At 5 o'clock in the morning, a curly-headed toddler went missing from his bed in the spacious mansion in the English countryside, never to be seen alive again. Young Saville Kent's soon-to-be-discovered vicious murder at the hands of someone who was surely a family member or trusted servant excited the press, the populace, and the authorities and ultimately drew the attention of one of Scotland Yard's first and finest detectives, Jack Whicher. Like the fictional Sherlock Holmes, Detective Whicher had a keen mind and almost sixth sense for uncovering criminals in the most unlikely places. With no forensics lab modern or otherwise to help him discover the identity of Saville's killer, Whicher used reason and intuition when setting about his task.
Because I got so caught up in the British Broadchurch mini-series, I binge-watched all eight episodes and stayed up until 2:30 in the morning. The series begins with a walking tour of the pleasant seaside town of Broadchurch on the Dorset Coast of England, a tourist spot with a close-knit community. We follow Mark and Beth Latimer on a typical day… until the town is torn apart when 11-year-old Danny Latimer is found dead on its beach.
Steve Brixton definitely doesn’t have a brother, and he absolutely is not a detective. He’s just a huge fan of the old Bailey Brothers detective stories, which entirely make up Steve’s top 59 list of favorite books.
So why does everyone keep calling him a detective? That’s the central question in The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett. Steve simply came into the library on a Saturday morning to research this stupid paper on needlework when a bunch of sinister looking people dressed all in black started flying down on ropes, bursting through windows and chasing him without mercy. This couldn’t possibly be related to his overdue fines…could it?
Film noir is not easily defined. The actual words come from French and mean "black cinema." It was in France during the post-war years that the term was used to describe a certain set of Hollywood films that were saturated with a darkness and cynicism that was not seen before. These movies included The Maltese Falcon (1941), Double Indemnity (1944), Laura (1944), and Murder, My Sweet (1944).
The streets of 1920s Paris are teeming with tourists and tramps, fine artists and con artists. Also killers. Knife fights at cafés and corpses floating along the Seine are all part of the daily parade. But now something newly wicked is in the air—murder with style. A day at the Louvre might reveal a fresh body among the dusty corpses of Egyptian nobles. Josephine Baker’s dazzling performance at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées could be the scene of an unexpectedly dramatic tragedy. Passionate Paris is indeed a perilous place in Barbara Cleverly’s recent mystery, Folly du Jour.
One of the sub-genres that defined classic American crime and detective movies was film noir, a style that was pervasive in detective films of the 1940s and 1950s. Film noir arose during the post-World War II period in the United States as a generation that fought in one of the most brutal conflicts the world had ever seen returned home to a changed America where jobs were scarce and the national mood seemed darker and more cynical than during the war itself.
This is the second installment in a series on the history of detective fiction.