Month: August 2013

EP1036: Mr. Moto: The Case of the Dry Martini

Mr. Moto is investigating dope smuggling and witnesses the murder of the owner of an import-export company.

Original Air Date: October 20 1951

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EP1035: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Fathom Five Matter, Parts One and Two

 Bob Bailey

Johnny investigates the disappearance of a man missing at sea while local officials are pushing for a quick declaration of death and murder.

Original Air Date: February 27 and 28, 1956

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EP1034s: Play it Again: Box 13: Blackmail is Murder

Alan Ladd

An elderly woman has found a body in her room. She wants Dan to remove the body and find the killer.

Original Air Date: October 31, 1947

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Book Review: Farewell, My Lovely

Raymond Chandler’s  second novel begins on two seemingly unrelated tracks. A man named Moose Malloy walks into a Black establishment and kills the owner because he’s looking for his girl Velma who used to sing at the place when it was a white club. Marlowe does a favor for a police detective because he doesn’t have anything else to do and because it can be handy in his line of work for a police detective to owe you a favor. Then when he hits a dead end, he takes a job for a man named Marriott to help him deliver ransom money for a stolen jade necklace and Marriott ends up murdered.

Marlowe goes on a wild ride, gets beat up, knocked out a couple times, drugged all leading to the conclusion of the case. If anything, the book is more cynical than The Big Sleep with crooked cops abounding and a de facto 1940s open marriage. The attitude portrayed towards blacks in the book was sadly stereotypical and if not hostile, was at least indifferent to their plight. In addition, while the dialogue was good, I don’t think it was quite as good as the The Big Sleep.

However, even with its faults, it’s one of the best detective stories ever written.  If it didn’t have a a clever mystery, if it didn’t have Marlowe on a scary trip while drugged as a sleazy sanitarium, it would be a great book because of  its characters. They’re on every page.  They had depth and nuance, even corrupt Bay City cops, a gambling magnate, a drunk widow, and of course Moose Malloy. You add all the elements together and you have a masterpiece.  Whether it’s as good as the Big Sleep, we can argue about, but its a masterpiece none the less.

And of course, Philip Marlowe remains the honest man, the knight who’s courage and incorruptibility  make the book work.  In this book, he doesn’t do anything near as dramatic as ripping apart his bed when he rebuffed Carmen Sternwood. Here, it’s more subtle. In a classic scene, Marlowe is being questioned by a police lieutenant and helps a fly out of the police office and lets it go. At the end of the book, he asks the Lieutenant about the fly and he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

It subtly paints a picture of a Marlowe who doesn’t quite see the world the same way his contemporaries (even good men) do as they accept corruption as just a matter of course. While Marlowe isn’t a crusader, his sense of honor compels him to challenge the corruption that’s in front of him.

Except for some offensive racial language, the book really stands the test of time. While Philip Marlowe books are not recommended for kids or very sensitive adult readers, for fans of hard boiled fiction, the book is a must.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

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Review: History of Harry Nile, Set 4

Set 4 of the Adventures of Harry Nile settles into a good rhythm with these adventures set in 1952-54 and having a flawless golden age feel. The series is so right, so good, and so relistenable.

Harry Nile is to 1950s Seattle what characters like Barrie Craig were to New York or Jeff Regan to Los Angeles. French captures the time, the place, and the feel of a great city that just wasn’t represented as a consistent locale among writers of golden age detective fiction.

Jim French had clearly become the master of the 20 minute episodes as Harry plows through one case after another with mystery, comedy, and a good dose of suspense. The late Phil Harper is flawless. He’s mostly supported by French’s wife Pat as Murphy, but also an ensemble cast of local actors appear. However, some bigger names do make an appearance including Russell Johnson (the Professor from Gilligan’s Island) and Harry Anderson (Night Court) takes a couple turns, most memorably as the owner of a jazz club facing vandalism and harassment.

The set includes “The Case of the Blue Leather Chair” the only Harry Nile to be broadcast live. In addition, many were recorded live before a studio audience, who are heard throughout the production. The most amazing thing about these stories is that they were recorded in the 1990s, at a time when most people thought radio drama was a lost art. However, the Frenches and Harper showed that the formula worked: good writing and professional acting can make magic in the theater of the mind, even in 1990s Seattle. Even for a detective like…Harry Nile.

Purchasing Information:

The set is available at French’s website for $49.95 on CD or as a digital download for $25.

The History of Harry Niles, Set 3  (along with Sets 1,2  and 4-6) are available on Audible for $19.95 for members or 1 Credit. I bought this set with my an Audible listener Credit ($14.95).

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