|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on July 2, 2020 at 1:05 PM|
While the cliché about the ordinary joe who stumbles onto a murder is very familiar, it is surprisingly underrepresented among Edgar winners. We need to go backward through 13 years of international assassins, reformed terrorists, smugglers with hearts of gold, and professional detectives, soldiers and spycatchers to get to Forfeit in 1970, whose protagonist was a reporter. Even a reporter is professional obliged to investigate. 1969’s A Case of Need features a pathologist, so h...Read Full Post »
|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on May 17, 2020 at 9:50 AM|
That question has an easy answer: no. But what novel should have been chosen by the Edgar award voters to represent 1981 is a harder question.
In terms of actual great novels of 1981, there are two clear contenders, Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon and Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park. Both have been celebrated all over, and Red Dragon was 27th all-time on the Mystery Writer’s of America list, with Gorky Park ranked 35th. The challenge is, each ...Read Full Post »
|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on April 27, 2020 at 12:40 AM|
You might assume as you start the book they did award in 1981 that the title is symbolic, and refers to a detective, or perhaps a victim or another character who drives the plot, who is restless and driven to move constantly. But in fact the title is literal, and refers to a peregrine falcon, which a villain has trained to swoop down on command and kill passersby on the streets on early 80s New York City. The author acknowledges that this is almost impossible biologically, so there is much ...Read Full Post »
|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on January 16, 2020 at 9:00 PM|
Whip Hand won the 1981 Edgar for best novel of 1980. I have already stated that I don’t consider it to be one of Dick Francis’ top books, and I think I can go on to say that I don’t think it is a particularly good book standing on its own.
Nonetheless, competition in 1980 was weak, and whether considering the mystery reading public or just yours truly, Whip Hand escaped a lot of perils. The biggest was a matter of translation. I have previously designated U...Read Full Post »
|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on November 27, 2019 at 6:05 PM|
Whip Hand, winner of the 1980 Edgar Award for Best Novel, was the middle of three novels by Dick Francis to win the prize; Forfeit won in 1970, and Come to Grief in 1996. This is three decades, which is pretty impressive for an amazing career. I have read all of them (and at least two by Felix Francis), like hundreds of people, yet I wonder if anyone would ever have identified these three as Francis’ best. Myself, I consider his first three, Nerve, Dead...Read Full Post »
|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on October 29, 2019 at 11:05 PM|
Bottom line first – much as I would like to find a better candidate for best mystery novel of 1979 than The Rheingold Route, 1979 doesn’t appear to have given me the material. Many fine authors had an entry in 1979, but none in my judgment had their best stuff or even their above average stuff that year. Among the contenders I have read are John D MacDonald’s The Green Ripper, and Stephen King’s The Dead Zone. Among those that I can’t reme...Read Full Post »
|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on October 3, 2019 at 9:35 PM|
Arthur Maling, the author of 1980’s winner, The Rheingold Route, is a difficult author for whom to collect biographical background. Various sources I consulted agreed in giving the following information: he was born into a famous shoe family, Maling Brothers, he went to Harvard, he served in the Navy during World War II, and went back to running Maling Brothers after (or at the same time as) writing his books. I finally found a source with more interesting inform...Read Full Post »
|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on August 5, 2019 at 10:00 PM|
Since I’ve stated that I consider Eye of the Needle to surpass most of the other Edgar winners, you can guess that the bar for another work to beat it is a very high bar. A very popular mystery work published the same year as Eye of the Needle (1978) is John Mortimer’s Rumpole of the Bailey. I have not read that one yet but I have read a different anthology with some of the same stories and one of the stand-alone novels. They are enjoyable but I did not fee...Read Full Post »
|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on June 21, 2019 at 8:50 AM|
I’ve mentioned that Dick Francis’ Forfeit is the earliest Edgar winner I am sure I had already read before the current exercise of reading them all in order. 1979’s The Eye of the Needle is the first Edgar Winner that I read when it was new. It was a bestseller and a phenomenon in 1978 and very quickly became a hit movie with Donald Sutherland as the title character, the enigmatic Nazi assassin nicknamed “The Needle.” (As mentioned previously, Su...Read Full Post »
|Posted by Vladimir Mortsgna on May 16, 2019 at 7:00 AM|
I previously recapped and ranked after reviewing the first dozen Edgar Winners, as of 1965, coming up with The Spy who Came in from the Cold as #1. It still is the best so far of the first 25. But we have a new #2, as far as I am concerned, with the classic translated from the Swedish, The Laughing Policeman. The year refers to the year of the award, not the year of publication. Tell me if you disagree.
#1. The Spy who Came in from the Cold – J...Read Full Post »