Detective Fiction: English and American Classics

Six Thursdays, October 6, 11, 20, 27, November 3 and 10 12:30 - 2 p.m. | Compass Bank, Second Floor, 2001 Kirby at San Felipe

J. Dennis Huston, a widely acclaimed lecturer and professor of English at Rice University, where he teaches Shakespeare, modern drama, and film, will discuss English and American detective fiction, focusing on examples of each and examining important differences between them.

OCTOBER 6: After an introduction to detective fiction, which was invented by Edgar Allen Poe, we will study two AGATHA CHRISTIE mystery novels, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926) and The ABC Murders (1936).

OCTOBER 13: When AGATHA CHRISTIE wrote a mystery - The Pale Horse (1961) - that departed from her usual formula, she encountered interesting difficulties, which Huston will describe.

OCTOBER 20: DOROTHY SAYERS's The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1928) and Unnatural Death (1927) feature Lord Peter Wimsey, her aristocratic amateur detective. In these two novels we will discover what happens when a traditional form is modified.

OCTOBER 27: DASHIELL HAMMETT, creator of Sam Spade and Nick and Nora Charles, wrote The Glass Key in 1931. We will consider this San Francisco-based story of murder, politics and corruption, which was Hammett's favorite among his own work.

NOVEMBER 3: RAYMOND CHANDLER's Farewell, My Lovely (1940) set in Los Angeles, is a story of theft, ransom, murder, and suicide. Huston will examine this novel, which features Chandler's famous detective, Philip Marlowe.

NOVEMBER 10: ROSS MACDONALD's The Galton Case (1959) and The Wycherly Woman (1961) feature Lew Archer, Macdonald's master private eye. Huston will conclude the series with these novels of death and loss.

We are grateful for the support of Murder by the Book


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Fall 2018 brochures are out! Please let us know if you did not receive one and we will be happy to send one to you.

Registration is now open. You may register online, by mail, or by phone with a credit card. 


The interest list for the fall and spring study tours is also now open. If you are interested in traveling with the Houston Seminar to Natchez in the fall of 2018 or Virginia in the spring of 2019, please call the registrar at 713.666.9000 to place your name on a list. Please see Terms and Conditions for "travel list" policy.


Please note a date in the Mid-term Elections course has changed from that published in the brochure. The course will meet the first two Mondays, October 29 and November 5 as planned, but will meet Tuesday, November 13 instead of Monday, November 12. 


Also note Art Underground: Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern is FULLY SUBSCRIBED. Please contact the registrar if you would like to be wait listed for this course. 


Have a great summer. We look forward to seeing you this fall!


For additional information about any of our courses, to register offline, or to add your name to our mailing and/or email lists, please contact our adminstrator at  or phone 713.666.9000.