If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contactE. B. Davisat email@example.com.
Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.
Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.
Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:
Shari Randall's"Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood'sshort story, will also bepublished. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.
In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.
Remembrance of Books Past: Alfred Hitchcock’s Solve-Them-Yourself Mysteries
In this installment of the Weird Books I Still Have On My
Bookshelves, I offer for your enjoyment Alfred
Hitchcock’s Solve-Them- Yourself Mysteries, an anthology promising five
exciting cases to test the wits of young detectives with solutions, by the
master of suspense himself, at the end of each story.
Let me tell you, this book, which I got my hands on as an
eight-year-old mystery lover, delivered.
The cover promises “young detectives” the chance to solve
mysteries, but the only characters solving mysteries in this anthology were
young white boys named Jerry, Peter, Joe, Jeff, and Andy. A girl named Bettye
does get to be kidnapped with her brother Nick in “The Mystery of the Four
Quarters” and she does get to pull off a good diversion, but mainly Bettye’s
there to play Watson to her brother’s Sherlock. Publishers didn’t have a clue
about gender equality or diversity back in 1963.
Did this stop me from loving this book? Hardly. These dark
tales were catnip to a 60s kid who cut her teeth on Dark Shadows and The
Alfred Hitchcock was a creative dynamo, but he did not edit
or author the Solve-Them-Yourself
Mysteries or any of the other dozen mystery, suspense, and supernatural
anthologies that were published under his name in the 60s and 70s. That task
was ably performed by ghost editor Robert Arthur, Jr., a mystery writer who was
honored twice by the Mystery Writers of America for his radio dramas. Arthur
was known for his stories in magazines such as Black Mask and Thrilling
Detective. Today he’s probably best known as the author of the beloved children’s
series The Three Investigators. Arthur also worked on Alfred Hitchcock’s
television show Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
This familiarity with Hitchcock enabled Arthur to perfectly capture the
director’s distinctive cadence and arch style of speech.
Mysteries were especially enticing for their adult tone. There was nothing
childish about the stories or the art. Check out the end papers. Snakes!
Swords! Skeletons! Hard to believe the illustrator of this deliciously dark
vision was Frederick Banbery, who did the artwork for the Paddington the Bear
books. Of course, when you examine the endpapers you eventually discover the
giant shoe. A giant shoe? OK, now it seems a bit weird, but then you read the
first story in the anthology, “The Mystery of the Five Sinister Thefts” and
your eight year old self thinks, “Ah, of course! A giant shoe!”
The element that sets this anthology apart from others is
the running commentary by “Alfred Hitchcock.” “The Mystery of the Three Blind
Mice” begins with this:
ALFRED HITCHCOCK SPEAKING: Now that you are properly a-tingle with the excitement of the chase, I
shall be brief in introducing the dark deeds that lie ahead. You are about to
meet a three-hundred-pound millionaire who lives in a haunted castle,
collecting stamps, but his real hobby is making people hate him. Some of you, I
am told, take great pride in guessing the ending of mystery stories, movies,
and television programs. I take a grave view of this trend. But if you do
insist on guessing, I ringingly challenge you to guess all the twists and turns
our story will take as we unfold The Mystery of the Three Blind Mice.
Dark deeds? A haunted castle? Was I a-tingle? You bet!
Arthur not only has “Hitch” introduce the stories, he had
him break in to offer help/encouragement/taunts in finding clues. He broke in
to “The Mystery of the Seven Wrong Clocks” to offer:
“I wasn’t going to
tell you, but carried away by a spirit of generosity, I shall reveal that an
extremely suggestive clue made a brief appearance early in our drama and will
not be seen again. Having said that much, my lips are sealed.”
This commentary acted as training wheels to a beginner
mystery reader and writer. Whenever “Hitch” pointed out that I’d just sped past
a clue, I’d flip madly back through the pages to see The Clue I Had Missed. This
gave me an appreciation and understanding of the elements of a good mystery
story. Despite the dozens of ways Arthur spun solutions out of my reach,
missing clues didn’t give me an inferiority complex. The whole thing was done
in such a spirit of fun that I simply marveled at the myriad ways a writer
could pull the wool over a reader’s eyes.
In “The Mystery of the Man Who Evaporated” our detective,
young Jeff, is invited to a meeting of the Mystery Writers of America. He muses
that, when he thought of mystery writers at all, he “thought of them as being
strange individuals who probably lived in lonely old mansions, peering at their
typewriters through thick glasses and occasionally getting up to pace their
bookshelves to consult some ancient volume on rare poisons.” Well, at least
Jeff got the glasses part right.
Locked room mysteries, murder, jewel theft, circuses, black
magic, codes, disguises, séances, and even cameos by Earl Stanley Gardner and
Ellery Queen – this anthology has it all.