Tag Archive: private detectives


thebigsleep 2  thebigsleep 4

Review by C.J. Bunce

The first thing to know about Raymond Chandler’s 1939 novel The Big Sleep is that it was published three years after James M. Cain published the serialized Double Indemnity.  If your only knowledge of The Big Sleep is the big-screen adaptation directed by Howard Hawks starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall with a screenplay written by the likes of Leigh Brackett and William Faulkner, you should go back and read the novel to see how wrong Bogart is for the lead detective Philip Marlowe.  Both the novel and significantly modified movie version are convoluted tales of murder and mayhem, but the novel is better than the film in many ways.  Its value is in its shocking subject matter for the 1930s and being an early entrant helping to establish hardboiled crime novels as a genre.  Readers were first put inside the brain of Marlowe in this story, which reads like an effort to adapt Cain.  Chandler also was a reader of Cain’s work and along with Billy Wilder, Chandler would adapt Cain’s Double Indemnity for the screen.  Still in print, The Big Sleep is available in trade paperback here at Amazon.

Eight decades after its first publication, how does Chandler’s novel hold up?

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theirregulars

Fiction requires willful suspension of disbelief on the part of the audience, and for Netflix’s new series, The Irregulars, you will need every dram of it you can muster.  You’ll need to disregard anything you know about the Victorian era (including clothing, language, class, and culture) and Sherlock Holmes, as well as much of your innate sense of good storytelling.  And if you can manage that, you might enjoy the ride.  Here at borg, we’re fans of mashups and we like twists on classics (Batman + Dickens’ A Christmas Carol = Lee Bermejo’s Batman: Noel = win).  We love a supernatural mystery series full of dark magics and otherworldly creatures (e.g., Grimm, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Wu Assassins).  And we love Sherlock Holmes.  We really love Sherlock Holmes plus the supernatural (as in James Lovegrove’s Sherlock Holmes/Chthulu Casebooks).  So we were obviously the ideal target audience for this new vision of Baker Street.  Unfortunately, we really struggled to warm to The Irregulars.

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Sister Sleuths cover

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Some history books rehash familiar territory, and some tread entirely new, unexplored ground.  Nell Darby’s Sister Sleuths: Female Detectives in Britain is the latter.  Tapping into a rich but hidden vein of criminology history, Darby uncovers the true stories of professional female investigators from the Victorian age through the early 20th century.

More scholarly text than popular nonfiction, Darby’s work mines census data, newspaper reporting and advertising, and court records to follow the path of private detection as a career appealing to British women from the 1860s to the 1930s.  In short, bite-sized chapters divided by theme and chronology, Sister Sleuths tracks the evolution of the private investigation industry.  Working side-by-side with their male counterparts, female detectives brought particular skills (real or perceived) to the job.
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