Interviewing Dead Writers

I’m struggling to find questions for those authors who are among the living, partially because I am woefully behind in reading current mystery writers’ work. It does take a modicum of knowledge regarding a detective series, or suspense novel which one can only really get from spending time trundling across the internet for tidbits, or cracking open and reading through a book. What I do

Erle Stanley Gardner who spent much of his time, alone, in the desert with not one, but three secretaries–all sisters.

have, is a ridiculous amount of dead authors books under my belt. It occurred to me that I have questions for many of those whose work lives on, long past their creators expiration dates. For example, Rex Stout. The man created an iconic character out of…? Did Mr. Stout dream up Nero Wolfe, the agoraphobic, beer swilling, orchid loving, gourmand after a indigestible meal? His cohort, Archie Godwin is more  typical of the genre, while Wolfe is decidedly a unique voice. Stout wrote other things before embarking on his best selling series. How and when did this inspiration hit him? I would think that a publisher being pitched the idea of Wolfe would have been skeptical at the very least. To Erle Stanley Gardner, the mastermind behind Perry Mason, I’d want to know why he couldn’t put pen to paper. He dictated his books to his, ‘secretary’.

A young Rex before the odd beard.

Quotations because he eventually married that secretary, finally, after the wife passed on. I’d also like to know how much or little real law is used within the books. When reading a Gardner, I’m struck by how Mason either eludes laws, or just plain breaks them and gets away with it. If, as a former lawyer, Gardner’s writing what he knows, did he circumvent the law while practicing?

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The Big Sleep–Best 100 Mysteries of All Time

The Big SleepDashiell Hammett–1939–in print

I admit, the film is one of my all time favorites. I will watch it each and every time it plays on Turner Classic Movies. Happily, Mr. Turner didn’t colorize this film–or if he did, they don’t bother ruining our viewing pleasure by showing that version. I can enter at the middle, and become glued to the set, or even at the very end, when there’s just a few more moves to be made, and I’ll still opt to watch it rather than some first run program. I love it for the very reason some critics hate it–the convoluted plot. So layered, that even Chandler was hard put to explain whodunit for one of the murders in the book and on screen. I love the actors, naturally–I mean, how could one not love Bogart and Bacall–and wow–the sister to Bacall’s character, Martha Vickers, steals the show–which is why they went back and added more scenes for Bacall to shine in. Character actors galore, and an early Dorothy Malone add up to the perfect mystery film. And lest I forget, the biblio aspect of the story is just the scotch in old man Sternwood’s glass, he can’t drink.

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The Innocent Mrs. Duff–Best 100 Mysteries of All Time

The Innocent Mrs. Duff —   Elizabeth Sanxay Holding-1946-used I read Number 100, only recently. And had to jam it into the list, somewhere. Maybe it belongs a lower number, I don’t know and won’t try to figure it out, my mind has lost its ability to discern between good great and greatest, to coin a … Read more

The Best Books Of All Time

I asked myself, what does that mean? The best books of all time? Best fiction? Best nonfiction? Both? From what time frame–the beginning of time–do cave drawings count? Books–are plays included, how about poems, religious tomes, children’s books, what languages, the questions were endless, with no definitive answer. The lists I saw ranged from strict … Read more