Hard Case Crime’s December 2009 release

Aural Noir: News

Hard Case Crime RibbonHard Case Crime has a near stranglehold on my paperback budgeted dollars. One reason is that they’ve got so many great titles that never get audiobooked. Another is their choice of cover art. A Hard Case Crime cover never fails to please. This is probably why I’m doubly excited to see they’re doing one book that is already an audiobook! Their choice for a December 2009 release, a classic reprint, surprised me and made me laugh.

Check out this accurate (but very misleading) description from HCC editor Charles Ardai’s email:

“It’s the very hard-boiled story of a man murdered by a blast from a sawed-off shotgun to the face at point-blank range; of a criminal on the run from Chicago who comes to a dirty Pennsylvania coal-mining town and winds up locking horns with the corrupt Masonic lodge that runs the town; of a Pinkerton detective who sets out to clean up the town; and of the doom that pursues a man across an ocean and leaves him at the mercy of the world’s most ruthless criminal mastermind. It’s a story narrated by a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, whose partner in investigating the twisted plot is a drug addicted private investigator with a brain like a steel trap.

And wait till you see the cover — Glen Orbik has really outdone himself here, with his portrait of a gorgeous, bosomy dame in a transparent negligee watching with horror as a man with a brand on his arm appears in her doorway.

And the author — it’s one of the best-selling authors in the world. His books have been made into movies, computer games, comic books; they’ve sold tens of millions of copies. He’s not someone you’d think of as a Hard Case Crime author in a million years!

Now, I can hear you out there, saying, ‘Come on, Ardai — if you’re gonna spill, spill already. What’s the name of the damn book?'”

Did you guess it?


Hard Case Crime - The Valley Of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan DoyleThe Valley Of Fear
By A.C. Doyle (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
Publisher: Hard Case Crime
Published: December 2009
ISBN: 084396295X

-The legendary classic re-presented, Hard Case Crime style
-Edgar Award winner Leslie Klinger on The Valley Of Fear: “The first real hardboiled detective story.”
-By the best-selling author of The Lost World
-Inspired by a true story!

Here’s my own review of this book (from a now unavailable podcast version):

The Valley Of Fear is one of the least adapted of the original Sherlock Holmes novels, it has only appeared on screen three times, as opposed to the eighteen adaptations of The Hound Of The Baskervilles. Likely much of the reason for the disparity lies in the structure of The Valley Of Fear, which breaks the traditional narrative mystery to go into a massive backstory that preceded the crime in question, this backstory includes neither Watson nor Holmes and so when adapted it would have the primary characters off-screen for more than half the film!

Looked at as a novel and a mystery on its own The Valley Of Fear works very well. There are in fact two mysteries in it. The first mystery I was able to ratiocinationalize quite satisfactorily but the second which took me by surprise, it was by means of a clever misdirection. The story itself is set in 1888 London and in the USA a few years prior to the extended flashback sequence. In the first half of the novel Holmes and Watson employ their typical inductive detection strategy, then after solving the primary crime we are treated to a lengthy explanation as to how the murder they have solved came to happen in the first place. The second half, was inspired by true events and is quite enjoyable once you get into the change of pace.

Here are just a few of the audio versions currently available:


Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxSir Arthur Conan Doyle could be remembered as an important author quite apart from his creation of Sherlock Holmes. His novel of The Lost World, for instance, is still being read and enjoyed today. He wrote a great many books too. One is The White Company, a book which I discovered even just two months ago when the proprietor of the Golden Age Comic Book Stories scanned and uploaded the gorgeous images that illustrated the 1922 edition HERE. Now, thanks to the team-up of LibriVox’s Laura Caldwell and Clive Catterall, we are all owners of a public domain audiobook version. Thanks folks!

LibriVox - The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan DoyleThe White Company
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Read by Clive Catterall
38 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: July 24, 2009
Set during the Hundred Years’ War with France, The White Company tells the story of a young Saxon man who is learning what it is to be a knight. Raised by Cistercian Monks and rejected by a violent elder brother, Alleyn Edricson takes service with one of the foremost knights in the country. When Alleyn falls in love with the knight’s daughter, he must prove himself to be a courageous and honourable knight before he can win her hand. Alleyn and his friends set forth with the other men-at-arms to join Prince Edward in Bordeaux, from where they will take part in the Prince’s campaign into Spain. It is in Spain that Alleyn and others must prove themselves to be very valiant and hardy cavaliers.

Podcast feed:


iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBC Radio 2: The Adventures of Sexton Blake

Aural Noir: Online Audio

BBC Radio 2This just in… The Adventures Of Sexton Blake starts broadcasting on BBC Radio 2 next Friday night (July 31st at 9.15pm U.K. time) for six weeks.

Sexton Blake may not be a super familiar name to everyone today but according to wikipedia and a few fansites that wasn’t always the case. Created in 1893 Blake was an instant hit when he was born and made resident of Baker Street in the very month Sherlock Holmes was “killed off” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Perfectly Normal productions said this new production should also be available on the BBC iPlayer – and we checked, it’s already showing up as a Radio Downloader subscribable show.

Here’s the trailer |MP3|

The Adventures Of Sexton Blake

Sez Weir (who did the sound design and composed the music for the show):

“Whilst [The Adventures Of Sexton Blake is] more fantasy and crime than straight science-fiction, it stars Simon Jones, better known as Arthur Dent from the classic radio series, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy. Following broadcast, the show will then be available in a much extended form on CD and as a high quality special edition download from our site.”


The Adventures Of Sexton Blake The Adventures Of Sexton Blake
Based on the character created by Harry Blyth; Performed by a full cast
6 Parts – Approx. 90 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 2
Broadcast: Fridays @ 21:15-21:30 beginning July 31st 2009
Britain’s iconic and most prolifically chronicled sleuth explodes back into action in a brand new series of thrilling Adventures packed with incident and hilarity! – The name that spells HURTLING ADVENTURE! –
SEXTON BLAKE, (Simon Jones, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy) and his plucky assistant TINKER (Wayne Forester, Captain Scarlet), aided by MRS BARDELL (June Whitfield, Absolutely Fabulous) battle Diabolical Masterminds, Beautiful Thieves and Dastardly Assassins. – The name that spells DOOM for VILLAINY! – Nearly four decades after his last public incarnation, Sexton Blake remains an icon, a contemporary of Sherlock Holmes who outlasted his fellow Baker Street Sleuth to become hugely popular through books, films and radio during the 20th Century. In his 100-plus years of existence Blake has been portrayed in every possible way, from jobbing detective to Britain’s Saviour. This new series weaves new, fantastical and very funny tales set in a brightly coloured early 20th century world such as that portrayed in the 1920s Union Jack stories, where villains are inevitably dastardly and it’s a matter of course to resolve a case in a sabre-duelling climax atop an exploding zeppelin. – The name that spells … SEXTON BLAKE!

SIMON JONES……Sexton Blake, Adventuring Detective
WAYNE FORESTER……Tinker, his Plucky Assistant
JUNE WHITFIELD……Mrs Bardell, their Doughty Housekeeper
GRAHAM HOADLY……Professor Kew, a Spindly Cackler
LORELEI KING……Miss Elizabeth Mary-Louise Tarabelle Beauchamp
SIMON TREVES……Inspector Coutts Of Scotland Yard
FELICITY DUNCAN……Miss Terry, Window-Leaping Adventuress
SUSAN SHERIDAN……Mrs Hudson, Housekeeper To A Neighbouring Detective
MALCOLM BROWN……Count Ivor Carlac, a Villainous Juggernaut
PHILIP GLASSBOROW……Cyril, A Grim Assassin
OSCAR SHARP……The Frantic Caller
WILLIAM FRANKLYN……The Mysterious Waiter

We got vids too…

I’m really digging this!

[Thanks to Paul Weir and Roy!]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Red Panda Adventures – Season 4

SFFaudio Review

Superhero Audio Drama - The Red Panda Adventures - Season FourThe Red Panda Adventures – Season 4
By Gregg Taylor; Performed by a full cast
12 MP3 Files via podcast – Approx. 6 Hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
Podcaster: Decoder Ring Theatre
Podcast: September 2008 – May 2009
Themes: / Fantasy / Superheroes / Mystery / Crime / Adventure / Marriage / Toronto / Magic / South America / Dinosaurs /

“I’m not implying mystic threats, foreign powers and shadowy organizations aren’t important. But sometimes they do disconnect us from the street.”

After four years and 48 episodes Gregg Taylor’s writing is still amazingly fresh. It’s super-quotable too. As I listen I find myself writing down, here and there on scraps of paper, lines of dialogue. That’s terrific writing folks. Is it kind of sick that I even enjoy the commercials?

“I like all of those words.”

Speaking of words, in the opening lines of the new season Kit Baxter is no longer just the red panda’s “driver” now she’s his “fiance”! Another change is the introduction of a new sponsor (fast and easy weight loss dot com). Still around are the charming birthday wishes and other greetings from family members around the world who spend their dollars on keeping the Red Panda show going.

I’ve got a detailed episode by episode review below (minus any serious spoilers)…

Episode 1 – “The Third Wave
The season 3 finale of The Red Panda Adventures set up a Nazi scientist called Professor Von Schlitz to be the major villian for Season 4. So it wasn’t too shocking to have him take the first scene of episode one The Third Wave, of Season 4. As the show begins Schlitz and his new pilot are headed toward a secret lair in the jungles of South America. All is proceeding normally. Then SLAM! A twist I didn’t see coming. This opening shocked me! First there was the introduction of a new superhero, a man named “Captain Tom Sunlight” (played by Christopher Mott) – apparently an ally of The Red Panda’s. Second, I realized just how much Von Schlitz is a pastiche of two Raiders Of The Lost Ark villains (Belloq and Toht). An auspicious beginning. With this episode The Red Panda has now done something previously “unthinkable.” The rest of the episode deals with a frightening 1930s phenomena – with the title of the band of villains taken from a 1967 high school history class experiment.

Episode 2 – “The Mask of Death
This episode feels like the Red Panda Version of The Taking Of Pelham 123 but with zombies! A train station full of passengers is held for ransom. The arch-villain involved is another tenured teacher, Professor Zombie! playing junior panda member Harry is rather obviously female (and not male) – this is a problem I can’t see around. Finding child actors of talent are difficult, adults playing children ditto.

Episode 3 – “Murder In The Castle
The scenic Casa Loma is the setting for this season’s locked room mystery. A locked castle mystery actually as an unexpected murder that interrupts Kit’s romantic evening with her groom-to-be. This episode feels like a Nero Wolfe plot (minus the many confusing characters). Does old RP have a rooftop orchid garden?

Episode 4 – “The Gathering Storm
A full-scale dimensional breach imperils 1930s Toronto and only Red Panda and his trusty side-kick are up to the task of patching it back up. This episode clearly demonstrates the way magic is handled in the Red Panda universe. Scientists, especially ones named Chronopolis, can wrap their heads around the mystical arts and mystical objects – sometimes they just can’t control them.

Episode 5 – “Trial By Terror
Barton Meyer, an orderly at the Queen Street Lunatic Sanitarium, meets an old resident who claims to have been “born here.” The Electric Eel (performed by Scott Moyle) is home at last! With his incredible powers, and made up entirely of energy, he’ll team up with a few imprisoned residents/patients at the mad house (The Genie and The Jackrabbit). But this dastardly team-up doesn’t want to kill the Red Panda, they want to put him on trial in order to determine his sanity. The results? An electrifying episode.

Episode 6 – “The Boy In Blue
Constable Andy Parker, voiced by Brian Vaughan, best known from previous episodes of RPA for his crush on Flying Squirrel (like pretty much everyone else who listens to the show) takes center stage in this tale of police corruption. Is Parker working for The Syndicate or is there a more innocent explanation for him palling around with dirty cops? Which reminds me, all this Parker/Syndicate has got to be a nice little shout out to Richard Stark. I tell you that Greg Taylor packs a whole lot of goodness into each episode. Another thing to take note of in this episode is the new “Pappy” moniker Kit Baxter is floating for her husband-to-be.

Episode 7 – “The Golden Idol
A new superhero is prowling the streets of Toronto. He’s got super-strength, can fly and seems more than capable of replacing the Red Panda – the only question is: Why? Christopher Mott playing the ever excitable Mad Monkey makes an appearance – meaning he steals the show – in this case almost literally. Fun stuff!

Episode 8 – “I Dream Of Genies” Modern technology allows banks to secure their vaults better than ever. 17 stories into the sky they’re safe aren’t they? But can they stop a heat ray wielding villain on a flying carpet? Probably not. There’s a very cool audio montage in this ep. That’s something I don’t ever remember ever hearing before! Actor Brian Vaughan returns, reprising his super-villain role as The Genie from Seasons 2 and 3 (and 4).

Episode 9 – “Jungle Of Terror
Paying back a favour to their superhero buddy, Captain Tom Sunlight, Red Panda and Flying Squirrel fly into a South American jungle. There they discover a strange gateway, an old enemy, and some very large and very hungry fauna. This episode feels inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. This is a cool away adventure. I hope RP and FS can do more of these next season.

Episode 10 – “The Crimson Death
Returning from South America with her fiance, the Flying Squirrel is all aflutter about her upcoming nuptials to her partner in crime-fighting. Luckily, there’s been a series of mysterious murders in Toronto while they’ve been away; solving them will be the perfect distraction from her wedding jitters. Her first stop: A visit to the Queen’s Street Lunatic Asylum. Whoever is responsible has some mean-ventriloquism chops, is invisible and wields fire. What an odd combination! This is the shortest (and probably weakest) episode of the fourth season – but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. There’s plenty of wonderful character development in between all that invisible, fire-throwing, voice-chucking menace.

Episode 11 – “Endgame
Tied up and hanging above a vat of acid Commander Varkin has the Red Panda and Flying Squirrel just where he wants them – now for the speechifyin’. Varkin (voiced by Gregory Z. Cooke) is a Blowfeld type villain – he fills us in on the season spanning conspiracy – and unleashes a lot more than hot air. But that isn’t the dynamic couple’s only problem, it seems that a vat of acid and a world domination speech aren’t enough for Varkin as a dangerous virus and secret partner will keep Squirrel and Panda busy. The perfect penultimate play? Possibly!

Episode 12 – “Operation Cold Feet
Kit Baxter’s even more antsy with her impending wedding just days away. But what’s up with all the false Red Panda sightings? They don’t seem to bother the real Red Panda. But when a fake Flying Squirrel makes a newspaper appearance Big Red nearly chokes on his toast! In this episode we finally learn the true identity of the Red Panda! For the previous 47 episodes Gregg Taylor has managed to side-step revealing our hero’s real name. Even characters who should have known the name of the man “who wears the mask of the Red Panda” have carefully not spoken it up to this point. He’s been called “Pappy” and “Puddin” by Kit Baxter, “my dear boy” by his fellow wealthy peers Toronto, really everything but “hey you.” It’s a name that’ll be remembered with the likes of Lamont Cranston and Bruce Wayne.

Happy Canada Day everybody, go celebrate with some RED PANDA!

Here’s the podcast feed:


Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: The Poison Belt by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxNew from Librivox and the prolific narrator Mark F. Smith, comes the novella sequel to the Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Like Doyle’s other famous creation, Sherlock Holmes, Professor Challenger was based on a real person. Doyle modeled Challenger on a professor of physiology named William Rutherford, who had lectured at the University of Edinburgh while Conan Doyle studied medicine there. The Poison Belt was first published in 1913 in The Strand magazine.

LibriVox Science Fiction Audiobook - The Poison Belt by Sir Arthur Conan DoyleThe Poison Belt
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Read by Mark F. Smith
6 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 3 Hours 19 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: December 04, 2008
Three years after the events that took place in The Lost World, Professor Challenger urgently summons his fellow explorers to a meeting. Oddly, he requires each to bring an oxygen cylinder with him. What he soon informs them is that from astronomical data and just-received telegraphs of strange accidents on the other side of the world, he has deduced that the Earth is starting to move through a region of space containing something poisonous to humankind. Shutting themselves tightly up in Challenger’s house, they start to consider what may be done. But as their countrymen start to drop, will their oxygen last long enough to determine and implement a solution?

Podcast feed:

Posted by Jesse Willis

CBC Radio/Podcast talks Sherlock Holmes

Aural Noir: Online Audio

CBC Radio Podcast - Words At LargeThe most recent CBC Radio One Words At Large podcast has an archived Morningside discussion from 1987 (Holmes’ 100th birthday). And, a second archived audio from 2006.

“In honour of the peerless sleuth whose appeal never seems to wear thin, Words At Large did some investigating of its own, dipping into the CBC archives to unearth two lively conversations about Holmes conducted by experts in all things Sherlockian. As Holmes himself might say, ‘Good show!'”

Listen direct |MP3|, or subscribe to the podcast feed:


Posted by Jesse Willis

P.S. Poor old Apocalypse Al still must be freed!