Krueger and Best First Novel: Perfidy by M.E. May.
Editor Janet Rudolph has announced a call for essays on Canadian-themed mysteries for the Mystery Readers Journal. She's seking Author! Author! essays (500-1500 words- first person, upclose and personal about yourself, your books, and the Canada connection), with a deadline of March 15th.
For the second year in a row, Thrillerfest is adding the pre-conference workshop, "Today’s FBI: Crime Essentials For Writers." The event is an all-day event on July 7 at the FBI Headquarters in New York City, featuring FBI experts in cyber crime, international terrorism, criminal investigations and more. If you are already registered for ThrillerFest or CraftFest, you can add your registration for that workshop by sending an email to Dennis Kennett at email@example.com.
In honor of the 75th anniversary of Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, The Guardian published an essay about Chandler's legacy and a quiz about the author so you can test your knowledge of his life and work.
The winners of the 2013 Florida Book Awards were announced, including the Gold Award in General Fiction given to Randy Wayne White for his second Hannah Smith mystery, Deceived. In the Popular Fiction category, the Silver award went to Brad Meltzer for his second Beecher White thriller, The Fifth Assassin, and the Bronze to Alex Kava for her latest Maggie O'Dell mystery, Stranded. (Hat tip to Janet Rudolph.)
Last week saw the official launch of Chalk Line Books, a publisher specializing in republishing vintage crime fiction classics as ebooks (in the same vein as the old Black Lizard Books). The company's first efforts include digital editions of two great crime fiction authors, Jim Thompson with Sharecropper Hell and David Goodis with The Secret Squad. Upcoming authors include Charles Williams, Ed McBain, Peter Rabe, and many more.
Vanda Symon has been chosen to give the annual Ngaio Marsh Memorial Lecture on Sunday, April 13 at Christ's College Old Boy's Theatre in New Zealand.
This week's featured story at Beat to a Pulp is "Beyond the Sea" by Shotgun Honey's Chris Lirvin; and the featured weekly crime poem at the 5-2 is "Glossy" by Scott T. Hutchison.
The Q&A roundup this week includes Tana French, from an interview posted on her publisher's page, in which she talks about her writing, flawed heroes and her fifth book (in progress), with a working title of The Secret Place.
In the mood for some Valentine's Day mysteries? Janet Rudolph compiled a listing for the Mystery Fanfare blog.
A Scottish osteopath believes he has discovered the real-life inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Dr John Watson: William Smith, a pioneer of British osteopathy and student companion of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the 1880s.
Johnny Depp has signed on to play real-life criminal-turned-fugitive Whitey Bulger in the film Black Mass. The producers are also in negotiations with Tom Hardy to play John Connolly, an FBI agent and friend of Bulger, currenly in prison for tipping off Bulger he was about to be indicted.
Actor Bill Paxton is putting on his director's hat for the adaptation of Joe Lansdale's novel The Bottoms. The story of the Edgar Award-winning novel about a crime coverup in a small town with racial undertones that leads one victim's family to pursue the truth.
Hannah Ware (Betrayal) has signed to star with Rupert Friend and Zachary Quinto in Agent 47, the reboot of Hitman from Fox Studios.
SC Films International has signed Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jaa, Ron Perlman, Peter Weller, Michael Jai White, Celina Jade and Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa to the cast for the action thriller Skin Trade. The story follows a New York City detective whose family is killed by a Serbian crime boss and heads to Bangkok to team up with a Thai detective to get revenge.
Kate Winslet, Aaron Paul, and Michael B. Jordan have joined the cast of Triple Nine. The storyline follows a group of corrupt policemen who find themselves on the wrong end of a blackmail threat from the Russian mafia.
Ian McShane is joining the cast of The Man On Carrion Road, playing an aging retired Sheriff of a small border town with violent tendencies who teams with the town's new sheriff (Patrick Wilson) to stop a mysterious cartel butcher.
Paladin acquired the thriller The Maid’s Room from director Michael Walker, for a release in both theatrical and digital formats. The story follows a maid caring for a spoiled family in the Hamptons who gains leverage when the son of her employers comes home with a bloodied car after a hit and run.
Nicolas Cage is in talks to star in Men With No Fear, play Marty "The Mule," newly released from prison after being set up by his former boss, Frank, a small-time neighborhood crook.
Amazon just released ten new pilots viewers can watch for free and vote on, including Bosch, based on the procedural novels by Michael Connelly. The viewer feedback will help determine which pilots will go to series. (Hat tip to Ominimystery News.)
Sissy Spacek has been added to the cast (that already includes Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn and Linda Cardellini) in Netflix's untitled 13-episode psychological thriller from the creators of Damages. The project follows a close-knit family of adult siblings whose secrets and scars are revealed when the black sheep oldest brother, Danny (Mendelsohn), returns home. Spacek is set to play the siblings' mother.
Former Fringe star Lance Reddick is heading to The Blacklist playing "The Cowboy," one of Red's (James Spader) many assets, although a new assignment for The Cowboy from Red will "leave Red in shock."
Hank Azaria and Sherilyn Fenn have signed on for multi-episode arcs on the second season of Showtime's drama series Ray Donovan, starring stars Liev Schreiber as LA's best professional "fixer." Azaria will play the ambitious head honcho of the Los Angeles FBI, and Fenn will play his frumpy wife.
Film director McG is joining NBC’s drama pilot The Mysteries Of Laura as director/executive producer. The show is based on the popular Spanish series Los Misterios De Laura and follows the life and relationships of a female homicide detective who can handle murderous criminals but not her evil twin sons.
ABC has hired Jace Alexander (Law & Order, The Blacklist) to helm the pilot Agatha. The plot centers on a former convict turned big city criminologist brought in to help local police crack a case—only the Chief detective she's been hired to help is her estranged father.
The latest NCIS spinoff, NCIS New Orleans has tapped some new cast members, incuding CCH Pounder (The Shield) to play Dr. Wade, the Jefferson Parish Medical Examiner; Zoe McLellan (JAG), playing Special Agent Brody; and Scott Bakula as Special Agent Pride.
USA Network says that the current season of Psych will be its last, with the series finale on March 26. The finale will be followed by the Psych After Show, a one-hour live Q&A in front of a studio audience featuring the cast and show creator Steve Franks. (Hat tip to Omnimystery News.)
Ryan Phillippe (Damages) and Natalie Martinez (Under The Dome, End Of Watch) have signed on to star in ABC's Secrets & Lies, centering on a family man who finds the body of a young boy and quickly becomes the prime murder suspect. The project is an adaptation of an Australian mystery series.
The Killing is adding Tyler Ross, Sterling Beaumon and Levi Meaden to its cast for the show's six-episode fourth and final season.
Netflix renewed its original series House of Cards for a third season. The show stars Kevin Spacey as a ruthless Washington-insider congressman, with Emmy winner Robin Wright playing his equally ambitious wife.
TNT has picked up six more episodes of the breakout docu-reality series, Cold Justice, which follows former prosecutor Kelly Siegler and former crime-scene investigator Yolanda McClary as they dig into unsolved cold murder cases.
Don Johnson is returning to television again as a lawman (the first such role since Miami Vice and Nash Bridges) in the supernatural From Dusk Till Dawn on the El Rey Network. He'll play Sheriff Earl McGraw, fixated on capturing the notorious Gecko brothers after their bank heist leaves several dead, with a trail that leads to a strip joint in Mexico filled with vampires.
Dean Gialamas, Director of the Los Angles County Sheriff’s Department’s Crime Lab, was the guest on the most recent Crime and Science Radio podcast.
Elizabeth Foxwell noted that the latest episode of the Warner Archive Collection podcast discusses the release of Bill Elliott Detective Mysteries (1955–57), a DVD of films with Elliott as a detective working in the LA sheriff's office.
Thanks to Elizabeth for also pointing out that the KPFA radio program Bookwaves has two versions online of a documentary on Elmore Leonard that includes archival interviews.