Mystery Book Recommendations – January 2015

From the Charred Remains by Susanna CalkinsIt is difficult for me to believe that we have already gone through the first month in 2015! School is back in session, winter is still upon us, and it’s a great time of the year to get a lot of Cozy Mystery reading done.

I hope you all have spent some time this month reading terrific Cozy Mysteries. I have! I discovered a new-to-me author who I have added to my list of Favorite Authors, and I have spent time with already-known-to-me favorite authors who have continued to keep my Cozy Mystery reading a favorite past time.

I am currently reading From the Charred Remains by Susanna Calkins. This is the second in her Lucy Campion Mystery Series. Lucy has gone from being a chamber maid to becoming an apprentice with a printmaker. I am enjoying this historical Cozy Mystery a lot! Rather than repeat everything I have written about before, I am going to refer you to my previous entry recommending Susanna Calkins’ Lucy Campion series: Susanna Calkins, Author of A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate : My Newest Favorite Author

It is at this time that I will ask you all to tell us about an extremely good Cozy Mystery you have read this January, and please tell us why you think this Cozy Mystery is better than the other Cozies you read this month. (If you read more than one terrific Cozy Mystery during January, please tell us about the other two, three, or even more that you consider to be better than the rest.)

[As usual, I ask that you don’t tell us about the mystery books you read that you didn’t like.]

What terrific Cozy Mystery book(s) did you read during January 2015 that you think the rest of us would definitely enjoy reading, and why did you enjoy it (them)?

Here are the current recommended authors (series) who (that) some of you have read and recommended this past month:

Kathy Aarons: Chocolate Covered Mystery Series

Tasha Alexander: Lady Emily Mystery Series

Ella Barrick (aka Laura DiSilverio & Lila Dare): Ballroom Dance Mystery Series

Lorraine Bartlett (aka Lorna Barrett & L.L. Resnick): Victoria Square Mystery Series

Melissa Bourbon (aka Misa Ramirez): Magical Dressmaking Mystery Series

Susanna Calkins: Lucy Campion Mystery Series

Kate Carlisle: Fixer-Upper Mystery Series

Edie Claire: Leigh Koslow “Never” Mystery Series

Jane K. Cleland: Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery Series

J.J. Cook (aka Joyce and Jim Lavene & Ellie Grant): Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery Series

E.J. Copperman (aka Jeffrey Cohen): Haunted Guesthouse Mystery Series

Cleo Coyle (aka Alice Kimberly): Coffeehouse Mystery Series

Krista Davis: Paws and Claws Mystery Series

Ilsa Evans: Nell Forrest Mystery Series (Forbidden Fruit is book #1)

Susan Hoskinson Frommer: Joan Spencer Mystery Series

Kerry Greenwood: Corinna Chapman Mystery Series

Janice Hamrick: Jocelyn Shore Mystery Series

Susannah Hardy: Greek to Me Mystery Series (Feta Attraction is book #1)

Charlaine Harris: Aurora Teagarden Mystery Series

Betty Hechtman: Crochet Mystery Series

Lynne Hinton: Sister Eve, Private Eye (book #1 in Divine Private Detective Agency Mystery Series

Christine Husom: Snow Way Out (book #1 in Snow Globe Shop Mystery Series)

Julie Hyzy: White House Chef Mystery Series

Victoria Laurie: Ghost Hunter Mystery Series

Joyce and Jim Lavene (aka J.J. Cook & Ellie Grant): Renaissance Faire Mystery Series

Elizabeth Lee (aka Elizabeth KAne Buzzelli): Nut House Mystery Series

Catherine Lloyd: Death Comes to the Village (book #1 in Kurland St. Mary Mystery Series)

Kylie Logan (aka Miranda Bliss & Casey Daniels): League of Literary Ladies Mystery Series

Karen MacInerney: Gray Whale Inn Mystery Series

Margaret Maron: Sigrid Harald Mystery Series

Laura Morrigan: Call of the Wilde Mystery Series

Anne Perry: Charlotte & Thomas Pitt Mystery Series

Ann Purser: Lois Meade Mystery Series

Hannah Reed (aka Deb Baker): Scottish Highlands Mystery Series

Barbara Ross: Maine Clambake Mystery Series

Dell Shannon (aka Leslie Egan, Elizabeth Linington, & Anne Blaisdell): Luis Mendoza Mystery Series

Charles Todd: Ian Rutledge Mystery Series

Elaine Viets: Dead-End Job Mystery Series

Lea Wait: Mainely Needlepoint Mystery Series

Jacqueline Winspear: Maisie Dobbs Mystery Series

[If you click on the author’s name (blue) link, it will take you to his/her page on the Cozy Mystery site. The pages have all of the authors’ books listed chronologically.]

♦To access more Cozy Mystery Books Recommendations, click on this link♦

P.S. While I try to respond to all of the comments that are made on the Cozy Mystery blog, I generally don’t respond to the comments on these monthly recommendation entries.

Knox’s Commandments – The 10 Rules of Golden Age Detective Fiction, Part II

rulesIn my last post, I discussed Knox’s Commandments, a set of “fair play” rules that were written in the late 1920s and helped form much of the “golden era” of Cozy Mystery writing (then considered detective fiction). This time I’m going to go through some of the rules I think still retain relevance today and are worth discussing. Obviously, some of them have basically been discarded by the sands of time. (Again, I’m sorry that the rules are dated, and that some of them are phrased in a way that makes them uncomfortable to modern sensibilities.)

Rule 1 – “The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow.”

As with most of the “rules”, this is one that’s been broken before, occasionally to good effect. It’s still not generally recommended for less experienced authors since pulling it off without feeling unfair is quite difficult, but I wrote an earlier blog about authors such as Agatha Christie who were able to make it work.

Rule 2 – “All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.

Of Knox’s Commandments, this is perhaps the rule most thoroughly discarded in modern Cozy Mysteries. Especially in recent years, there has been an increase in paranormal or supernaturally themed Cozies where criminal and detective alike have some sort of supernatural hook such as witchcraft or mild psychic powers. Simply summarily solving the crime through magic should probably still be avoided – just saying “the detective casts a spell and now knows who committed the crime” still shouldn’t happen.

Rule 4 – “No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.

By “undiscovered”, Knox means that the poison should be known to medical science, and if at all possible detectable by autopsy. I think this rule should be considered a good one – if the authorities bother to look carefully for a cause of death, an autopsy or similar test shouldn’t come back inconclusive. That said, poisons that make a murder look like something else to casual observation are still fair play, so long as the eventual cause of death can be determined to be murder in the end.

Rule 6 – “No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right.

Knox clarifies that this isn’t intended to mean that the detective can’t have a flash of intuition where previously observed evidence suddenly makes the solution clear to him, but rather that he shouldn’t be able to, in Knox’s words, “to look for the lost will in the works of the grandfather clock because an unaccountable instinct tells him that that is the right place to search.” If the detective comes across the hidden will through hard work and dedication, such as by searching the entire house from top to bottom, that’s fine. This rule can sometimes be broken, especially if the detective is associated with the paranormal. For more mundane detectives, it should generally remain intact.

Rule 7 – “The detective must not himself commit the crime.

I’d say this is an important rule, both today and when it was first written. It hardly seems fair for the detective to gather together all the suspects and then declare that it was in fact… himself! Knox also points out that this is only a solid rule when the author vouches for the character as a detective – a criminal posing as a police officer is still fair, especially if some reason to doubt their identity is introduced.

Rule 8 – “The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader.

This rule has been broken before and will be broken again, but I personally think it’s unfair. If the crucial piece of evidence isn’t visible to the audience, it feels like the author is cheating and that the mystery simply isn’t solvable for the audience.

Rule 9 – “The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.

Knox also points out that this rule only applies if there is a “Watson”. I think this is a good rule to aim for, but harder to hit – writing an assistant as slightly below average intelligence is a tough goal for many authors.

Yikes! That sure was a lot of rules! It is a bit surprising how well many of the rules hold up – I guess what was fair to the reader when they were first written in the 1920s can still be generally considered fair today!

Which of the rules do you think are the most abused today? Do you think some of the rules I see as discarded haven’t been? What is your opinion about Knox’s (10) Commandments in today’s Cozy Mysteries? Are there other rules you think should be substituted for these? (For instance, I would suggest a rule where the sleuth doesn’t always fall into peril as part of the plot of every book in the series.)

The Detection Club

Knox’s Commandments – The 10 Rules of Golden Age Detective Fiction, Part 1

Knox’s Commandments – The 10 Rules of Golden Age Detective Fiction, Part I

The Body in the Library by Agatha ChristieIn 1929, Golden Age mystery writer and monsignor of the Catholic Church Ronald Knox formulated 10 rules that he believed should set apart proper detective fiction from what he considered “shockers”,  works that primarily dealt with heroes fighting criminal enterprises rather than detectives attempting to solve a mystery. Called Knox’s Commandments, these rules would quickly become the standing guidelines for the Detection Club, which I discussed in my previous post. Other sets of similar guidelines would emerge in the era – such as S.S. Van Dines’s “Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories”, actually published before Knox’s own Commandments – but it would be Knox’s rules that would by and large dominate the Golden Age of Crime, supported as it was by the Detection Club (which included Agatha Christie) and its roster of talented mystery writers.

Even Knox never expected full compliance with the rules he set out – he freely admitted that some truly worthy mystery works would occasionally break the rules and end up the better for it – but by and large these were considered a good set of guidelines, and authors would stray from them at their own peril. In my next post in this series, I intend to go through Knox’s Commandments one by one and discuss how they either apply or no longer apply in mystery fiction. For now, I’ll just post the Commandments themselves for your consideration.

Keep in mind that these rules were written in a very different time – since the rules are dated, some of the rules are phrased in a way that makes them very uncomfortable to modern sensibilities, though they wouldn’t have been considered out of place in the era they were written. I’ll discuss some of them in more detail in my next post in this series.

Knox’s Commandments:

  1. The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow.
  2. All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.
  3. Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable.
  4. No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.
  5. No Chinaman must figure in the story. (I told they were dated!)
  6. No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right.
  7. The detective must not himself commit the crime.
  8. The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader.
  9. The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.
  10. Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.

The Detection Club

Knox’s Commandments – The 10 Rules of Golden Age Detective Fiction, Part 2

The Detection Club

Poirot Investigates by Agatha ChristiePart dinner club, part semi-guild for detective fiction writers, the Detection Club was formed in 1930 Britain by a distinguished group of authors including such Cozy luminaries as Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, E.C. Bentley, and G.K. Chesterton, all of whom eventually served a tenure as president. The Detection Club was originally mostly English and Irish authors, though this was more due to the limitations of geography at the time than an inclination toward British born authors – Hungarian born immigrant to Britain Emma Orczy was among the founding members. Still, the Detection Club has always been a largely British group – John Dickson Carr was the first and only American added to the club in 1936, and he resided in the UK at the time. Always an invitation-only club, the Detection Club today includes some of the modern leaders of mystery fiction, including Colin Dexter and current president, Simon Brett.

Most sources indicate that the main reason the club originally formed was to provide a group of friends in the field; individuals who enjoyed spending time with one another with an excuse to meet regularly for dinner parties in London. However, they also took their careers very seriously, and in an attempt to avoid what they saw as a cheapening of the detective fiction field of literature, all members pledged an oath to uphold certain “fair play” rules. Of course, most of the Detection Club members rarely upheld these “rules” all the time – Agatha Christie in particular was famous for either bending the rules so far they were unrecognizable, or even occasionally breaking them outright.

In modern times many of these initial rules have been relaxed or discarded as sentiment toward them changed among detective fiction authors. (As a side note, I’ll be reviewing these rules and some of their modern applicability in two other upcoming articles.)

Most potential applicants were only considered if they had written at least two successfully published pieces of detective fiction, though a few rare exceptions were made for those who had written significantly in other fields – for example, A. A. Milne, author of the widely popular Winnie the Pooh series of children’s novels, was accepted into the club despite only writing one mystery book, The Red House Mystery. (The Kindle copy is FREE so if you want it, be sure to click on the link!) Likewise, as different styles of novels have risen and fallen over the decades, working in the field that would have been considered “detective fiction” has also fallen by the wayside, with many members having a much stronger background in thriller or supernatural mysteries than strictly detective works.

Overall, the Detection Club has been a mainstay of the for many years, and is still occasionally active, with an anthology of modern short works including pieces by P. D. James, Colin Dexter, and Reginald Hill published for the 75th anniversary of the Detection Club in 2005. The club also periodically re-releases out of print publications of their older anthologies, so if you happen to see a novel with something like “By Members of the Detection Club” on the cover, don’t hesitate to pick it up – it’s sure to include some great reads!

Knox’s Commandments – The 10 Rules of Golden Age Detective Fiction, Part 1

Knox’s Commandments – The 10 Rules of Golden Age Detective Fiction, Part 2

Upcoming Television Mystery Movies for February 2015

Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign CorrespondentThere are quite a few mystery movies that will be playing on television during February 2015, even though it’s such a short month! I have already set up my DVR for as far into the future as it allows me to go. I have many mystery movies already waiting for me on my DVR, and now I’m adding even more during February. How on earth will I ever watch all of these movies? Something’s gotta give!

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February 2015 Turner Classic Movies Channel Mystery Movies (Central time zone):

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Monday – February 2, 2015

7:00 PM
Little Women (1933)
The four March sisters fight to keep their family together and find love while their father is off fighting the Civil War.
Dir: George Cukor Cast:  Katharine Hepburn, Joan Bennett, Paul Lukas.BW-116 mins, CC
***I know I shouldn’t start a mystery movie list with this non-mystery movie, but I think this could be the best edition of Little Women. (Not a mystery.)***

***** ***** ***** *****

Tuesday – February 3, 2015

10:00 AM
The Fallen Sparrow (1943)
Nazi spies pursue a Spanish Civil War veteran in search of a priceless keepsake.
Dir: Richard Wallace Cast:  John Garfield, Maureen O’Hara, Walter Slezak.
BW-94 mins, CC

11:45 AM
Ice Station Zebra (1968)
A sub commander on a perilous mission must ferret out a Soviet agent on his ship.
Dir: John Sturges Cast:  Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, Patrick McGoohan.
C-152 mins, CC

2:15 PM
Foreign Correspondent (1940)
An American reporter covering the war in Europe gets mixed up in the assassination of a Dutch diplomat.
Dir: Alfred Hitchcock Cast:  Joel McCrea, Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall.
BW-120 mins, CC

4:30 PM
North By Northwest (1959)
An advertising man is mistaken for a spy, triggering a deadly cross-country chase.
Dir: Alfred Hitchcock Cast:  Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason.
C-136 mins, CC

The Complete Thin Man Collection of movies11:45 PM
The Thin Man (1934)
A husband-and-wife detective team takes on the search for a missing inventor and almost get killed for their efforts.
Dir: W. S. Van Dyke Cast:  William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O’Sullivan.
BW-91 mins, CC

***** ***** ***** *****

Thursday – February 5, 2015

11:30 AM
‘G’ Men (1935)
A mob protege joins the FBI when a friend is gunned down.
Dir: William Keighley Cast:  James Cagney, Margaret Lindsay, Ann Dvorak.
BW-86 mins, CC

***** ***** ***** *****

Friday – February 6, 2015

7:00 AM
Little Women (1949)
The four daughters of a New England family fight for happiness during and after the Civil War.
Dir: Mervyn LeRoy Cast:  June Allyson, Peter Lawford, Margaret O’Brien.
C-122 mins, CC
***If you haven’t seen this Little Women edition, I think it’s a close second to the one above. (Not a mystery.)***

***** ***** ***** *****

Sunday – February 8

11:00 PM
Gaslight (1944)
A newlywed fears she’s going mad when strange things start happening at the family mansion.
Dir: George Cukor Cast:  Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten.
BW-114 mins, CC

***** ***** ***** *****

Tuesday – February 10

12:00 AM
Laura (1944)
A police detective falls in love with the woman whose murder he’s investigating.
Dir: Otto Preminger Cast:  Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb.
BW-88 mins, CC

6:00 AM
Julie (1956)
A stewardess is stalked by her psychotic estranged husband.
Dir: Andrew L. Stone Cast:  Doris Day, Louis Jourdan, Barry Sullivan.
BW-98 mins, CC, Letterbox Format

8:00 AM
Crossfire (1947)
A crusading district attorney investigates the murder of a Jewish man.
Dir: Edward Dmytryk Cast:  Robert Young, Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan.
BW-86 mins, CC

Alfred Hitchcock's Suspicion with Cary Grant & Joan Fontaine9:30 AM
Suspicion (1941)
A wealthy wallflower suspects her penniless playboy husband of murder.
Dir: Alfred Hitchcock Cast:  Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Sir Cedric Hardwicke.
BW-100 mins, CC

11:30 AM
Mystery Street (1950)
Criminal pathologists try to crack a case with nothing but the victim’s bones to go on.
Dir: John Sturges Cast:  Ricardo Montalban, Sally Forrest, Bruce Bennett.
BW-93 mins, CC

1:15 PM
The Fallen Idol (1948)
A neglected child thinks the servant he idolizes has committed murder.
Dir: Carol Reed Cast:  Ralph Richardson, Michele Morgan, Bobby Henrey.
BW-95 mins, CC

3:00 PM
After the Thin Man (1936)
Married sleuths Nick and Nora Charles try to clear Nora’s cousin of a murder charge.
Dir: W. S. Van Dyke Cast:  William Powell, Myrna Loy, James Stewart.
BW-112 mins, CC

5:00 PM
Charade (1963)
A beautiful widow tries to find her husband’s lost fortune while eluding the killers who want it themselves.
Dir: Stanley Donen Cast:  Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau.
C-113 mins, CC, Letterbox Format

9:15 PM
The Killers (1946)
An insurance investigator uncovers a string of crimes when he tries to find a murdered boxer’s beneficiary.
Dir: Robert Siodmak Cast:  Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O’Brien.
BW-102 mins, CC

***** ***** ***** *****

Thursday – February 12

8:30 PM
The Third Man (1949)
A man’s investigation of a friend’s death uncovers corruption in post-World War II Vienna.
Dir: Carol Reed Cast:  Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles.

BW-104 mins, CC

***** ***** ***** *****

Friday – February 13

12:30 AM
Born Yesterday (1950)
A newspaper reporter takes on the task of educating a crooked businessman’s girlfriend.
Dir: George Cukor Cast:  Judy Holliday, Broderick Crawford, William Holden.
BW-102 mins, CC
***Judy Holliday! (Not a mystery.)***

4:30 AM
The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)
An overlooked gold transporter with twenty years service plots to steal a million pounds of gold.
Dir: Charles Crichton Cast:  Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Sidney James.
BW-81 mins, CC

8:00 AM
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)
A man remains young and handsome while his portrait shows the ravages of age and sin.
Dir: Albert Lewin Cast:  George Sanders, Hurd Hatfield, Donna Reed, Angela Lansbury.
BW-110 mins, CC

The Bad Seed movie10:00 AM
The Bad Seed (1956)
A woman suspects that her perfect little girl is a ruthless killer.
Dir: Mervyn LeRoy Cast:  Gage Clarke, Jesse White, Joan Croyden.
C-129 mins, CC

***** ***** ***** *****

Saturday – February 14

12:30 PM
Adam’s Rib (1949)
Husband-and-wife lawyers argue opposite sides in a sensational women’s rights case.
Dir: George Cukor Cast:  Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Holliday.
BW-101 mins, CC
***Judy Holliday! (Not a mystery.)***

***** ***** ***** *****

Sunday – February 15

8:00 AM
T-Men (1948)
U.S. agents infiltrate a deadly counterfeiting ring.
Dir: Anthony Mann Cast:  Dennis O’Keefe, Mary Meade, Alfred Ryder.
BW-92 mins, CC

9:45 AM
The Naked City (1948)
A step-by-step look at a murder investigation on the streets of New York.
Dir: Jules Dassin Cast:  Barry Fitzgerald, Howard Duff, Dorothy Hart.
BW-96 mins, CC

11:30 AM
The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
A gang of small time crooks plots an elaborate jewel heist.
Dir: John Huston Cast:  Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen.
BW-112 mins, CC

1:30 PM
The Blue Dahlia (1946)
A veteran fights to prove he didn’t kill his cheating wife.
Dir: George Marshall Cast:  Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, William Bendix.
BW-99 mins, CC

3:15 PM
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Hard-boiled detective Sam Spade gets caught up in the murderous search for a priceless statue.
Dir: John Huston Cast:  Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George.
BW-100 mins, CC

***** ***** ***** *****

Monday  – February 16

7:00 PM
Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
A small-town lawyer gets the case of a lifetime when a military man avenges an attack on his wife.
Dir: Otto Preminger Cast:  James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara.
BW-161 mins, CC, Letterbox Format

10:00 PM
Pillow Talk (1959)
A man and woman carry their feud over the telephone line they share into their real lives.
Dir: Michael Gordon Cast:  Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Tony Randall.
C-102 mins, CC, Letterbox Format
***A Doris Day and Rock Hudson movie! (Not a mystery.)***

***** ***** ***** *****

Tuesday – February 17

12:45 PM
In Cold Blood (1967)
Two vagrants try to outrun the police after committing a savage crime in this real-life shocker.
Dir: Richard Brooks Cast:  Robert Blake, Scott Wilson, John Forsythe.
BW-134 mins, CC, Letterbox Format

5:00 PM
Bullitt (1968)
When mobsters kill the witness he was assigned to protect, a dedicated policeman investigates the case on his own.
Dir: Peter Yates Cast:  Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn, Jacqueline Bisset.
C-114 mins, CC, Letterbox Format

***** ***** ***** *****

Thursday – February 19

7:15 AM
Twilight of Honor (1963)
A struggling lawyer takes on a controversial murder case that could make or break him.
Dir: Boris Sagal Cast:  Richard Chamberlain, Joey Heatherton, Nick Adams.
BW-104 mins, Letterbox Format

Billy Wilder's Witness for the Prosecution with Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, & Charles Laughton11:30 AM
Witness for the Prosecution (1958)
A British lawyer gets caught up in a couple’s tangled marital affairs when he defends the husband for murder.
Dir: Billy Wilder Cast:  Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton.
BW-116 mins, CC, Letterbox Format

4:00 PM
Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
An aging American judge presides over the trial of Nazi war criminals.
Dir: Stanley Kramer Cast:  Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark.
BW-179 mins, CC, Letterbox Format
***Capt. Kirk before he was Capt. Kirk!***

***** ***** ***** *****

Sunday – February 22

3:00 AM
Klute (1971)
A small-town detective searches for a missing man linked to a high-priced prostitute.
Dir: Alan J. Pakula Cast:  Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Charles Cioffi.
C-114 mins, CC, Letterbox Format

***** ***** ***** *****

Saturday – February 28

5:00 AM
The Window (1949)
A boy who always lies witnesses a murder but can’t get anyone but the killer to believe him.
Dir: Ted Tetzlaff Cast:  Barbara Hale, Arthur Kennedy, Paul Stewart.
BW-74 mins, CC

6:15 AM
Night Must Fall (1937)
A charming young man worms his way into a wealthy woman’s household, then reveals a deadly secret.
Dir: Richard Thorpe Cast:  Merle Tottenham, Kathleen Harrison, Dame May Whitty.
BW-116 mins, CC

8:15 AM
Kind Lady (1951)
A con artist and his criminal cohorts hold an old lady hostage in her own home.
Dir: John Sturges Cast:  Ethel Barrymore, Maurice Evans, Angela Lansbury.
BW-78 mins, CC

9:45 AM
Wait Until Dark (1967)
A blind woman fights against drug smugglers who’ve invaded her home.
Dir: Terence Young Cast:  Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna.
C-108 mins, CC, Letterbox Format

11:45 AM
The Narrow Margin (1952)
A tough cop meets his match when he has to guard a gangster’s moll on a tense train ride.
Dir: Richard Fleischer Cast:  Charles McGraw, Marie Windsor, Jacqueline White.
BW-72 mins, CC

1:00 PM
Strangers on a Train (1951)
A man’s joking suggestion that he and a chance acquaintance trade murders turns deadly.
Dir: Alfred Hitchcock Cast:  Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, Robert Walker.
BW-101 mins, CC

Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt with Joseph Cotten & Teresa Wright2:45 PM
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
A young girl fears her favorite uncle may be a killer.
Dir: Alfred Hitchcock Cast:  Teresa Wright, Joseph Cotten, MacDonald Carey.
BW-108 mins, CC

***** ***** ***** *****

(All of the above TCM descriptions were copied from the TCM site.)

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February 2015 PBS Masterpiece Mystery! Shows Grantchester (Central time zone):

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Sunday – February 1, 2015

8:00 PM
Grantchester – Part 3

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Sunday – February 8, 2015

8:00 PM
Grantchester – Part 4

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Masterpiece Mystery! Grantchester - season 1Sunday – February 15, 2015

8:00 PM
Grantchester – Part 5

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Sunday – February 22, 2015

8:00 PM
Grantchester – Part 6

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February 2015 Hallmark Movies & Mystery Channel Mystery Movies (Central time zone):

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Sunday – February 1, 2015

8:00 AM – 11:59 PM
Matlock marathon

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Saturday – February 7, 2015

8:00 AM – 11:59 PM
Mystery Woman marathon

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Monday – February 9, 2015

8:00 AM
Jane Doe: Yes, I Remember It Well
Cathy’s mom, Polly, a former CSA agent, comes for a visit. When a British agent with some top secret information is kidnapped, Cathy and Polly set aside their mother/daughter angst to uncover a plot which has global implications. Stars Lea Thompson, Joe Penny, and Donna Mills.

10:00 AM
McBride: Semper Fi
On a quiet street, in a seemingly ordinary home, a horrific crime has occurred, and a fireman and former marine medic is accused of killing his wife and daughters. Stars John Larroquette, Marta Dubois, and Matt Lutz.

***** ***** ***** *****

Tuesday – February 10, 2015

8:00 AM
Jane Doe: Ties That Bind
Though CEO Everett Myers is accused of murdering his partner, CSA puzzle solver Cathy Davis is certain he’s innocent, despite witnesses, surveillance cameras, and a surefire motive. Stars Lea Thompson, Joe Penny, and Robert Carradine.

10:00 AM
McBride: The Doctor is Out…Really Out
When therapist George Prescott is murdered, investigator Jim McBride is summoned to questions the doctor’s biggest head cases, including vindictive lovers, jealous colleagues, and vengeful rivals. Stars John Larroquette, Marta Dubois,and Matt Lutz.

***** ***** ***** *****

Wednesday – February 11, 2015

8:00 AM
Jane Doe: The Wrong Face
Cathy is brought in to find the U.S. Attorney’s missing wife and to ensure a money laundering investigation does not fall apart at a crucial point. Stars Lea Thompson and Joe Penny.

10:00 AM
McBride: Anybody Here Murder Marty?
When Tracy, an aspiring singer breaks up with her longtime boyfriend Joe on the set of a popular talk show, everyone assumes it’s nothing more than tv tabloid hijinks. But when the talk show host turns up dead, all evidence points to Joe. McBride must take center stage and clear his client of murder. Stars John Larroquette, Marta Dubois, and Matt Lutz.

***** ***** ***** *****

Thursday – February 12, 2015

8:00 AM
Jane Doe: How To Fire Your Boss
When a fellow agent kills his mentor in cold blood and can’t remember the crime, puzzle-solver Cathy Davis is enlisted to discover the motive. What she uncovers is a government experiment in mind-control developed to weed out terrorists. But the man behind the brainstorm could have other, more insidious motives. Stars Lea Thompson, Joe Penny and Erin Gray.

10:00 AM
McBride: Fallen Idol
McBride and Phil represent a young man accused of murdering a famous and success lawyer, who is also McBride’s mentor. Stars John Larroquette, Marta DuBois, and Matt Lutz.

***** ***** ***** *****

Friday – February 13, 2015

Matlock with Andy Griffith8:00 AM
Jane Doe: The Harder They Fall
Horning Cereal is dumping contaminated food on 3rd World countries. When former CSA agent Jim Monroe is found hovering over the drowned CEO of Horning Cereal, he is immediately the prime suspect. Cathy and Frank try to find out who framed Jim. Stars Lea Thompson, Joe Penny, and Billy Moses.

10:00 AM
McBride: Requiem
In life, Ava Fletcher was a virtuoso classical violinist and a darling of the critics, if not her peers. In death, she’s McBride’s new puzzle, and she’s got a grieving father eager to nail her low-class fiancé. McBride isn’t convinced, especially with an orchestra pit full of suspects all of who have solid motives for snipping Ava’s strings. Stars John Larroquette, Marta Dubois and Matt Lutz

***** ***** ***** *****

(All of the above Hallmark Movies & Mysteries descriptions were copied from the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries site.) I’m sorry, but the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel television schedule only went as far as February 14 when I was getting the information together, so I couldn’t finish the month’s mystery movies roster. I’ll try to update it later.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

If you know of any other mystery themed movies that are going to be aired on television during February 2015, please post a comment.

If you would like to see more Television and Movies ideas, click on this link.

Here is the Upcoming Mystery Movies for January 2015 entry, in case you want to see what is playing the rest of this month.

Laura Childs : Tea Shop Mystery Series

Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs (Tea Shop Mysteries, book #1)Recently I’ve been re-visiting a lot of the Cozy (and almost-Cozy) series that I’ve enjoyed over the years. I have written previous posts talking about these books: Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie Mystery Series and “Jessica Fletcher” & Donald Bain: Murder She Wrote Mysteries are two such examples. My most recent re-visit is Death by Darjeeling, the first book in Laura Childs‘s Tea Shop Mystery Series.

The Tea Shop Mystery Series stars Theodosia Browning, former advertising executive and current owner/manager of Charleston’s Indigo Tea Shop. When a customer of a local tour dies suspiciously after having a drink of Theo’s special tea blend, her business begins to suffer. To make things worse, the investigator in charge seems to think that Theo’s part time worker might be responsible… or maybe even Theo herself!

Aside from Theo herself, the Indigo Tea Shop staff includes, Drayton, somewhat fussy but nevertheless loveable master tea taster, and Haley, a part-time college students who serves as both the clerk and the baker for the shop. Also of particular note is Earl Grey, Theo’s darling adopted dog. The series also has a regular cast of backup characters such as Delaine Dish, local gossip, and Jory Davis, lawyer and love interest.

Steeped in Evil by Laura Childs (Tea Shop Mysteries, book #15)One of the great things about local based Cozies like the Tea Shop mysteries is that they give a strong sense of location. Childs works hard to make Charleston almost a character in and of itself. Childs sprinkles in plenty of verifiable facts, such as the ownership of the Charleston Tea Plantation, that quickly give her an air of authority about Charleston, helping the reader feel like they are truly immersing themselves in the location.

Overall, I would say that the one word that most summarizes the Tea Shop mysteries is charm. The Tea Shop mysteries excel because of the rich and vibrant portrayal of both the characters and the setting as well as the mysteries themselves.

Death In Paradise – Fun Cozy Mystery TV

Death in ParadiseI recently discovered the British TV mystery series, Death in Paradise. This is currently one of my favorite TV shows and one of the few that falls well within the bounds of the Cozy Mystery genre.

The show is set in the fictional tropical island of Saint-Marie which is a British possession and filmed on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. The setup of the first episode is that a murder has occurred on the island, and because the murder is that of the local British detective, a new detective from London is brought in to investigate.

The London detective, Detective Inspector Richard Poole, played wonderfully by Ben Miller, is not happy to be sent to the island. His character is very much a “fish out of water” type character, much in the mold of the Doc in Doc Martin. The London detective refuses to adopt the casual island clothing, for example. He goes everywhere in a suit and tie despite the tropical heat (which bothers him quite a bit.)  And, for some reason, he always carries a briefcase no matter where he goes. I like that the character is quirky, but not over-the-top zany.

Other characters include a few members of the local police force. The refreshing thing about the additional characters is that they are all intelligent, and they all provide great help to the main detective in gathering the facts for each episode’s mystery. They make a great team both in the stories and with their great chemistry on the screen.

Besides the characters and the settings (which are beautiful, by the way), I really like that the mysteries are well plotted. All the clues that are necessary to solve the crime are actually presented to the viewer. One of my pet peeves is when the writer of a mystery saves one important clue for the detective to disclose during the final scene’s “reveal”. I always feel cheated when the clues remain hidden until after the sleuth has solved the case. One of the fun things I like about good Cozy Mysteries is that they provide a puzzle to solve. Holding back a clue until the end strikes me the same as keeping some of the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle off the table. Frustrating — and not fun!

I have not yet finished watching seasons one and two, but I understand (from Ian) that something big happens during the first episode of season three. Hmmm… I hope it’s something good! I can’t attest to the quality of the later seasons (yet), but I have really enjoyed what I have seen so far. And (again, from Ian) they are currently watching season 4 across the pond, so good news for us!

(Note – this show is not based on the Robert B. Parker Jesse Stone novel Death in Paradise nor is it related to the mystery novel of the same name by Carolyn Hart. Death in Paradise is a popular title among mystery writers!)

P.S. Thank you so much, Ian, for all the Death In Paradise information, including this fun fact:

Ian:

(Fun fact – Ben Miller found it so hot that whenever his feet were out of shot he took his shoes off, and his shirt was only a front and cuffs).