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Non-subscribers For access to an additional 3 stories per month, you can register for a free account by clicking here. District Attorney's Office to call witnesses in Larkin murder case. Posted Saturday, November 16, am. By John Miller jmiller taosnews. Van Dine was the pseudonym of Willard Huntington Wright, a man who was every bit as superior-minded as his creation.
Born in , Wright was a youthful prodigy with a devotion to Nietzsche. He forged his literary credentials as an art and drama critic, and worked briefly as editor of The Smart Set , a would-be trendsetting publication created by the iconoclastic writer H. Mencken and the powerful critic George Jean Nathan.
‘Law & Order’ creator Dick Wolf takes on Colorado’s Christopher Watts murder case with Oxygen show
But Wright tended to dabble more than achieve, and by early middle-age his pretensions far outweighed his accomplishments or income. After reading the genre dry, he decided to get into the act himself. Wright devised the plotlines for three novels—with the intent of writing six in total—and created the nom de plume S. Van Dine , found no evidence supporting that. Wright likewise claimed that S.
Van Dine to the first-person narrator of the books, a trick that would later be be used in a similar way by Ellery Queen. Even the name Philo Vance is a pseudonym. Whatever his true name, the wealthy dilettante lives in a posh two-floor apartment on East 38th Street in Manhattan.
The Winter Murder Case (Philo Vance #12)
Markham, and the bluff, boneheaded Sergeant Heath of the homicide department keep their jobs, Vance spends his time studying art and aesthetics. In truth, about the only thing that saves him from total insufferability is a droll sense of humor. This air of condescension is not surprising since Vance appears to be an authority on every subject on the face of the earth, knowledge that he shares with his associates at every opportunity. Punctuated with frequent footnotes and elaborate diagrams, the Philo Vance novels were well-crafted puzzlers that captivated readers.
Benson sold well, but it was Canary that launched the Philo Vance phenomenon, selling 60, copies in its first month and making Willard Wright a wealthy man.
Man and teenager found guilty of killing 32-year-old Anthony Winter
The Vance books are built around such rules and gimmicks, including recording the date and time every chapter commences so the reader can chart the timeline of the case, though Rule One was always to play fair with the reader. Out of all the classic sleuths created by American writers, only Charlie Chan has appeared in more films than Philo Vance. Dapper, mustachioed William Powell was the first and best portrayer of Vance, offering a pleasing characterization that was high on charm but low on the superciliousness of the print detective.
It may have been the harsh realities of the Great Depression which made the idle, rich antics of Philo Vance seem less amusing, or simply that readers were turning instead to the talented likes of Hammett, Cain, Gardner, and Stout.
Whatever the reason, by Garden , sales were dropping severely. Punctuated with frequent footnotes and elaborate diagrams, the Philo Vance novels were well-crafted puzzlers.
Diagram from The Scarab Murder Case. Both had actually begun as treatments for Hollywood vehicles, the first for radio comedienne Gracie Allen George Burns' other half and the second for ice skater-turned-movie-star Sonja Henie. Wright later novelized the scripts, inadvertently pioneering the concept of the movie tie-in.
Both books were poorly received. Wright died in , before the publication of Winter , and the Philo Vance phenomenon was over. There would be a handful of films yet to come, but increasingly they turned the dapper aesthete into just another B-movie gumshoe. There were a couple of stabs at a Philo Vance radio series as well, a brief one in with Jose Ferrer, and a longer-lived one that began in starring radio utility actor Jackson Beck, but these also bore little resemblance to the source.
While virtually forgotten today by the public at large, there is no question that Philo Vance had a big influence on the detectives who were to follow, probably none so much as Ellery Queen though the Manhattan-flavored eccentricities of Nero Wolfe also faintly echo Vance. Queen, however, evolved with the times, something that Vance was never quite able to do.