From the Elmore Leonard novel Swag In Elmore Leonard's 1976 novel Swag (more appropriately retitled "Ryan's Rule" in paperback), we first meet Frank Ryan, an "almost honest" used car salesman from Red Bowers Chevrolet in Detroit, who decides NOT to testify against small-time car thief Ernest "Stick" Stickley, Jr. Instead, he ropes the would-be felon into … Continue reading Frank Ryan’s 10 Golden Rules For Successful Armed Robbery
Plumber Cracks & Other Words of Wisdom Robert B. Parker was some kinda guy. By all reports he was a friendly guy, but he didn't suffer fools or pretensions gladly, and delighted in taking the piss out of both. On writing "Writer's block? You never hear a plumber complaining about plumber's block, do you?" "If … Continue reading Robert B. Parker on Writing
EDITOR'S NOTE Renowned poet and certified literary big shot T.S. Eliot has a bigger connection to crime fiction than you might expect -- he was a fan and an early defender of the genre. He was -- get this -- the mystery reviewer for The Criterion (later The New Criterion),a prestigious British literary journal (1922-39) founded by Eliot, … Continue reading T.S. Eliot’s Rules of English Detective Stories (Boiled Down)
EDITOR'S NOTE: Lester Dent (1904 - 1959) was a prolific author of about a million pulp stories, best known -- at least among pulp fans -- as the main author of the Doc Savage series, under the pen name of Kenneth Robeson. But he was more, much more than that. In addition to the Doc … Continue reading Lester Dent’s Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot
EDITOR'S NOTE: This one's taken from the third and final issue of P.S. Magazine, a general interest magazine from the 1960s. It was their August 1966 issue, and it was dedicated to "the rise of the gumshoe" and included an interview with Rex Stout, "The White Rabbit Caper," a tongue-in-cheek detective story by James Thurber, an essay … Continue reading “I Dunit”
A bestselling mystery author reveals all. The ever-cheeky Craig Rice had a slew of bestselling mysteries under her belt, including such classics as The Big Budget Murders, Having a Wonderful Crime and Home Sweet Homicide, when she appeared on the cover of Time -- the first mystery writer to do so. But it wasn't the first time she was … Continue reading Craig Rice on “How To Write a Mystery Novel”
"It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing." -- The Sun Also Rises (1926) by Ernest Hemingway, Sadly, most of the original content for this page went missing during the Great Spilled Coffee Incident of 2008. It featured, of course, some of the pithiest … Continue reading What the hell do you mean by “Hard-boiled,” for that matter?
EDITOR'S NOTE Monsignor Ronald A. Knox (1888-1957) was a British clergyman, editor, a literary critic, a humourist and a detective story writer himself who nicely laid out, with a gentle wit, the "ten rules" that guided detective fiction in its so-called Golden Age. They appeared in his preface to Best Detective Stories of 1928, an … Continue reading Father Knox’s Decalogue: The Ten Rules of (Golden Age) Detective Fiction
EDITOR'S NOTE S.S. Van Dine (1888-1939, real name Willard Huntington Wright) was one of the most popular American mystery writers of the twenties and thirties, and his wealthy amateur sleuth Philo Vance remains one of the great fictional detectives, if not also one of the most insufferable. Read today, Vance comes off as a pompous, … Continue reading Bald Trickery: S.S. Van Dine’s Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories
Originally noir, at least in English, referred to film, and to the books and stories that were often their inspiration. But now the term is used to sell just about everything. Literature. Music. Perfume. Lingerie. Coffee beans. Breath mints. Chocolate. Bad crime shows. Sitcoms. Beer. Vanity Fair fashion shoots. And lawnmowers, probably. Mostly by people … Continue reading And while we’re at it, what the hell is “Noir”?