Category Archives: Mystery

And Then There Were None

and then there were none cover

In this edition of Tapes on Books, we provide audio accompaniment for Agatha Christie’s paranoia-drenched bloody whodunit, And Then There Were None. Guests are mysteriously picked off one by one in accordance with a cute little nursery rhyme (also about people gruesomely dying one by one). Aren’t old nursery rhymes great?

Check to see if your little Indian figurine is still standing here.

Indian Island: Soul’s Island – Lee Hazlewood

The Party: The Guests – Leonard Cohen
“Has anybody here seen that movie Clue? I love that movie! Have you seen it? Oh, you got to see it! Tim Curry, Martin Mull, CLASS-IC! ‘I’m gonna go go home and sleep with my wife’ Ha. Seriously, you haven’t seen it?”

U.N. Owen: Invisible Man – The Breeders
Coolest mystery host name ever.

The Poem: Ten Little Indians – Harry Nilsson

Though this Nilsson song is only tangentially related to the book’s ominous nursery rhyme (changed to a slightly less anachronistic, offensive version of the original published title), it still has that hard-to-replicate impending sense of doom sound.

The Record: Guilt Parade – The Birthday Party
Typically when somebody breaks out the record accusing me of willing complacency in somebody’s death, I leave that party. Of course, it kind of depends on how good the bar is at said party.

Ten little Indian boys went out to dine; One choked his little self and then there were Nine.: Chokin’ Kind – Waylon Jennings
If I were a betting man, I would give pretty good odds to the cause of my mortal coil shuffling off being caused by a lodged chicken wing. At least, 3 to 1.

Nine little Indian boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were Eight.: Sleeping Pills – Suede
The nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, living, last-breath-you’ll-ever-take medicine.

Eight little Indian boys traveling in Devon; One said he’d stay there and then there were Seven.: Fatal Wound – Uncle Tupelo
I can honestly say, I was never worried about being bludgeoned by a life preserver until after reading this book. Now, I can’t even go near a pool. Thanks a bunch, Agatha.

Seven little Indian boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in halves and then there were Six.: Split Myself in Two – Meat Puppets
You’d think a person might think twice about going to the woodshed after it has been made pretty clear that there is a psycho-killer in the midst. You know, avoid remote places with lots of readily available axes and dull tools.

Six little Indian boys playing with a hive; A bumblebee stung one and then there were Five.: I Got Stung – Elvis Presley
In defense of the bees, they didn’t really kill anyone in this book. However, I’ll never trust them buggers ever since they took out Macaulay Culkin in My Girl. Bastards.

Five little Indian boys going in for law; One got into Chancery and then there were Four.: Bad Indian – Gun Club
Wait? So the killer dressed the judge up like a judge and then shot him? Nice murder, Captain Obvious.

Four little Indian boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were Three.: Fool – Neutral Milk Hotel / Over the Cliff – Old 97’s
“Oh man! Red Herring! Just like in Clue! ‘Communism was just a red herring’. I forget, did say you’ve seen Clue? Oh man, it is SO good. Why are pushing me towards that cliff? Heeeeyyyyy???”

Three little Indian boys walking in the Zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were Two.: Boppin’ To Grandfather’s Clock – Sidney Jo Lewis
This song is the closest approximation of the sound of getting squished by  a giant bear cuckoo clock that I could hunt down. Not an easy sound to find. By the way, does anybody know where I can buy a giant bear clock. I mean, I don’t to flatten anyone… I just want one for my den, I promise.

Two little Indian boys were out in the sun; One got all frizzled up and then there was one.: Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) – Gabor Szabo
In light of all the gun control debate these days, isn’t it refreshing to read about a good old-fashioned gun murder before all these liberal crazies wanted universal background checks and reasonable regulations?

One little Indian boy left all alone; He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.: Swinging Party – The Replacements / Swingin’ – Low
No noose is good noose. Of course, that would make the opposite is true too, right?

Epilogue Investigation: Perfect Crime – The Decemberists
Stumped authorities? Come on, detectives! One island. Ten bodies. No survivors. No escape. This should be open and shut case. Donut time.

Letter in the Bottle: I Confess – Kevin Coyne / Wicked World – Daniel Johnston
One of the best endings of any mystery book I have read. The genius of the book is made clear in the confession and detailing the execution of sinister plot. And in the psychologically disturbing off-kilter motive and justification.  Especially unsettling, because even though you know that this probably never would happen, it still could.

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The Maltese Falcon

This time on Tapes on Books…bourbon, babes, and bullets abound in Dashiell Hammett’s iconic detective novel The Maltese Falcon. Sardonic P.I.’s, foreign creepers, bumbling cops, unhinged henchmen, and slippery seductresses compete for a jewel-encrusted birdy antique. A moody and fast-paced mystery that takes the lid off life and lets you look at the works.

Like a stranger in a fedora down a foggy San Francisco alley…the mix waits for you.

Spade & Archer Private Investigators: Solo Dancer A – Charles Mingus
We’ve always thought The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady would have been great soundtracking a film-noir crime movie. This is, unfortunately, the best it gets.

Sam Spade: Keep a Cool Head – Desmond Dekker
I like my detectives like I like my eggs: On top of a big plate of bacon. Err – I mean hard-boiled.

Archer & Thursby Shot: Killing Moon – Echo and Bunnymen
Nice night for a double murder. Like a quiet Tuesday in Detroit.

Iva Archer: I Wanna Be Adored – The Stone Roses
Nothing like a clingy mistress bugging you to come over the night for some quality time after her husband’s been murdered and you’re the prime suspect. Women.

Brigid O’Shaughnessy: Femme Fatale – Ty Segall
That girl is poison. If only someone wrote a song that clearly and succinctly expressed that sentiment.

Joel Cairo: Dandy in the Underworld – T. Rex
Two great Joel Cairo mysteries: 1. What is a Levantine? 2. Why the hell won’t my wife let me get a Peter Lorre circa Maltese Falcon tattoo? (Update: Thanks to Wikipedia, Mystery 1 solved. Mystery 2 still looms large.)

The Kid: With A Gun – Steely Dan
If I was a crime boss, all my henchmen would be forced to listen to Steely Dan. Don’t ask me why, it just seems like a good idea to test your thugs’ loyalty and/or jazz-rock sensibilities.

Mr. Gutman: Big Boss Man – Thee Headcoatees  
I don’t know about you, but I prefer my oversized criminal masterminds to be sporting a fez. What gives, Mr. G?

Drugged/Beat Up: A Little Drop of Poison – Tom Waits / Black Eye – Uncle Tupelo
I just hope that the next time I get mickeyed and mugged, I can do it with as much pizzazz and wit as Sam Spade. Dude is stone cold. Me, I’d probably just wet myself.

SFPD: Police on My Back – The Clash
Hammett writes every policeman in his books as if they were rejects from the Keystone Cops: “Hey, what’s that in your hand?  It’s just a water gun? I guess that’s okay. Wait! What was that noise? Oh, you guys just wrestling? Well, be careful then. And you may want to use some club soda to get that ketchup stain off the rug?” Sounds more like Milwaukee cops to me.

The Maltese Falcon: Surfin’ Bird – The Trashmen / King of Spain – Galaxie 500
“I couldn’t be fonder of you if you were my own son. But, well, if you lose a son, its possible to get another. There’s only one Maltese Falcon.” I pretty much feel this way about my Alf lunchbox. Somedays, I might feel that way about whatever happens to be in my Alf lunchbox, but please don’t tell my son.

Murdered Ship Captain: Sailor’s Lament – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Rough day for the cap’n. Your ship is on fire, you get betrayed by a lady, shot several times, and then you stumble and die. Maybe he should of took that job on the Titanic; or for BP.

Bathroom Strip Search: Underwear – The Magnetic Fields
I agree it is always important to have a compulsory frisking. Of course, Spade didn’t make any of the men go down to their skimpies. Even though Cairo probably would have really loved to.

Electing a Fall Guy: The Fall Guy – The Cautions
“Um, can’t we at least draw straws or roshambo this?”

The Fake Statue: Bad Cover Version – Pulp
I am surprised the “Made in Taiwan” stamped on the foot didn’t give it away. Probably shouldn’t have used eBay. Hey, wait a minute . . . that’s not even a falcon. Were we even ever looking for a Maltese Vulcan?

The Plan/The Set-Up: The Proposition – The Budos Band  
I love it when a plan comes together. If only someone would create a TV show and use that as a catchline. I am full of these great ideas today!

Spade turns in O’Shaughnessy: Je T’Aime Moi Non Plus – Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin
My favorite part of TMF is Spade’s goodbye to Brigid as he is turning her in: “Well Toots, if you get out in 20 years, we can bang then. Or if they fry you, I’ll remember the good times we banged”.

Back to the Business/ The End: Detective Instinct – The Fall
In the end, you kind of get the feeling that the whole thing was just playtime for a Spade. Take the case for a laugh and few bucks.  He figured everything out in first few pages of the book. He’s like Columbo, but with both eyes.