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Re: [GAdetection] Re: Helen McCloy

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  • Nicholas Fuller
    Thanks to all for their suggestions and comments. Review of Mr. Splitfoot: Mr. Splitfoot, a name given to the Devil in the mountainous regions of New England,
    Message 1 of 16 , Apr 1, 2002
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      Thanks to all for their suggestions and comments.

      Review of Mr. Splitfoot:

      Mr. Splitfoot, a name given to the Devil in the mountainous regions of New England, where Dr. Basil Willing and his wife find shelter when their car breaks down, also represents hidden bestiality lurking under a civilised exterior—Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  The theme of the book, as with McCloy’s Through a Glass, Darkly, is the balance between rationality and savagery, between science and superstition.  This is brought out by the book’s central feature: a mysterious death in a supposedly haunted room, in which various people have died from natural causes (clearly a borrowing from Carter Dickson’s The Red Widow Murders, 1935), apparently in defiance of logic and reason.  Dr. Willing, who like John Dickson Carr’s Dr. Gideon Fell and Sir Henry Merrivale, is the voice of common sense and free will, suggests that they should prove, once and for all, the harmlessness of the room by letting someone sleep there—after all, they're “not laying a ghost because there are no ghosts, except in the minds of the living”—only to find that there may be more to the room’s legend than meets the eye (incidentally, the myth is never satisfactorily explained—the reader is left to make up his own mind as to what went on in the past).  Poltergeist activity also complicates the case, including a plot hatched by the adolescent daughter of the house, Lucilla Swayne.  A personal peeve: children should be kept out of detective fiction—there is nothing more embarrassing to read about or more awkward to carry off successfully (Agatha Christie and Gladys Mitchell manage it every time, H.C. Bailey not so).  This is borne out by the contrived device of the letter—an annoying feature of the book; and by the plans of Lucilla and her friend Vanya to solve the crime—their eavesdropping in secret passages is fine, allowing McCloy to show her interest in sound as a clue, for “it isolated the voice” “the most revealing thing among all external aspects of personality” “from everything else”.  The solution to the book, however, is disappointing: the murderer’s identity is able to be worked out very easily (indeed, I had my suspicions immediately on discovery of the corpse); the solution as to the poltergeist activity is as disappointing as a Clayton Rawson plot; and some plot holes are left: What was the meaning of the parrot’s statement about Algiers?  What happens to Lucinda?

      3/5

      Currently reading McCloy's first book, Dance of Death, and greatly enjoying it.

      Regards,

      Nick Fuller



      'There is no past tense in the conjugation of genius, especially when it has left us whatever of itself can be conveyed by the printed page.'--Gladys Mitchell, Death and the Maiden (1947).



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    • Joe Hoffman
      I just received a book I bought on e-bay... Better off Dead by Helen McCloy. A Dell paperback, #34, marked 10 cents. The book, although it says complete and
      Message 2 of 16 , Apr 10, 2002
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        I just received a book I bought on e-bay... Better off Dead by Helen McCloy. A Dell paperback, #34, marked 10 cents.
        The book, although it says complete and unabridged, is only 64 pages. Was this a novella?
         
        Many thanks in advance for any insight into this book.
         
        Anita
         
      • nzkpzq
        Since last fall I ve been expanding my web site on Helen McCloy. It is now up to discussing fifteen novels: http://mikegrost.com/mccloy.htm Helen McCloy is one
        Message 3 of 16 , Jan 27, 2012
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          Since last fall I've been expanding my web site on Helen McCloy. It is now up to discussing fifteen novels:
          http://mikegrost.com/mccloy.htm

          Helen McCloy is one of the most plot creative of the Golden Age mystery novelists. And is very informed and curious about the world too..

          I enjoyed John's review of DO NOT DISTURB;
          http://prettysinister.blogspot.com/2012/01/ffb-do-not-disturb-helen-mccloy.html

          Mike Grost
        • prettysinister
          I believe she is the most underrated and under-appreciated of the American mystery writers of the Golden Age. It s shameful. At least five of her books
          Message 4 of 16 , Jan 28, 2012
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            I believe she is the most underrated and under-appreciated of the American mystery writers of the Golden Age. It's shameful. At least five of her books deserve to be reissued: DANCE OF DEATH, CUE FOR MURDER, THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY, MR SPLITFOOT and THE SINGING DIAMONDS.

            Luckily most of the stories in SINGING DIAMONDS have been reprinted in the Crippen & Landru collection THE PLEASANT ASSASSIN. But her best novels have been out of print since the 1950s. I can't understand why she continues to languish in the Limbo of "Out-of-Printdom" and why none of these academics can see what Mike and I can see in her work. Her books are a ripe playground for literary critics.

            Considering the feminist slant in current detective fiction criticism I would've expected one of those woman critics so in love with the Crime Queens to discover McCloy and write a few intriguing papers on her works. She ought to appeal to the intellectual set. Why are nearly all of the Americans ignored by the academics?


            Plus her books go beyond the mere puzzle and mystery aspects and become true novels as they incorporate all sorts of social observations and criticisms of the WW2 era. Just as an example, take DO NOT DISTURB, one of the most journalistic of her novels. It is filled with her personal opinions about America's role in the WW2, the insidious nature of Nazi propaganda on US soil, her views on police brutality and police corruption, as well as her usual fascination with criminal behavior and the world of psychologists and psychiatrists.

            I plan to review all of her novels on my blog. A slow but enjoybable process. There should be at least one per month for the rest of this year.

            And now I'll dismount my soap box.

            John

            --- In GAdetection@yahoogroups.com, "nzkpzq" <mike@...> wrote:
            >
            > Since last fall I've been expanding my web site on Helen McCloy. It is now up to discussing fifteen novels:
            > http://mikegrost.com/mccloy.htm
            >
            > Helen McCloy is one of the most plot creative of the Golden Age mystery novelists. And is very informed and curious about the world too..
            >
            > I enjoyed John's review of DO NOT DISTURB;
            > http://prettysinister.blogspot.com/2012/01/ffb-do-not-disturb-helen-mccloy.html
            >
            > Mike Grost
            >
          • Vegetableduck
            I agree with you, John. There are numerous writers who have undeservedly fallen out of print. She s one of the most obvious who could be revived. But things
            Message 5 of 16 , Jan 28, 2012
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              I agree with you, John. There are numerous writers who have undeservedly fallen out of print. She's one of the most obvious who could be revived.

              But things can be challenging. Every John Street book could be made available this year through POD, were the literary agency and the heirs to cooperate, but seemingly they won't. I've been working on getting Connington reprinted for two years and it's about to come to fruition, but just for three titles for the American market. You have to get a press interested and you have to get agencies interested in the press that's interested, if you can find one. Unless you're lucky and the copyrights have lapsed! That's why we're seeing so much M. E. Braddon stuff now, in addition to the feminist revival. It's a lot easier today to find Braddon than McCloy.

              As a practical matter you have to be a book collector/dealer to write about a lot of these authors in an informed way. Most people with academic backgrounds don't have that same intense level of interest in the books, in my opinion. So the really informed pieces are left to "laypeople" while the academics produce the nth studies of the Agatha Christie, Sayers, Chandler and Hammett (some to be sure interesting). If the books could be made available through POD it would benefit genre scholarship immensely.

              Curt

              --- In GAdetection@yahoogroups.com, "prettysinister" <bibliophile61@...> wrote:
              >
              >
              > I believe she is the most underrated and under-appreciated of the American mystery writers of the Golden Age. It's shameful. At least five of her books deserve to be reissued: DANCE OF DEATH, CUE FOR MURDER, THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY, MR SPLITFOOT and THE SINGING DIAMONDS.
              >
              > Luckily most of the stories in SINGING DIAMONDS have been reprinted in the Crippen & Landru collection THE PLEASANT ASSASSIN. But her best novels have been out of print since the 1950s. I can't understand why she continues to languish in the Limbo of "Out-of-Printdom" and why none of these academics can see what Mike and I can see in her work. Her books are a ripe playground for literary critics.
              >
              > Considering the feminist slant in current detective fiction criticism I would've expected one of those woman critics so in love with the Crime Queens to discover McCloy and write a few intriguing papers on her works. She ought to appeal to the intellectual set. Why are nearly all of the Americans ignored by the academics?
              >
              >
              > Plus her books go beyond the mere puzzle and mystery aspects and become true novels as they incorporate all sorts of social observations and criticisms of the WW2 era. Just as an example, take DO NOT DISTURB, one of the most journalistic of her novels. It is filled with her personal opinions about America's role in the WW2, the insidious nature of Nazi propaganda on US soil, her views on police brutality and police corruption, as well as her usual fascination with criminal behavior and the world of psychologists and psychiatrists.
              >
              > I plan to review all of her novels on my blog. A slow but enjoybable process. There should be at least one per month for the rest of this year.
              >
              > And now I'll dismount my soap box.
              >
              > John
              >
              > --- In GAdetection@yahoogroups.com, "nzkpzq" <mike@> wrote:
              > >
              > > Since last fall I've been expanding my web site on Helen McCloy. It is now up to discussing fifteen novels:
              > > http://mikegrost.com/mccloy.htm
              > >
              > > Helen McCloy is one of the most plot creative of the Golden Age mystery novelists. And is very informed and curious about the world too..
              > >
              > > I enjoyed John's review of DO NOT DISTURB;
              > > http://prettysinister.blogspot.com/2012/01/ffb-do-not-disturb-helen-mccloy.html
              > >
              > > Mike Grost
              > >
              >
            • Xavier Lechard
              I second all the praise for Ms. McCloy. John s list is a good one to which I ll add THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY, SHE WALKS ALONE and my personal favorite, THE SLAYER
              Message 6 of 16 , Jan 28, 2012
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                I second all the praise for Ms. McCloy. John's list is a good one to which
                I'll add THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY, SHE WALKS ALONE and my personal favorite,
                THE SLAYER AND THE SLAIN. (Any mystery writer who quotes from Baudelaire
                must have a place in my pantheon)

                Friendly,
                Xavier

                >


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Erica Stewart
                I ve only read THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY, years ago and it was so fascinating I looked for more, but it seems anyone who bought her books never gave them up.
                Message 7 of 16 , Jan 28, 2012
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                  I've only read THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY, years ago and it was so fascinating I looked for more, but it seems anyone who bought her books never gave them up.
                  Cheers, Erica
                • Enrique F Bird
                  Friends, I heartily agree with all the recommendations on Helen McCloy, the great neglected American author of the classic detective story. There is no book of
                  Message 8 of 16 , Jan 28, 2012
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                    Friends,



                    I heartily agree with all the recommendations on Helen McCloy, the great
                    neglected American author of the classic detective story. There is no book
                    of her that I have read and did not like; "Cue for Murder" and "Through a
                    Glass, Darkly" are both masterpieces of our field. Dr. Basil Willing is
                    unique and at the same time realistic. And, incidentally, her "Dance of
                    Death" is one of the great debut novels in our field but strangely
                    overlooked in this respect.



                    May we see her in print again!



                    Enrique F. Bird



                    From: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com [mailto:GAdetection@yahoogroups.com] On
                    Behalf Of Erica Stewart
                    Sent: Saturday, January 28, 2012 7:08 PM
                    To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: Re: [GAdetection] Re: Helen McCloy





                    I've only read THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY, years ago and it was so fascinating I
                    looked for more, but it seems anyone who bought her books never gave them
                    up.
                    Cheers, Erica





                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • wendy.a.hess@gmail.com
                    Her story Life is a Brutal Affair is in the 1st volume of Fifty Classics of Crime Fiction 1900-1950. I had not read any of her work before, but I will look
                    Message 9 of 16 , Jan 28, 2012
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                      Her story "Life is a Brutal Affair" is in the 1st volume of Fifty Classics of Crime Fiction 1900-1950. I had not read any of her work before, but I will look out for more.

                      Wendy
                    • nzkpzq
                      There is a long article on Helen McCloy at my website: http://mikegrost.com/mccloy.htm This would be 62 pages long, if published as a chapter in a hardback
                      Message 10 of 16 , Mar 18, 2013
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                        There is a long article on Helen McCloy at my website:
                        http://mikegrost.com/mccloy.htm

                        This would be 62 pages long, if published as a chapter in a hardback book.
                        It tries to shine a bright light on Helen McCloy's works.

                        Mike Grost
                      • prettysinister
                        Top notch work, Mike! An enviable task you ve performed there. You found so many analogies in the genre, some I d never even think of making. Thanks also for
                        Message 11 of 16 , Mar 25, 2013
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                          Top notch work, Mike! An enviable task you've performed there. You found so many analogies in the genre, some I'd never even think of making.

                          Thanks also for linking to my reviews of McCloy's books. Five more McCloy books are to be reviewed at Pretty Sinister Books in the coming months.

                          There may be a surprise in store for all those who love reprints of real books related to Helen McCloy that I will be a big part of. Keep your fingers crossed!

                          John

                          --- In GAdetection@yahoogroups.com, "nzkpzq" <mike@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > There is a long article on Helen McCloy at my website:
                          > http://mikegrost.com/mccloy.htm
                          >
                          > This would be 62 pages long, if published as a chapter in a hardback book.
                          > It tries to shine a bright light on Helen McCloy's works.
                          >
                          > Mike Grost
                          >
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