‘The Postman Always Rings Twice,’ by James M. Cain

Novel, 1934 A gritty, earthy and all-in-all brutal novel telling the story of a drifting jailbird and his mistress, and their attempts to plot out and away into a new life. This is a hard boiled fiction told from the perspective of the villain, and while there’s the occasional revelation of stark humanity, the gnarly dialogue and the values, opportunism and fallibility in the characters … Continue reading ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice,’ by James M. Cain

‘The October Man,’ directed by Roy Ward Baker

Movie, 1947 Tidy, well-plotted and paced mystery in which a lodger in a house full of oddbeats is accused of murder and struggles, both with PTSD and a doubt over whether or not he actually could have committed the crime in question. While there’s nothing leaping out from the film as being exceptional, and while the received pronunciation can be a little distracting at times, … Continue reading ‘The October Man,’ directed by Roy Ward Baker

‘The Goalkeeper’s Fear of the Penalty,’ directed by Wim Wenders

Movie, 1972 Film following the wanderings of a professional footballer, as he drifts from one place to another and one woman to another, murdering a cinema cashier on the way, and keep tabs on the news and police investigations while he’s at it. I suspect this is a film which can carry and support a number of interpretations, with some of the actions pretty brutal … Continue reading ‘The Goalkeeper’s Fear of the Penalty,’ directed by Wim Wenders

‘Coroner’s Pidgin,’ by Margery Allingham

Novel, 1945 Crime mystery, set in the last knockings of World War Two, involving a tricky plot of art theft, kidnapping and a cast of fairly diverse and dastardly characters. London has a downbeat, authentic feel to it, with characters raising pigs and living in bombsites, so giving an example of how things are somewhat grim, but treated with a matter-of-fact humour. Albert Campion is … Continue reading ‘Coroner’s Pidgin,’ by Margery Allingham

“Unnatural Death,” by Dorothy Sayers

Novel, 1927 Murder mystery which hinges round a change in the inheritance laws, and the efforts of Lord Peter Wimsey to solve it, and to keep his senses of wonder and vanity in check. This is a very decent read, with some jagged and hugely outdated attitudes towards gender and particularly towards race, which give almost as much historical context as anything else written and … Continue reading “Unnatural Death,” by Dorothy Sayers

“The Yellow Dog”, by Georges Simenon

Novel, 1931 Maigret mystery set in the wonderfully, bleakly evoked Northern French port of Concarneau, and following the running down and persecution of a group of friends who hold high and respectable offices in the town’s civic life. A book which offers both a dreamy account of a humdrum life and existence, and in doing so, sets up a story which runs its course, but … Continue reading “The Yellow Dog”, by Georges Simenon

"The Beast Within," by Emile Zola

Novel, 1890 Melodrama set on and around the French railway line from Le Havre to Paris. A book both old fashioned, in its narrative approach, but also modern, in terms of the themes of technology and intense, dysfunctional psychology and some warped crimes and derring-do. And a cracking read – the details firmly set up the social and physical surroundings, but the action is relentless. … Continue reading "The Beast Within," by Emile Zola

"Three Cases of Murder", directed by David Eady, George More O’Ferrall, Wendy Toye

Movie, 1955 Early portmanteau film, combining horror and supernatural themes across three murder stories. The first has an eerie, circular feel; the second is a more straightforward love triangle and the third a political revenge piece. The stories are a little clumsily pulled together by a narrator, although the film as a whole entertains.. The eeriness of the first section, in particular, has an affecting … Continue reading "Three Cases of Murder", directed by David Eady, George More O’Ferrall, Wendy Toye

"Foxcatcher," directed by Bennett Miller

Movie, 2014 Adaptation of a real life story involving an Olympic wrestler and a philanthropist whose interest in the sport bring the men and families closer together. In a film where the drama builds and fortunes interweave and develop, there’s plenty to admire, even if a few bits and pieces are a little hard to get used to, mainly John DuPont’s odd prosthetics and very … Continue reading "Foxcatcher," directed by Bennett Miller