Book v. Movie: The Woman In Black


I remember the first time I read Susan Hill’s now-classic ghost story, The Woman In Black. I was transported to a northern coastal village in England at the turn of the last century, and I was mesmerized by the tale. The novel was published in 1983, and it was soon adapted for TV, radio, and the stage. The play is still running in London’s West End after more than 20 years. I’ve never seen it, but I was interested to see the recent film version. Continue reading

A new kind of thriller


I’ve just finished reading GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn, which is currently a top bestseller in America. The book has made several end-of-year Top 10 lists for 2012, including the New York Times. It is Flynn’s third published novel, and its enormous popularity has catapulted her two earlier books, SHARP OBJECTS and DARK PLACES, back onto bestseller lists everywhere. It is the “breakout” book for the former journalist, who was a TV critic for Entertainment Weekly. Now, everybody in the world is talking about it.

Gone Girl DJWhy all the fuss over a suspense novel? Continue reading

The face in the misty light: Why I love “Laura”


Laura 1944 posterI just watched Laura again, for maybe the hundredth time. It’s one of my favorite films, and my DVD of it gets a workout at least once a year. Pauline Kael, the best film critic ever, called it “everybody’s favorite chic murder mystery.” Watching it this time, I tried to figure out why that is. What is it about this particular film that makes it so popular, and so memorable? Continue reading

My 13 favorite Alfred Hitchcock movies

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Today is August 13, the birthday of Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980). It is the 113th anniversary of his birth, and I’m sure the great man himself would have been amused by the double appearance of that “unlucky” number. By all accounts, he loved things like that. Well, I love his movies, so I’ve selected my 13 favorites of his films for my latest list of Essential Mystery Stuff, a “baker’s dozen” to honor his birthday. In chronological order:

The re-release poster for VERTIGO by the great Saul Bass

The re-release poster for VERTIGO by the great Saul Bass

1. THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS (1935)
2. THE LADY VANISHES (1938)
3. REBECCA (1940)
4. FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (1940)
5. SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943) Continue reading

50 (okay, 51) modern mysteries everyone should read


Here’s the second list in my continuing series of recommendations. We covered classic mysteries (Poe–1960) on the first list, and this one goes from 1961–2001 (with a final choice, #51, from this last decade). Here it is:

1. Mary Stewart — THE IVY TREE*
2. John D. MacDonald — THE DEEP BLUE GOOD-BY
3. John le Carré — THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD**
4. John Ball — IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT
5. Dick Francis — ODDS AGAINST Continue reading

A locked room with a view


This is an essay I contributed to a colleague’s mystery blog last year, and it contains a lot of info about me as well as the subject I was asked to address (mysteries set on islands). I’m reprinting it here as one of my first blog posts:

“A LOCKED ROOM WITH A VIEW”
by Tom Savage 

freeimage-4566636If you were to search the wide world to find the perfect geographical location for a murder mystery or suspense story, you would be hard put to find a scene of the crime more suitable than an island. I should know: I’m a mystery writer, and I grew up on one.

Children absorb the details of their surroundings, none more than fledgling writers. Arriving in St. Thomas, U. S. Virgin Islands, from mainland America at the impressionable age of nine, I was struck by the island’s staggering beauty, and I reveled in the hills and dales and water, water everywhere. But I was also aware, even then, that there was something rather sinister about the set-up. Unless you have immediate access to a boat or a plane, you’re stuck there with nowhere else to go. One of my first feelings in my new home was a vague, undefined sense of claustrophobia. I didn’t know that word then, but I would learn it.

Continue reading