Category Archives: Thrillers

Lady Chatterley’s biscuits

I mentioned Lady Chatterley a few weeks back, and since then I’ve been thinking about her again. In fact I’ve won a prize with her. From time to time I enter the Spectator literary competitions, and a recent task was to imagine a scene from a famous novel if it had been sponsored by some […]

‘The House by the River’

Last year I gave a paper at the Oxford War Poetry conference, about the ways that war poets were depicted in novels of the twenties. I gave it the title ‘I too am a murderer’(a quotation from Patrick Hamilton’s Rope) – but I had no idea then that there was a 1921 in novel in […]

Kate Macdonald defends Buchan

Worth listening to is the new Guardian podcast, in which Kate Macdonald and Robert McCrum talk about John Buchan and The Thirty-Nine Steps. Kate makes a good case for Buchan, and defends him against charges of Anti-Semitism. You can listen to the podcast by clicking here.

Blind men begging

My curiosity was roused about John Ferguson’s The Man in the Dark (1926) when a review on A Penguin a Week indicated that it was a murder mystery centred on a blind ex-soldier. The blindness is more important than the military background in this story, though this definitely belongs to the class of books that […]

The Diabolic Kaiser

In the French thriller Rouletabille Chez Krupp (1917) by Gaston Leroux, the hero and his sidekick enter a workshop of the Krupp factory complex where furnaces are blazing: Dante shivered when he entered the last circle of hell… and glimpsed the monarch of the empire of tears… It was with chattering teeth that ‘s companion […]

Dr Watson on the Western Front

For the Doctor Watsons of this world, as opposed to the Sherlock Holmeses, success in the province of detective work must always be, to a very large extent, the result of luck. Sherlock Holmes can extract a clue from a wisp of straw or a flake of cigar-ash. But Doctor Watson has got to have […]

Conferences and Margins

Coming home after two talk-full days at the Marginalised Mainstream conference, I’m chuffed to find in my inbox an email saying that my paper proposal for the British Poetry of the First World War conference in Oxford next September has been accepted. The paper will be about the ways in which war poets were represented […]

The Big Heart

An intriguing item in the Monash University online exhibit of detective fiction is number 63: The Big Heart, by John G. Brandon, described as the story of ‘a soldier, demobilized after the First World War, who finds work as a detective unravelling a blackmail plot.’ The book turns out to be one of the early-twenties […]

The Verdict of You All

An article on the enjoyable detective-story blog The Passing Tramp had this (and more) to say about Henry Wade: among English Golden Age crime writers no one of whom I am aware wrote more seriously and insightfully about the Great War than Wade. I had never read any Wade, so thought I would take a look at his first novel, […]

Gentleman Crooks paper

I’ve finally got round to posting a full copy of the ‘Gentleman Crooks’ paper that I gave at a conference about the Masculine Middlebrow a couple of years ago, at the University of London. Regular followers of the blog may recognise some fragments of it as having appeared here before, but I thought it was […]