Monday, December 07, 2009

Free crime for Christmas

If you're wracked by the recession or strapped by Christmas giving, here are four links that could keep you reading for a while and all for the right price: free.

They are Project Gutenberg's Crime Fiction, Mystery Fiction, Detective Fiction and Crime Nonfiction Bookshelves, and they offer free versions of classics to read or download by people like E.W. Hornung, creator of Raffles; Maurice Leblanc (Arsene Lupin), Poe, Dickens, John Buchan, E.C. Bentley, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Mary Roberts Rinehart, G.K. Chesterton, Baroness Orczy (The Old Man In the Corner, The Scarlet Pimpernel), Joseph Conrad, Wilkie Collins, and many more, including some guy named Dostoyesvsky.

Season's greetings to all, and thanks to the good people at Project Gutenberg.

Now, it's your turn: What good no-cost gifts can you think of for the crime-fiction fan on your list?

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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20 Comments:

Anonymous Adrian McKinty said...

Peter

Still hard to them on the screen though isnt it? Unless you can transfer them to Kindle or something, which maybe you can? Fetch has a Kindle we should ask him.

December 08, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

By the way does Project Gutenburg have the Police Academy Movies? They're terrific.

December 08, 2009  
Blogger Loren Eaton said...

TTA Press, publisher of Crimewave magazine, is posting electronic versions of stories as part of an Advent giveaway. Also, they have some good unabridged readings of old shorts up at Transmissions From Beyond.

December 08, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, I've always used printouts for reading anything longer than a few pages. I don't much like reading on a screen. Reading on loose sheets is no picnic either, but one advantage is that one can print a few chapters at a time when one is ready to read them.

Yes, the Kindle has been passed down reverently from generation to generation in Fetch's family. His ancestors were among the consumer avant-garde in Larne, among the first to have Kindles.

December 08, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Poject Steve Guttenberg's first release will be "Can't Stop the Music." Depending on how that goes, more may follow.

December 08, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Loren, that's a nice idea -- one story per day. Looks like a good opportunity to read some new stuff, too. Thanks.

December 08, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

As long as they have that guy who does those hilarious sound effect noises just with his mouth! He's brilliant. I love it when he does the fake PA announcement and everyone falls for it. Gosh darn it, comedy was just so much funnier in the 80's.

December 08, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

BTW I missed the word "read" there didnt I? Which of course was an ironic commentary on our times not a typo.

December 08, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I read "read" even though you did not type it. The human mind is a wonderful thing, isn't it?

December 08, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

In re the '80s, sometimes I feel a certain affinity with Juvenal. I'd find something to complain about no matter what decade I lived in.

Speaking of decades, I wonder when in the history of our calendar decades became an organizing principle. Did Anglo-Saxons long for the 1050s, before William the Bastard arrived? Did Italians late in the Renaissance look back on the 15-oughties as a high point in painting? I suppose their must have been a time when a decade would have been considered to brief a span to be possess cultural characteristics of its own. And is this tendency to compartmentalize history by decades an especially American tendency?

December 08, 2009  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

Well I was actually condescending. Of course I am above such crass modernisms. I am happy to be living in the reign of Elizabeth Regina II which suceeded the reign of, sigh, the last of our King Emperors.

December 08, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Er, "too" brief a span, that is.

December 08, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And I was affecting not to notice your condecension. I guess the reign of Elizabeth is all right -- Elizabeth I.

December 08, 2009  
Anonymous marco said...

Munseys recycles many free titles from Project Gutenberg in various, more readable formats, and adds a lot of public domain crime/detective/pulp titles taken from magazines like Black Mask or pulp paperbacks.
You can find a lot of early mysteries and hardboileds there if you look in the mystery and pulp categories:
Horace McCoy's No Pocket For a Shroud, Paul Cain's Fast One, some Hammett short stories...

December 08, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Marco, that's a fine holiday gift. Thanks. And here’s a link to Munseys. I've long wanted to read Horace McCoy, and I've said that if Paul Cain had written a few more books as good as Fast One, Chandler and Hammett partisans would argue over who was second best to Paul Cain.

If you don't like e or √2, you might like the advice embodied in my verification word: trypi

December 08, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Oops, bad link. Let’s try again. Here’s the link to Munseys.

December 08, 2009  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

I see Munseys includes McCoy's "The Mopper-Up," Black Mask, 11/31.

One of my favorite hard-boiled short stories. Highly recommended!

December 08, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. I'd known about McCoy only through They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, which I have not read. I could reap some good reading from this post.

December 08, 2009  
Anonymous solo said...

I see the last comment in this thread was two days ago, which in the blogosphere is akin to saying it was last active in the late cretaceous period. So this comment will in all probability be, as James Bond might be told, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.
However, I have read a few ancient crime novels at Project Gutenberg and find myself being extremely grateful for being able to do so. As long as you pace yourself, it's not so difficult to put up with reading from the screen.
The first book I read was Sax Rohmer's The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu (1913). It goes along at a good clip but the main attraction nowadays is taking in all that overt racism. My favourite line is 'there isn't an Englishman in the house,' and my favourite passage goes:
"You don't know the Oriental mind as I do; but I quite understand the girl's position. She fears the English authorities, but would submit to capture by you! If you would only seize her by the hair, drag her to some cellar, hurl her down and stand over her with a whip, she would tell you everything she knows, and salve her strange Eastern conscience with the reflection that speech was forced from her. I am not joking; it is so, I assure you. And she would adore you for your savagery, deeming you forceful and strong!"
Ah! The good old days! If only there was more of this stuff, it would be well worth reading.
The second book I read was The Lodger (1913), about a Jack The Ripper style serial killer, by Marie Belloc Lowndes, which was filmed by Hitchcock in 1927 (available on YouTube BTW, To-night Golden Curls!). Very well done up to a point. The background of the landlady; the grinding poverty, to the point of starvation, she and her husband are facing; and the moral choices that result from that poverty. But the ending of the book, which lets the main character off the moral hook and involves a preposterous coincidence, is the feeblest thing I have ever read. It's still a wonderful premise for a crime novel, though. To be harbouring a serial killer and not reveal that fact due to dire economic necessity is a plot any budding crime novelist could use today. It might not have worked a few years ago, but I think it would play well now, given present economic circumstances.
Much more fun is Solomon's Vineyard (1941) by Jonathan Latimer, available at Munseys.com. It's like Hammet, only more so, and with more sex. Hammet would never have written the following (more's the pity): "From the way her buttocks looked under the black silk dress, I knew she'd be good in bed. The silk was tight and under it the muscles worked slow and easy. I saw weight there, and control, and, brother, those are things I like in a woman."
Now, that's a way to open a book!
Apologies for this belated and overlong 'comment.'

December 10, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

OK, let's try again and hope my connection does not leave the building.

First, in these days when mass media, recording technology and the Internet have compressed all of time into a single recent past, the cretaceous can be our friend

I saw Sax Rohmer on one of the lists, and I concur in your opinion of the passage you cited. My favorite sentence: "I am not joking." The man knew how to get a piece of prose on track and keep it moving.

The Lodger is the first Hitchcock movie that has the Hitchcock touch, all the more impressive since it's a silent, but I don't think I'd heard that it was based on a story, so thanks. And I've read King Solomon's Mines, and I remember that passage well ... can practically see and feel that callipygian shimmy.

December 10, 2009  

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