Terms of Service

TERMS OF SERVICE
The following terms and conditions (the "Terms and Conditions") govern your use of this website, and any content made available from or through this website, including any subdomains thereof (the "Website"). The Site is made available by Mystery Scene Magazine. BY USING THE WEBSITE, YOU ACCEPT AND AGREE TO THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS AS APPLIED TO YOUR USE OF THE WEBSITE. If you do not agree to these Terms and Conditions, you may not access or otherwise use the Website.

1. GENERAL RULES AND DEFINITIONS

1.1 If you choose to use the MysterySceneMag.com site, or any of the features of this site, including but not limited to RSS, API, widget downloads (the "Service"), you will be agreeing to abide by all of the terms and conditions of these Terms of Service between you and MysterySceneMag.com, an Internet service of Mystery Scene Magazine published by KBS Communications, LLC.

1.2 MysterySceneMag.com may change, add or remove portions of these Terms of Service at any time, which shall become effective immediately upon posting. It is your responsibility to review these Terms of Service prior to each use of the Site and by continuing to use this Site, you agree to any changes.


2. PROPRIETARY RIGHTS

2.1 Mystery Scene Magazine owns, solely and exclusively, all rights, title and interest in and to the Site, all the content (including, for example, audio, photographs, illustrations, graphics, other visuals, video, copy, text, software, titles, Shockwave files, etc.), code, data and materials thereon, the look and feel, design and organization of the Site, and the compilation of the content, code, data and materials on the Site, including but not limited to any copyrights, trademark rights, patent rights, database rights, moral rights, sui generis rights and other intellectual property and proprietary rights therein. Your use of the Site does not grant to you ownership of any content, code, data or materials you may access on or through the Site.

2.2 You may download or copy the Content and other downloadable items displayed on the Site for personal use only, provided that you maintain all copyright and other notices contained therein. Copying or storing of any Content for other than personal use is expressly prohibited without prior written permission from Mystery Scene Magazine, or the copyright holder identified in the copyright notice contained in the Content.

2.3 The trademarks, logos, service marks and trade names (collectively the "Trademarks") displayed on the Site or on content available through the Site are registered and unregistered Trademarks of Mystery Scene Magazine and others and may not be used in connection with products and/or services that are not related to, associated with, or sponsored by their rights holders that are likely to cause customer confusion, or in any manner that disparages or discredits their rights holders. All Trademarks not owned by Mystery Scene Magazine that appear on the Site or on or through the Site's services, if any, are the property of their respective owners. Nothing contained on the Site should be construed as granting, by implication, estoppel, or otherwise, any license or right to use any Trademark displayed on the Site without the written permission of Mystery Scene Magazine or the third party that may own the applicable Trademark. Your misuse of the Trademarks displayed on the Site or on or through any of the Site's services is strictly prohibited.

3. USER GENERATED CONTENT & SUBMISSIONS: INCLUDING COMMENTS, READER REVIEWS, FORUMS AND MORE

3.1 Unless specifically requested, we do not solicit nor do we wish to receive any confidential, secret or proprietary information or other material from you through the Site, by e-mail or in any other way. Any information, creative works, demos, ideas, suggestions, concepts, methods, systems, designs, plans, techniques or other materials submitted or sent to us (including, for example and without limitation, that which you submit or post to our chat rooms, message boards, and/or our blogs, or send to us via e-mail) ("Submitted Materials") will be deemed not to be confidential or secret, and may be used by us in any manner consistent with the Site's Privacy Policy.

3.2 You agree that you shall not upload, post, transmit, distribute or otherwise publish through the Site or any service or feature made available on or through the Site, any materials which (i) restrict or inhibit any other user from using and enjoying the Site or the Site's services, (ii) are fraudulent, unlawful, threatening, abusive, harassing, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, offensive, pornographic, profane, sexually explicit or indecent, (iii) constitute or encourage conduct that would constitute a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability or otherwise violate any local, state, national or international law, (iv) violate, plagiarize or infringe the rights of third parties including, without limitation, copyright, trademark, trade secret, confidentiality, contract, patent, rights of privacy or publicity or any other proprietary right, (v) contain a virus, spyware, or other harmful component, (vi) contain embedded links, advertising, chain letters or pyramid schemes of any kind, or (vii) constitute or contain false or misleading indications of origin, endorsement or statements of fact. You further agree not to impersonate any other person or entity, whether actual or fictitious, including anyone from Mystery Scene Magazine.

3.3 The Service shall be used only in a noncommercial manner. You shall not, without the express approval of Mystery Scene Magazine, distribute or otherwise publish any material containing any solicitation of funds, advertising or solicitation for goods or services.

3.4 You grant Mystery Scene Magazine a perpetual, nonexclusive, world-wide, royalty free, sub-licensable license to the Submissions, which includes without limitation the right for MysterySceneMag.com or any third party Mystery Scene Magazine designates, to use, copy, transmit, excerpt, publish, distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, create derivative works of, host, index, cache, tag, encode, modify and adapt (including without limitation the right to adapt to streaming, downloading, broadcast, mobile, digital, thumbnail, scanning or other technologies) in any form or media now known or hereinafter developed, any Submission posted by you on or to MysterySceneMag.com or any other Site owned by Mystery Scene Magazine, including any Submission posted on MysterySceneMag.com through a third party.

3.5 You are solely responsible for the content of your Submissions. However, while MysterySceneMag.com does not and cannot review every Submission and is not responsible for the content of these messages, MysterySceneMag.com reserves the right to delete, move, or edit Submissions that it, in its sole discretion, deems abusive, defamatory, obscene, in violation of copyright or trademark laws, or otherwise unacceptable.

3.6 Any person involved in or affiliated with the production of a work reviewed on MysterySceneMag.com may not submit a Readers' Review for that work or competing works.

4. PROHIBITED USER CONDUCT

4.1 You warrant and agree that, while using the Site and the various services and features offered on or through the Site, you shall not: (a) impersonate any person or entity or misrepresent your affiliation with any other person or entity; (b) insert your own or a third party's advertising, branding or other promotional content into any of the Site's content, materials or services (for example, without limitation, in an RSS feed or a podcast received from Mystery Scene Magazine. or otherwise through the Site), or use, redistribute, republish or exploit such content or service for any further commercial or promotional purposes; or (c) attempt to gain unauthorized access to other computer systems through the Site.

4.2 You shall not: (i) engage in spidering, "screen scraping," "database scraping," harvesting of e-mail addresses, wireless addresses or other contact or personal information, or any other automatic means of obtaining lists of users or other information from or through the Site or the services offered on or through the Site, including without limitation any information residing on any server or database connected to the Site or the services offered on or through the Site; (ii) obtain or attempt to obtain unauthorized access to computer systems, materials or information through any means; (iii) use the Site or the services made available on or through the Site in any manner with the intent to interrupt, damage, disable, overburden, or impair the Site or such services, including, without limitation, sending mass unsolicited messages or "flooding" servers with requests; (iv) use the Site or the Site's services or features in violation of Mystery Scene Magazine's or any third party's intellectual property or other proprietary or legal rights; or (v) use the Site or the Site's services in violation of any applicable law.

4.3 You further agree that you shall not attempt (or encourage or support anyone else's attempt) to circumvent, reverse engineer, decrypt, or otherwise alter or interfere with the Site or the Site's services, or any content thereof, or make any unauthorized use thereof. You agree that you shall not use the Site in any manner that could damage, disable, overburden, or impair the Site or interfere with any other party's use and enjoyment of the Site or any of its services. You shall not obtain or attempt to obtain any materials or information through any means not intentionally made publicly available or provided for through the Site.

5. THIRD PARTY WEBSITES

5.1 You may be able to link from the Site to third party websites and third party websites may link to the Website ("Linked Sites"). You acknowledge and agree that we have no responsibility for the information, content, products, services, advertising, code or other materials which may or may not be provided by or through Linked Sites, even if they are owned or run by affiliates of ours. Links to Linked Sites do not constitute an endorsement or sponsorship by us of such websites or the information, content, products, services, advertising, code or other materials presented on or through such websites. The inclusion of any link to such sites on our Site does not imply Mystery Scene Magazine’s endorsement, sponsorship, or recommendation of that site. Mystery Scene Magazine disclaims any liability for links (1) from another website to this Site and (2) to another website from this Site. Also, Mystery Scene is not responsible for or any form of transmission received from any linked website. Any reliance on the contents of a third party website is done at your own risk and you assume all responsibilities and consequences resulting from such reliance.

5.2 You agree that if you include a link from any other website to the Site, such link shall open in a new browser window and shall link to the full version of an HTML formatted page of this Site. You are not permitted to link directly to any image hosted on the Site or our services, such as using an "in-line" linking method to cause the image hosted by us to be displayed on another website. You agree not to download or use images hosted on this Site on another website, for any purpose, including, without limitation, posting such images on another site. You agree not to link from any other website to this Site in any manner such that the Site, or any page of the Site, is "framed," surrounded or obfuscated by any third party content, materials or branding. We reserve all of our rights under the law to insist that any link to the Site be discontinued, and to revoke your right to link to the Site from any other website at any time upon written notice to you.

6. REPRESENTATION & WARRANTIES

6.1 You represent, warrant and covenant (a) that no materials of any kind submitted through your account will (i) violate, plagiarize, or infringe upon the rights of any third party, including copyright, trademark, privacy or other personal or proprietary rights; or (ii) contain libelous or otherwise unlawful material; and (b) that you are at least thirteen years old. You hereby indemnify, defend and hold harmless Mystery Scene Magazine and MysterySceneMag.com, and all officers, directors, owners, agents, information providers, affiliates, licensors and licensees (collectively, the "Indemnified Parties") from and against any and all liability and costs, including, without limitation, reasonable attorneys' fees, incurred by the Indemnified Parties in connection with any claim arising out of any breach by you or any user of your account of these Terms of Service or the foregoing representations, warranties and covenants. You shall cooperate as fully as reasonably required in the defense of any such claim. Mystery Scene Magazine reserves the right, at its own expense, to assume the exclusive defense and control of any matter subject to indemnification by you.

6.2 Neither Mystery Scene Magazine nor MysterySceneMag.com represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement, or other information displayed, uploaded, or distributed through the Service by any user, information provider or any other person or entity. You acknowledge that any reliance upon any such opinion, advice, statement, memorandum, or information shall be at your sole risk. THE SERVICE AND ALL DOWNLOADABLE SOFTWARE ARE DISTRIBUTED ON AN "AS IS" BASIS WITHOUT WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, WARRANTIES OF TITLE OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. YOU HEREBY ACKNOWLEDGE THAT USE OF THE SERVICE IS AT YOUR SOLE RISK.

7. MISCELLANEOUS

7.1 These Terms of Service have been made in and shall be construed and enforced in accordance with New York law. Any action to enforce these Terms of Service shall be brought in the federal or state courts located in New York City.

7.2 Notwithstanding any of the foregoing, nothing in these Terms of Service will serve to preempt the promises made in Mystery Scene Magazine Privacy Policy.

7.3 Correspondence should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

7.4 You agree to report any copyright violations of the Terms of Service to Mystery Scene Magazine as soon as you become aware of them. In the event you have a claim of copyright infringement with respect to material that is contained in the MysterySceneMag.com service, please notify This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Admin
2008-07-28 10:51:57
Permissions

PERMISSIONS

All materials contained on this Site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Mystery Scene Magazine or in the case of third party materials, the owner of that content. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.

However, you may download material from Mystery Scene Magazine on the Web (MysterySceneMag.com) for your personal, noncommercial use only.

Links to websites other than those owned by Mystery Scene Magazine are offered as a service to readers. The editorial staff of Mystery Scene Magazine was not involved in their production and is not responsible for their content.

For further information, see Section Two of the Terms of Service.

Admin
2008-07-28 10:52:14
Privacy Policy

PRIVACY POLICY
Last revised March 30, 2010

The following Privacy Policy summarizes the various ways that Mystery Scene Magazine ("Service Provider," "we" or "our") treats the information you provide while using MysterySceneMag.com ("Website," or “Site”). It is our goal to bring you information that is tailored to your individual needs and, at the same time, protect your privacy.

Please read this Privacy Policy carefully. Your use of and/or registration on any aspect of the Site will constitute your agreement to this Privacy Policy. If you cannot agree with the terms and conditions of this Privacy Policy, please do not use the Site. This Privacy Policy does not cover information collected elsewhere, including without limitation offline and on sites linked to from the Site.

In addition to reviewing this Privacy Policy, please read our Terms of Service. Your use of the Site constitutes agreement to its terms and conditions as well.

This Privacy Policy may be modified from time to time; the date of the most recent revisions will appear on this page, so check back often. Continued access of the Site by you will constitute your acceptance of any changes or revisions to the Privacy Policy.

1. THE TYPE OF INFORMATION WE COLLECT

The Website generally collects personally identifying information with your specific knowledge and consent. For instance, when you enter a sweepstakes or contest, complete a survey, make a purchase, subscribe to our publication(s), or register for any portion of our services, you are asked to provide information such as your e-mail address, name or phone number. Optional information such as your age or gender may also be requested.
Our servers may also automatically collect information about your computer when you visit the Site, including without limitation the type of browser software you use, the operating system you are running, the website that referred you, and your Internet Protocol ("IP") address. Your IP address is usually associated with the place from which you enter the Internet, like your Internet Service Provider, your company or your university.

2. HOW WE USE INFORMATION PROVIDED BY YOU

We may use the information you provide about yourself to fulfill your requests for our products, programs, and services, to respond to your inquiries about offerings, and to offer you other products, programs or services that we believe may be of interest to you.
We sometimes use this information to communicate with you, such as to notify you when you have won one of our contests or when we make changes to subscriber agreements, to fulfill a request by you for an online newsletter, or to contact you about your account with us.

We use the information that you provide about others to enable us to send them your gifts or cards. From time to time, we also may use this information to offer our products, programs, or services to them.

If you choose to submit content for publication (e.g., a "Letter to Our Editors"), we may publish your name, screen name, and other information you have provided to us.

The information we collect in connection with our online forums and communities is used to provide an interactive experience. We use this information to facilitate participation in these online forums and communities and, from time to time, to offer you products, programs, or services.

We sometimes use the non-personally identifiable information that we collect to improve the design and content of our publications and websites and to enable us to personalize your Internet experience. We also may use this information in the aggregate to analyze site usage, as well as to offer you products, programs, or services.

We will disclose information we maintain when required to do so by law, for example, in response to a court order or a subpoena. We also may disclose such information in response to a law enforcement agency's request.

Agents and contractors of Mystery Scene Magazine who have access to personally identifiable information are required to protect this information in a manner that is consistent with this Privacy Notice by, for example, not using the information for any purpose other than to carry out the services they are performing for Mystery Scene Magazine.

Although we take appropriate measures to safeguard against unauthorized disclosures of information, we cannot assure you that personally identifiable information that we collect will never be disclosed in a manner that is inconsistent with this Privacy Notice. Inadvertent disclosures may result, for example, when third parties misrepresent their identities in asking the site for access to personally identifiable information about themselves for purposes of correcting possible factual errors in the data.

3. COLLECTION OF INFORMATION BY THIRD-PARTY SITES AND SPONSORS

Some of our sites contain links to other sites whose information practices may be different than ours. You should consult the other sites' privacy notices, as we have no control over information that is submitted to, or collected by, these third parties.
Mystery Scene Magazine sometimes may offer contests, sweepstakes, promotions, editorial features, or other activities or offerings that are sponsored or co-sponsored by or presented with identified third parties. By virtue of your participation in such activities or offerings, the personally identifiable information that you voluntarily submit may be provided to both the Mystery Scene Magazine site and the third parties. Mystery Scene Magazine has no control over the third parties' use of this information.

Mystery Scene Magazine and MysterySceneMag.com may use reputable third parties to present or serve the advertisements that you may see at its web pages and to conduct research about the advertisements. This privacy notice does not cover any use of information that such third parties may have collected from you or the methods used by the third-parties to collect that information (e.g., cookies, web beacons and clear gifs).

4. YOUR PRIVACY CHOICES

We will not share, sell, rent, swap or authorize any third party to use your e-mail address without your permission. If you feel you have received an e-mail from us in error, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Mystery Scene Magazine reserves the right to send you e-mail relating to your account status. This includes order confirmations, renewal/expiration notices, notices of credit-card problems, other transactional e-mails and notifications about major changes to our Web sites and/or to our Privacy Policy. If you have registered for online discussions or other services, you may receive e-mail specific to your participation in those activities.

If, at any time, you prefer not to receive e-mail marketing information from us, simply follow the unsubscribe options at the bottom of each e-mail. For more information on how to unsubscribe from e-mail marketing, click here.

If, at any time, you prefer not to receive traditional mail solicitations originated by Mystery Scene Magazine, you may choose to opt-out by emailing us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your request in writing.

5. IMPORTANT INFORMATION

This Notice may be changed by Mystery Scene Magazine. The revised Notice will be posted to this page so that you are aware of the information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances we may disclose it.

We may disclose personal information if we are required to do so by law or we in good faith believe that such action is necessary to (1) comply with the law or with legal process; (2) protect and defend our rights and property; (3) protect against misuse or unauthorized use of our Site; or (4) protect the personal safety or property of our users or the public (among other things, this means that if you provide false information or attempt to pose as someone else, information about you may be disclosed as part of any investigation into your actions).

Admin
2008-07-28 10:52:33
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2018 Print & Online Advertising Information

Click here for the ENTIRE 2018 MEDIA KIT which includes distribution and demographic information as well as specs, due dates, prices, and insertion order forms. Design services are available starting from $100.

An ad in Mystery Scene is a targeted, cost-effective way to reach to reach our killer audience. These are engaged, loyal, and affluent folks who are actively searching for great mystery entertainment - and they trust Mystery Scene to steer them in the right direction.

Print Magazine

Mystery Scene Magazine publishes 5 times yearly.
- Circulation of 23,000+ as of December 2016.
- Distributed by Ingram Periodicals to Barnes & Noble, Hastings, Books-A-Million, and hundreds of independent bookstores.
- Carried in over 350 public libraries.
- Bonus distribution to major fan conventions: Bouchercon, Left Coast Crime, Malice Domestic, Sleuthfest, Magna cum Murder, and others.

2018 Publication Schedule
- Winter #153, February 15
- Spring #154, April 15
- Summer #155, June 15
- Fall #156, September 15
- Holiday #157, November 15

Back Cover (7-1/4" x 6-1/2")
• 4-color $1500

Full Page (No bleed: 7.25" x 9.5"; With bleed: 8.5" x 10.75")
• Black & White Inside Page $995
• 4-color Inside Page $1190
• 4-color Inside Cover $1500

Two-Thirds Page (4.75" x 9.5")
• $750 (bw)
• $995 (4-color)

Half Page (7.25" x 4.625")
• $625 (bw)
• $750 (4-color)

One-Third Page (4.75" x 4.625") OR (2.25" x 9.5")
• $525 (bw)
• $590 (four-color)

One-Sixth Page (2.25" x 4.625")
• $350 (bw)
• $470 (four-color)

Design services available starting at $100/ad.

Print Ad Contact: Kate Stine

Tel: (212) 765-7124 / Fax: (212) 202-3540
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

NEW Digital Magazine Edition

Mystery Scene is now available on iPad, Kindle, Android devices, and on Web.
- Same publishing schedule and contents as the print edition.
- Print advertisers may guarantee digital edition ads for a minimal additional fee.
- Digital edition-only ad space is also available.

E-Newsletter Ads

• 7,000+ e-newsletter subscribers and growing, with an average open rate over 40%
• Published monthly, archived indefinitely at the MS Newsletter Archive
• Ads link to a URL of advertisers choice travel
• Any contest or giveaway will also be shared through MS' social networks (12,000+Twitter followers & 7,600+ on Facebook)

Ad Sizes & Prices
• Main Column Ad 560x120 px Price: $225


Design services available starting at $100/ad.

MS Website Ads

• Key Sections: MS Home | Articles | Reviews | Blog
• Premium above-the-fold. Placement available on Home page and other key section pages.
• Linkable (to another site, a video, the audio file, etc.)
• Contests or giveaways (starting at $980) receive entry pages on our site and are shared through MS social networks (12,000+Twitter followers, 7,600+ on Facebook)

Ad Sizes & Prices
• Med Ad Block 300x250 px
Price: $495/$595 month ($225/$325 wk) Premium Placement
Price: $455/$555 month ($195/$295 wk)
• Large Ad Block 300x500 px
Price: $855/$1055 month ($420/$520 wk)
• Leaderboard 728x90 px (Articles, Reviews, Commentary & News pages)
Price: $725/$925 month ($315/$415 wk)

Design services available starting at $100/ad.

Digital Ad Contact: Teri Duerr
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Direct Mail Ride-Along

Our simple, old-fashioned, and inexpensive direct-mail program that mails via first class to identified mystery fans over the course of the year.

- $0.20 per piece (minimum. quantity of 500 pieces/$100)
- Bookmarks or any flat piece less than 4-1/8" x 9-1/2"
- Payment due in full upfront. Check made out to Mystery Scene.

Contact: Teri Duerr
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Admin
2008-07-30 12:08:05
List of Products

Weekly Web Review

Death of a Cozy Writer

by G.M. Malliet, Midnight Ink June 2008

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Vestibulum quis eros. Morbi . Ut purus. Suspendisse vehicula semper nisi. Vestibulum augue arcu, placerat quis, dictum ac, suscipit in, leo. Pellentesque

read an excerpt | buy now | recommend | tag to read

Summer 2008 Review, Issue #105

Spook Country

by William Gibson, Midnight Ink June 2008

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Vestibulum quis eros. Morbi adipiscing. Ut purus. Suspendisse vehicula semper nisi. Vestibulum augue arcu, placerat quis, dictum ac, suscipit in, leo. Pellentesque

read an excerpt | buy now | recommend | tag to read

Admin
2008-07-30 15:18:36

Weekly Web Review

Death of a Cozy Writer

by G.M. Malliet, Midnight Ink June 2008

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Vestibulum quis eros. Morbi . Ut purus. Suspendisse vehicula semper nisi. Vestibulum augue arcu, placerat quis, dictum ac, suscipit in, leo. Pellentesque

read an excerpt | buy now | recommend | tag to read

Summer 2008 Review, Issue #105

Spook Country

by William Gibson, Midnight Ink June 2008

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Vestibulum quis eros. Morbi adipiscing. Ut purus. Suspendisse vehicula semper nisi. Vestibulum augue arcu, placerat quis, dictum ac, suscipit in, leo. Pellentesque

read an excerpt | buy now | recommend | tag to read

All Content Copyright 2008 Mystery Scene
Admin
2008-10-14 10:39:42
Editorial Guidelines for Writers
Mystery Scene

HatLogo2

In addition to a sophisticated appreciation of the crime and mystery genre, Mystery Scene has a particular interest in the literary life and the media industry. Writers have always had a strong presence in Mystery Scene, but fans love our "insider" information and, in fact, make up the majority of our devoted readership.

We publish a broad range of experienced writers—many of them mystery authors. We also receive contributions from editors, publishers, agents, TV & film folks, and booksellers. We are, however, very open to and appreciative of new writers and new viewpoints. Please be familiar with Mystery Scene before you contact us—we do not publish fiction, for example.

Types of Material

Please click here to read about the type of material we accept and how to write it.

How to Query and Submit Material

First, read this page in detail. Then, read a copy of Mystery Scene. Then contact the appropriate editor with your article ideas. Please be patient, this is a very busy office and a response may take a while.

Once an article is commissioned, email submissions are preferred. Include a one-sentence bio of yourself at the end of the article along with a postal mailing address and contact details. Artwork and photographs are very much welcome, please let us know if these are available.

When to Submit

Mystery Scene Magazine is published five times a year and is approximately 70-80 pages long. We like to work ahead, so please contact us as far in advance as feasible for time-sensitive articles. These dates are subject to the editor's discretion:

Winter Deadline December 15, Publication February 15
Spring Deadline March 1, Publication April 15
Summer Deadline May 1, Publication June 15
Fall Deadline August 1, Publication September 15
Holiday Deadline October 1, Publication November 15

Admin
2009-01-30 18:20:01
No Escape: Jacques Futrelle and the Titanic
Jeffrey A. Marks

On the written page, Jacques Futrelle could devise the most ingenious of “impossible escapes.” On the tragic night of April 14, 1912, however, the celebrated author of “The Problem of Cell 13,” refused his only chance to escape the sinking Titanic.


Titanic Sinking

“There was not the slightest thought of danger in the minds of those who sat around the tables in the luxurious dining saloon of the Titanic. It was a brilliant crowd. Jewels flashed from the gowns of the women, how fondly they wore their latest Parisian gowns! It was the first time many of them had an opportunity to display their newly acquired finery.”

—Mrs. Jacques [May] Futrelle, all quotes are from The Boston Post, April 21/22, 1912

The sinking of the HMS Titanic during its maiden voyage on the night of April 14, 1912 seemed to usher in the end of an age of unprecedented peace, prosperity and progress. When the “unsinkable” ship was lost so were more than 1,500 lives, including some of the richest and most powerful figures in America.

By now, everyone in the country has heard of James Cameron’s 1997 movie of the same name. Yet despite the overall historical accuracy of the movie, one of the ill-fated ship’s notable passengers wasn’t mentioned: the mystery writer and journalist Jacques Futrelle.

“The last I saw of my husband,” his wife, May, wrote, “he was standing beside [the American financier and multimillionaire] Colonel [John Jacob] Astor. He had a cigarette in his mouth. As I watched, he lit a match and held it in his cupped hands before his face. By its light I could see his eyes roam anxiously over the water. Then he dropped his head toward his hands and lighted his cigarette… I know those hands never trembled.”

Jacques Futrelle

Jacques Futrelle (1875-1912) was an admirer of Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and accordingly created his own intellectual detective, Dr. F. S. X. Van Dusen. Better known as “The Thinking Machine,” Futrelle’s sleuth appeared in over forty short stories from 1905 to 1912.

Jacques Futrelle was born in 1875 in Pike County, Georgia. He started writing early, taking a job at the Atlanta Journal by the age of 18. Within a year, he had moved to Boston to take a new position although he grew homesick and returned quickly to Atlanta and the Journal. Shortly after his return in 1895, he married Lily May Peel, who went by the name May. The couple then moved to New York so that Jacques could take a job as the telegraph editor at the Hearst paper, The New York Herald. The Futrelles lived at 71 Irving Place in the lovely Gramercy Park area of the city; his neighbors included Edith Wharton and O. Henry. In 1897, their first child Virginia was born, followed in 1899 by John.
In addition to penning feature stories and articles at the Herald, Futrelle started writing detective short stories. This fiction writing appealed to his creativity as well as his love of the mystery genre, particulary the Sherlock Holmes stories.

During the next year, the long hours and stress of covering the Spanish American war took a physical and mental toll on young Jacques, and eventually left him exhausted and too ill to work. His sister loaned him a home in Scituate, Massachusetts, where he and May lived until he recuperated.



After this fallow period, Futrelle didn’t return to journalism instead taking a two-year contract as a theatrical manager. He and May moved to Richmond, Virginia where Jacques traveled for the small repertory company and tried his hand at dramatic writing.

At the end of his stint with the theater, Jacques took a job at the Boston American where he continued to write short stories. Soon Futrelle introduced an unusual new detective who was an immediate success with the American public.

Taking the intellectual Sherlock Holmes one step further, Futrelle imagined a character who was the ultimate cerebral detective. Professor Augustus S.F.X. Van Dusen, better known as “The Thinking Machine,” appeared in over forty short stories from 1905 to 1912. The Thinking Machine was a small, nearsighted man with a huge head and an even larger ego. Unlike Holmes with his cocaine habit, Van Dusen appeared to have no human frailties. His deductive power was unhindered by emotion and human connections. A journalist by the name of Hutchinson Hatch brought suitable crimes to Van Dusen’s attention and served as his assistant and foil.

The Problem of Cell 13 illustration In the most celebrated case of the Thinking Machine, “The Problem of Cell 13,” Van Dusen makes a seemingly miraculous escape from a maximum security prison. In Van Dusen’s world, the mind is the master of all things. Cement is no match for cerebrum.

The stories were published in the Boston American to much popular success. In 1906, Jacques left the newspaper business for good, this time turning his attention to novels. The next few years were busy and successful ones for the young family. They spent much time in Scituate, where Jacques and May built a house known as “Stepping Stones” that overlooked the harbor.

In 1912 the couple traveled in Europe for several weeks while Jacques wrote magazine articles, visited a number of publishers and promoted his work amongst European readers. In pursuit of more technical information about criminal investigating, he also made a research visit to Scotland Yard.

The couple had left their children with Jacques’ parents, and decided to come home early to see them. On the night before sailing, friends had gathered in London to celebrate Jacques’ 37th birthday. The party did not end until 3:00 a.m. and the Futrelles never went to bed.

Instead, they packed and headed for Southampton. Mrs. Futrelle was later to lament that “if my husband had got drunk that night, he might not have sailed, and he might be alive today. But he never did drink much.”

On the fateful night of April 14, she and Jacques were in their first class stateroom when they felt a “slight concussion.” Jacques reassured his wife that it was nothing. “We have simply bumped into a baby iceberg. If that’s what it is, it won’t bother the Titanic any more than if it had struck a match.” May wanted more assurance, and insisted that her husband investigate further. “In a moment, we...understood that the situation was desperate.”

Soon both had donned life jackets, but discovered only women and children were allowed to board the lifeboats. May threw her arms around her husband, refusing to leave him. Jacques insisted that she board. In an incident which was fictionalized in the 1997 film, May leapt from the lifeboat just as it started its descent to the water and frantically fought her way back to her husband. Jacques assured her repeatedly that he would survive the disaster by holding on to the side of one of the lifeboats, neglecting to mention the frigid waters of the North Atlantic would surely kill him.

“For God’s sake, go! It’s your last chance, go!” May later remembered him pleading. He reminded her of her duty to their young children, finally convincing her. Lifeboat No. 9 was launched only half full, as so many of the lifeboats were that chaotic night. As the boat descended, May “gave up hope that my husband could be saved.”

Jacques Futrelle’s body was never recovered.

May FutrelleTwo weeks after the Titanic sank, May Futrelle wrote a vivid account of the tragedy which was published in The Boston Post. She was one of the eyewitnesses who reported that the band continued to play as the doomed ship sank.

Ironically enough for a writer best remembered for a tale of brilliant escape, Futrelle heroically chose to stay aboard the Titantic in the hope that others might be saved. All of the stories that Jacques Futrelle wrote during his stay in Europe were lost as well that terrible night, leaving his canon far short of what it might have been.

May would live until 1967. She kept her husband’s memory alive by finishing his last uncompleted novel and promoting his works. As a final tribute to Jacques she added the dedication below to the posthumously published My Lady’s Garter (1912). And every year, on the anniversary of Jacques’ death, she cast a bouquet of flowers off the cliffs at Scituate into the chilly North Atlantic.

Dedication of My Lady's Garter

Jeffrey A. Marks is the Agatha and Anthony nominated author of The Ambush of My Name, a General Grant mystery published by Silver Dagger Press.

Admin
2010-03-28 00:00:00

The night the author of “The Problem of Cell 13” refused his only chance to escape the sinking ship.


Titanic Sinking

Evermore: the Enduring Influence of Edgar Allan Poe
Steve Hockensmith

To most people these days, he’s that creepy guy. That horror guy. That Gomez Addams-looking guy who wrote about premature burials and black cats and a talking raven. And, yes—Edgar Allan Poe was that guy. But he was much, much more.

poebypoltgrayFor which we can all be thankful. Because if you’re reading this magazine, odds are you’re a mystery fan and/or writer. And if you’re a mystery fan and/or writer, you owe Poe...whether you know it or not.

“Poe is so ingrained in us—so deeply encoded into our cultural DNA—that we no longer recognize him,” says Louis Bayard, whose novel The Pale Blue Eye puts Poe at the center of a mystery during his days as a West Point cadet. “And yet whenever we write a mystery, whenever we write horror, whenever we write science fiction—whenever we write about obsession—we’re following in his tracks.”

“He wasn’t just a mystery/suspense writer,” adds the author many fans would describe as the modern Poe, Stephen King. “He was the first.”

So as the Mystery Writers of America prepares to hand out the annual Edgar Allan Poe Awards in April (including a Grand Master honor to King and poss- a Best Novel Award to Bayard), we thought the time was right to remind crime fiction fans why the honor’s named
after Poe in the first place.

After all, it’s not “the Arthur” or “the Dashiell.” It’s the Edgar.

Here’s why.


The Innovation
Edgar Poe was born on January 19, 1809. The middle name Allan didn’t come until later, after Poe’s father (an alcoholic actor) disappeared and his mother (an actress) died of tuberculosis. Only two years old when he was orphaned, young Edgar was taken in by John Allan, a wealthy Virginia merchant. But the lad’s luck never improved much after that tragic start to life.

It was Allan’s wife, Frances, who bonded with the child. Allan himself never did—in fact, Allan never even formally adopted him. As Poe matured into manhood, the two quarreled constantly. Poe saw Allan as cold and stingy. Allan considered Poe self-indulgent and irresponsible. Not long after Frances died, Poe found himself penniless and adrift.

ravenHe tried to keep himself afloat the only way he knew how: writing. After self-publishing his first books (poetry collections that barely made a ripple before sinking into obscurity), he began selling stories to newspapers and magazines. That eventually led to positions as an editor/staff writer/critic at a string of publications—as well as the appearance of many of the short stories (or “tales” as they were known at the time) for which he would one day be famous.
Although today Poe’s often associated with the horror genre, his tales didn’t dwell on the supernatural. Instead, they often took a psychological approach to stories of crime and tragedy. As Bayard notes, Poe seemed obsessed with obsession. “The Black Cat” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” are both narrated by psychotic killers driven to destroy themselves by guilt-fueled hallucinations. In “The Oval Portrait,” an artist becomes so fixated on finishing a painting, he doesn’t even notice that his beautiful model—his wife—is dead. And even “The Fall of the House of Usher” isn’t a ghost story, as so many readers seem to remember it. It’s about a twisted, quasi-incestuous relationship between a young woman and the brother who tries to have her interred alive.

Of course, Poe wasn’t the only writer cranking out dark tales about dirty deeds. The day of the “penny dreadful” was dawning, and there were outlets aplenty for blood-drenched shockers. Yet Poe stood apart from the hack pack, partially thanks to his emphasis on aberrant psychology, and partially because Poe’s imagination so far out-stripped his rivals.

“Poe was an innovator,” says Dawn B. Sova, author of Edgar Allan Poe A to Z and Critical Companion to Edgar Allan Poe. “He was not the first to tackle morbid subjects. He just pushed the envelope.”

Eventually, Poe wasn’t just pushing the envelope anymore. With his story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” he created one all his own: the tale of ratiocination. Or, as it later came to be called, the mystery.

Always fascinated with puzzles and cryptograms, Poe frequently wrote columns challenging readers to send him a code he couldn’t break. In “Rue Morgue,” he did what no other writer had yet thought to do—took that kind of intellectual challenge and used it as the hook for a work of fiction.

A mother and daughter are found horribly mutilated in a locked room. The police are baffled. Only a brilliant amateur, C. Auguste Dupin, can provide an explanation, which he arrives at purely through the application of cold, precise logic. The tale is told by the dilettante detective’s unnamed roommate, who later returned to relate two more of Dupin’s cases: “The Mystery of Marie Roget” (1842) and “The Purloined Letter” (1844), both of which also hinge on detection and deduction rather than blood and thunder.

“Poe almost single-handedly invented the puzzle element of detective fiction that later came to dominate the genres of mystery and crime,” says Boston University English professor Charles Rzepka.

“There were other writers dealing in mystery and suspense, but not this kind of detective work or ratiocination,” adds Scott Peeples, associate professor of English at the College of Charleston in South Carolina and the current president of the Poe Studies Association. “I don’t think someone else would have come up with it, really. Not one of Poe’s contemporaries, anyway. The character of Dupin, the structure of the stories and the idea of proving oneself to be the intellectual champ—that stuff is intrinsic to Poe. Even when Poe’s not writing detective fiction, there’s often a similar element of gamesmanship.”

Rzepka (whose book Detective Fiction tracks the development of the genre) calls Dupin “the grandaddy of all modern literary detectives.” But it was one literary detective in particular who would pick up where grandpa left off, creating a sensation that helped cement the popularity of the mystery before the genre even had a name.

doyle_studyinscarletThat detective, of course, was Sherlock Holmes. Holmes and his sidekick, Dr. Watson, even acknowledged their literary heritage in “A Study in Scarlet.”
“You remind me of Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin,” Watson tells his friend. “I had no idea that such individuals did exist outside of stories.”

“No doubt you think that you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin,” Holmes replies. “Now, in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow....”
Despite the haughtiness of Holmes’ dismissal, the character’s creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, was offering a sincere (if cheeky) tip of the deerstalker to a writer who’d paved the way for him.

“Conan Doyle never failed to acknowledge his debt to Poe,” says Daniel Stashower, who’s written about both the English author (in the Edgar-winning Conan Doyle biography The Teller of Tales) and his American predecessor (in the Edgar-nominated 2006 book The Beautiful Cigar Girl, which explores how “The Mystery of Marie Roget” grew out of a real-life murder case).

“‘To [Poe] must be ascribed the monstrous progeny of writers on the detection of crime,’ Conan Doyle once wrote. ‘Each may find some little development of his own, but his main art must trace back to those admirable stories of Monsieur Dupin....’ Elsewhere, he was more succinct: ‘Poe is the master of all.’”
Such high praise would have come as a surprise to the writers and critics of the previous generation, since to them it appeared that Poe was the master of nothing, except perhaps living shamefully and dying young.

The Betrayal
While he had the occasional brush with fame and fortune (most notably after the publication of the poem “The Raven” in 1845), Poe squandered whatever opportunities came within reach. Erratic behavior (exacerbated by alcohol and the long decline and death of his wife) and a string of literary feuds (fueled by his insightful but often vicious reviews) had all but wrecked his career. The sordid, murky details of his death were, appropriately enough, the last nail in the coffin for his literary reputation.

Poe died in 1849 shortly after being found roaming the streets of Baltimore in another man’s clothes. Some accounts say he was drunk, others say he was delirious. Either way, no one knows what exactly killed him. Had he been beaten? Drugged? Bitten by a rabid cat? Infected with cholera? A new theory seems to emerge every year.

Even dead, however, Poe had to withstand one final stab in the back. An editor with whom Poe had often clashed, Rufus Griswold, wrote an anonymous obituary that began, “Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it.” It got worse from there, painting Poe as a debauched lunatic.

Later Griswold went even further, penning a Poe “memoir” that was filled with slanders: Poe had been expelled from the University of Virginia for debauchery, Poe was an army deserter, Poe seduced and blackmailed respectable women, Poe was addicted to opium, Poe was insane. And this from the man who (for murky reasons scholars still debate) Poe had named as his literary executor—which gave Griswold the chance to work even more mischief, altering Poe’s letters to make them more scandalous and cheating Poe’s family (in particular, his beloved aunt Maria “Muddy” Clemm) out of profits from posthumous sales of his work.

Sadly, Griswold’s crusade against Poe wasn’t just tireless: For decades, it was effective.

“In large part because of [Griswold], Poe was considered morally reprehensible,” Sova says. “His work was not thought of as a suitable model [for literature]. It was largely pushed aside in the United States and England for 50 years.”

In France, however, the perception of Poe as an opium-addled madman might have actually helped. The French poet Charles Baudelaire came to worship Poe, seeing in him not only a kindred spirit but a victim of parochialism and hypocrisy. Poe was, to him, the classic Misunderstood Genius. Baudelaire set out to right that wrong by praising Poe to anyone who’d listen and translating the writer’s tales into French.

“Baudelaire was a great press agent,” says Peeples, who devoted an entire book (The Afterlife of Edgar Allan Poe) to the writer’s image and how it’s evolved over time. “He really played up the idea that Poe was rebellious and decadent.”

As a result, Poe was regarded as a master in France long before his reputation was salvaged in his homeland.

When Poe was remembered in the US (which wasn’t by many) it was as a wild-eyed reprobate tortured by demons of his own creation. Which, if you think about it, is exactly the sort of image some PR-savvy horror or crime writers would kill to have today. This gothic, larger-than-life persona meshed perfectly with Poe’s dark tales, and it eventually gave him a sort of romantic glamour he couldn’t quite pull off when he was alive.

“On the one hand, the treatment of him after death created a lag in American appreciation of him,” says mystery/thriller author Matthew Pearl, a Poe enthusiast who edited and wrote the introduction for a recent Modern Library collection called The Murders in the Rue Morgue: The Dupin Tales. “On the other hand, it built up a mystique that has helped his writing survive in posterity.”

That mystique didn’t just allow Poe’s works to live on: In a way, it’s kept Poe himself alive. He’s such a fascinating character that he’s been reincarnated time after time in other writers’ works.

Harold Schechter has penned a series of historical mysteries starring Poe (beginning with Nevermore in 2000), while English writer Andrew Taylor put a young Poe in peril in London in his 2003 novel The American Boy (released in the US as An Unpardonable Crime). More recently, Pearl and Louis Bayard both released Poe-focused books last year—on the same day, in fact. (Pearl’s The Poe Shadow imagines efforts to recruit the real C. Auguste Dupin to solve the mystery of Poe’s death). And this year, Joel Rose’s The Blackest Bird made Poe a suspect in the sensational murder that inspired “The Mystery of Marie Roget.”

Bayard says he’s not surprised in the slightest that so many other authors have wanted to use Poe as a character.

“It’s an act of humility,” Bayard explains. “You read Poe, you read Doyle, even Agatha Christie, and you realize they’re still the masters. And since every writer begins as a reader, it’s entirely fitting to pay homage to these masters in some way—in my case, by placing one at the center of a detective story, the genre he himself created.”

The Legacy
poe_edgarallanBy the end of the 19th century, Poe was finally getting his due. Not only were his contributions being acknowledged by Conan Doyle, the man who’d picked up the detective fiction torch he’d lit, Poe also had a host of other high-profile champions, including W.H. Auden, H.G. Wells, Fyodor Dostoevsky and George Bernard Shaw.

By the time the 20th century reached its mid-point, Poe wasn’t just famous again. He was respectable enough to pop up on high school reading lists alongside Twain, Melville, Hawthorne, Hemingway and other authors who’ve shaped American literature.

Which is no guarantee of immortality given the (complete lack of) enthusiasm the typical teenager brings to reading assignments. Fond of long, clause-choked sentences and untranslated quotes in Latin and French, Poe certainly doesn’t make it easy on young readers.

Could Poe have been rescued from obscurity only to be forgotten all over again by the next generation? Stephen King would like to think not.

“Poe’s stories are wonderful, and they still stand up,” the bestselling author says. “They’re as readable now as they were when I first encountered them in my teens.”

Of course, when King was a teen, he didn’t have MTV and PlayStation competing for his time (and shortening his attention span).

“Most kids today need some help to get hooked on Poe,” says suspense novelist Karen Harper, who has taught English at both the high school and collegiate levels (and wrote about her debt to Poe in the book Mystery Muses: 100 Classics That Inspire Today’s Mystery Writers). “As with someone like Dickens, today’s students don’t get why he doesn’t just ‘cut to the chase,’ as they are used to with horror flicks, TV or short stories today. The idea of setting the mood is something they need to understand.”

Take, for instance, the following sentence from “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (which opens with several pages of philosophizing about logic and “the analytical power” before even introducing C. Auguste Dupin).

“The faculty of re-solution is possibly much invigorated by mathematical study, and especially by that highest branch of it which, unjustly, and merely on account of its retrograde operations, has been called, as if par excellence, analysis."

To which your average high school freshman eloquently replies: “Huh?”

“The style’s certainly not what we think of as ‘modern,’” admits Bill Crider, another former college English teacher (and an Edgar nominee for a story in the 2006 anthology Damn Near Dead). “The opening paragraph of ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ has more adjectives in it than most novels now. [And in] his detective stories, like ‘The Purloined Letter,’ the solution can take up two-thirds of the story.”

Yet as dated as Poe’s work can sometimes seem, Crider insists that the author’s best tales are just as relevant as ever—particularly to anyone interested in the craft of writing.

“Poe’s always in the back of my mind,” says Crider (who contributed Poe pastiches to the anthologies Dark Destiny and Cat Crimes II). “‘The Cask of Amontillado’ is still a great revenge story, maybe the best ever.”

Rob Kantner agrees. The Shamus-winning author of the Ben Perkins PI series, Kantner also eulogized Poe in Mystery Muses, picking (like Crider) “The Cask of Amontillado” as an example of the author’s most powerful, enduring work.

“Compared with Poe, most of today’s authors, even the very respected ones, seem to me flabby, self-conscious and pretentious,” says Kantner. “I think studying him can still be good for writers, both new and experienced; for spareness, economy of prose, ability to build suspense.”

So even if the public-at-large remembers Poe as, alas, the creepy, Gomez Addams-looking author of quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore, mystery writers will always remember him differently.

“We are entwined with Poe,” says MWA historian and archivist Barry T. Zeman. “Without him, we would not have had this genre. He is our father and our symbol.”

MWA’s newest Grand Master puts it another way.

“Poe’s The Man,” King says. “What more can I say?”

Admin
2009-06-14 10:08:04

To most people these days, he’s that creepy guy. That horror guy. That Gomez Addams-looking guy who wrote about premature burials and black cats and a talking raven. And, yes—Edgar Allan Poe was that guy. But he was much, much more.

poebypoltgrayFor which we can all be thankful. Because if you’re reading this magazine, odds are you’re a mystery fan and/or writer. And if you’re a mystery fan and/or writer, you owe Poe...whether you know it or not.

“Poe is so ingrained in us—so deeply encoded into our cultural DNA—that we no longer recognize him,” says Louis Bayard, whose novel The Pale Blue Eye puts Poe at the center of a mystery during his days as a West Point cadet. “And yet whenever we write a mystery, whenever we write horror, whenever we write science fiction—whenever we write about obsession—we’re following in his tracks.”

“He wasn’t just a mystery/suspense writer,” adds the author many fans would describe as the modern Poe, Stephen King. “He was the first.”

So as the Mystery Writers of America prepares to hand out the annual Edgar Allan Poe Awards in April (including a Grand Master honor to King and poss- a Best Novel Award to Bayard), we thought the time was right to remind crime fiction fans why the honor’s named
after Poe in the first place.

After all, it’s not “the Arthur” or “the Dashiell.” It’s the Edgar.

Here’s why.


The Innovation
Edgar Poe was born on January 19, 1809. The middle name Allan didn’t come until later, after Poe’s father (an alcoholic actor) disappeared and his mother (an actress) died of tuberculosis. Only two years old when he was orphaned, young Edgar was taken in by John Allan, a wealthy Virginia merchant. But the lad’s luck never improved much after that tragic start to life.

It was Allan’s wife, Frances, who bonded with the child. Allan himself never did—in fact, Allan never even formally adopted him. As Poe matured into manhood, the two quarreled constantly. Poe saw Allan as cold and stingy. Allan considered Poe self-indulgent and irresponsible. Not long after Frances died, Poe found himself penniless and adrift.

ravenHe tried to keep himself afloat the only way he knew how: writing. After self-publishing his first books (poetry collections that barely made a ripple before sinking into obscurity), he began selling stories to newspapers and magazines. That eventually led to positions as an editor/staff writer/critic at a string of publications—as well as the appearance of many of the short stories (or “tales” as they were known at the time) for which he would one day be famous.
Although today Poe’s often associated with the horror genre, his tales didn’t dwell on the supernatural. Instead, they often took a psychological approach to stories of crime and tragedy. As Bayard notes, Poe seemed obsessed with obsession. “The Black Cat” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” are both narrated by psychotic killers driven to destroy themselves by guilt-fueled hallucinations. In “The Oval Portrait,” an artist becomes so fixated on finishing a painting, he doesn’t even notice that his beautiful model—his wife—is dead. And even “The Fall of the House of Usher” isn’t a ghost story, as so many readers seem to remember it. It’s about a twisted, quasi-incestuous relationship between a young woman and the brother who tries to have her interred alive.

Of course, Poe wasn’t the only writer cranking out dark tales about dirty deeds. The day of the “penny dreadful” was dawning, and there were outlets aplenty for blood-drenched shockers. Yet Poe stood apart from the hack pack, partially thanks to his emphasis on aberrant psychology, and partially because Poe’s imagination so far out-stripped his rivals.

“Poe was an innovator,” says Dawn B. Sova, author of Edgar Allan Poe A to Z and Critical Companion to Edgar Allan Poe. “He was not the first to tackle morbid subjects. He just pushed the envelope.”

Eventually, Poe wasn’t just pushing the envelope anymore. With his story “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” he created one all his own: the tale of ratiocination. Or, as it later came to be called, the mystery.

Always fascinated with puzzles and cryptograms, Poe frequently wrote columns challenging readers to send him a code he couldn’t break. In “Rue Morgue,” he did what no other writer had yet thought to do—took that kind of intellectual challenge and used it as the hook for a work of fiction.

A mother and daughter are found horribly mutilated in a locked room. The police are baffled. Only a brilliant amateur, C. Auguste Dupin, can provide an explanation, which he arrives at purely through the application of cold, precise logic. The tale is told by the dilettante detective’s unnamed roommate, who later returned to relate two more of Dupin’s cases: “The Mystery of Marie Roget” (1842) and “The Purloined Letter” (1844), both of which also hinge on detection and deduction rather than blood and thunder.

“Poe almost single-handedly invented the puzzle element of detective fiction that later came to dominate the genres of mystery and crime,” says Boston University English professor Charles Rzepka.

“There were other writers dealing in mystery and suspense, but not this kind of detective work or ratiocination,” adds Scott Peeples, associate professor of English at the College of Charleston in South Carolina and the current president of the Poe Studies Association. “I don’t think someone else would have come up with it, really. Not one of Poe’s contemporaries, anyway. The character of Dupin, the structure of the stories and the idea of proving oneself to be the intellectual champ—that stuff is intrinsic to Poe. Even when Poe’s not writing detective fiction, there’s often a similar element of gamesmanship.”

Rzepka (whose book Detective Fiction tracks the development of the genre) calls Dupin “the grandaddy of all modern literary detectives.” But it was one literary detective in particular who would pick up where grandpa left off, creating a sensation that helped cement the popularity of the mystery before the genre even had a name.

doyle_studyinscarletThat detective, of course, was Sherlock Holmes. Holmes and his sidekick, Dr. Watson, even acknowledged their literary heritage in “A Study in Scarlet.”
“You remind me of Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin,” Watson tells his friend. “I had no idea that such individuals did exist outside of stories.”

“No doubt you think that you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin,” Holmes replies. “Now, in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow....”
Despite the haughtiness of Holmes’ dismissal, the character’s creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, was offering a sincere (if cheeky) tip of the deerstalker to a writer who’d paved the way for him.

“Conan Doyle never failed to acknowledge his debt to Poe,” says Daniel Stashower, who’s written about both the English author (in the Edgar-winning Conan Doyle biography The Teller of Tales) and his American predecessor (in the Edgar-nominated 2006 book The Beautiful Cigar Girl, which explores how “The Mystery of Marie Roget” grew out of a real-life murder case).

“‘To [Poe] must be ascribed the monstrous progeny of writers on the detection of crime,’ Conan Doyle once wrote. ‘Each may find some little development of his own, but his main art must trace back to those admirable stories of Monsieur Dupin....’ Elsewhere, he was more succinct: ‘Poe is the master of all.’”
Such high praise would have come as a surprise to the writers and critics of the previous generation, since to them it appeared that Poe was the master of nothing, except perhaps living shamefully and dying young.

The Betrayal
While he had the occasional brush with fame and fortune (most notably after the publication of the poem “The Raven” in 1845), Poe squandered whatever opportunities came within reach. Erratic behavior (exacerbated by alcohol and the long decline and death of his wife) and a string of literary feuds (fueled by his insightful but often vicious reviews) had all but wrecked his career. The sordid, murky details of his death were, appropriately enough, the last nail in the coffin for his literary reputation.

Poe died in 1849 shortly after being found roaming the streets of Baltimore in another man’s clothes. Some accounts say he was drunk, others say he was delirious. Either way, no one knows what exactly killed him. Had he been beaten? Drugged? Bitten by a rabid cat? Infected with cholera? A new theory seems to emerge every year.

Even dead, however, Poe had to withstand one final stab in the back. An editor with whom Poe had often clashed, Rufus Griswold, wrote an anonymous obituary that began, “Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it.” It got worse from there, painting Poe as a debauched lunatic.

Later Griswold went even further, penning a Poe “memoir” that was filled with slanders: Poe had been expelled from the University of Virginia for debauchery, Poe was an army deserter, Poe seduced and blackmailed respectable women, Poe was addicted to opium, Poe was insane. And this from the man who (for murky reasons scholars still debate) Poe had named as his literary executor—which gave Griswold the chance to work even more mischief, altering Poe’s letters to make them more scandalous and cheating Poe’s family (in particular, his beloved aunt Maria “Muddy” Clemm) out of profits from posthumous sales of his work.

Sadly, Griswold’s crusade against Poe wasn’t just tireless: For decades, it was effective.

“In large part because of [Griswold], Poe was considered morally reprehensible,” Sova says. “His work was not thought of as a suitable model [for literature]. It was largely pushed aside in the United States and England for 50 years.”

In France, however, the perception of Poe as an opium-addled madman might have actually helped. The French poet Charles Baudelaire came to worship Poe, seeing in him not only a kindred spirit but a victim of parochialism and hypocrisy. Poe was, to him, the classic Misunderstood Genius. Baudelaire set out to right that wrong by praising Poe to anyone who’d listen and translating the writer’s tales into French.

“Baudelaire was a great press agent,” says Peeples, who devoted an entire book (The Afterlife of Edgar Allan Poe) to the writer’s image and how it’s evolved over time. “He really played up the idea that Poe was rebellious and decadent.”

As a result, Poe was regarded as a master in France long before his reputation was salvaged in his homeland.

When Poe was remembered in the US (which wasn’t by many) it was as a wild-eyed reprobate tortured by demons of his own creation. Which, if you think about it, is exactly the sort of image some PR-savvy horror or crime writers would kill to have today. This gothic, larger-than-life persona meshed perfectly with Poe’s dark tales, and it eventually gave him a sort of romantic glamour he couldn’t quite pull off when he was alive.

“On the one hand, the treatment of him after death created a lag in American appreciation of him,” says mystery/thriller author Matthew Pearl, a Poe enthusiast who edited and wrote the introduction for a recent Modern Library collection called The Murders in the Rue Morgue: The Dupin Tales. “On the other hand, it built up a mystique that has helped his writing survive in posterity.”

That mystique didn’t just allow Poe’s works to live on: In a way, it’s kept Poe himself alive. He’s such a fascinating character that he’s been reincarnated time after time in other writers’ works.

Harold Schechter has penned a series of historical mysteries starring Poe (beginning with Nevermore in 2000), while English writer Andrew Taylor put a young Poe in peril in London in his 2003 novel The American Boy (released in the US as An Unpardonable Crime). More recently, Pearl and Louis Bayard both released Poe-focused books last year—on the same day, in fact. (Pearl’s The Poe Shadow imagines efforts to recruit the real C. Auguste Dupin to solve the mystery of Poe’s death). And this year, Joel Rose’s The Blackest Bird made Poe a suspect in the sensational murder that inspired “The Mystery of Marie Roget.”

Bayard says he’s not surprised in the slightest that so many other authors have wanted to use Poe as a character.

“It’s an act of humility,” Bayard explains. “You read Poe, you read Doyle, even Agatha Christie, and you realize they’re still the masters. And since every writer begins as a reader, it’s entirely fitting to pay homage to these masters in some way—in my case, by placing one at the center of a detective story, the genre he himself created.”

The Legacy
poe_edgarallanBy the end of the 19th century, Poe was finally getting his due. Not only were his contributions being acknowledged by Conan Doyle, the man who’d picked up the detective fiction torch he’d lit, Poe also had a host of other high-profile champions, including W.H. Auden, H.G. Wells, Fyodor Dostoevsky and George Bernard Shaw.

By the time the 20th century reached its mid-point, Poe wasn’t just famous again. He was respectable enough to pop up on high school reading lists alongside Twain, Melville, Hawthorne, Hemingway and other authors who’ve shaped American literature.

Which is no guarantee of immortality given the (complete lack of) enthusiasm the typical teenager brings to reading assignments. Fond of long, clause-choked sentences and untranslated quotes in Latin and French, Poe certainly doesn’t make it easy on young readers.

Could Poe have been rescued from obscurity only to be forgotten all over again by the next generation? Stephen King would like to think not.

“Poe’s stories are wonderful, and they still stand up,” the bestselling author says. “They’re as readable now as they were when I first encountered them in my teens.”

Of course, when King was a teen, he didn’t have MTV and PlayStation competing for his time (and shortening his attention span).

“Most kids today need some help to get hooked on Poe,” says suspense novelist Karen Harper, who has taught English at both the high school and collegiate levels (and wrote about her debt to Poe in the book Mystery Muses: 100 Classics That Inspire Today’s Mystery Writers). “As with someone like Dickens, today’s students don’t get why he doesn’t just ‘cut to the chase,’ as they are used to with horror flicks, TV or short stories today. The idea of setting the mood is something they need to understand.”

Take, for instance, the following sentence from “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (which opens with several pages of philosophizing about logic and “the analytical power” before even introducing C. Auguste Dupin).

“The faculty of re-solution is possibly much invigorated by mathematical study, and especially by that highest branch of it which, unjustly, and merely on account of its retrograde operations, has been called, as if par excellence, analysis."

To which your average high school freshman eloquently replies: “Huh?”

“The style’s certainly not what we think of as ‘modern,’” admits Bill Crider, another former college English teacher (and an Edgar nominee for a story in the 2006 anthology Damn Near Dead). “The opening paragraph of ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ has more adjectives in it than most novels now. [And in] his detective stories, like ‘The Purloined Letter,’ the solution can take up two-thirds of the story.”

Yet as dated as Poe’s work can sometimes seem, Crider insists that the author’s best tales are just as relevant as ever—particularly to anyone interested in the craft of writing.

“Poe’s always in the back of my mind,” says Crider (who contributed Poe pastiches to the anthologies Dark Destiny and Cat Crimes II). “‘The Cask of Amontillado’ is still a great revenge story, maybe the best ever.”

Rob Kantner agrees. The Shamus-winning author of the Ben Perkins PI series, Kantner also eulogized Poe in Mystery Muses, picking (like Crider) “The Cask of Amontillado” as an example of the author’s most powerful, enduring work.

“Compared with Poe, most of today’s authors, even the very respected ones, seem to me flabby, self-conscious and pretentious,” says Kantner. “I think studying him can still be good for writers, both new and experienced; for spareness, economy of prose, ability to build suspense.”

So even if the public-at-large remembers Poe as, alas, the creepy, Gomez Addams-looking author of quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore, mystery writers will always remember him differently.

“We are entwined with Poe,” says MWA historian and archivist Barry T. Zeman. “Without him, we would not have had this genre. He is our father and our symbol.”

MWA’s newest Grand Master puts it another way.

“Poe’s The Man,” King says. “What more can I say?”

Bury Me Deep
Hank Wagner

As with 2007's The Song is You, Megan Abbott was inspired to write Bury Me Deep by a true story. The former was based on the disappearance of actress Jean Spangler from Los Angeles in 1949; her new novel is based on the story of Winnie Ruth Judd, also known as the "Trunk Murderess," the "Tiger Woman," and the "Blonde Butcher." Here, the Winnie Ruth Judd analog is the lonely nurse Marion Seeley (abandoned by her strange husband), who falls under the influence of her colleague, the feisty Louise Mercer, and Louise's gal pal Ginny, both ladies famous for the raucous social life they lead. It's at a gathering of theirs that Marion meets Joe Lanigan. Sparks fly, and they embark on an affair that ultimately leads to disaster, as you might intuit if you reflect on Abbott's clever character names.

With her first three novels, Megan Abbott has already been nominated twice for the Edgar Award, crime writing's most prestigious honor: once for best first novel for Die A Little and again for best novel, taking that prize with her last book, Queenpin. Is a third nomination out of the question? Certainly not—Bury Me Deep is a compelling, almost hypnotic piece of work, one sure to garner Abbott even more attention. Reminiscent of the works of Raymond Chandler and James Ellroy, Bury Me Deep is another jewel in the crown of one of the reigning monarchs of modern noir.

Admin
2009-08-31 19:08:42

As with 2007's The Song is You, Megan Abbott was inspired to write Bury Me Deep by a true story. The former was based on the disappearance of actress Jean Spangler from Los Angeles in 1949; her new novel is based on the story of Winnie Ruth Judd, also known as the "Trunk Murderess," the "Tiger Woman," and the "Blonde Butcher." Here, the Winnie Ruth Judd analog is the lonely nurse Marion Seeley (abandoned by her strange husband), who falls under the influence of her colleague, the feisty Louise Mercer, and Louise's gal pal Ginny, both ladies famous for the raucous social life they lead. It's at a gathering of theirs that Marion meets Joe Lanigan. Sparks fly, and they embark on an affair that ultimately leads to disaster, as you might intuit if you reflect on Abbott's clever character names.

With her first three novels, Megan Abbott has already been nominated twice for the Edgar Award, crime writing's most prestigious honor: once for best first novel for Die A Little and again for best novel, taking that prize with her last book, Queenpin. Is a third nomination out of the question? Certainly not—Bury Me Deep is a compelling, almost hypnotic piece of work, one sure to garner Abbott even more attention. Reminiscent of the works of Raymond Chandler and James Ellroy, Bury Me Deep is another jewel in the crown of one of the reigning monarchs of modern noir.

Trixie Belden the Girl-Next-Door Sleuth
Judith Sears

belden_trixie_onbike

In 1948, Trixie Belden strode into the annals of children's mysteries, taking her place as one of the most distinctive and appealing girl sleuths ever created.

Thirteen (then fourteen) years old, Trixie Belden loved horses, hated chores, and charged headlong into adventure.

The Trixie Belden series was created by Julie Campbell Tatham (and published under her maiden name, Campbell), in response to Western Publishing's call for fast-moving, inexpensive children's books. Almost immediately, the series won legions of fans, including some of today's notable mystery writers.

"There is no doubt that my characters were influenced by the Trixie Belden series," says Agatha-winner Earlene Fowler. "Fans tell me that my detective, Benni Harper, makes them feel that they know what happened to Trixie when she grew up. I'm proud of that," Fowler continues. "It's good fiction and Julie Campbell had a good voice."

Denise Swanson (Murder of a Barbie and Ken) went so far as to give her detective, Skye Dennison, a best friend named Trixie. "I thought maybe one or two people would get my sly joke," Swanson laughs. "But a whole group of Trixie fans showed up at a book signing I did in Ohio!"

Trixie also shows up as the cherished childhood reading of a pivotal character in Keith Ablow's suspense novel, Denial. "My wife was an avid reader of Trixie Belden as a young girl," explains Ablow, who is also a forensic psychiatrist. He was intrigued and impressed by his wife's quest to collect a complete set of Trixie Belden books. "She doesn't have art work or dolls from her childhood: she has her Trixie Belden books. I thought that was a powerful, powerful fact. I imagine these books must hold a special place in a number of little girls lives."

It's easy to condescend to these books as "kiddie potboilers," which, in fact, they are. But that overlooks the real achievements that made the series so memorable. For Campbell salted the contrivances of the genre with witty dialogue, strong characters and a vivid evocation of locale.

Trixie lives at Crabapple Farm in the Hudson River valley, along with her parents and three brothers: 16 year-old Brian, 14 year-old Mart; and six-year old Bobby. Modeled on Campbell's own home just outside of Ossining, New York, Crabapple Farm sits a few miles outside of fictional "Sleepyside-on-Hudson," a name derived from combining "Sleepy Hollow" and "Sunnyside," the name of Washington Irving's home.

tatham_trixiebeldensecretofmansionThe first three books introduce most of the series' regular characters and set the pattern for the remainder of the series. The Secret of the Mansion and its companion volume, The Red Trailer Mystery, chronicle the adventures and blossoming friendships of Trixie and her new neighbor, the wealthy, but lonely and timid Honey Wheeler, and Jim Frayne, a hot-tempered, resourceful runaway. The trio find a fortune in the dilapidated "Miser's Mansion," rescue Jim from a venal and abusive stepfather, and outwit trailer thieves on their way to finding Jim a home as the Wheeler's newly adopted son.

When Trixie's older brothers come home from summer camp in the third volume, The Gatehouse Mystery, the teens form a club, the Bob-Whites of the Glen, vowing to help others and be like "one big family." In between swimming, horseback riding, baby-sitting, and other activities, Trixie and the Bob-Whites catch big city diamond thieves.

Later volumes added two more regulars, Diana Lynch, the school beauty, and Dan Mangan, the rebel who's been misunderstood, but with The Gatehouse Mystery the world of the series is formed. Trixie is firmly situated in a close-knit circle of family and friends. This sense of community exercises a strong appeal for many readers. "Trixie's is a world you want to be in," says Jennifer Dussling, currently the Trixie Belden editor at Random House. "Not everything is about moving the plot along: sometimes they're just hanging out and toasting marshmallows."

Fowler agrees and believes that the ensemble cast influenced her own creative choices. "My books are much more multicultural, but the family feeling is there, just like it is in the Trixie Belden books."

Further, the various characters are often distinctly drawn individuals. "These books taught me to pay attention to how characters speak," says Lora Roberts, author of Another Fine Mess. "Trixie and her friends are alive and are fomenting the action. They're doing things that develop naturally out of their characters and situations."

In the late 1940's, Trixie herself was something of a breakthrough character. "Trixie raised readers' expectations of what a girl character can be," says Octavia Spencer, co-author of the new Rock Holler Gang series which features a female leader. "She is not afraid to go after what she wants."

campbell_trixiebeldenmysteryoffglenrdWhile she's a strong character, she's not perfect. Especially in the first six books, the action of the mystery often coincides with Trixie's personal development. This personal stake sets the series apart from many mysteries where the detective's derring-do and insight solves someone else's problems. Nancy Drew stories, for example, often have a sense of noblesse oblige, Nancy arriving in well-heeled, well-groomed poise to solve the problems of those not quite so quick-witted or fortunately situated as she. Trixie, in contrast, is younger and not quite put together : either in wardrobe or personality. Like most adolescents, she's a welter of possibilities. She loves and readily sacrifices to help her family and friends. But she also jumps to conclusions about people.

Early in The Secret of the Mansion she bluntly dismisses the crotchety neighbor, Mr. Frayne, as a "greedy old miser" and wonders how he could have panicked so completely when his wife was bitten by a copperhead.

A few chapters later, Trixie faces the identical challenge when kid brother, Bobby, is bitten by a copperhead while her parents are away. Trixie administers first aid and, with Honey's help, gets a doctor out to Crabapple Farm. During the emergency she demonstrates a courage and level-headedness that had eluded old Mr. Frayne. But she also comes to empathize with his plight: "every minute of the long wait Trixie lived in her imagination with Old Mr. Frayne and his wife on a lonely road in a car that wouldn't start. 'I guess I'd go crazy too if that happened to me,' she admitted"

It's a classic Trixie developmental moment: her strengths are confirmed and she begins to recognize and outgrow her weaknesses. "People are lovable and admirable when they're working to become what they can be," observes Swanson. "That's what we see in Trixie throughout the books. She's working to become a better person and she always acknowledges when she makes a mistake."

This psychological realism extends to other aspects of the books. While in some ways Crabapple Farm represents an idyllic slice of Americana, the books can throw some big challenges at Trixie and her friends. "People look at the books and say, 'how sweet,' but some issues, such as Jim Frayne's troubled home life, are the precursors for the young adult fiction of the 1970's," Fowler notes. "I don't think Campbell is given enough credit for being ahead of her time."

The Mystery Off Glen Road is a case in point. As the book opens Trixie and Honey are happily contemplating the "perfectly perfect" clubhouse they've been restoring over the course of the previous two books. But they wake up the next morning to find their clubhouse and hard work nearly destroyed by a blizzard. The remainder of the book follows the teens as they put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

belden_trixie_pedalpushers"That's a lesson in life and it's quite a foreshadowing of adulthood," says Swanson who also holds down a day job as a school psychologist. "I see many kids nowadays who aren't as equipped to handle those disappointments. Parents step in and rescue them more than I think is good. This was a turning point for these characters."

For the adult reader, the mysteries themselves sometimes aren't especially well-crafted or convincing. Even so, Roberts believes that the books taught her some valuable storytelling lessons. "Campbell didn't just bring clues in and drop them. Her clues have an actual place in the narrative. For example, Jim's christening mug puts his evil stepfather on his trail in The Secret of the Mansion as well as the trailer thieves in The Red Trailer Mystery. The same mug leads Trixie to him. I doubt that Campbell initially planned for the christening mug to keep turning up: but once she got the clue she carried it forward."

Campbell exploits the specifics of landscape and locale, e.g., copperheads and catamounts, in developing Sleepyside. Later series authors also built on the area's heritage, such as Washington Irving's "Legend of Sleepy Hollow." "The town seemed so real, I was shocked to find there was no Sleepyside in our atlas," recalls children's author Kathryn Reiss.

Years later, the tables were turned when Reiss created the fictional town of Garnet, Massachusetts, for two of her books. She was pleased and amused to receive a letter from a young reader who had tried to locate Garnet while on family vacation. "Shades of Sleepyside!" she says.

A total of 39 Trixie Belden volumes were published between 1948 and 1986. Campbell, however, left the series after the first six books. Subsequent volumes, published under the house name, "Kathryn Kenny," were written by authors of varying abilities and allegiance to Campbell's original vision. But the pattern of a spirited girl and her friends working together and solving mysteries survived.

So did fan loyalty, sending prices soaring at online auction sites. The four volumes Random House reissued in 2003 have already been through multiple printings and the publisher has announced plans for reissuing at least the first 15 volumes.

The small-town, harum-scarum girl with PI ambitions turns out to have staying power. "These were by no means meant to be classic kids books," says Swanson. "They were meant to be pulp fiction for kids. But Trixie tunnels her way into your heart and so many of us still love her."

Trixie Belden, it seems, is here to stay and delight a new generation of young readers and, just possibly, influence another generation of mystery writers.

Judith Sears is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. Visit her online at sleepysidezone.com.

Admin
2009-10-01 13:19:31

belden_trixie_crop2In 1948, Trixie Belden strode into the annals of children's mysteries, taking her place as one of the most distinctive and appealing girl sleuths ever created.