This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
If you read this column, there’s a pretty good chance you are a mystery fan. Let’s pretend this is a television program and that there’s a prize for the person who gets the most answers right of, oh, what the heck, $1 million. (If we’re pretending, why not go big?) So, for a cool million, here goes:
1. One of the most popular mystery writers of the second half of the 20th century was also the jockey for the queen of England. Name him.
2. This Cold War thriller, one of the most stylish and influential motion pictures of the 1960s, was taken out of circulation after the assassination of President Kennedy. Name the film.
3. The Mystery Writers of America have presented the Edgar Allan Poe Award for more than 60 years. In that time, only one author has ever won two in the same year.Who is he?
4. Name the author of the most novels written about the British super-spy, James Bond.
5. A publishing house devoted entirely to scholarly military nonfiction, the Naval Institute Press, broke with its practice and published the first novel by an author who went on to become one of the biggest best sellers of the past quarter-century. Name the author and the title of the book.
6. This former singer, composer, and bandleader went on to write a highly successful series of hilarious mystery novels in which he and his sidekick, Ratso, solve crimes. He is now running for governor of Texas. Who is he?
7. Name the first great gangster film to use sound.
8. One of the world’s most successful authors won an Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best First Novel in 1968 under the pseudonym Jeffrey Hudson. Who is this mega-seller?
9. Mark Twain’s first published short story is about a con game. Name the story – still his most famous and most often reprinted.
10. This political intellectual, founder of the country’s most influential conservative magazine and a television talk show host for more than three decades, is also the author of a series of best-selling spy novels. Who is he?
11. This Pulitzer Prize-winning best-selling novelist is the creator of Mr. Moto, the hero of six novels and eight films starring Peter Lorre as the Japanese sleuth. Name him.
12. One of these espionage novelists was not a spy: Ian Fleming, Alan Furst, Graham Greene, John le Carre, Charles McCarry. Which one?
13. “With my brains and your looks, we could go places,” a line so ludicrous that it has become a joke cliche, was used seriously for the first time in this classic noir film. What was it?
14. Working undercover, this agent was deeply involved in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion and the break-in of the Watergate, which led to the end of the Nixon presidency. The winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, he wrote more than 50 thrillers under his own name and various pseudonyms. Identify him.
15. The first piece of fiction by this person, one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century and a Nobel Prize-winner, is titled “The Mystery of the Raymond Mortgage.” Who is he?
16. Born William Parker Anthony White, this mystery writer and critic gave his name to the oldest and largest annual convention of mystery fans and writers. Name him and the event.
17. Who is the poet who penned this couplet about S.S. Van Dine’s pedantic detective: “Philo Vance / Needs a kick in the pance”?
18. This famous New York detective weighs one-seventh of a ton. Who is he?
19. In what movie is this line used: “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer”?
20. This New Zealand author created the much-loved series about Inspector Roderick Alleyn. She was given the Maori name for “flower.” Who is she?
If you answered all 20 questions correctly, you should be writing this column. If you got 16-19, you’re an expert; 12-15, pretty good; 6-11, about average; 2-5, you should read more; 0-1, why are you reading this column?
Mr. Penzler is the proprietor of the Mysterious Bookshop in Manhattan and the series editor of the annual “Best American Mystery Stories.” He can be reached at email@example.com.