My Book Notes: He Who Whispers, 1946 (Dr Gideon Fell # 16) by John Dickson Carr

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International Polygonics, Ltd. 1986. Book Format: Paperback. Book Size: 166 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-930330-38-5. First published in the UK by Hamish Hamilton, London, 1946 and in the US by Harper & Brothers, New York, 1946.

5123RYN2AAL._SX277_BO1,204,203,200_Plot summary: A few months after the end of World War II, Miles Hammond is invited to the first meeting of the Murder Club in five years. When he arrives, no one else is there except Barbara Morell and Professor Rigaud. When no one else shows up, Rigaud tells the story of Fay Seton. Seton was a young woman working for the Brooke family. She fell in love with Harry Brooke and the two became engaged, but Harry’s father, Howard, did not approve. One day, he agreed to meet Fay in a tower—all that remained of a burned-out chateau. It was a secure location on a lonely waterfront, and was the perfect place for such a meeting. Harry and Professor Rigaud left Howard alone at ten minutes before four. When they returned, fifteen minutes later, Howard had been stabbed, and the sword-cane that did it was found in two pieces beside his body. At first it seemed an open-and-shut case, but a family that was picnicking a few feet from the entrance of the tower swore that no one entered the tower in those fifteen minutes, that no boat came near the tower, and no one could have climbed up, because the nearest window was fifteen feet off the ground. The only one with any motive was Fay Seton, who was believed to be able to bring a vampire to life and terrorize people. Miles quickly becomes involved in the affair because the new librarian he just hired is Fay Seton. (Source: Wikipedia)

My Take: The story is told from the perspective of Miles Hammond, a historian recently enriched by a legacy from his uncle, owner of a legendary library. It begins in 1945 when Hammond is in London invited to a meeting at the Murder Club. A group that counts with Dr Gideon Fell among its members. When Hammond arrives at the restaurant, only two other guests are there, Barbara Morell and Professor Rigaud who was supposed to be the speaker at the meeting, but none of the club members have shown up. Despite the change in plans, Professor Rigaud takes the opportunity to tell them the story of Fay Seton. Back in 1939, Fay Seton was hired to work as a secretary for Howard Brooke, an Englishman who lived in France with his wife and his son, Harry. Harry and Fay fell in love and agreed to get married. But Harry’s father did not approve their engagement and decided to pay Fay Seton to leave his son alone. Fay Seton agreed to meet him atop a circular tower. However, Howard was stabbed in the back at the top of the tower and the money disappeared. No one could explain what could have happened. No one entered the tower and the only possible entrance was guarded by several people who were picnicking. Harry died on the beach at Dunkirk in 1940, and his mother soon after. The crime remains unsolved and the money has not been found. Hammond, who happens to be in London looking for a secretary/librarian to catalogue his late uncle’s books becomes involved in the case when the person he hires for that job is none other than Fay Seton. He does not understand why he has done it and now he is afraid to regret his decision.

I don’t feel myself qualified to add anything more to what has already been said, see other reviews included in this post. This is a book that has it all, no wonder it ended up ranked first among Carr’s books in a poll run by Sergio Angelini at Tipping My Fedora some time ago. To consider that it is just the story of an impossible crime it is clearly a misstatement. He Who Whispers is much more than just that. Besides the main impossible crime, it contains a murder attempt inspired by Cagliostro. The plot is outstanding and is perfectly crafted. Carr uses effectively the supernatural elements included in the narrative until finding a fully rational explanation to the events. The characters are very attractive, when not memorable. Carr plays fair with the reader, all the clues are in view, but he does an outstanding job so that they are barely noticed. Both, the setting and the time in which the action unfolds are wonderfully described and perfectly imbedded in the plot. The denouement is completely unexpected. In a nut shell, the story is both thrilling and touching, and its execution is flawless. A book that deserves  a place of honour on any bookshelf. A true masterpiece.

He Who Whispers has been reviewed, among others, by Curtis Evans at Mystery File, Tina Karelson at Mystery File, Curtis Evans at The Passing Tramp, Nick Fuller at The Grandest Game in the World, Mike at Only Detect, Steve Barge at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, Les Blatt at Classic Mysteries, Moira Redmond at Clothes in Books, Sergio Angelini at Tipping My Fedora, Brad Friedman at ahsweetmysteryblog, Ben at The Green Capsule, TomCat at Beneath the Stains of Time, Laurie Kelley at Bedford Bookshelf.

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(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets, LLC Harper & Brothers (USA), 1946)

About the Author: John Dickson Carr (1906 – 1977) was a prolific American-born author of detective stories who also published under the pen names Carter Dickson, Carr Dickson, and Roger Fairbairn. He is generally regarded as one of the greatest writers of so-called “Golden Age” mysteries, complex, plot-driven stories in which the puzzle is paramount. Most of his many novels and short stories feature the elucidation, by an eccentric detective, of apparently impossible, and seemingly supernatural, crimes. He was influenced in this regard by the works of Gaston Leroux and by the Father Brown stories of GK Chesterton. Carr modelled his major detective, the fat and genial lexicographer Dr. Gideon Fell, on Chesterton. It Walks by Night, his first published detective novel, featuring the Frenchman Henri Bencolin, was published in 1930. Apart from Dr Fell, whose first appearance was in Hag’s Nook in 1933, Carr’s other series detective (published under the nom de plume of Carter Dickson) was the barrister Sir Henry Merrivale, who debuted in The Plague Court Murders (1934).

The following list is not, nor is it intended to be, an exhaustive bibliography. It is just a selection of  Carr’s books I have read or l look forward to reading. Any further suggestion of books I should include is welcome

Henri Bencolin: It Walks By Night (1930); The Lost Gallows (1931); Castle Skull (1931); The Waxworks Murder aka The Corpse In The Waxworks (1932), and The Door To Doom, And Other Detections (1980) a collection of short stories.

Dr Gideon Fell: Hag’s Nook (1933), The Mad Hatter Mystery (1933), The Eight of Swords (1934), The Blind Barber (1934), Death-Watch (1935), The Hollow Man aka The Three Coffins (1935), The Arabian Nights Murder (1936), To Wake the Dead (1938), The Crooked Hinge (1938), The Black Spectacles aka The Problem of the Green Capsule (1939), The Problem of the Wire Cage (1939), The Man Who Could Not Shudder (1940), The Case of the Constant Suicides (1941), Death Turns the Tables aka The Seat of the Scornful (1941), Till Death Do Us Part (1944), He Who Whispers (1946), The Sleeping Sphinx (1947), The Dead Man’s Knock (1958), In Spite of Thunder (1960), and The Man Who Explained Miracles (1963) a collection of short stories.

Sir Henry Merrivale (as Carter Dickson): The Plague Court Murders (1934), The White Priory Murders (1934), The Red Widow Murders (1935), The Unicorn Murders (1935), The Punch and Judy Murders aka The Magic Lantern Murders (1936), The Ten Teacups aka The Peacock Feather Murders (1937), The Judas Window aka The Crossbow Murder (1938), Death in Five Boxes (1938), The Reader is Warned (1939), And So To Murder (1940), Murder in The Submarine Zone aka  Nine And Death Makes Ten (1940), She Died a Lady (1943), He Wouldn’t Kill Patience (1944), The Curse of the Bronze Lamp aka Lord of the Sorcerers (1945), My Late Wives (1946), Night at the Mocking Widow (1950) and Merrivale, March and Murder (1991) a collection of short stories.

Historical Mysteries: The Bride of Newgate (1950), The Devil in Velvet (1951), Fire, Burn! (1957), Deadly Hall  (1971).

Other novels as John Dickson Carr: The Burning Court (1937); The Emperor’s Snuff-Box (1942); The Nine Wrong Answers (1952).

Further reading: Douglas G. Greene’s John Dickson Carr: The Man Who Explained Miracles (Otto Penzler Books/ Simon & Schuster, 1995). Biography & critical study of his works.

John Dickson Carr – by Michael E. Grost

The Locked-Room Lectures : John Dickson Carr Vs Clayton Rawson

A Room with a Clue: John Dickson Carr’s Locked-Room Lecture Revisited by John Pugmire (pdf) The Reader Is Warned: this entire article is a gigantic SPOILER, with the solutions given to many pre-1935 locked room mysteries.

El que susurra, de John Dickson Carr

28496486._SY475_Resumen de la trama: Unos meses después del final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, Miles Hammond es invitado a la primera reunión en cinco años del Murder Club. Cuando llega, no hay nadie más que Barbara Morell y el profesor Rigaud. Cuando nadie más aparece, Rigaud cuenta la historia de Fay Seton. Seton era una joven que trabajaba para la familia Brooke. Se enamoró de Harry Brooke y los dos se comprometieron, pero el padre de Harry, Howard, no lo aprobó. Un día, acordó encontrarse con Fay en una torre que era todo lo que quedaba de un castillo incendiado. Se trataba de un lugar seguro en un paseo marítimo solitario y era el lugar perfecto para tal reunión. Harry y el profesor Rigaud dejaron a Howard solo diez minutos antes de las cuatro. Cuando regresaron, quince minutos después, Howard había sido apuñalado, y el bastón espada que lo hizo fue encontrado en dos pedazos al lado de su cuerpo. Al principio parecía un caso clarísimo, pero una familia que se encontraba de picnic a unos metros de la entrada de la torre juró que nadie entró en la torre en esos quince minutos, que ningún bote se había acercado a la torre, y que nadie pudo haber subido, porque la ventana más cercana se encontraba a cinco metros del suelo. La única con algún motivo era Fay Seton, de quien se creía que podía dar vida a un vampiro y aterrorizar a la gente. Miles se involucra rápidamente en el asunto porque la nueva bibliotecaria que acaba de contratar es Fay Seton. (Fuente: Wikipedia)

Mi opinión: La historia está contada desde la perspectiva de Miles Hammond, un historiador enriquecido recientemente por un legado de su tío, propietario de una biblioteca legendaria. Comienza en 1945 cuando Hammond está en Londres invitado a una reunión en el Murder Club. Un grupo que cuenta con el Dr. Gideon Fell entre sus miembros. Cuando Hammond llega al restaurante, solo hay otros dos invitados, Barbara Morell y el profesor Rigaud, quien se suponía iba a ser el orador en la reunión, pero ninguno de los miembros del club se ha presentado. A pesar del cambio de planes, el profesor Rigaud aprovecha para contarles la historia de Fay Seton. En 1939, Fay Seton fue contratada para trabajar como secretaria de Howard Brooke, un inglés que vivía en Francia con su mujer y su hijo, Harry. Harry y Fay se enamoraron y acordaron casarse. Pero el padre de Harry no aprobó su compromiso y decidió pagarle a Fay Seton para que dejara a su hijo en paz. Fay Seton accedió a reunirse con él en lo alto de una torre circular. Sin embargo, Howard fue apuñalado por la espalda en la parte superior de la torre y el dinero desapareció. Nadie pudo explicar qué pudo haber sucedido. Nadie entró a la torre y la única entrada posible estaba custodiada por varias personas que estaban de picnic. Harry murió en la playa de Dunkerque y su madre poco después. El crimen sigue sin resolverse y no se ha encontrado el dinero. Hammond, que está en Londres buscando una secretaria/bibliotecaria para catalogar los libros de su difunto tío, se ve involucrado en el caso cuando la persona que contrata para ese trabajo no es otra que Fay Seton. No entiende por qué lo ha hecho y ahora teme arrepentirse de su decisión.

No me siento capacitado para agregar nada más a lo que ya se ha dicho, vea otras reseñas incluidas en esta publicación. Este es un libro que lo tiene todo, no es de extrañar que terminó en primer lugar entre los libros de Carr en una encuesta realizada por Sergio Angelini en Tipping My Fedora hace algún tiempo. Considerar que es solo la historia de un crimen imposible es claramente un error. El que susurra es mucho más que eso. Además del principal crimen imposible, contiene un intento de asesinato inspirado en Cagliostro. La trama es sobresaliente y está perfectamente elaborada. Carr utiliza eficazmente los elementos sobrenaturales incluidos en la narrativa hasta encontrar una explicación completamente racional a los hechos. Los personajes son muy atractivos, cuando no memorables. Carr juega limpio con el lector, todas las pistas están a la vista, pero hace un trabajo sobresaliente para que apenas se noten. Tanto el escenario como el tiempo en el que se desarrolla la acción están maravillosamente descritos y perfectamente integrados en la trama. El desenlace es completamente inesperado. En pocas palabras, la historia es emocionante y conmovedora, y su ejecución es impecable. Un libro que merece un lugar de honor en cualquier estantería. Una verdadera obra maestra.

Acerca del autor: John Dickson Carr (1906 – 1977) fue un prolífico autor de historias policiacas nacido en Estados Unidos que también publicó bajo los seudónimos de Carter Dickson, Carr Dickson y Roger Fairbairn. En general, se le considera como uno de los mejores escritores de misterio de la llamada “Edad de Oro”, historias complejas basadas en tramas en las que el enigma es primordial. La mayoría de sus muchas novelas y relatos cuentan con el esclarecimiento, por un excéntrico detective, de crímenes aparentemente imposibles y aparentemente sobrenaturales. En este sentido, estuvo influenciado por las obras de Gaston Leroux y por los relatos del padre Brown de GK Chesterton. Carr modeló a su detective principal, el gordo y genial lexicógrafo Dr. Gideon Fell, en Chesterton. It Walks by Night, su primera novela policíaca publicada, protagonizada por el francés Henri Bencolin, se publicó en 1930. Aparte del Dr. Fell, cuya primera aparición fue en Hag’s Nook en 1933, la otra serie de detectives de Carr (publicada bajo el nombre de pluma de Carter Dickson) está protagonizada por el abogado Sir Henry Merrivale, quien debutó en The Plague Court Murders (1934).

La siguiente lista no es, ni pretende ser, una bibliografía exhaustiva. Es sólo una selección de los libros de Carr que he leído o espero leer. Cualquier sugerencia adicional de libros que deba incluir es bienvenida.

Henri Bencolin: It Walks By Night (1930); The Lost Gallows (1931); Castle Skull (1931); The Waxworks Murder aka The Corpse In The Waxworks (1932), y The Door To Doom, And Other Detections (1980) una colección de relatos.

Dr Gideon Fell: Hag’s Nook (1933), The Mad Hatter Mystery (1933), The Eight of Swords (1934), The Blind Barber (1934), Death-Watch (1935), The Hollow Man aka The Three Coffins (1935), The Arabian Nights Murder (1936), To Wake the Dead (1938), The Crooked Hinge (1938), The Black Spectacles aka The Problem of the Green Capsule (1939), The Problem of the Wire Cage (1939), The Man Who Could Not Shudder (1940), The Case of the Constant Suicides (1941), Death Turns the Tables aka The Seat of the Scornful (1941), Till Death Do Us Part (1944), He Who Whispers (1946), The Sleeping Sphinx (1947), The Dead Man’s Knock (1958), In Spite of Thunder (1960), y The Man Who Explained Miracles (1963) una colección de relatos.

Sir Henry Merrivale (as Carter Dickson): The Plague Court Murders (1934), The White Priory Murders (1934), The Red Widow Murders (1935), The Unicorn Murders (1935), The Punch and Judy Murders aka The Magic Lantern Murders (1936), The Ten Teacups aka The Peacock Feather Murders (1937), The Judas Window aka The Crossbow Murder (1938), Death in Five Boxes (1938), The Reader is Warned (1939), And So To Murder (1940), Murder in The Submarine Zone aka  Nine And Death Makes Ten (1940), She Died a Lady (1943), He Wouldn’t Kill Patience (1944), The Curse of the Bronze Lamp aka Lord of the Sorcerers (1945), My Late Wives (1946), Night at the Mocking Widow (1950) y Merrivale, March and Murder (1991) una colección de relatos.

Misterios históricos: The Devil in Velvet (1951)

Otras novelas como John Dickson Carr: The Burning Court (1937); The Emperor’s Snuff-Box (1942); The Nine Wrong Answers (1952).

Lectura recomendada: Douglas G. Greene’s John Dickson Carr: The Man Who Explained Miracles (Otto Penzler Books/ Simon & Schuster, 1995). Biografía y estudio crítico de sus obras.

Atomic Renaissance: American Women Mystery Writers of the 1940s and 1950s.

To enhance my previous post ‘Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s and 1950s’, I’ve came across with Jeffrey Marks’ book Atomic Renaissance: American Women Mystery Writers of the 1940s and 1950s.(Delphi Books, 2010).

51hjVIjRyhLAmerica in the 1950s was a place of Eisenhower, the Korean Conflict, McCarthy, and Sputnik. Women found themselves trapped into a mold of Donna Reed and June Cleaver, marginalized by the hyper-masculinity of the age. Mystery fiction had become a male bastion as well, promoting hardboiled private eye novels and spy fiction. It would be another three decades before groups to promote equality between the sexes in mystery fiction appeared.
Yet during that post-World War II era, seven women carved out a place in the genre. These women became the bestsellers of their time by innovation and experimentation. Margaret Millar, Patricia Highsmith, Leslie Ford, Charlotte Armstrong, Dorothy B. Hughes, Mignon Eberhart, and Phoebe Atwood Taylor are in no way similar to each other in style, theme, or subject matter. However, their writings created an Atomic Renaissance that continues to impact the mystery field today.

Mainly a couple of authors to add to my previous list Leslie Ford (1898-1983), and Mignon G. Eberhart (1899 – 1996).

About the Author: Jeffrey Marks (born October 8, 1960) is an American author. Marks is best known for the series of literary criticisms he has written on American mystery authors of the middle Twentieth Century. His first work, Who Was That Lady? Craig Rice; Queen of the Screwball Mystery (Delphi Books, 2001), was nominated for every major mystery award including the Edgar, the Agatha, the Anthony and the Macavity. Marks’ next work was Atomic Renaissance: Women Mystery Writers of the 1940s/1950s (Delphi Books, 2010), which again was nominated for an Agatha. Marks then wrote Intent to Sell: Marketing the Genre Novel, which is now in its fourth edition. He became the moderator of Murder Must Advertise, a website and email group that discusses the best ways to market genre fiction in a changing marketplace. His next work, Anthony Boucher: A Biobibliography (McFarland & Company, 2008), a biography and bibliography of the American author, won an Anthony Award in 2009 for Best Biographical/Critical work. He has completed a biography of mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner, the author who created Perry Mason among other characters and has published a monograph on the pulp fiction works of Gardner, entitled Pulp Icons: Erle Stanley Gardner and His Pulp Magazine Characters (2013). He is currently working on a biography of the collaborative cousins who wrote as Ellery Queen. Marks is also a contributing editor to Mystery Scene Magazine and was the director of development for the mystery book publisher Crippen & Landru, taking over the role of publisher in 2018 from Douglas G. Greene. (Source: Wikipedia)

My Book Notes: Home Sweet Homicide (1944) by Craig Rice

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MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Integrated Media, Inc., 2018. Book Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 3421 KB. Print Length: 282 pages. ASIN: B079GNF4L6. ISBN: 978-1-5040-5025-8. First publish by Simon & Schuster in 1944.

39294489._SY475_Synopsis: When your mom’s a mystery writer, a talent for detection is only natural. So when the three children of prolific whodunit author Marion Carstairs become material witnesses in a neighborhood murder, they launch their own investigation. And why not? They know everything about baffling mysteries from reading their mother’s books, the publicity could do wonders for her sales, and then she and a handsome detective could fall in love. It’s too perfect for words.
Marion’s too busy wrapping up the loose ends of her latest book for the inconvenience of a real crime. But what’s surfacing in the shadows of the house next door is not quite as predictable as fiction: accusations of racketeering, kidnapping and blackmail; a slain stripper; a grieving but slippery husband; a wily French artist; a panicky movie star; and a cop who’s working Marion’s last nerve. If the kids are game, Marion decides she is too—in between chapters, at least. Besides, this whole dangerous bloody mess could turn out to be a source of inspiration!
This stand-alone mystery was the basis for the classic 1946 comedy starring Randolph Scott and Peggy Ann Garner and “makes clear why Craig Rice remains one of the best writers of mystery fiction” (Jeffery Marks, author of Who Was That Lady?).

My Take: Mystery writer Marian Carstairs is a widow with three children who produces four books a year and lives off their sales. Her children, Dinah (14), April (12) and Archie (10) decide to get involved in a murder investigation that has been committed in the house next door when they hear the shots. Thanks to reading their mother’s detective books they consider themselves trained to carry it out. To this end, they start looking for clues and, occasionally, they tamper them. Sometimes they lie and even change their testimony to the police, but their purpose is to attribute the resolution of the case to their mother. After all, she is too busy working and should not be disturbed. For sure, this could give her books great publicity and could boost the sales. They also think about the future of their mother when, ten years from now, they’ll be ready to leave home, leaving her by herself, and it would be a good idea to pair her up with Bill Smith, the handsome detective in charge of the case.

Home Sweet Homicide is an entertaining detective story, written in a humorous tone and with some truly surreal touches, that turns out being extremely funny to read. In addition to that it has some truly  memorable characters. In case you decide to read it, I hope you like it as much as I did. A perfect read to spend a very pleasant time by an author who in my view is well worth following from what I’ve seen so far.

Home Sweet Homicide has been reviewed, among others, by  Jeffrey Marks at January Magazine, Les Blatt at Classic Mysteries, Patrick at The Scene of the Crime, Kate Jackson at Cross-Examining Crime, Aidan Brack at Mysteries Ahoy! Jim Noy at The Invisible Event, thegreencapsule at The Green Capsule.

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(Facsimile Dust Jacket, Simon and Schuster Inner Sanctum Mystery (USA), 1944)

About the Author: Craig Rice (1908 – 1957), born Georgiana Ann Randolph Craig, was an American author of mystery novels and short stories described as “the Dorothy Parker of detective fiction.” In 1946, she became the first mystery writer to appear on the cover of Time magazine. Best known for her character John J. Malone, a rumpled Chicago lawyer, Rice’s writing style was both gritty and humorous. She also collaborated with mystery writer Stuart Palmer on screenplays and short stories, as well as with Ed McBain on the novel The April Robin Murders.

Suggested readings: The Wrong Murder (1940) [John J. Malone #3]; The Right Murder (1941) [John J. Malone #4]; Trial by Fury (1941) [John J. Malone #5]; The Big Midget Murders (1942) [John J. Malone #6]; The Thursday Turkey Murders (1942) [Bingo Rigss and Handsome Kusack #2]; To Catch a Thief (1943) [as by Daphne Sanders]; Home Sweet Homicide (1944)[standalone]; Crime on My Hands (1944; ghost-written for and published as by George Sanders); Mother Finds A Body (1953) [as by Gypsy Rose Lee].

During the 1950’s Rice concentrated her energies of a large number of short stories, most of which have never been reprinted since their original magazine publication and which I have not been able to find or read. Some of these show Rice at her best: “The Murder of Mr. Malone” (1953), “The Little Knife That Wasn’t There” (1954), “The Frightened Millionaire” (1956), and “The Last Man Alive” (1953), which Rice choose for the anthology, My Best Mystery Story. This last piece, like Rice’s first novel, 8 Faces at 3 (1939), was based on a dream Rice had. This is an appropriate choice of inspiration for a writer whose best work contains the logic, surprise and poetic feelings of our dreams. (Mike Grost)

Further reading: Who Was That Lady? Craig Rice: Queen of the Screwball Mystery (Delphi Books, 2010) by Jeffrey Marks

Mysterious Press publicity page

Open Road Media publicity page

Penzler Publishers publicity page

Craig Rice Page at The New Thrilling Detective website

Craig Rice at A Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection

Craig Rice at Golden Age of Detection Wiki

Beyond the Book: Craig Rice’s John J. Malone by Dick Lochte

Home Sweet Homicide, de Craig Rice

Sinopsis: Cuando tu madre es una escritora de misterio, un cierto talento para investigar es algo natural. Entonces, cuando los tres hijos de la prolífica autora de novelas policiacas Marion Carstairs son testigos materiales de un asesinato en el vecindario, ponen en marcha su propia investigación. ¿Y, por qué no? Conocen todo sobre misterios desconcertantes por la lectura de los libros de su madre, la publicidad podría hacer maravillas con sus ventas, y luego ella y un guapo detective podrían enamorarse. Todo demasiado perfecto para poder expresarlo con palabras.
Marion está demasiado ocupada terminando los cabos sueltos de su último libro por el inconveniente de un crimen real. Pero lo que está aflorando en las sombras de la casa de al lado no es tan predecible como la ficción: acusaciones de pertenencia al crimen organizado, secuestros y chantajes; una bailarina de striptease asesinada; un marido afligido pero escurridizo; un taimado artista francés; una estrella de cine asustada; y un policía que saca de quicio a Marion. Si para los niños va a ser un juego, Marion decide que para ella también, entre capítulos al menos. Además, ¡todo este peligroso y maldito desastre podría convertirse en fuente de inspiración!
Este misterio independiente fue la base de la comedia clásica de 1946 protagonizada por Randolph Scott y Peggy Ann Garner y “pone de manifiesto por qué Craig Rice continúa siendo uno de los mejores escritores de novelas de misterio” (Jeffery Marks, autor de Who Was That Lady?).

Mi opinión: La escritora de misterio Marian Carstairs es una viuda con tres hijos que produce cuatro libros al año y vive de sus ventas. Sus hijos, Dinah (14), April (12) y Archie (10) deciden involucrarse en una investigación de asesinato que se ha cometido en la casa de al lado cuando escuchan los disparos. Gracias a la lectura de los libros de detectives de su madre se consideran capacitados para llevarla a cabo. Para ello, comienzan a buscar pistas y, en ocasiones, las manipulan. A veces mienten e incluso cambian su testimonio a la policía, pero su propósito es atribuir la resolución del caso a su madre. Después de todo, ella está demasiado ocupada trabajando y no debe ser molestada. Sin duda, esto podría dar a sus libros una gran publicidad y podría impulsar las ventas. También piensan en el futuro de su madre cuando, dentro de diez años, estén listos para irse de casa, dejándola sola, y sería una buena idea emparejarla con Bill Smith, el atractivo detective encargado del caso.

Home Sweet Homicide es una entretenida historia policiaca, escrita en tono humorístico y con algunos toques verdaderamente surrealistas, que resulta sumamente divertida de leer. Además de eso, tiene algunos personajes verdaderamente memorables. En caso de que decidas leerla, espero que te guste tanto como a mí. Una lectura perfecta para pasar un rato muy agradable de un autor que a mi juicio bien vale la pena seguir por lo que he visto hasta ahora.

Acerca del autor: Craig Rice (1908-1957), nacida Georgiana Ann Randolph Craig, fue una autora estadounidense de novelas y relatos de misterio calificada como “la Dorothy Parker de la novela policiaca”. En 1946, se convirtió en la primera escritora de misterio en aparecer en la portada de la revista Time. Más  conocida por su personaje John J. Malone, un abogado arruinado de Chicago, el estilo de escritura de Rice era a la vez valiente y humorístico. También colaboró con el escritor de misterio Stuart Palmer en guiones y cuentos, así como con Ed McBain en la novela The April Robin Murders.

Lecturas sugeridas: The Wrong Murder (1940) [John J. Malone #3]; The Right Murder (1941) [John J. Malone #4]; Trial by Fury (1941) [John J. Malone #5]; The Big Midget Murders (1942) [John J. Malone #6]; The Thursday Turkey Murders (1942) [Bingo Rigss and Handsome Kusack #2]; To Catch a Thief (1943) [as by Daphne Sanders]; Home Sweet Homicide (1944)[standalone]; Crime on My Hands (1944; ghost-written for and published as by George Sanders); Mother Finds A Body (1953) [as by Gypsy Rose Lee].

Durante la década de 1950, Rice concentró sus energías en una gran cantidad de relatos, la mayoría de los cuales nunca se han reeditado desde su  publicación original en revistas y que no he podido encontrar ni leer. Algunos de ellos muestran a Rice en su mejor momento:  “The Murder of Mr. Malone” (1953), “The Little Knife That Wasn’t There” (1954), “The Frightened Millionaire” (1956), y “The Last Man Alive” (1953), que Rice eligió para la antología My Best Mystery Story. Esta última pieza, como la primera novela de Rice, 8 Faces at 3 (1939), estaba basada en un sueño que tuvo Rice. Esta es una elección de inspiración adecuada para un escritor cuya mejor obra contiene la lógica, la sorpresa y los sentimientos poéticos de nuestros sueños. (Mike Grost)

‘Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s and 1950s’

1101-BKS-McDermid-1444859829678-jumboThis post was intended as a private note, a reminder of books I’m looking forward to reading soon. However I thought it might be of some interest to readers of this blog. I came  across ‘Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s and 1950s’ by Val McDermid, in The New York Times here. Which led me to Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & 50s by Sarah Weinman and, next, to visit the special Women Crime Writers companion website for complete information on the eight novels and their authors, along with appreciations by contemporary writers and a wealth of contextual material. A website I recently discovered when looking for biographical information of some of these authors.

So far I’ve read ­Margaret Millar’s Beast in View, I’ve seen several times Laura directed by Otto Preminger and In a Lonely Place directed by Nicholas Ray, but I haven’t read the books and even though I’ve read several books by Patricia Highsmith –mainly all the Ripley’s in my pre-blog days– I I’ve not read The Blunderer.

The rest of the books are: Helen ­Eustis’s The Horizontal Man, ­Elisabeth Sanxay Holding’s The Blank Wall, Charlotte Armstrong’s Mischief, and Dolores Hitchens’s Fools’ Gold.

Stay tuned.

Elisabeth Sanxay Holding (1889 – 1955)

again_480x480Elisabeth Sanxay Holding (1889-1955) was born and brought up in New York and educated at Miss Whitcombe’s and other schools for young ladies. In 1913 she married George Holding, a British diplomat. They had two daughters and lived in various South American countries, and then in Bermuda, where her husband was a government official. Elisabeth Sanxay Holding wrote six romantic novels in the 1920s.

After the stock market crash, she turned to the more profitable genre of detective novels, starting with Miasma (1929). Holding published an additional seventeen detective novels, including Dark Power (1930), The Death Wish (1934), The Unfinished Crime (1935), The Strange Crime in Bermuda (1937), The Obstinate Murderer (1938), The Girl Who Had To Die (1940), Who’s Afraid? (1940), Speak of the Devil (1941), Kill Joy (1942), Lady Killer (1942), The Old Battle Ax (1943), Net of Cobwebs (1945), The Innocent Mrs. Duff (1946), The Blank Wall (1947), Too Many Bottles (1951), The Virgin Huntress (1951) and Widow’s Mite (1953).

In a letter to Hamish Hamilton, his British publisher, Raymond Chandler wrote: “Does anybody in England publish Elisabeth Sanxay Holding? For my money she’s the top suspense writer of them all. She doesn’t pour it on and make you feel irritated. Her characters are wonderful; and she has a sort of inner calm which I find very attractive. I recommend for your attention, if you have not read them, Net of Cobwebs, The Innocent Mrs. Duff, The Blank Wall.”

The Blank Wall was adapted into the films The Reckless Moment (1949), directed by Max Ophüls and starring Joan Bennett and James Mason, and The Deep End (2001), directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel and starring Tilda Swinton.

After her husband’s retirement the Holdings lived in New York City. Her series character was Lieutenant Levy. Holding also wrote numerous short stories for popular magazines of the day. She died in 7 February 1955.

Praised by Raymond Chandler as “the top suspense writer of them all,” Elisabeth Sanxay Holding excelled at the exploration of domestic unease. The Blank Wall exemplifies the drama of the sheltered housewife forced to take charge. While her husband serves overseas during World War II, Lucia Holley finds herself in the midst of a situation involving blackmail and manslaughter. She becomes quickly aware that the habits of her life, the domestic expectations that surround her, make it difficult for her to act with the slightest independence, and she must herself begin to behave like a criminal in order to deal with a threat to her family of which they must never know. In the course of the action she becomes involved with a man who is a prototypical fallen angel, adding the possibility of forbidden romance. The ambivalence with which Holding depicts the household sphere that Lucia works so hard to protect is matched by her subtle exploration of questions of guilt and responsibility in a middle class facade of harmony. (Source: Women Crime Writers)

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(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets LLC. Simon and Schuster (USA), 1947)

The Blank Wall has been reviewed, among others, by John Grant’s review at Goodreads, Bernadette Bean at Reactions to Readings, Curtis Evans at The Passing Tramp, Marta Marne en Leer sin Prisa (in Spanish), NancyO at The crime segments .

Further reading:

The Godmother of Noir: Elisabeth Sanxay Holding by Jake Hinkson

Elisabeth Sanxay Holding page at Golden Age of Detection Wiki