Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Post-Christmas, Pre-New Year’s Wrap-up

• Sandra Ruttan has taken mercy on everyone (including yours truly) who’s been tardy in sending her their votes in the inaugural Spinetingler Awards competition. The deadline was supposed to have been tomorrow, December 31, but she’s now extended it to next Saturday, January 5. “I’ve already received 580 e-mails,” Ruttan writes in the Crime Zine Report. “If yours isn’t one of them, you’ve got a few more days to have your say.” The shortlist of nominees features choices in eight categories, including Best Novel by a Legend, Best Novel by a Rising Star, Best Short Story on the Web, and Best Cover. The complete shortlist can be found here. Send an e-mail note with your picks to

• One of January Magazine’s gift book choices for this recent holiday season, The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes: The Life and Times of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, by Andrew Lycett, has been put to Marshal Zeringue’s Page 69 Test. Read the results here. Meanwhile, Lycett clues the London Times in on “10 Things You Didn’t Know About [Arthur] Conan Doyle.” Actually, there are only maybe five things here I didn’t know before, and at least one that I’d forgotten:
His first Sherlock Holmes story “A Study in Scarlet” was published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual 1887--exactly 120 years ago. In draft form the story was known as “A Tangled Skein”. Before publication it featured a detective called Sherrinford Holmes who shared rooms at 221B Upper Baker Street with a character called Ormond Sacker.
I’m sure Doctor John H. Watson was grateful that Conan Doyle didn’t make him spend his entire fictional life with the name Sacker.

• Speaking of anniversaries, I can’t let December 2007 go by without mentioning that it was 85 years ago this month that detective-turned-writer Dashiell Hammett made his first appearance in the pages of Black Mask magazine. His initial short-story sale there, “The Road Home,” was published in the December 1922 issue under the nom de plume “Peter Collinson.” Two months before that, his very first short story, “The Parthian Shot,” had seen print in The Smart Set. It wasn’t until 1923 that Hammett’s work began appearing in Black Mask under his own moniker.

• Scottish author Louise Welsh answers questions about The Bullet Trick and other subjects, all put to her by Pulp Pusher. That interview is available here.

• I don’t know how many “Best Books of 2007” Declan Burke intends to write about in his blog, but he’s already up to eight, the most recent being Two-Way Split, by Allan Guthrie, and The Bloomsday Dead, by Adrian McKinty. Look here for all of his choices.

• Finally, shooting begins tomorrow on the as-yet-unnamed 22nd James Bond film, the successor to 2006’s Casino Royale. You’ll find a briefing on the subject here.

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