BY OLINE H. COGDILL
Two archives of Dashiell Hammett, left, will join James Ellroy’s manuscripts, the papers of George V. Higgins, and Elmore Leonard’s Hawaiian shirts along with collections relating to Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald at the University of South Carolina.
According to the Associated Press and other media, the two archives contain hundreds of personal letters, including some 400 Hammett wrote to his wife and daughters and roughly 70 written by Lillian Hellman, with whom Hammett lived at the time of his death in 1961, at age 66.
The acquisition also includes photographs, screenplays, more than 300 first editions and 42 copies of the pulp magazine Black Mask containing Hammett’s work, as well as a replica of the black Maltese Falcon statuette from the 1941 film starring Humphrey Bogart. One archive was acquired from Hammett’s family and the other from the biographer Richard Layman.
“This is the collection of Hammett material,” Tom McNally, the university’s dean of libraries, told The Associated Press, which first reported the acquisition. “There is no equal to it in terms of published materials.”
Some pieces will be on display at the university’s Hollings Library through July 31.
The Hammett archives bolster the university’s crime fiction collection.
The archives of Leonard, who died in 2013, include more than 450 manuscripts, correspondence, and research materials relating to his more than 40 books, numerous short stories, and screenplays. The collection also includes Leonard’s Hawaiian shirts and will eventually include his desk, his typewriters, some 1,300 books from his personal library, and even a pair of his sneakers.
Peter Leonard, the author’s son, explained in a release that his father chose the university because of its Hemingway and Higgins collection.
In the release, which was quoted in the New York Times, Peter Leonard said that during his father’s visit to the South Carolina campus in 2013 a librarian showed the Higgins collection, including the manuscript for The Friends of Eddie Coyle, which was published in 1970.
“That got my dad’s attention. That book set my dad free,” Peter Leonard was quoted.
By Oline H. Cogdill
Book titles do not carry a copyright. So through the years, several totally different books may have the same title.
I remember one week when the newspaper books editor and I realized that we had scheduled to run two books—one nonfiction, one fiction—each with the same title. It can get confusing to readers, especially when the books come out at the same time.
But lately, I have encountered several mysteries that have the same title. Just shows that great minds think alike.
In April, Allison Brennan’s novel Compulsion was published by Minotaur. Also in April, Compulsion by the late Meyer Levin, with an introduction by Gabriel Levin and a foreword by Marcia Clark, was re-released by Fig Tree Books.
Brennan’s Compulsion continues her New York Times best-selling series about investigative reporter Maxine Revere.
According to the publisher, Maxine believes that the five New York City murders for which Adam Bachman is being tried are just part of his killing spree. In probing the disappearance of a retired couple who vanished the prior summer, she uncovers striking similarities in the crimes and begins to believe that Bachman wasn't working alone.
Levin’s Compulsion is a classic thriller that reintroduces the fictionalized case of Leopold and Loeb—once considered the "crime of the century"—to a new generation.
Levin’s Compulsion takes place in 1920s Chicago and is about Judd Steiner and Artie Straus, two wealthy, intelligent young men who are obsessed with Nietzsche’s idea of the superhuman. They decide to prove that they are above the laws of man by arbitrarily picking and murdering a neighborhood boy. Long before Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Levin’s Compulsion was considered the first nonfiction novel when it was originally published in 1956.
Little Black Lies is the name of the debut novel of Sandra Block, published by Grand Central Publishing in February.
Little Black Lies also is the title of the novel from Sharon Bolton, published by Minotaur in May.
How different are these two novels?
Block’s Little Black Lies is about Zoe Goldman, a psychiatry resident at a Buffalo, New York hospital. When she was four years old, Zoe was adopted by a loving couple after she was rescued from a fire in which her mother died. Her nightmares about that fire lasted for years but eventually stopped when she was in high school. But now the dreams have returned and neither she nor her therapist understand why. In my review of Little Black Lies, I stated the novel also works as “a heartfelt story about families and how secrets can both pull people apart or keep them safe.”
My review also said, “Little Black Lies delivers an intriguing look at how one’s subconscious can propel a person’s actions as they come to grips with reality. Block, a neurologist, shows the inner workings of a hospital. The camaraderie between Zoe and her colleagues is realistically portrayed. The serious plot gets an extra boost from a soupçon of humor and Zoe’s multilayered personality.”
Bolton’s Little Black Lies also contains an intriguing story. The British author sets her Little Black Lies in the Falkland Islands, where a child has gone missing. This is almost unheard of in the small and isolated community of Stanley. At first the treacherous landscape is blamed.
But when more children go missing, the villagers must admit that these disappearances are no accident. The novel works as a look at how a small community deals with violence in its midst as neighbor turns on neighbor. In this environment, secrets can be lethal.
Bolton, who also writes as S.J. Bolton, has won the Mary Higgins Clark Award and the ITW Thriller Award and has been nominated for the CWA Gold Dagger and Barry Award.
All four novels are excellent. And yeah, it is hard to keep the titles straight. Ironically, my review of Little Black Lies recently was published in a newspaper and the wrong author was credited with the Little Black Lies that I reviewed.
I say, read them all.