For all you fans of both mysteries and Scotties

f_ssvandine, originally uploaded by ricksoloway.

I’m a big mystery fan but don’t recall ever hearing of S.S. Van Dine although Philo Vance does ring a bell. But enough about me, here’s some background on the Scottish Terrier-owning author:

He thoroughly enjoyed identifying with his character, the independently wealthy and cultured Philo Vance, to the extent that he quickly began to live like him. Wright partied lavishly and took on eccentric hobbies— owning a Scottish Terrier kennel and breeding exotic fish— and entertained lavishly, falling into a pattern of dangerously outspending his large income. By 1934, with the nation gripped in the Great Depression, literary tastes were turning away from Wright’s aesthetic writing style, favoring grittier hard-boiled realism (a coincidental argument could be made cinematically, for the quality of Wright’s film adaptations dropped precipitously after The Kennel Murder Case (1933), easily considered the best of the series), but he had created a lifestyle he was loathe to change. In any case, by the mid-1930s his popularity had waned considerably and Wright hadn’t or couldn’t adjust to the public’s changing literary taste.

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Update: A reader writes:

I read how thrilled you were to discover the book,

However, you will be even more thrilled to learn
that it was made into a film, starring William Powell –
by Warners Bros, 1933.

I’ve seen it many times on television over the years.
In one of the opening scenes – with a row of wooden
kennel boxes all lined up – you see all of the Scotties.

More information from knowledgeable readers in the comments.

5 thoughts on “For all you fans of both mysteries and Scotties

  1. Thanks! This was fun! I’m a mystery lover too and also hadn’t read any by this fellow…but can understand his love for Scotties and a rich lifestyle! Maybe I can find one of his stories in an old book store or eBay?

  2. He had a famous quote about the Scottie. “meets life as he finds it, with an instinctive philosophy, a stoical intrepidity and a mellow understanding. he is calm and firm, and he minds his own business– and minds it well. He is a Spartan and can suffer pain without whimpering–which is more than the majority of human beings can do. He will attack a lion or a tiger if his rights are invaded, and though he may die in the struggle he never shows the white feather or runs away. He is the most admirable of all sports–forthright, brave and uncomplaining. You know exactly where you stand with a scottie; and if you are a friend, he is gentle loving and protective.” If you ever get a chance watch the movie. It’s cute.

  3. This raised my curiousity and I checked out Amazon for both the movie and the book. Found both and ordered them. Now for the weird bit, the movie was apparently never ran past the German censorship board, so is considered to be on the same level as porn of the worst sort, and I have to sign for the package personally and show ID when I do so…

    I’m wondering if I should try to look like a pervert when the postie comes…

  4. Makes me nostalgic for my years in Germany when the cops came to my door because of a bicycling ticket. NOT.

    Enjoy your illicit videos.

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