VJ Books Blog

(New York Times, Dec. 22, 2008, William Grimes)

Julius Fast, who won the first Edgar Award given by the Mystery Writers of America and went on to publish popular books on body language and human relationships, died Tuesday in Kingston, N.Y. He was 89.

His death was confirmed by his daughter Jennifer Fast Gelfand. He had suffered a stroke a year and a half ago.

Fast, the younger brother of the novelist Howard Fast, won instant acclaim as a mystery writer. “Watchful at Night,” his first novel, was written while he was still in the Army Medical Corps during World War II. The book won the inaugural Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1946 for the best first novel published in 1945.

Fast followed up with several more detective novels, including “Walk in Shadow” (1947) and “A Model for Murder” (1956), before branching out into pop psychology, health and relationships. His most successful book, “Body Language” (1970), which analyzed the unconscious messages sent out by the human body, inspired several sequels, notably “The Body Language of Sex, Power and Aggression” (1976), “Body Politics” (1980) and “The Body Book” (1981).

Fast was born in Manhattan in 1919. He earned a bachelor’s degree at New York University. While in the Army he edited a collection of science fiction stories, “Out of This World” (1944), and then turned his hand to crime fiction.