Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday movie: HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940)

The rapid-fire classic screwball comedy His Girl Friday is a reworking of the stageplay The Front Page, which featured a newspaper editor trying to force, coerce, and/or trick his best writer out of retiring from the paper so he can get a big story about a man on death row. Director Howard Hawks took the essential plot and switched the role of reporter "Hildy Johnson" from a man to a woman, adding some romantic-comedy zing to all the zaniness surrounding politicians, the police, and the media. The resulting film -- starring Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, and Ralph Bellamy -- was picked by the American Film Institute as the 19th funniest film of America cinema.

His Girl Friday Feature Film | 1:31:43

Rent it from Netflix
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Related links:
Sunday movie: COP HATER (1958)
Sunday movie: SECRET AGENT (1936)
Sunday movie: DILLINGER (1945)
Sunday movie: CHARADE (1963)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

150+ Mystery Series: 1841-2010

Continuing to update our list of mystery and detective series -- including police detectives, private investigators, and amateur sleuths, from such authors as Rex Stout, Dashiell Hammett, Harlan Coben, M.C. Beaton, Robert B. Parker, Janet Evanovich, Agatha Christie, and more.

001 C. AUGUSTE DUPIN by Edgar Allan Poe (1841)
002 SHERLOCK HOLMES by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1887)
003 A. J. RAFFLES by E. W. Hornung (1899)
004 Arsene Lupin by Maurice Leblanc (1905)
005 PROF. VAN DUSEN (The Thinking Machine) by Jacques Futrelle (1906)
006 FATHER BROWN by G.K. Chesterton (1911)
007 HERCULE POIROT by Agatha Christie (1920)
008 TOMMY and TUPPENCE by Agatha Christie (1922)
009 LORD PETER WIMSEY by Dorothy L. Sayers (1923)
010 THE CONTINENTAL OP by Dashiell Hammett (1923)
011 CHARLIE CHAN by Earl Derr Biggers (1925)
012 PHILO VANCE by S.S. Van Dine (1926)
013 The Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon (1927)
014 MISS SILVER by Patricia Wentworth (1928)
015 The Saint by Leslie Charteris (1928)
016 ALBERT CAMPION by Margery Allingham (1929)
017 ELLERY QUEEN and INSPECTOR QUEEN by Ellery Queen (1929)
018 MISS MARPLE by Agatha Christie (1930)
019 NANCY DREW by Carolyn Keene (1930)
020 Maigret by Georges Simenon (1931)
021 Dick Tracy by Chester Gould (1931)
022 DRURY LANE by Ellery Queen (1932)
023 DR. GIDEON FELL by John Dickson Carr (1933)
024 PERRY MASON by Erle Stanley Gardner (1933)
025 NERO WOLFE and ARCHIE GOODWIN by Rex Stout (1934)
026 NICK and NORA CHARLES (The Thin Man) by Dashiell Hammett (1934)
027 Roderick Alleyn by Ngaio Marsh (1934)
028 ARIADNE OLIVER by Agatha Christie (1934)
029 Sir Henry Merrivale by John Dickson Carr (1935)
030 THE BARON by John Creasey (1937)
031 The Great Merlini by Clayton Rawson (1938)
032 PHILIP MARLOWE by Raymond Chandler (1939)
033 Mike Shayne by Brett Halliday (1939)
034 MR. AND MRS. NORTH by Frances and Richard Lockridge (1940)
035 LEW ARCHER by Ross Macdonald (1949)
036 Elijah Baley and R. Daneel Olivaw by Isaac Asimov (1954)
037 87TH PRECINCT by Ed McBain (1956)
039 HARRY PALMER by Len Deighton (1962)
040 CHIEF INSPECTOR WEXFORD by Ruth Rendell (1964)
041 TRAVIS MCGEE by John D. MacDonald (1964)
042 The Three Investigators by Robert Arthur, Jr. (1964)
043 MODESTY BLAISE by Peter O'Donnell (1965)
044 MRS. POLLIFAX by Dorothy Gilman (1966)
045 PHILIP ST. IVES by Oliver Bleeck (1969)
046 JOE LEAPHORN and JIM CHEE by Tony Hillerman (1970)
047 HARRY CALLAHAN (Dirty Harry) by Dane Hartman (1971)
048 SPENSER by Robert Parker (1973)
049 BLACK WIDOWERS by Isaac Asimov (1974)
050 FLETCH by Gregory Mcdonald (1974)
051 INSPECTOR MORSE by Colin Dexter (1975)
052 GIL HAMILTON by Larry Niven (1975)
053 MATTHEW SCUDDER by Lawrence Block (1976)
054 BERNIE RHODENBARR (Burglar) by Lawrence Block (1977)
055 FATHER DOWLING by Ralph McInerny (1977)
056 HORACE RUMPOLE (Rumpole of the Bailey) by John Mortimer (1978)
057 ARTIE WU and QUINCY DURANT by Ross Thomas (1978)
058 Capital Crimes Mystery Series by Margaret Truman (1980)
059 KINSEY MILLHONE by Sue Grafton (1982)
060 EUGENIA POTTER by Virginia Rich, Nancy Pickard (1982)
061 V.I. WARSHAWSKI by Sara Paretsky (1982)
062 HAMISH MACBETH by MC Beaton (1985)
063 J. P. BEAUMONT by JA Jance (1985)
064 ALEX DELAWARE by Jonathan Kellerman (1985)
065 PETER DECKER and RINA LAZARUS by Faye Kellerman (1986)
066 MELITA PARGETER by Simon Brett (1986)
067 SHERIFF DAN RHODES by Bill Crider (1986)
068 ELVIS COLE and JOE PIKE by Robert Crais (1987)
069 Inspector Rebus by Ian Rankin (1987)
070 Dave Robicheaux by James Lee Burke (1987)
071 GEORGE & MOLLY PALMER-JONES by Ann Cleeves (1988)
072 INSPECTOR LYNLEY by Elizabeth George (1988)
073 JOHN SPENCER LUBBOCK by Brian Cooper (1988)
074 JESSICA FLETCHER (Murder She Wrote) by Donald Bain (1989)
075 MRS. MALORY by Hazel Holt (1989)
076 LUCAS DAVENPORT by John Sandford (1989)
077 EASY RAWLINS by Walter Mosley (1990)
078 KAY SCARPETTA by Patricia Cornwell (1990)
079 AURORA TEAGARDEN by Charlaine Harris (1990)
080 ABE LIEBERMAN by Stuart M. Kaminsky (1990)
081 STONE BARRINGTON by Stuart Woods (1991)
082 GOLDY SCHULZ by Diane Mott Davidson (1992)
083 REGAN REILLY by Carol Higgins Clark (1992)
084 AGATHA RAISIN by MC Beaton (1992)
085 HARRY BOSCH by Michael Connelly (1992)
086 CHINA BAYLES by Susan Wittig Albert (1992)
087 HENRIE O (Henrietta O'Dwyer Collins) by Carolyn Hart (1993)
088 JOANNA BRADY by JA Jance (1993)
089 ALEX CROSS by James Patterson (1993)
090 MRS. JEFFRIES by Emily Brightwell (1993)
091 ANNA PIGEON by Nevada Barr (1993)
092 U.S. MARSHAL RAYLAN GIVENS (Justified) by Elmore Leonard (1993)
093 QUILLIAM SISTERS (Hemlock Falls) by Claudia Bishop (1994)
094 STEPHANIE PLUM by Janet Evanovich (1994)
095 MARY RUSSELL (and SHERLOCK HOLMES) by Laurie King (1994)
096 MAGDALENA YODER (Pennsylvania Dutch) by Tamar Myers (1994)
097 EVE DALLAS (In Death) by JD Robb (1995)
098 MYRON BOLITAR by Harlan Coben (1995)
099 LILY BARD by Charlaine Harris (1996)
100 Southern Sisters by Anne George (1996)
101 U.S. MARSHAL KAREN SISCO (Out of Sight) by Elmore Leonard (1996)
102 JESSE STONE by Robert Parker (1997)
103 MACLAREN YARBROUGH by Patricia Sprinkle (1997)
104 KURT WALLANDER by Henning Mankell (1997)
105 DETECTIVE MURDOCH by Maureen Jennings (1997)
106 Tempe Brennan by Kathy Reichs (1997)
107 Tess Monaghan by Laura Lippman (1997)
108 No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (1998)
109 EVE DUNCAN by Iris Johansen (1998)
110 SUNNY RANDALL by Robert Parker (1999)
111 BETSY DEVONSHIRE (Needlecraft Mysteries) by Monica Ferris (1999)
112 MEG LANGSLOW by Donna Andrews (1999)
113 HANNAH SWENSON (Cookie Jar mysteries) by Joanne Fluke (2000)
114 ELLIE QUICKE by Veronica Heley (2000)
115 SISTER JANE ARNOLD by Rita Mae Brown (2000)
116 JULIET APPLEBAUM (Mommy-Track Mysteries) by Ayelet Waldman (2000) 
117 Fethering Mysteries by Simon Brett (2000)
118 Women's Murder Club by James Patterson (2001)
119 THEODOSIA BROWNING (Tea Shop Mysteries) by Laura Childs (2001)
120 TONY VALENTINE by James Swain (2001)
121 BUBBLES YABLONSKY by Sarah Strohmeyer (2001)
122 RIZZOLI & ISLES by Tess Gerritsen (2001)
123 LEE MCKINNEY (Chocoholic Mysteries) by JoAnna Carl (2002)
124 GREG MCKENZIE by Chester Campbell (2002)
125 BRYANT & MAY (Peculiar Crimes Unit) by Christopher Fowler (2003)
126 CLARE COSI (Coffeehouse Mysteries) by Cleo Coyle (2003)
127 DR. MARK SLOANE (Diagnosis: Murder) by Lee Goldberg (2003)
128 Blackbird Sisters by Nancy Martin (2003)
129 HELEN HAWTHORNE (Dead End Job series) by Elaine Viets (2003)
130 DR. NICK POLCHAK (The "Bug Man") by Tim Downs (2003)
131 IVY MALONE by Lorena McCourtney (2004)
132 LT. JACQUELINE "JACK" DANIELS by JA Konrath (2004)
133 ANNIE KINGSTON (Hidden Faces Series) by Brandilyn Collins (2004)
134 FRANK ELDER by John Harvey (2004)
135 Alex Barnaby by Janet Evanovich (2004)
136 CHIEF INSP. GAMACHE (Three Pines Mysteries) by Louise Penny (2005)
137 HEATHER WELLS by Meg Cabot (2005)
138 ALI REYNOLDS by JA Jance (2005)
139 MAXIE & STRETCH by Sue Henry (2005)
140 Lady Emily by Tasha Alexander (2005)
141 CHLOE CARTER by Jessica Conant-Park, Susan Conant (2006)
142 ADRIAN MONK by Lee Goldberg (2006)
143 PHYLLIS NEWSOM (Fresh Baked Mysteries) by Livia J. Washburn (2006)
144 Ty Buchanan by James Scott Bell (2007)
145 THE SPELLMANS by Lisa Lutz (2007)
146 PATRICK BOWERS by Steven James (2007)
147 IVY TOWERS by Nancy Mehl (2007)
148 OLLIE PARAS (White House Chef Mysteries) by Julie Hyzy (2008)
149 GERALDINE PORTER (Miniature Mysteries) by Margaret Grace (2008)
150 SHAWN SPENCER and "GUS" GUSTER (Psych) by William Rabkin (2009)
151 CHARLOTTE BESSETTE (Cheese Shop Mysteries) by Avery Ames (2010)
152 SUZANNE HART (Donut Shop Mysteries) by Jessica Beck (2010)
153 EARL WALKER Mysteries by Chris Well (2010)

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Related links:
Murderous Beginnings: 40 Detective Fiction Firsts
Retirement is Murder: 10 Senior Sleuths
Still Kicking: 10 More Senior Sleuths
Murder on the Menu: 13 Food Mysteries
All Aboard For Murder: 10 Mysteries and Thrillers On Trains
Culinary Mysteries
Slay Ride: 12 Mystery Titles For Christmas
10 Christmas Crime Stories -- Online!
10 Senior Sleuths on TV

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Agatha Christie: Partners in Crime

Partners in Crime (Tommy and Tuppence)The second book in the Agatha Christie mystery series starring Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, the 1929 book Partners in Crime is a short story collection with a thematic spine to hold it together. Six years after the events in their 1922 debut The Secret Adversary -- Christie's second book -- childhood friends Tommy Beresford and Prudence "Tuppence" Crowley are now married.

Tommy is working with the British Secret Service when the chief asks him and Tuppence to take over the International Detective Agency -- the office was being used as a front for an enemy spy network, so Tommy is to impersonate the former head of the agency in order to trap any incoming spies. To keep up the front as a detective agency, of course, they have to take actual cases. As such, Tommy pretends to be "Mr. Blunt" and Tuppence takes on the role of his confidential secretary "Miss Robinson."

The various adventures in the book vacillate between the business of being a spy and the business of being a private detective. To succeed in his business as a private detective, Tommy feels the need to read up on the famous fictional detectives of the day and mimic their methods as each new case comes up. "It would do no harm to acquire the technique, so to speak," Tommy tells his wife. "These books are detective stories by the leading masters of the art. I intend to try different styles, and compare results." As such, Christie takes the opportunity to poke fun at her fellow mystery writers, all of whom were well-known to the reading public of the 1920s.

Partners in Crime is rich in the history of mystery fiction. While there are complete plot descriptions at Wikipedia, following is a list of the classic detectives and mystery writers represented. In the intervening years, many of them have fallen out of favor -- to be frank, I don't know much about some of them myself. (A situation I intend to remedy, and hope to one day follow-up on this blog.)

Listed are the chapter titles in Partners in Crime, followed by the name of the author and detective parodied:

"A Fairy in the Flat" and "A Pot of Tea"
Herbert George Jenkins' Malcolm Sage

The Affair of the Pink Pearl"
R. Austin Freeman's Dr Thorndyke

"The Adventure of the Sinister Stranger"
Valentine Williams' detective brothers Francis and Desmond Okewood

"Finessing the King" and "The Gentleman Dressed in Newspaper"
Isabel Ostrander's ex-policeman Tommy McCarty and firefighter Dennis Riordan

"The Case of the Missing Lady"
Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes

"Blindman's Buff"
Clinton H. Stagg's blind detective Thornley Colton

"The Man in the Mist"
G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown

"The Crackler"
Said to be a spoof on author Edgar Wallace

"The Sunningdale Mystery"
Baroness Orczy's armchair detective Bill Owen and journalist Polly Burton

"The House of Lurking Death"
A. E. W. Mason's French detective M. Hanaud

"The Unbreakable Alibi"
Freeman Wills Crofts' Scotland Yard detective Inspector Joseph French

"The Clergyman's Daughter" and "The Red House"
Anthony Berkeley's detective Roger Sherringham

"The Ambassador's Boots"
H. C. Bailey's detectives Dr. Reginald Fortune and Superintendent Bell

"The Man Who Was No. 16"
Parodies Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot novel The Big Four (also a short story collection-turned-novel)

Related links:
Detectives: Agatha Christie: TOMMY and TUPPENCE
Detectives: Agatha Christie: MISS MARPLE
Detectives: Agatha Christie: HERCULE POIROT
Murderous Beginnings: 40 Detective Fiction Firsts
The changing face of traditional mystery fiction

More mystery series:
Detectives: S.S. Van Dine: PHILO VANCE
Detectives: Carolyn Keene: NANCY DREW
Detectives: John Dickson Carr: DR. GIDEON FELL
Detectives: Margery Allingham: ALBERT CAMPION
25 Detectives -- from Sherlock Holmes to Adrian Monk

Monday, February 08, 2010

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Mystery writer Stephen J. Cannell: Beat Writer's Block

In this short video, mystery novel author Stephen J. Cannell (The Pallbearers) explains how writers can get over writer's block. He's a man who should know something about the subject: As a TV writer and producer, Cannell wrote hundreds of scripts, not to mention creating a host of crime and action TV classics, including The Rockford Files, 21 Jump Street, The A-Team, Hunter, and more.

For the past several years Cannell has turned his attention to writing crime fiction, including his series starring detective Shane Scully. (He also appeared as himself on the TV series Castle, playing poker with fellow crime novelists James Patterson, Faye Kellerman, and Michael Connelly.)

Mystery Novel Author Stephen J. Cannell: How to Beat Writer's Block

Check out more videos and fun stuff at

Related links:
Interview: LAWRENCE BLOCK (Hit And Run: John Keller Mysteries)
Interview: ELMORE LEONARD (Get Shorty)
Interview: AL ROKER ... MYSTERY WRITER? (The Morning Show Murders)
Interview: SUE GRAFTON (U Is For Undertow: Kinsey Milhone)

JESSICA FLETCHER (Murder She Wrote) by Donald Bain

Murder, She Wrote: Skating on Thin Ice (Murder She Wrote)Complete list to date of cozy mysteries starring Murder She Wrote's Jessica Fletcher, mystery writer and amateur sleuth. Inspired by the television series, these original novels are written by Donald Bain:

Gin and Daggers (1989)
Manhattans and Murder (1994)
Rum and Razors (1995)
Brandy and Bullets (1995)
Martinis and Mayhem (1995)
A Deadly Judgment (1996)
A Palette for Murder (1996)
The Highland Fling Murders (1997)
Murder on the QE2 (1997)
Murder in Moscow (1998)
A Little Yuletide Murder (1998)
Murder at the Powderhorn Ranch (1999)
Knock 'em Dead (1999)
Trick or Treachery (2000)
Blood on the Vine (2001)
Murder in a Minor Key (2001)
Provence to Die For (2002)
You Bet Your Life (2002)
Majoring in Murder (2003)
Destination Murder (2003)
Dying to Retire (2004)
A Vote for Murder (2004)
The Maine Mutiny (2005)
Margaritas and Murder (2005)
A Question of Murder (2006)
Three Strikes and You're Dead (2006)
Coffee, Tea, or Murder? (2007)
Panning For Murder (2007)
Murder on Parade (2008)
A Slaying in Savannah (2008)
Madison Avenue Shoot (2009)
A Fatal Feast (2009)
Nashville Noir (2010)
The Queen's Jewels (2010)
Skating on Thin Ice (2011)

Related links:
Murder She Wrote: The Highland Fling Murders
MURDER, SHE WROTE still going strong
Retirement is Murder: 10 Senior Sleuths

More mystery series:
DR. MARK SLOANE (Diagnosis: Murder) by Lee Goldberg
EUGENIA POTTER by Virginia Rich and Nancy Pickard
EARL WALKER by Chris Well
100 Mystery Series: 1887-2010
Christmas Can Be Murder: 10 Seasonal Mystery Titles

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Legendary mystery writer Lawrence Block appears here in a couple of interview clips. First up, on his 70th birthday Block appeared on The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson to discuss the Keller thriller Hit And Run and the joys of stamp collecting. In the second video, Block talks with Hard Case Crime's Charles Ardai during Bouchercon 2008.

An award-winning crime writer known for his prolific output, Block's series characters include (among others) burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr, private investigator Matthew Scudder, and hit man Keller. Block was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1993. He recently started a column for Mystery Scene magazine.

The Late Late Show - "Lawrence Block", 6.24 (2008)

Lawrence Block at Bouchercon 2008

Related links:
Mysteries: Lawrence Block: BERNIE RHODENBARR
Paying tribute to NERO WOLFE
Mystery Scene nabs Lawrence Block
Crime Fiction Alphabet: L is for LOCKED ROOM PUZZLES
Shoot the works: These Guns For Hire

More interviews:
Interview: ELMORE LEONARD (Get Shorty)
Interview: AL ROKER ... MYSTERY WRITER? (The Morning Show Murders)
Interview: SUE GRAFTON (U Is For Undertow: Kinsey Milhone)
Interview: RUTH RENDELL (The Monster in The Box: Inspector Wexford)
Interview: SARA PARETSKY (Hardball: V.I. Warshawski)
Interview: CAROL HIGGINS CLARK (Cursed: Regan Reilly Mysteries)

Complete BERNIE RHODENBARR (Burglar) by Lawrence Block

The Burglar on the ProwlA complete list of mystery books by Lawrence Block starring Bernie Rhodenbarr, gentleman thief and reluctant sleuth:

Burglars Can't Be Choosers (1977)
The Burglar in the Closet (1978)
The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling (1979)
The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza (1980)
The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian (1983)
The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams (1994)
The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart (1995)
The Burglar in the Library (1997)
The Burglar in the Rye (1999)
The Burglar on the Prowl (2004)

Short Stories:
"Like a Thief in the Night"
"The Burglar Who Dropped In On Elvis"
"The Burglar Who Smelled Smoke"

Related links:
Interview: LAWRENCE BLOCK (Hit And Run: John Keller Mysteries)
Crime Fiction Alphabet: L is for LOCKED ROOM PUZZLES
Paying tribute to NERO WOLFE
Mystery Scene nabs Lawrence Block
Shoot the works: These Guns For Hire

More mystery series:
SPENSER by Robert Parker
100 Mystery Series: 1887-2010

Die Laughing: Funny Crime and Mystery Fiction


A woman with a complicated past returns home to become the small town's new sheriff. Best Mann For The Job is by the writer/artist team of Chris and Erica Well. Read it from the beginning at Watch the trailer on YouTube.