07 June 2021

Criminal Notes & Queries

The most recent number of Canadian Notes & Queries – The Crime Issue – arrived last week in our Upper Canada rural mailbox. I was honoured to serve as Guest Editor. It was a pleasure putting it together, though I must admit that the heavy lifting was done by regular editor Emily Donaldson.

As always, Seth's provides the front and back covers. Tell the truth, do you not see yourself in one of his mugshots?

In The Landscape, Seth shares an undated, uncredited insert from The Weekend Magazine – which, as he notes, was itself an insert.

"What’s Old," our regular salute to reissues, coupled with offerings from the country’s antiquarian booksellers features Austin Clarke's When He Was Free and Young and He Used to Wear Silks (Anansi, 2021),  Carmine Starnino's Dirty Words: Selected Poems, 1997-2016 (Gaspereau, 2021), a new translation of Markoosie Patsauq's Hunter with Harpoon (MQUP, 2021). Windsor's Juniper Books offers The Executioners (Harlequin, 1951) and French for Murder (Fawcett, 1954), two old Brian Moore pulps that the late author's estate has kept out of print.

The Guest Editor’s Note, in which I recall childhood trauma brought on by a speeding ticket, is followed by this issue's Dusty Bookcase. This one is unusual in that the volume covered, Grant Allen's fin de siècle novel An African Millionaire, is not only in print, but is a certified Penguin Classic. We all remember studying it in high school, right?

Adam Sol and Manahil Bandukwala provide verse.

The issue's features begin with "Sin City," Will Straw's look at Police Journal, the post-war Montreal crime tabloid that anticipated Allô Police.

In "A Requiem for Skid Row," Amy Lavender Harris writes about a Toronto that has fallen to condos, but lives on in the works of Juan Butler, Austin Clarke, and Hugh Garner.

Novelist Trevor Ferguson (aka John Farrow) writes of his encounters with the criminal element in  "Fringe Elements."

Dedicated readers will remember my interest in the mysterious Kenneth Orvis (aka Kenneth Lemieux), author of Hickory House, The Damned and Destroyed,  Cry, Hallelujah!, and four other novels. You may even remember my 2016 plea for information about the man. Imagine my surprise in discovering that former 39 Steps frontman Chris Barry – whom I've seen onstage in Montreal and onscreen in Hannah and Her Sisters – is the mystery man's nephew.  Chris' "Uncle Ken, We Hardly Knew Ye: Kenneth Orvis’ Nephew Surveys the Writer’s Life, Hustles, and Mysterious Disappearance" helps fill in the gaps.

In "Vale of Fears," Monika Bartyzel looks at the influence of a 1935 murder on the fiction of Phyllis Brett Young, our most unjustly neglected novelist.

Jennifer Hambleton disturbs with "Shut Out: How University Libraries are Increasingly Limiting Public Access.

David Frank writes on the relationship between Jack London and all but forgotten Canadian socialist Wilfrid Gribble.

Chris Kelly looks at Blue City, the 1986 adaptation of the 1947 Ross Macdonald novel of the same name. You remember it, right? Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy starred.


This GIF may refresh you memory.

I intrude again with an interview with Danny McAuley of Brome Lake Books in Knowlton, Quebec.

David Mason's Used and Rare column concerns book thieves and a revelation about a certain famous author.

In the North Wing - selections from the Lost Library of CanLit Graphic Novels -  Nathan Campagnaro adapts Thomas King’s DreadfulWater.

We've also got a new short story from Caroline Adderson, “All Our Auld Acquaintances Are Gone.”

At a time when newspapers and magazines are slashing space devoted to book reviews, we buck the trend with:
Bruce Whiteman on Erin McLaren’s Little Resilience
Rohan Maitzen on Anna Porter’s The Appraisal and Deceptions
Laura Cameron on Amanda LeDuc’s The Centaur’s Wife 
Brett Josef Grubisic on Michael Melgaard’s Pallbearing 
Alex Good on Pasha Malla’s Kill the Mall 
Paige Cooper on Carrie Jenkins’ Victoria Sees It 
Dancy Mason on Patricia Robertson’s Hour of the Crab 
James Grainger on Andrée A Michaud’s Mirror Lake
Emily Donaldson on Sarah Berman’s Don’t Call it a Cult
The Shelf Talker belongs to The Bookshelf in Guelph. Catherine Bush's Blaze Island is one of their four titles.

As always, we finish off with Stephen Fowler's Exhumations. His pick this issue is Writing Thrillers for Profit: A Practical Guide by Basil Hogarth (London, Black, 1936), a volume that once belonged to "a recently deceased author of detective novels." Stephen suggests that it may have been a "joke gift." I'm betting he's right.

The CNQ Crime Issue can be purchased through this link.

It's a steal.

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