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4Dec/140

EP1434: Nick Carter: The Case of the Careless Employees

Lon Clark

Nick Carter is called to investigate the mysterious deaths of several window washers.

Original Air Date: February 2, 1947

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3Dec/140

EP1433: Philip Marlowe: The Unfair Lady

http://www.greatdetectives.net/detectives/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/geraldmohr.jpg
Marlowe goes South of the Border to find who's behind a series of diamond thefts.

Original Air Date: June 4, 1949

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2Dec/140

EP1432: Crime and Peter Chambers: Peter Chambers, Murder Suspect

Dane Clark
Peter Chambers is called to a bar where he orders milk, meets a potential client who opts not to hire him and then he finds himself accused of murder.

Original Air Date: May 4, 1954

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1Dec/140

EP1431: The Saint: The Problem of the Peculiar Payoff

Vincent Price
A newly released felon is hired to kill the Saint.

Original Air Date: July 9, 1950

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30Nov/140

2014 Detective Fan Christmas Gift Ideas

It's Christmastime and finding the right gift is always a challenge if you want to find something that the recipient will enjoy. This list is for you if you have a fan of detective fiction in your life and would like some gift ideas. Below are books, movies, and audios that I've found enjoyable  and that I recommend as gift ideas. I'm a fan of a lot of detective fiction but I lean towards older material, but there are some newer items here as well.

In the hopes, this list will help you with your Christmas shopping. Here are some favorites I've enjoyed and would recommend as gifts.

Books:

1) The Greek Coffin Mystery by Ellery Queen: There are few names that say detective fiction quite like Ellery Queen. This book, while not the first Queen book published is set at the start of his mystery solving career and finds him investigating will and then a bizarre murder. Then Ellery lays out his facts-only to be proven completely wrong.  The older style of language may be a barrier to some readers, but if you can get past it, it's great if you enjoy puzzle mysteries.

2) Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler: This is one of Chandler's best. Marlowe's investigation into the disappearance of a wealthy man's wife puts his life in danger and puts him on the wrong side of a corrupt local police force. The book is stocked with some of Chandler's most enjoyable characters. Great for lovers of hardboiled private eyes.

3) Homicide Trinity by Rex Stout. I wanted to include a Nero Wolfe book on the list and I wanted to also throw in a short fiction collection on the list, so this book is the winner. This book collects not one but three Nero Wolfe stories, all of them are good and "Counterfeit for Murder" contains the best one time character that Rex Stout ever created.

4) Back on Murder by J Mark Betrand: The Roland March mystery series by Bertrand is simply superb. This first story is a great tale of a veteran detective struggling for one last chance to make it back to the Homicide department. This is a fantastic police procedural and a great character story.

Movies:

5) The Thin Man Collection: This is the classic romantic comedy Detective film series. The chemistry between Myrna Loy and William Powell is just remarkable. The first two films are the best, but three through five are also quite good.

6) The Maltese Falcon: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre in the most iconic hard boiled detective film of all time on DVD for less than $7. A wonderful gift.

7) The George Sanders Saint Movie Collection: Many consider Sanders the definitive screen "Saint." This collection of five films showcase the charm and style that made Sanders a star.

Television:

8) Columbo: The Complete Series: This affordable DVD collection features all 69 Columbo Telefilms from the beginning starting with the 1968 telefilm Prescription: Murder through the 2003 telefilm, Columbo Loves the Night Life. 

9) Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Series: All 39 episodes of the  very good 1950s syndicated series starring Ronald Howard and Frances Marion as Holmes and Watson.

Audio:

10) Perry Mason: The Case of the Howling Dog: This isn't the Raymond Burr version of Perry Mason, rather a very faithful audio adaptation of Erle Stanley Gardener's original novels. This is just a very rich and complex mystery. While all of the Colonial Theater Perry Mason adaptations are good, this one is the best.

Bonus: 

Jim French Productions offers a wide variety of Detective audio dramas on their website. Most notably, those featuring Harry Nile, a detectives whose adventures from the 1940s-1960s have been told by French in true Golden Age style for several decades, and the delightful Hillary Caine series.

Happy shopping, hope these give you some good ideas.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that items purchased from these links may result in a commission being paid to the author of this post at no extra cost to the purchaser.

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29Nov/140

EP1430: Dragnet: Truck Hijackers

Jack Webb
Friday and Romero's investigation of a series of truck hijackings is hindered by the suicide of the prime suspect.

Original Air Date: October 1, 1949

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29Nov/140

Book Review: Murder in the Ballpark


I'm sure Robert Goldsborough is a nice man and he's nobly tried to carry on the Nero Wolfe stories. I bare him no animus.

That said, this is the worst mystery novel I've read in my life. It's a bad novel as a Nero Wolfe book, and it's a horrible mystery.

It begins on the cover. The cover trim is nice (only one of two good things I can say about the book), but the picture looks like a cheap public domain picture and I'm not sure what era it's from.

This was important, as I was thrown by the timing of the novel. Goldsborough previous run of Wolfe novels updated Wolfe to the late 1980s and early '90s. His most recent, Archie Meets Nero Wolfe: A Prequel to Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe Mysteries was set in the 1920s when Archie first met Nero Wolfe. This one was set in the 1950s for some reason.

However, since that wasn't clear from the get go, I didn't think at the time that it was odd for Archie to be asking for and receiving an info dump from Saul Panzer. However, given that this is the 1950s Archie Goodwin, the same one who has read  both the Gazette and Times every day, having Saul suddenly give all the back story on a prominent State Senator for Archie's benefit was inexplicable.

Archie and Saul are in the park and they see the selfsame Senator murdered in the state and make a bee-line for the exit. The fact that they were at the stadium to see the murder doesn't serve any purpose for the plot, and nearly all the information that Saul Panzer dumped in Chapter 1 for some reason is later repeated by other characters throughout the book meaning the entire first Chapter was completely pointless.

From Chapters 2-26, there are key two points to address:

First of all, Archie Goodwin as written by Rex Stout is one of the most fun to read narrators in any language. Unfortunately, Goldsborough appears to have completely lost that in this book. All the rough edges and the humor that makes Archie so fun to read is gone leading to a very flat narrative that lacks personality.

This brings me to the second big complaint with the bulk of this book, it is boring. The questioning is repetitive and irrelevant, the dialogue is dull, the the characters are uninteresting and shallow, the settings aren't interesting. The progress of the case is mostly uninteresting. There were two exceptions to this. There was a so-so scene with Archie, Saul, and some gangsters that's okay. The sister of a veteran who committed suicide is a decent character though histrionics in the last act kind of weaken her power. But other than that, it's a tedious tale.

We get to see totally unnecessary details. For example, Archie wants to talk to a suspect who is a candidate to replace the State Senator and so instead of making an appointment or arranging to see her when she's not busy, Archie goes down to a long press conference about a proposed state highway that goes on for four pages.

Worst of all, nothing in the interaction between the long-standing characters sizzles. Two visits by Cramer are dull beyond belief, and there are no good moments for Archie or Wolfe.

Chapter 27 stands out as the one entertaining chapter in the book where Goldsborough did something Stout never did. He showed us in detail how Archie managed to gather all the suspects for the denouement and how he manages to get everyone including the murderer there. It was a fun chapter as Archie plays everyone. If the rest of the book where this good, this would have been a five star book.

Unfortunately, the final showdown doesn't go well and that is a shame because in the three prior Goldsborough books I'd read, he usually finished the book strong with a good final scene for Wolfe. In this case, the drama is minor and the interruptions Wolfe allows really detract from the scene particularly after Wolfe threatens to (but doesn't) eject the offending parties.

The solution has two problems. First, it's far fetched particularly given that the murder weapon was a high powered rifle where the bullet traveled to its target in about a third of as second.

Not only that, but it basically means that most of the line of inquiry in the book was a waste of our time. The nature of the solution and the whole story behind the murder made it the type of story that Rex Stout might have told, but it would have been in a novella rather than a novel. The effort to stretch this story out for more tan 220 pages led to it being padded beyond reason.

I also have to comment that Goldsborough's Wolfe was weaker than in other stories, particularly his very stilted dialogue at the end of the book. This is a shame because Goldsborough has usually had a decent grasp of Wolfe, but not so in this story.

Rating: Flummery

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This post contains affiliate links, which means that items purchased from these links may result in a commission being paid to the author of this post at no extra cost to the purchaser.

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28Nov/140

EP1429: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Wayward Widow Matter

Bob Bailey

Johnny is brought in to guard an elderly widow as she transports a hideous piece of art to a cabin after the suspicious death of her husband.

Original Air Date: August 4, 1957

When making your travel plans, remember http://johnnydollarair.com

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27Nov/140

EP1428: Nick Carter: The Case of the Persistent Beggars

Lon Clark

Nick Carter investigates a panhandling racket.

Original Air Date: January 26, 1947

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26Nov/140

EP1427: Philip Marlowe: The Ebony Link

Gerald Mohr

Marlowe helps a disabled man whose being blackmailed over his wife for the second time in six months.

Original Air Date: May 28, 1949

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