Clues: If You Don't Know Them, It's a Crime

Yesterday, Elizabeth Foxwell gave us the lowdown on her blog, The Bunburyist; today, she tells us about her work with Clues: A Journal of Detection. I was going to write an introduction drawing some distinction between the two, noting that the former was more personal and the latter was more professional—but, looking at this indefatigable woman’s resume, such hair-splitting seems beside the point. Yes, she wears many hats, but all of them are deerstalkers. Read on and get a clue about Clues.

Please describe your publication.

Clues—the only U.S. scholarly journal on mystery and detective fiction—began publishing in 1980 under the editorship of Pat Browne. It ceased publication in 2001 when Browne retired. When I worked for Heldref Publications, I arranged for the acquisition of Clues from Bowling Green State University, because I felt the journal was a crucial venue for the serious analysis of mystery fiction—a genre still fighting for legitimacy in some quarters as a worthy field of study. With Margaret Kinsman (London South Bank University, UK) as executive editor and me as managing editor, the first issue under new management focused on Margery Allingham and was published in fall 2004. McFarland acquired the journal in 2008. I continue to serve as managing editor, and Janice M. Allan (University of Salford, UK) is now executive editor.

The peer-reviewed Clues covers the entire spectrum of mystery fiction, television, and film without limit to period or countries covered, and its readers and contributors are academics and fans from around the world. It often is the sole critical resource on certain mystery authors. The journal has featured theme issues on subjects such as Chester Himes, the girl sleuth, Hispanic detective fiction, Scottish crime fiction, and Victorian crime fiction. Two theme issues, on Dashiell Hammett and Sara Paretsky, served as a springboard for events at the Library of Congress; see Webcasts “The Maltese Falcon at 75” and “Sara Paretsky: Fire Sale.”

Tell us about yourself.

I met author Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels when I interviewed her for a college journalism assignment. She eventually dragooned me onto the board of Malice Domestic, a new convention honoring the traditional mystery. My life has not been the same since. My service with Malice led to editing mystery anthologies and a round-robin novel, as well as writing and publishing mystery short stories. I am currently the Mystery Writers of America representative to the Library of Congress, edit the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series (volumes to date on John Buchan, E. X. Ferrars, Ed McBain/Evan Hunter, and Andrea Camilleri), and run the mystery blog The Bunburyist.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Charlotte Armstrong, the Black Widower stories by Isaac Asimov, K. K. Beck, Simon Brett, Margaret Coel, Deborah Crombie, Dorothy Gilman, Georgette Heyer, Constance and Gwenyth Little, Peter Lovesey, Hugh Pentecost, Elizabeth Peters, and Ethel Lina White.

Tell us about a recent review or article of which you’re particularly fond. Can you share a link?

Brooks Hefner’s “I Used to Be a Highbrow, but Look at Me Now’: Phrenology, Detection, and Cultural Hierarchy in S. S. Van Dine” (Clues 30.1, 2012) reveals for the first time unknown short stories by Van Dine (aka Willard Huntington Wright). He created detective Philo Vance (later played by William Powell) and wrote these stories featuring an intellectual criminal well before he adopted the Van Dine pseudonym. I also really love “Eureka in Yellow: The Art of Detection in Arthur Machen’s Keynote Mysteries” by Paul Fox (Clues 25.1, 2006), in which Fox relates that one Machen villain is so evil that he dissolves into protoplasm. I keep waiting for a modern author (or politician) to emulate the example of Machen’s character.

What does the future hold for your publication?

Two theme issues are coming up: one on paranormal mysteries (guest edited by Agatha nominee A. B. Emrys), and one on Hitchcock and adaptation (guest edited by Mark Osteen, Loyola University Maryland).

Which other mystery magazines and blogs do you believe are must-reads?

Bill Crider’s Popular Culture Magazine, Mystery*File, Mystery Readers Journal, Mystery Scene, and The Rap Sheet.

Clues Data

Web site:

Author guidelines, abstracts, and indices:

Online access:

Contact email: [email protected]

Frequency of publication: Twice a year (120 p each issue, 7×10” format)

Cost to subscribe: U.S. individual $40, U.S. institutional $120; non-U.S. individual $60, non-U.S. institutional $140; non-U.S. online only $100

About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of six books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Phantom Tower (2018). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

2 Comments on "Clues: If You Don't Know Them, It's a Crime"

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  1.' Bill Crider says:

    Thanks for the shout-out!

  2. Thanks so much for including Mystery Readers Journal!

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