“Apologia Pro Vita Sua”

By Rex Stout The following poem, written by Rex Stout, appeared in the August 21, 1935 issue of The New York Times, in conjunction with the then-recent publication of his second Nero Wolfe mystery. At the time, Stout was still relatively unknown, and must have been feeling a little sensitive about being pegged as a mere … Continue reading “Apologia Pro Vita Sua”

Hey, Don’t I Know You from Somewhere?

Great (or at least memorable) Openings in Private Eye Fiction & Films No, they're not all private eye stories, but they're all good. It was a wandering daughter job. --"Fly Paper" by Dashiell Hammett (The Continental Op) Samuel Spade said: "My name is Ronald Ames." -- "They Can Only Hang You Once" by Dashiell Hammett … Continue reading Hey, Don’t I Know You from Somewhere?

“I Dunit”

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”

“What? You Want It to be Realistic as Well?”

An Essay by Joe Stein So, credibility? Right. Well, as my first agent told me, fiction is life with the boring bits taken out. Only he wasn't 100% right. True, many readers don't want to see their hero doing the washing, or changing the oil filter in the car, but I always thought (for that, … Continue reading “What? You Want It to be Realistic as Well?”

Writers Say the Darnedest Things

"They're fancy talkers about themselves, writers. If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don't listen to writers talk about writing or themselves." -- Lillian Hellman "All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, … Continue reading Writers Say the Darnedest Things

Raymond Chandler’s Ten Commandments for the Detective Novel

It must be credibly motivated, both as to the original situation and the dénouement. It must be technically sound as to the methods of murder and detection. It must be realistic in character, setting and atmosphere. It must be about real people in a real world. It must have a sound story value apart from … Continue reading Raymond Chandler’s Ten Commandments for the Detective Novel

Mickey Spillane

Frank Morrison Spillane (1918-2006) "Anyone who doesn't recognize Spillane's importance is an idiot." -- Max Allan Collins FRANK MORRISON SPILLANE was a Brooklyn kid, born on March 9, 1918, the only child of Catherine Anne and John Joseph Spillane, an Irish-American bartender who nicknamed him "Mickey." He passed away July 17, 2006 at his home in … Continue reading Mickey Spillane

“The Simple Art of Murder”

By Raymond Chandler Fiction in any form has always intended to be realistic. Old-fashioned novels which now seem stilted and artificial to the point of burlesque did not appear that way to the people who first read them. Writers like Fielding and Smollett could seem realistic in the modern sense because they dealt largely with … Continue reading “The Simple Art of Murder”

How Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth…

Raymond Chandler on Other Writers As Stephen Blackmore has pointed out, Raymond Chandler was a bit of an asshole. Sure, he had his moments, but he was also vain, egotistical, insecure, jealous, catty, snobbish and of course, alcoholic. Just a browse through his personal correspondence reveals a snarkiness, particularly towards other mystery writers, that's surprisingly mean-spirited, … Continue reading How Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tooth…