Monday, November 21, 2016

The Strange Case of Donald Trump and Mr. Hyde

The Strange Case of Donald Trump and Mr. Hyde


MR. UTTERSON the lawyer had gummy lips which pursed and smacked when rapt in deep and worried thought. His gray eyebrows shifted as he cogitated, moths ready to take flight. He walked along Madison Avenue weaving through the evening crowd in the company of his cousin, Richard Enfield. Soot begrimed the streets and buildings as though a dam had burst on all the smoke stoppered away since the creation of the EPA, the haze of an ancient fog having returned to choke the city.

"Donald Trump has always seemed such a pleasant buffoon," the lawyer said. "What does this Mr. Hyde hold over him to make him thus Twitter in the night?"

"I know not," Enfield said, his smile was broad but strained. "I have on Trump's word that Trump is an honourable man, forthright and never to set his tongue to a lie. Studious of the Bible. He has declared his true favourite among passages is, 'An eye for an eye.' [1]"

"Aye," Utterson said, wagging his head, "that is Trump and true. He has proclaimed many a deviled phrase. 'Get even with people. If they screw you, screw them back ten times as hard. [2]' He has declared, 'You can't be too greedy. [3]'"

"Yes, quite. You have quoted from The Art of the Deal, which Trump has sworn second in his heart only to the Bible [4]. But then, perhaps it is not the Christian Bible he studies.[5]"

They chuckled.

"Still, I believe him a good man," Utterson said.

"He is a child of Christ," Enfield asseverated. "In truth, his late grandmother was born of the name Elisabeth Christ, may her soul find peace. [6]"

Elizabeth Trump, nee Elisabeth Christ, Oct. 10, 1880 - June 6, 1966. RIP.


Utterson grunted. He recognized that Enfield, even with his seemingly benign words, steered the conversation in a direction more sinister than he would like.

They stopped at the brink of a fountain. An old woman tossed crumbs to a pigeon. A feral cat leapt upon the bird and, with a horrid, rapacious rake of its claws, tore open its neck. Utterson shuddered and Enfield looked away in disgust.

"I saw this Mr. Hyde just this week past," Utterson said. "On Park Avenue. There was something abnormal and misbegotten in the very essence of the creature -- something seizing, surprising, and revolting [7]. A smallish man, half that of the stout Trump. He stalked among a crowd who parted for his passage and then ducked into a doorway leading to the lower chambers of Trump Tower. He smacked the doorkeeper with his cane as he passed inside."

"Surely, the malfeasant was bounced forthwith," Enfield said.

"Nay. The doorkeeper apologized for being struck. It seemed this Hyde was welcomed as a favored guest."

"Hmmpf." Enfield sniffled as he glanced about. "Still 't'is to be expected. Trump recalled that as a child in the second grade, he gave his teacher a black eye because he thought the man dumb [8]. What a prodigy! And he praised his own son for being vicious and violent. [9]

"Such praise of craven brutishness," Utterson said. "The pieces fit and surely they bespeak of the impish influence of Mr. Hyde, an agent of chaos if one ever has existed. How but through Hyde's actions could you explain so great an entrepreneur losing near a billion in one year on a casino? [10]"

"And yet the deduction appeared on Trump's taxes, not on Hyde's," Enright countered, "passing the burden on to all who do pay. A thousand men like that and we begin to explain the mass of deficit. Think of how much he will deduct once he bankrupts America!"

A greyness settled over Utterson's heart. He knew Enright was hardly a Tory, and yet it seemed clear that in this discourse and by saying the opposite of what he meant, his cousin took a wicked glee in casting a spell of persuasion.

"Trump is a pleasant buffoon," Utterson muttered, as though the words could stave back a heaviness he felt sapping his very corpuscles. "It must be the work of Mr. Hyde. I cannot reconcile this great entrepreneur with so crass a man."

"No, Trump is not crass," Enfield said. "It surely must be the constellation of haters who cling to his name." He whispered their name, "The white supremacists. [11]"

"White supremacists?" Utterson scoffed. "Trump would never associate with such a toxic brand of ignorance."

Trump passing along a message from WhiteGenocide (one of several)

Trump passing along a statistic from a phony institute claiming 81% of whites are killed by blacks.

"No," Enfield agreed, a hiss in his voice, "not Trump."

A homeless woman sat behind a sign, Destroyed by Trump. Utterson snorted. He then asked himself whether he laughed at such a pathetic figure or at her claim? Ashamed of himself, he dropped a coin in her cup.

"Trump only destroys the best," Enfield said. This left Utterson confused. Was his cousin dismissing this woman's statement? Surely he was not saying this woman was the best?

"Trump," Enfield continued, "or I betake it was that other, that foul fiend who prowls the night, assaults women and ogles naked youth. There was the time he humiliated Miss Universe."

"Miss Universe? That name rings of a true potency." And, in Utterson's mind, a touch of the unreal. He searched his memory as to whether Miss Universe was among the list of Marvel characters.

"There was Alicia Machado, Miss Universe 1996," Enfield said. "Trump lied and said she made pornographic movies. And then called upon people to watch the films. [12]"

"Ah, that was but a Twitter in the night," Utterson said. "Thus pointing again to Hyde. And Trump himself said no such comment ever existed. [13]"

Trump passes along advice to watch a sex tape (which never existed) to humiliate Alicia Machado. Claimed Hillary Clinton helped Machado get her citizenship. Trump claimed he never asked to check out a sex tape



"Perhaps." Enfield frowned, more of a squishing of the lips. "But what of that other incident. Jennifer Hawkins, Miss Universe 2004. That video where he called her to stand before a crowd and sexually humiliated her and declared he planned to lie to people and say she was dumb. [14]. Or that other pageant where he assaulted Temple Taggert [15]. Or those times he went backstage unannounced to ogle the women and underage contestants [16]. He declared it within his rights, 'I'm the owner of the pageant... You know, they're standing there with no clothes. [17]' Trump has professed that he had sex with three women at once, noting their weight, something very important to him, totaled 375 pounds. [18] But, ha! 'T'were not for his riches, the man would be a 70-year-old virgin."

Enfield was now a dog with a bone and he would not let go. "The man who, with Trump, co-wrote The Art of the Deal, who examined Trump as close as anybody, declared that if wrote the book today he would title it, 'The Sociopath.' I quote the author in saying 'Lying is second nature to him.' [19]"

"Stop!" Utterson vociferated. "Enough! I don't want to know. You have settled your mind on these matters and are but toying with me. If Trump be a liar, I need hear it from his own lips."

"Utterson, my dear cousin, there is the story of the two doors. One is guarded by a dragon who always speaks the truth, the other by a dragon who always lies. Would you trust the lying dragon to tell you which was honest?"

The pair stopped in their tracks. He and Enfield stood at the corner of 5th and 57th, outside of Trump's Tower. There, not far away, Donald Trump, the man himself, strode down the sidewalk. He ducked into a side door, a heavy metal portal which, upon his passage, failed to snap shut against its bolts.

Enfield must have read Utterson's mind, for he said, "I warn you, for the sake of your sanity and all that you deem holy. Do not follow."

But the temptation consumed the lawyer. Leaving Enfield behind with a bare whisper of "Godspeed," he slid his fingers into the door crack. So solid and of such heft, he feared it would jerk closed, lopping off his digits. He drew it open.

He hoped to happen upon a security guard, someone who would thrust him back in to the street, thereby halting this fearful obsession. No such fortune.

Laid out before him, a long tunnel. Plump bundles of wiring clung to the ceiling like a string of cocoons. A steam-pipe gurgled and sizzled, a pin-point leak. The boiling water condensed against the ceiling and a steady drip dove into the echo of emptiness.

At the end of the hall, an open doorway baited him with its light, its bright gaping maw seemingly inhaling the length of darkness. Utterson's mind told him, no, but his feet, no longer heeding his will, answered the summons, his footfalls tattooing a relentless path onward.

He entered a vast and yet strangely claustrophobic room where he encountered a raging furnace.  The walls were awash in trembling yellows and reds. Nearby, draped over the arm of a battered E-Z-boy chair, there rested the scarecrow face of Donald Trump, the eye sockets empty, the orange hair spray-hardened into a swath of straw.

"If he only had a. . ."

Utterson sunk his finger through the eyes. It was a Latex mask.

A clacking sound. Sitting in front of a desk, tap-tapping away at a keyboard, was the small and twisted, ape-like creature, Hyde. The horrendous brute gazed at the screen with jaundiced frenzied eyes, stabbing the keyboard with thick yellowed nails as he Twittered. He still wore Trump's blue serge jacket, his stick-like appendages now wholly swallowed, his tiny frame lost as though set beneath a fallen circus tent.

This can't be, Utterson thought. It does not ring true: surely the law of conservation of mass. And yet, he considered, he hadn't accounted for the presence of dark matter.

The beast looked up at him, and in that instant, Utterson knew for certain. There never was a Trump, only Mr. Hyde.


Martin Hill Ortiz

Notes and Footnotes.

Perhaps I should have titled the piece, Doctor Trump and Mr. Hyde. In 1988, Trump received an honorary doctorate from LeHigh University, the year after they granted one to Bill Cosby.
http://thebrownandwhite.com/2016/02/08/rescinding-trumps-honorary-degree/

Many of the links include audio and visual files in which Trump expresses his character.

[1] Trump's favorite Bible verse had a long and strained history.

Round one, August 2015.
When asked what his favorite verse was, he said, "I wouldn't want to get into it. Because to me, that's very personal. The Bible means a lot to me, but I don't want to get into specifics." He declined to choose between the Old or New Testament, "Probably equal. I think it's just incredible." Link includes audio and visual. [August 2015]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10qbt0LHmvE&feature=youtu.be

His second attempt, September 2015.
When Trump was asked for a favorite verse, he invented one, saying it was from Proverbs: "Never bend to envy." No such verse exists.
http://www.christiantoday.com/article/donald.trump.finally.reveals.his.favourite.bible.verse.which.is.never.bend.to.envy.but.theres.a.problem.it.doesnt.exist/65011.htm

"Never bend to envy?" What does Trump even mean by this? Maintain good posture while envying? Did Trump believe many people groveled while envying him and he was disgusted by them?

"Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them. For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief." Proverbs 24:1-2.

His third attempt at a favorite verse, September 2016.

"Is there a favorite Bible verse or Bible story that has informed your thinking or your character through life, sir?" asked host Bob Lonsberry on WHAM 1180 AM.

Trump: "Well, I think many. I mean, when we get into the Bible, I think many, so many. And some people, look, an eye for an eye, you can almost say that." [link to audio]

https://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/donald-trumps-favorite-bible-teaching-is-eye-for-an-eye?utm_term=.krzz3qaBW#.fn7Q1Al2j

[2] Screw people back ten times as hard. From the Jennifer Hawkins video, discussed more fully below.

Fuller quote: "Get even with people. If they screw you, screw them back ten times as hard. I really believe that." [Video and Audio at link].

http://www.vox.com/identities/2016/10/28/13459750/trump-video-miss-universe-grab-kiss-jennifer-hawkins

[3] "The point is you can't be too greedy." The Art of the Deal, Donald Trump and Tony Schwartz. Random House. (1987).

[4] Trump declared the Bible his favorite book, beating out second place, Trump's own Art of the Deal.

Trump stated this on several occasions. One example here, as reported on a Christian news site.
http://www.charismanews.com/politics/primaries/51543-donald-trump-just-revealed-his-favorite-book-want-to-guess

Before his presidential run, Trump stated that his favorite book was Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking.

http://www.shortlist.com/entertainment/40-favourite-books-of-famous-people#gallery-35

[5] Not the Christian Bible. Many of Trump's sayings are reflected in Anton LaVey's The Satanic bible.

Trump's favorite verse: Eye for an eye.
Note: This is one of the few sayings that Jesus specifically refuted.
And similar Trump quote:  Get even with people. If they screw you, screw them back ten times as hard. I really believe that.
Satanic bible: Eye for eye, tooth for tooth -aye, four-fold, a hundred-fold!

Trump: You can't be too greedy.
Satanic bible: A Satanist knows there is nothing wrong with being greedy.

Trump, as cited below brags of his orgies and praises violence.
From the Satanic bible:
Satanism is a blatantly selfish, brutal religion.
And,
The seven deadly sins of the Christian Church are: greed, pride, envy, anger, gluttony, lust, and sloth. Satanism advocates indulging in each of these "sins" as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification.

I will not link to the text of the Satanic bible. It is available at archive.org, a safe site.

[6] From the genealogy site:
Elizabeth Christ. Oct. 10, 1880 - Jun. 6, 1966

Spouse:
  Friedrich Trump (1869-1918)
Mother of:
  Frederick Christ Trump (1905-1999)
  Father of Donald John Trump (1946- )
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=105719858

[7] I had to include, if only briefly, some of Stevenson's sharp prose. From: Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Longmans, Green & Co., 1886.

[8] Gave teacher black eye in the second grade.
From: The Art of the Deal. Donald Trump and Tony Schwartz. Random House. (1987). 
"In the second grade I actually gave a teacher a black eye — I punched my music teacher because I didn't think he knew anything about music..."

[9] Praising his son's violent character.
From: Donald Trump gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. USA Today, 1/16/2007.
Speaking of his son, Barron. "He's strong, he's smart, he's tough, he's vicious, he's violent — all of the ingredients you need to be an entrepreneur."
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/life/people/2007-01-16-trump_x.htm

[10] The casino bankruptcy and the tax deduction.
From: Donald Trump Got a Tax Break For Stiffing Contractors. October 8, 2016, Fortune Magazine.
http://fortune.com/2016/10/08/donald-trump-taxes-contractors/

[11] White supremacy notes.
Trump sending along a racist tweet from #whitegenocide.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/nov/23/donald-trump/trump-tweet-blacks-white-homicide-victims/

Trump sending along a racist tweet that says 81% of homicides where white people are the victim are committed by blacks. (The actual number is about 16%) The tweet, which made the rounds of white supremacy sites, cites a non-existent crime statistics research group.

More of the connection of Donald Trump, his social network, other tweets and white supremacy is discussed here.
http://fortune.com/donald-trump-white-supremacist-genocide/

[12, 13] The tweet advising America to watch a (non-existent) sex tape of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado and then denying he ever said it. [for the latter, video in the link]

From:
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/oct/09/donald-trump/trump-early-morning-sex-tape-tweet/

Text of tweet:
Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?

From the second debate:
Anderson Cooper: In the days after the first debate, you sent out a series of tweets from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m., including one that told people to check out a sex tape.
Trump: No, it wasn’t saying, 'check out a sex tape.' It was just 'take a look at the person she built up to be this wonderful girl scout, who was no girl scout.'

[14] Jennifer Hawkins, Miss Australia, for Miss Universe.

One of the most disturbing videos that was uncovered was that of Trump humiliating Jennifer Hawkins, former Miss Universe in front of a crowd of thousands, including stating his plan to lie about her intelligence, making orgasm jokes at her expense, and forcing a kiss of her.

From: A newly surfaced video shows Donald Trump grabbing and kissing a former Miss Universe onstage. He sexually humiliates her in front of thousands. Vox.com, October 28, 2016.

http://www.vox.com/identities/2016/10/28/13459750/trump-video-miss-universe-grab-kiss-jennifer-hawkins

Excerpts:
Trump, after explaining how he believed Hawkins had refused to introduce him, brings Jennifer Hawkins up on stage and then describes how he planned to exact his revenge.

"Get even with people. If they screw you, screw them back ten times as hard. I really believe that."

"I was actually going to get up and tell you that Jennifer is a beautiful girl on the outside, but she’s not very bright. That wouldn’t have been true, but I would have said it anyway."

"And you know what? She came tonight, she came — came, she came, she came. See, so they have the same filthy minds in Australia."

[15] Temple Taggert, 2007 Miss Utah complained that Trump forced a kiss.

From: Miss USA Contestant Details Unwanted Encounters With Trump. nbcnews.com
Excerpt:

Taggert: "I remember feeling kind of embarrassed, like wanting to turn and wipe my mouth, like, 'What just happened?'"

http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/miss-usa-contestant-details-encounters-trump-n665521

[16] Backstage and ogling contestants.

From: Teen Beauty Queens Say Trump Walked In On Them Changing. "Don’t worry, ladies, I've seen it all before."

https://www.buzzfeed.com/kendalltaggart/teen-beauty-queens-say-trump-walked-in-on-them-changing?utm_term=.kp4o9vMa6#.ot2nb24E0

Excerpt: Four women who competed in the 1997 Miss Teen USA beauty pageant said Donald Trump walked into the dressing room while contestants — some as young as 15 — were changing. [the story notes a fifth woman had come forward]

and, at the 2000 Miss USA Beauty Pageant:

 "We Were All Naked" When Donald Trump Walked Through Beauty Queen Dressing Room.  Trump: "I sort of get away with things like that."

https://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicagarrison/we-were-all-naked-when-donald-trump-walked-in?utm_term=.bbVV48yPJ#.febQNb1pn

Tasha Dixon, Miss Arizona, describes the same event in the 2001 Miss America Pageant.
http://edition.cnn.com/videos/politics/2016/10/12/donald-trump-beauty-pageant-contestants-naked-lavandera-dnt-erin.cnn

Other examples not mentioned.

[17] The right to go backstage when the beauty queen contestants were undressed.

From: Trump on Howard Stern. [radio show, audio files available at link] http://edition.cnn.com/2016/10/08/politics/trump-on-howard-stern/

Excerpts:

Trump speaking. "Well, I'll tell you the funniest is that before a show, I'll go backstage and everyone's getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I'm allowed to go in because I'm the owner of the pageant and therefore I'm inspecting it," Trump said. "You know, I'm inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good."

"You know, the dresses. 'Is everyone okay?' You know, they're standing there with no clothes. 'Is everybody okay?'

But it's okay: "All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me - consciously or unconsciously. That's to be expected." How to Get Rich. Donald Trump, Meredith McGiver. Ballantine Books. (2004)

[18] Trump having sex with three women at once, weighing 375 pounds between them.

From the same link as above: Trump on Howard Stern. [radio show, audio files available at link]
http://edition.cnn.com/2016/10/08/politics/trump-on-howard-stern/

Context:
After asking Trump about whether he ever had sex with a 300 pound woman— to which Trump replies, no—Artie Lang asked Trump if he ever had a threesome total 300 pounds.

Excerpt:

Trump: "I wouldn't say 300, I would say could be about 375. I figure 125 a piece as opposed to 100."

A different instance when he was asked about having threesomes in general [same link].

"Haven't we all," Trump added about men having threesomes, "are we babies?"

[19] Trump, The Sociopath.

From: Donald Trump's Ghost Writer Tells All. July 25, 2016, The New Yorker.
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/07/25/donald-trumps-ghostwriter-tells-all

Excerpts and further quotes:

If he were writing "The Art of the Deal" today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, "The Sociopath."

"Lying is second nature to him," Schwartz said. "More than anyone else I have ever met, Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true."

"I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization." Tony Schwartz, co-author.

 ---

Martin Hill Ortiz is the author of Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press.




Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press

Never Kill A Friend is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.
The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison.

Hard cover: Amazon US
Kindle: Amazon US
Hard cover: Amazon UK
Kindle: Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Chandler Versus Hammett, Hammett Versus Chandler

I have been reviewing the top mystery novels which appeared on the Crime Writers' Association and the Mystery Writers of America best mystery lists.

The #2 entry in the CWA list, The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler perfectly complements the #2 entry on the MWA list, The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.

There exists a cosmic schism among fans and writers of hard-boiled mysteries: Hammett or Chandler?

Solomon: What about Raymond Chandler, who wrote so evocatively about Los Angeles lowlifes before you?
Ellroy: He is egregiously overrated
Solomon: Dashiell Hammett, whose name is synonymous with the adjective "hard-boiled?"
Ellroy: I think he's tremendously great...

From: Questions for James Ellroy, The Mother Load. Interview by Deborah Solomon. New York Times Magazine. Nov. 5, 2006.

"I grew up wanting to be Raymond Chandler, and now, in a sense, I am." Robert B. Parker quoted in Los Angeles Times, 1/13/1991.

Hammett Vs. Chandler

  • Razor-sharp observations Vs. Whiskey-laced metaphors
  • A hard puncher Vs. Pugilistic poet
  • Banter Vs. Wisecracks
  • Spade Vs. Marlowe
  • Bogart Vs. Bogart and Bacall
  • SF Noir Vs. LA Noir
  • Fog on the Waterfront Vs. Santa Ana winds.

Both served up hard liquor, double crosses, cheap hoods, sinister kingpins, and dazzling, dangerous dames.

Author: Dashiell Hammett
Novel:
The Maltese Falcon
Publication: 1930
Rank: #8 on the CWA list, #2 on the MWA list.
Word Count: 66373
Age of author at time of publication: 35.
Previous novels published by this author: two.
Opening line: Samuel Spade’s jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth.
Significance: The most iconic detective in mystery fiction who only had a single book.

Author: Raymond Chandler
Novel:
The Big Sleep
Publication: 1939
Rank: #10 on the CWA list, #2 on the MWA list.
Word Count: 56955
Age of author at time of publication: 51.
Previous novels published by this author: none.
Opening line: It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid-October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills.
Significance: The most iconic private eye in mystery fiction.

The Battle Is ON.


Round One: Career Output, Prose.
Dashiell Hammett wrote five novels and 50 short stories.
Raymond Chandler wrote seven novels and 24 short stories.
(Neither set of figures includes posthumous publications.)
Commentary: Chandler started later in life (age 51, first novel) and all of his novels presented Philip Marlowe as the protagonist. Hammett started publishing novels in his mid-thirties and stopped in his late-thirties. Two novels featured the Continental Op while the others had varied protagonists, most famously Sam Spade and Nick and Nora Charles.
Advantage: Hammett. Writing single novels about characters is more difficult than a series.

Round Two: Supplementary Output.
Dashiell Hammett wrote the screenplays to After The Thin Man; Shadow of The Thin Man; The Glass Key, and Watch on the Rhine. (and probably received help from Lillian Hellman)
Raymond Chandler wrote screenplays to: Double Indemnity; And Now Tomorrow; Strangers on a Train; Blue Dahlia; and, The Unseen. Usually with co-writers.
Dashiell Hammett wrote the first four adventures of the comic hero: Secret Agent X-9, a character who spent sixty years in comic pages.
Raymond Chandler wrote passable poetry and influential essays about mystery literature.
Advantage: Chandler's movies were better, his essays were iconic but, jeepers! Hammett wrote a comic book! Still, I have to give this to Chandler.

Hammett created Secret Agent X-9 after his novel-writing career.

Round Three: Quotability.
Hammett, Maltese Falcon: "The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter."
Chandler, The Big Sleep: "I don't mind your showing me your legs. They're very swell legs and it's a pleasure to make their acquaintance."
Hammett, Maltese Falcon: "The chances are you'll get off with life. That means you'll be out again in twenty years. You're an angel. I'll wait for you." He cleared his throat. "If they hang you, I'll always remember you."
Chandler, The Big Sleep: Under the thinning fog the surf curled and creamed, almost without sound, like a thought trying to form itself on the edge of consciousness.
Hammett, Maltese Falcon: Joel Cairo: "You always have a very smooth explanation ready."
Sam Spade: "What do you want me to do, learn to stutter?"
Chandler, Playback: "Guns never settle anything," I said. "They’re just a fast curtain to a bad second act."
Advantage: Chandler. Although not evidenced in the above examples, one of Chandler's faults is that he sometimes chose zingers over better writing. Still, he leads in the quotability factor.

Round Four: Movie Adaptation.
Considering the fact that such short stories as "Witness for the Prosecution" made it on to the all-time great mystery novel lists, one has to accept the fact that a great movie adaptation influences our appreciation of the book.
Hammett, The Maltese Falcon. Several versions including the all-time noir great directed by John Huston. The movie kept most of the book dialogue intact and featured perfect casting in all parts. The 1931 version directed by Roy Del Ruth is no slouch and being pre-Code, included direct sexual references.
Chandler, The Big Sleep. Two versions, but the 1946 make with Bogart and Bacall, directed by Howard Hawks, remains the classic. As a heresy, I like the Mitchum version of Marlowe better (1978), but the whole does not stand up well (and how dare they move it to London).
Advantage: Hammett. I can think of no movie more perfectly cast than The Maltese Falcon, 1941.

Round Five: Vox Populi. (11/15/2016)
Hammett, The Maltese Falcon, Goodreads votes, 62987, 3.92 rating.
Chandler, The Big Sleep, Goodreads votes, 82599, 4.04 rating.
Hammett, The Maltese Falcon, Amazon reviews, 555, 4.2 stars.
Chandler, The Big Sleep, Amazon reviews, 510, 4.3 stars.
Advantage: Chandler. The Big Sleep seems to be getting more love here. (I don't understand reviewers. These books should be between 4.5 and 5.0. What are you saving 5 stars for?)

Round Six: Best Life Story.
Let's face it. One reason that books and other forms of art are celebrated is the story behind them. John Kennedy Toole's tragedy, great fights against censorship, Malcolm Lowry's demons, all infuse the pages of their works.
Hammett: He was a P.I.. He battled tuberculosis and alcoholism (and stopped drinking about 12 years before he died). He wrote five great novels in five years and then, for mysterious reasons wrote no more prose. He was a communist who went to jail rather than reveal names before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. His longtime companion, Lillian Hellman, is a legend in her own right. A smoker, he died of lung cancer.
Chandler: He spent his formative writing years in England where he published essays and poetry. Then he returned to the United States where he published nothing for 20 years. As a third act he wrote a series of short stories that expanded the emotional and existential borders of hard-boiled crime. He published his first novel (The Big Sleep) in his fifties. One of the most famously hard-drinking authors, he spent his career drunk or taking the cure and died in a rehabilitation clinic.
Advantage: Both have evocative life stories and not-your-typical writing careers. Advantage: Hammett.

Round Seven: The Critics and The Peers.

Has any writer with such a small oeuvre influenced American culture more than Raymond Chandler?

From: The Case For Raymond Chandler, Alan Barra. Salon, 7/31/2002.

It must be said that in the inevitable comparison between Hammett and Chandler, Chandler comes off second best. There was  a toughness in Hammett that Chandler lacked, and did not appreciate. Mystery author and critic Julian Symon in the mystery review, Bloody Murder (1972).

In researching this post, I was surprised at how many critics and famous writers pounded Chandler. Even the above-linked article, The Case for Raymond Chandler, is tepid in its praise. In contrast, I could not find anyone significant who said that Hammett was overrated, although several complained about his abbreviated output or else deemed specific works to be of lesser quality, especially The Dain Curse and The Thin Man.
Advantage: Hammett.

Round Eight: The Sequels.
Hammett, The Maltese Falcon. Although Hammett never wrote more about Sam Spade, Spade did become a major radio character. In recent years, Joe Gores wrote a worthy prequel, Spade & Archer.
Chandler, The Big Sleep. Chandler's entire writing career involved writing sequels, and not only did Marlowe return, but so did his cast of criminals.
Advantage: Chandler.

Overall Verdict: Both are essential reads. My personal preference is Hammett. When I read The Maltese Falcon, I decided I wanted to write mysteries.

Bonus treat: BBC radio adaptations of all seven Chandler novels. 

---
"I was never influenced by Chandler or Hammett." Elmore Leonard.

From: Elmore Leonard, interviewed in Endangered Species: Writers Talk About Their Craft, Their Visions, Their Lives, Lawrence Grobel. Da Capo Press, 2009.

Previously, #1 CWA list, The Daughter of Time
#1 MWA list, The Complete Sherlock Holmes
---

Martin Hill Ortiz is the author of Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press.



Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press

Never Kill A Friend is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.
The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison.

Hard cover: Amazon US
Kindle: Amazon US
Hard cover: Amazon UK
Kindle: Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble 

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The World's Shortest Mystery, A Puzzle

A number of years back I sent off The World's Shortest Mystery to several mystery magazines without success. When I submitted it to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine I thought I might get a pro-rated check for 2.5 cents. No such luck.

So, here it is, a mystery puzzle in two letters with punctuation. In it, we have an event and a suspect. Scroll down for the solution.


Mr. . ?



scroll down



scroll down



scroll down



scroll down


Dot missed her period. Question Mark.

Mr. = mister = missed her

Martin Hill Ortiz

 -------------------

Martin Hill Ortiz is the author of Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press.




Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press

Never Kill A Friend is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.
The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison.

Hard cover: Amazon US
Kindle: Amazon US
Hard cover: Amazon UK
Kindle: Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble 


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Complete Sherlock Holmes: A Review of the #1 Entry on the Mystery Writers of America List

I am reviewing the top 50 mystery novels which appeared on the Crime Writers' Association and the Mystery Writers of America best mystery lists. I began with the the first choice of the CWA, The Daughter of Time.  I am continuing by switching over to the first entry on the MWA list, The Complete Sherlock Holmes.

Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Entry: The Complete Sherlock Holmes, 4 novels and 56 short stories.
Publication: 1887 to 1927


#1 on the MWA list, included as #21 on the CWA list as The Collected Sherlock Holmes Short Stories, and #32 as The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Word Count: ~660,000
Age of author at time of publication: 28 to 68.
Previous novels published by this author: none.
First words: In the year 1878 I took my degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of London, and proceeded to Netley to go through the course prescribed for surgeons in the army.
Last words: . . . the lucky owner got away scatheless from this strange incident in a career which has now outlived its shadows and promises to end in an honoured old age.
Significance: By far the greatest influence on the detective story. The most enduring literary character, period. Ripping good yarns.
 

Where to start in a critique of Sherlock Holmes adventures? I guess I should declare that I am, in a minor way, a Conan Doyle scholar. Along with researching Conan Doyle to include him in my mystery, A Predator's Game, I have an article forthcoming in the prestigious Baker Street Journal, a 70-year-old publication dedicated to all things Sherlockian.

Now as it has for 120 years, Sherlock Holmes has continued to demonstrate a remarkable popularity:
  • BBC's current series is a geekfest for a new generation. 
  • Robert Downey, Jr., the highest paid actor of 2015, recently starred in two comic bookish free adaptations.
  • Sherlock Holmes was cited in Guinness Book of World Records as the fictional human character most frequently adapted to film and television (Dracula, non-human, is in the lead). The survey notably left out Dr. Watson who appears in nearly all of the Sherlockian adaptations.

Dr. Gregory House, a literary descendant of Holmes. The "homage" of his home address is a bit too spot-on.

One of the joys of Sherlock Holmes comes from Conan Doyle's attention to world-building. The stories are set in a matter-of-fact existing world, a world that feels lived in even when the players are not out having adventures. One way in which this is done is by Conan Doyle often referring to stories that had never been written. Why did Sherlock Holmes seem so brilliant and his cases so exotic? Watson puts forward that there were many more adventures that were either mundane or else failures on the part of Holmes. He chose the good ones. And I nod and think, that makes sense.

The first forty-six short stories and all of the novels of Sherlock Holmes are public domain. The final ten short stories are not. If you are interested in saving money, there are many inexpensive editions that include the public domain works before having to go on to the final story collection: The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes.

(Note to the Doyle heirs. To extend your publication rights: The Cookbook of Sherlock Holmes.)

The endings in several stories were morally ambiguous. Irene Adler bests Sherlock Holmes. Moriarty kills him (although not permanently).

The final stories end on a gloomy note. The Adventure of the Retired Colourman, the last entry in The Case Book, features a killer who gases his victims in a sealed room later taking on Sherlock Holmes's detection as sport.

In that story Sherlock Holmes declares: But is not all life pathetic and futile? Is not his story a microcosm of the whole? We reach. We grasp. And what is left in our hands at the end? A shadow. Or worse than a shadow - misery.

Personal Verdict: Sherlock Holmes is by far the single most important formative influence in the history of detective fiction. Great reads of a world frozen in time.

Quibbles: Conan Doyle too often lapses into stereotypes and prejudice of his day. His villains include East Indian cults, voodoo practitioners, and evil Mormons. His portrayal of the last of these groups stains A Study in Scarlet, the novel with Holmes's debut.
Brendan Cumberbatch is an excellent actor and the embodiment of the modern Holmes but the BBC series writer Stephen Moffat is joyously, brilliantly clever to which he adds on too clever by half.

Other related posts:
The Crime of the Century
Nikola Tesla versus Sherlock Holmes.
Arthur Conan Doyle Versus the Evil Holmes

-------------------

Martin Hill Ortiz is the author of Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press.



Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press

Never Kill A Friend is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.
The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison.

Hard cover: Amazon US
Kindle: Amazon US
Hard cover: Amazon UK
Kindle: Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble 



Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Richard the Third Murder Mystery

My recent review of Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time reminded me that I had put together a short-short (550-word) comedy-mystery about the death of Richard the Third.

This is a homage to James Thurber's The Macbeth Murder Mystery which makes for a delightful read and which has better alliteration in its title. A copy of that short-story can be found here.

Without further introduction:

The Richard the Third Murder Mystery by Martin Hill Ortiz

    The band, Try Lobotomy, played "How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?" the heavy metal version. Maria, mystery enthusiast, no relation to the von Trapps, sat across from me her lips perched on the rim of a Pink Lady. After a petite gulp, she returned to the subject of detective fiction. Her haphazard manner of making connections left me groping for context.

    "Columbo did that," she said.

    "Huh? Who?"

    "Detective Columbo," she said. "He had the police dig up a concrete-filled foundation, not to find a body, but to lure the killer into disposing the body down its shaft. That's what I thought of when they found the remains of Richard the Third under a parking lot and that's when I knew who killed him."

    "Who killed Richard? Henry the Seventh or, rather, his men, on the battlefield of Bosworth. 'A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!'"

    "Henry the Seventh? A minor player? Shakespeare would hardly allow that."

    "Henry the Seventh was not a minor player."

    "Oh, really? Everybody hears about Henry the Eighth and Henry the Fifth. But who even knows whether they actually was a Henry the Seventh? He's like one of those Jason the Thirteenth sequels no one ever saw. Can you name a single thing Henry the Seventh did?"

    "He killed Richard the Third."

    "Not on your life!"

    I downed a swig of my Dewar's. Alright, in all honesty, it was a frozen Fuzzy Nipple and I had to sip it slowly because I get cold headaches. "Who do you think did it?" I asked, dreading the answer.

    "Hastings," she said.

    "Hastings?"

    "Oh, yes. And Shakespeare was clever there, naming him after Poirot's companion. A true homage." She gave 'homage' the French cheese pronunciation.

    "Lord Hastings?" I said. "He was Richard's second victim. As I recall, Lovel and Ratcliff entered carrying his head."

    "So it might seem," she parried, "until you realize Lord Hastings was Lord Chamberlain."

    "That's right. He was the lord chamberlain."

    "So you noticed! And Stanley also took the name Lord Chamberlain proving that Hastings survived."

    "Are you saying Hastings and Stanley were the same person?"

    "Clearly!"

    "But didn't they have a scene together?"

    "Yes. But so did Norman Bates and his mother."

    "Okay, then. What was Hasting's motive? Revenge for being murdered?"

    "You're not taking this seriously." She stirred her Pink Lady with her pinkie, then sucked her fingertip dry. "When Richard first refers to Hastings, do you remember what he says?"

    "No, I don't." No, I didn't.

    "He says, and I quote, 'Humbly complaining to her deity / Got my lord chamberlain his liberty.' What does that sound like?"

    I shrugged. "Shakespeare?"

    "Rap!"

    It did sound like rap. "So, you're saying, Richard the Third and Hastings were in some sort of hip-hop war?"

    "Precisely."

    Finally, I woke up. How could someone so painfully mangle the story of Richard the Third while being able to flawlessly quote the text? How? She was a Shakespeare scholar and she was toying with me. This was a sly riff, a marvelous muddling of drama and events. Her lips were pursed in a knowing smile as she slurped through her swizzle stick.

    The band began their cover version of "She's The One." I ordered another round.

The Richard the Third Murder Mystery is previously unpublished.

Richard the Third's bones.

-----------------
Martin Hill Ortiz is the author of Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press.




Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press

Never Kill A Friend is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.
The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison.

Hard cover: Amazon US
Kindle: Amazon US
Hard cover: Amazon UK
Kindle: Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Daughter of Time: A Review of the #1 Mystery Novel on the Crime Writers' Association List

As I mentioned in my introductory post, I will be reviewing the top mystery novels which appeared on the Crime Writers' Association and the Mystery Writers of America best mystery lists. I begin with the unique mystery, The Daughter of Time.

Author: Josephine Tey (nom de plume of Elizabeth MacKintosh, aka Gordon Daviot)
Novel: The Daughter of Time
Publication: 1951
#1 on the CWA list, #4 on the MWA list.
Word Count: 48450
Age of author at time of publication: 55.
Previous novels published by this author: nine. (and a number of plays)
Opening line: Grant lay on his high white cot and stared at the ceiling.
Significance: Final novel published during the lifetime of a great mystery author. A unique mystery.
Real Significance: It changed history.

Hello? Those who fantasize about going back in time to change history should stop concentrating on building a time machine and consider writing a novel.

This novel takes place in a hospital room where Josephine Tey's favorite detective, Inspector Alan Grant, is going crazy while taking forever to convalesce from a broken leg. So he turns to reading history. Except. . .

This novel really takes place inside the British consciousness. At the time of its publication, King Richard the Third was the champion villain among the English monarchy, in particular because he killed his two young nephews/princes in the Tower of London. In the British psyche, this may well have been The Crime of the Millennium. Before it came common practice to tear apart conventional wisdom, Tey constructed a historical treatise in mystery format that set out to rehabilitate King Richard's reputation. In that respect, her book was a fantastic success. It even helped lead to the recent discovery of King Richard's bones. (Discussed in the New Yorker link below)

Cleverly plotted, in this compact novel the reader learns of each new piece of evidence exonerating Richard the Third at the same time that the fictional detective uncovers it. Some of this evidence is compelling: Richard the Third had nothing to gain from killing his nephews. The history of Richard the Third was written by his hated rival and successor, Henry VII. It was this history that Shakespeare called upon, which once having written one of the great plays of all time, cemented Richard's unsavory reputation.

Shakespeare often showed the biases of his age. He wasn't about to insult the Tudors, his patrons. His portrait of Joan of Arc depicted her as a wench and deserving of her death.

Other evidence presented in favor of Richard the Third is less compelling. Early on Inspector Grant is convinced from a portrait that someone with such a nice face couldn't be a killer.

So, was Richard the Third indeed innocent, perhaps even benevolent? I don't care. The point is not whether I should swing from one version of history to another, it is whether I should critically regard pre-packaged history.

Here are a pair of excellent articles about Josephine Tey and the impact of The Daughter of Time.

The Mystery of Josephine Tey. (Vanity Fair)


The Detective Novel That Convinced a Generation that Richard III Wasn't Evil. (New Yorker)

Petty complaints? Why do you even need to be in a hospital to recover from a broken leg?

Overall judgment: Highly Recommended.

Josephine Tey
Now is the winter of our discotheque: Appended to mention that various versions of Richard the III emerge throughout literature. A heroic Richard III is the model for Robert Stark in Game of Thrones. (Stark/son of York) Others are noted in this Guardian article.

I wrote a short-short "The Richard the Third Murder Mystery," presented here.
-----------------
Martin Hill Ortiz is the author of Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press.



Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press

Never Kill A Friend is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.
The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison.

Hard cover: Amazon US
Kindle: Amazon US
Hard cover: Amazon UK
Kindle: Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble 

Reviewing the Top 50 Mystery Novels

I began my blog by performing some analyses of the novels included on the Crime Writer's Association and the Mystery Writers of America lists of the top mystery novels. I looked into questions as to sex and age of the authors, time of publication, length of the novels and sub-genre of the plots.

CWA list: When written, male versus female, Yank versus Brit.
MWA list: When written, male versus female, Yank versus Brit.

The CWA list favored British authors, the MWA list favored American authors. Both favored male authors.
The above pie charts reflect the individual authors on the lists, not how many books they wrote.

I used the lists as a personal guide to bulk up on my reading of the classics. Now that I have read a sufficient number, I'm setting out on a mission to compose reviews for the top 50 entries from each list. (Fifty-one for CWA due to a tie).

The lists overlap. Using the top 50 from the two lists, there are a total of 76 entries. Four of these are short story collections and the rest are novels. Of these 76, I have read 53, and I plan to read the others as I proceed with the reviews.

Why Read the Classics?

As a jazz-lover, I am a big fan of the be-bop forties and fifties. This must drive modern jazz musicians crazy. They will tell you a lot has happened since. Similarly, it is true that many mystery fans are engaged by the brilliance of the late-greats such as Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler and Dorothy L. Sayers, sometimes to the exclusion of modern masters who could profit from a few extra sales.

I would argue that the older pieces are better. Why? To continue the above analogy, one reason that old music seems better than the recent output is that the poorer old pieces have been forgotten. Along these lines, the top novels from 150 years of mysteries have had 150 years to accumulate their best. Extending this argument, the list of all-time greats is still growing, but slowly. The 76 entries in a century-and-a-half, works out to be a single choice every two years.

Because of this, I hold two seemingly contradictory opinions: the classics are the best and these are the good old days.

Furthermore, the enduring classics remain relevant for a reason. Ezra Pound once said that "literature is news that stays news." For a classic to endure, it must resonate with a truth that speaks across generations.

Two more reasons to read the classics. The first of these is the classic academic reason: by connecting with the classics a reader can begin to build a better appreciation of the modern.

The final reason is this. A time back, I discovered a New York Times article from 1914 in which many of the best writers of the day picked their favorite short stories. I went out of my way to read all of the selections (forty-nine of them, 500,000 plus words). I assembled them in a three volume set so others could read them without hunting them down.

From this exercise in reading pre-modern literature I learned a lot about the rigors of linear plotting and character development, much more so than I had from reading today's writers: Classics have something to teach modern writers. This is even more true for mysteries. More than other genres, classic mysteries have to be brilliantly plotted.

Review of the #1 Mystery Novel from the CWA List.

Here are the top fifty mystery novels and short story collections from the Crime Writers' Association and the Mystery Writers of America, arranged by author. When a particular mystery appears in the top fifty of both lists, its place in the corresponding list is noted in brackets.

The Top 50 Mysteries as chosen by the Crime Writers' Association (1990), by Author.

26    Margery Allingham: The Tiger in the Smoke (1952)
24    Eric Ambler: The Mask of Dimitrios (1939) [17]
34    E. C. Bentley: Trent's Last Case (1913) [33]
41    Anthony Berkeley: The Poisoned Chocolates Case (1929)
16    Francis Iles: Malice Aforethought (1931)
20    John Buchan: The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915) [22]
30    James M. Cain: The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934) [14]
  2    Raymond Chandler: The Big Sleep (1939) [8]
  7    Raymond Chandler: Farewell My Lovely (1940) [21]
15    Raymond Chandler: The Long Goodbye (1953) [13]
47    Raymond Chandler: The Lady in the Lake (1943)
  5    Agatha Christie: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) [12]
19    Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None (1939) [10]
  8    Wilkie Collins: The Moonstone (1868) [7]
28    Wilkie Collins: The Woman in White (1860) [32]
21    Arthur Conan Doyle: The Collected Sherlock Holmes Short Stories (1892-1927) [1*]
32    Arthur Conan Doyle: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902) [1*]
25    Edmund Crispin: The Moving Toyshop (1946)
  9    Len Deighton: The IPCRESS File (1962) [4]
36    Colin Dexter: The Dead of Jericho (1981)
40    John Dickson Carr: The Hollow Man (1935)
50    John Dickson Carr: The Devil in Velvet (1951)
  6    Daphne du Maurier: Rebecca (1938) [9]
13    Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose (1980)  [23]
35    Ian Fleming: From Russia, with Love (1957)
17    Frederick Forsyth: The Day of the Jackal (1971) [20]
46    Graham Greene: Brighton Rock (1938)
10    Dashiell Hammett: The Maltese Falcon (1930) [2]
31    Dashiell Hammett: The Glass Key (1931)
38    Patricia Highsmith: Strangers on a Train (1950)
45    Patricia Highsmith: The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955)
14    Geoffrey Household: Rogue Male (1939)
  3    John le Carré: The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (1963) [6]
33    John le Carré: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974) [30]
44    Ira Levin: A Kiss Before Dying (1953)
27    Peter Lovesey: The False Inspector Dew (1982)
36    Ed McBain: Cop Hater (1956)
42    Ellis Peters: A Morbid Taste for Bones (1977)
42    Ellis Peters: The Leper of Saint Giles (1981)
23    Edgar Allan Poe: Tales of Mystery & Imagination (1852) [3]
39    Ruth Rendell: A Judgement in Stone (1977)
49    Ruth Rendell: A Demon in My View (1976)
29    Barbara Vine: A Dark-Adapted Eye (1986)
50    Barbara Vine: A Fatal Inversion (1987)
  4    Dorothy L. Sayers: Gaudy Night (1935) [18]
18    Dorothy L. Sayers: The Nine Tailors (1934) [28]
22    Dorothy L. Sayers: Murder Must Advertise (1933)
  1    Josephine Tey: The Daughter of Time (1951) [4]
11    Josephine Tey: The Franchise Affair (1948)
48    Scott Turow: Presumed Innocent (1987) [5]
12    Hillary Waugh: Last Seen Wearing ... (1952)

The Top 50 Mysteries as Chosen by the Mystery Writers of America (1995), by Author.

17    Eric Ambler: A Coffin for Dimitrios (1939) [17]
33    E. C. Bentley: Trent's Last Case (1913) [33]
22    John Buchan: The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915) [20]
14    James M. Cain: The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934) [30]
34    James M. Cain: Double Indemnity (1943)
44    Vera Caspary: Laura (1942)
  8    Raymond Chandler: The Big Sleep (1939) [2]
13    Raymond Chandler: The Long Goodbye (1953) [15]
21    Raymond Chandler: Farewell My Lovely (1940) [7]
10    Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None (1939) [19]
12    Agatha Christie: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) [5]
19    Agatha Christie: The Witness for the Prosecution (1948)
41    Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express (1934)
  7    Wilkie Collins: The Moonstone (1868) [8]
32    Wilkie Collins: The Woman in White (1860) [28]
  1    Arthur Conan Doyle: The Complete Sherlock Holmes (1887-1927) [21/32]*
35    Martin Cruz Smith: Gorky Park (1981)
43    Len Deighton: The IPCRESS File (1962) [4]
24    Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Crime and Punishment (1866)
  9    Daphne du Maurier: Rebecca (1938) [6]
23    Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose (1980) [13]
25    Ken Follett: Eye of the Needle (1978)
20    Frederick Forsyth: The Day of the Jackal (1971) [17]
48    Graham Greene: The Third Man (1950)
42    John Grisham: The Firm (1991)
  2    Dashiell Hammett: The Maltese Falcon (1930) [10]
31    Dashiell Hammett: The Thin Man (1934)
39    Dashiell Hammett: Red Harvest (1929)
16    Thomas Harris: The Silence of the Lambs (1988)
27    Thomas Harris: Red Dragon (1981)
50    Mary Higgins Clark: Where Are the Children? (1975)
37    Tony Hillerman: Dance Hall of the Dead (1973)
  6    John le Carré: The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (1963) [3]
30    John le Carré: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974) [33]
29    Gregory Mcdonald: Fletch (1974)
26    John Mortimer: Rumpole of the Bailey (1978)
  3    Edgar Allan Poe: Tales of Mystery & Imagination (1852) [23]
15    Mario Puzo: The Godfather (1969)
40    Mary Roberts Rinehart: The Circular Staircase (1908)
18    Dorothy L. Sayers: Gaudy Night (1935) [4]
28    Dorothy L. Sayers: The Nine Tailors (1934) [18]
36    Dorothy L. Sayers: Strong Poison (1930)
46    Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö: The Laughing Policeman (1968)
45    Mickey Spillane: I, the Jury (1947)
  4    Josephine Tey: The Daughter of Time (1951) [1]
11    Robert Traver: Anatomy of a Murder (1958)
49    Jim Thompson: The Killer Inside Me (1952)
  5    Scott Turow: Presumed Innocent (1987) [48]
38    Donald E. Westlake: The Hot Rock (1970)
47    Donald E. Westlake: Bank Shot (1972)

Further notes: Why the top 50? I've read three-quarters of them and only half of the top 100 lists. I have found the lists to be more hit and miss for numbers 51 to 100. In previous blog entries I discussed the novels at the exclusion of the short stories. It seemed problematic to consider publication date of a collection of short stories, or complete collections in describing aspects of a writer's career. Here, I will include the short story collections.

*The CWA list has the complete short stories of Sherlock Holmes as one entry and Hound of the Baskervilles as another. The MWA has the complete Sherlock Holmes as a single entry. These were counted as overlapping.

-------------------

Martin Hill Ortiz is the author of Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press.




Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press

Never Kill A Friend is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.
The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison.

Hard cover: Amazon US
Kindle: Amazon US
Hard cover: Amazon UK
Kindle: Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Crime Statistic Changes By Presidential Administration

Mark Twain attributed one of his more famous quotes to British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

I would counter: liars lie. They lie with words or they lie with statistics. Words and statistics can be loaded weapons, but they are, of themselves, innocent.

Over several posts, I've been trying to elucidate what is happening with the violent crime rates in the United States over the last several decades. Along the way, I've pointed out that in the last 25 years, urban crime has gone down dramatically, while crime in rural states is on the increase. Previously:

The Shift in Violent Crime Rates.
Violent Crime Rates: New York City Versus New York State
Violent Crime Rates Under New York City Mayor Giuliani
The Violent Crime Rate in 2015

Now, I'd like to present the violent crime rate changes by presidential administration. Let me make it clear up front, I am not suggesting that presidents are so powerful they can change many of the factors which go in to crime. For example, the increase in crime during the sixties, seventies and eighties came primarily with the baby boom. Crime increases as the population skews younger, and the reverse trend benefits presidents presiding over the swell of baby boomers as they grew older.

Of course there are factors which the president does influence either by initiatives that attack crime directly or indirectly. An example of the latter case is stabilizing the economy and reducing unemployment. Regardless of these caveats, I'm a great believer in the philosophy that "The Buck Stops Here."

All of this said, the take home message is that while these statistics do not tell a simple tale of one party's success over another, I hope they dispel some myths, such as "violent crime dropped (or rose) dramatically during so-and-so's administration," when it didn't.


These numbers were calculated from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting statistics, 1960 to 2015. The last full year of the previous administration was compared to the final full year of the reported administration. 1963 was considered Kennedy's last full year (shortened by 40 days) and 1973 was considered Nixon's last full year rather than 1974.

In the following tables, "best" refers to the greatest degree in which crime rate was reduced, while the worst performer had the greatest increase. Only the top three presidents had decreases in the violent crime rates during their administrations while six presidents had decreases in the murder rates. Murder rates jump around.

The Last Ten Presidents Ranked by Best Cumulative Performance, Violent Crime Rate.

  1.  William Clinton
  2.  Barack Obama
  3.  George W. Bush, Jr.
  4.  John F. Kennedy
  5.  Ronald Reagan
  6.  Gerald Ford
  7.  George H.W. Bush, Sr.
  8.  James Carter
  9.  Richard Nixon
  10.  Lyndon B Johnson

The Last Ten Presidents Ranked by Best Cumulative Performance, Murder Rate.
  1.  William Clinton
  2.  Ronald Reagan
  3.  John F. Kennedy
  4.  Barack Obama
  5.  Gerald Ford
  6.  George W. Bush, Jr.
  7.  George H.W. Bush, Sr.
  8.  James Carter
  9.  Richard Nixon
  10.  Lyndon B. Johnson
To some extent, it's not fair to compare cumulative changes. Why should Ford's -7.4% reduction in the murder rate in two years not be better than Reagan's -16.7% reduction in eight years? On the other hand, there is no guarantee that Ford would have continued with that initial rate if he did serve two full terms. So, taking these numbers with a grain of salt, here are rankings of the presidents adjusted for length of time in office.

The Last Ten Presidents Ranked by Change in Violent Crime Rate, Adjusting for Number of Years. 

  1.  William Clinton
  2.  Barack Obama
  3.  George W. Bush, Jr.
  4.  Ronald Reagan
  5.  John F. Kennedy
  6.  George H.W. Bush, Sr.
  7.  Gerald Ford
  8.  James Carter
  9.  Richard Nixon
  10.  Lyndon B. Johnson

The Last Ten Presidents Ranked by Change in Murder Rate, Adjusting for Number of Years.

  1.  William Clinton
  2.  Gerald Ford
  3.  John F. Kennedy
  4.  Ronald Reagan
  5.  Barack Obama
  6.  George W. Bush, Jr.
  7.  George H.W. Bush, Sr.
  8.  James Carter
  9.  Richard Nixon
  10.  Lyndon B. Johnson
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Martin Hill Ortiz is the author of Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press.



Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press

Never Kill A Friend is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.
The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison.

Hard cover: Amazon US
Kindle: Amazon US
Hard cover: Amazon UK
Kindle: Amazon UK
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