Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Benn's Day: Historical figures in crime novels

Last year I wrote that James R. Benn's novel A Mortal Terror "opens with a giant wink to the reader that promises a fair bit of fun along with the human drama and military history: `Kim Philby owed me one.'"

Death's Door, the follow-up book, includes several such cameo appearances, including one by a Hollywood actor who, for purposes of his military service, went by the name John Hamilton. Other bit players include Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini, a Vatican diplomat who later became Pope Paul VI, and Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty (and his butler, John May), whom I had not heard of before reading the author's note Benn appends to the novel, but who is very much worth hearing about.

And that's where you come in: What are your favorite cameo appearances by historical figures in crime fiction? (Here's a link to one of mine.)
A Moral Terror is the sixth of Benn's Billy Boyle World War II mysteries, Death's Door the seventh. Today is release day for the eighth in the series, A Blind Goddess, which lands Billy in a case that involves the 617th Tank Destroyer Battalion and racism in the U.S. military.
James R. Benn will be part of my "World War II and Sons" panel at Bouchercon 2013 in Albany, N.Y., on Thursday, Sept. 19, at 4:00 p.m.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Anonymous Jim Benn said...

Peter, I'm glad you are an aficionado of the cameo appearance. I'm putting the finishing touches on next year's Billy Boyle, and both Yogi Berra and Agatha Christie have their moments. They both were actually within a few miles of each other in pre D-Day England. Hmmm...could they have met? Would they understand each other?

September 04, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Did Agatha Christie ever wear a lorgnette? If she did, would she ever looked down it at Yogi Berra? Christie had her famous disappearance in the 1920s. She could have another one with Berra, joining him on a quest for spaghetti and Chianti in wartime England.

Cameo appearances can be fun, and I learned something from these.

September 04, 2013  
Blogger Kelly Robinson said...

I'm questioning my memory. Does Howard Hughes actually appear briefly in THE BIG NOWHERE?

September 07, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I don't know. I've read L.A. Confidential and White Jazz, but not The Big Nowhere.

September 07, 2013  

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