Frisco Beat: Virginia Rath Returning to the Mean Streets

Coachwhip has reprints of all the mystery novels by Virginia Rath in the works. Since I’m one of the few vocal proponents of Rath you can track down on the net, track me down they did to ask for a blurb.

I mocked some blurbage up, working off wording already done in The Literary World of San Francisco and my article on collecting San Francisco mysteries. I also snuck a new mention of Jack Palance into the mix, inspired by all the Palance action we’ve been having here lately on the Mean Streets.

The first “publication” of the blurb came on July 6 when Curtis Evans — he’s doing intros to the reprints — used it on his blog The Passing Tramp amidst a review of Rath’s first crime novel. If you’re too buried in ennui to surf over and check it out, it reads:  

“For around a quarter of a century I had a nice little hobby going, collecting crime fiction set within the San Francisco city limits. Hammett started that one off, of course, but I discovered quite a few other writers I liked in addition to the creator of the Continental Op — Samuel W. Taylor, David Dodge, and Virginia Rath personal favorites among them.

“Rath is far and away my favorite of her contemporary group of women crime writers — Mary Collins, Lenore Glen Offord and company. Her mysteries feature especially good use of the stair-streets on Russian Hill where she lived, making Rath a solid precursor to the end of the film Sudden Fear (1952), where Jack Palance chases Joan Crawford around the same steep grades.”

And since we’re talking literary San Francisco, don’t forget that filming of the chase scene was observed by no less than Jack Kerouac. As Dave Moore puts it on his Kerouac Corner website, “Kerouac visited the Cassadys several times after they had moved into 29 Russell Street in 1949. His longest stay was from December 1951 until April  1952. During that period he worked mainly on Visions of Cody. One of the sections of this book is ‘Joan Rawshanks in the Fog,’ an account of Joan Crawford filming a scene on Hyde Street for the noir movie Sudden Fear, which Kerouac witnessed on one of his evening rambles around Russian Hill. The ‘white San Francisco apartment house’ where Kerouac describes the action taking place was the eleven-story Tamalpais Apartments, still standing at 1201 Greenwich Street at Hyde.” 

And also, for Frisco film buffs, don’t forget that the Tamalpais is where Agnes Moorehead lives in the Bogie-Bacall classic, Dark Passage

So much San Francisco, so little time.

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