Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Bullet Points: Back to Normal Edition

With Christmas and New Year’s Day now behind us, along with all of my laboring over January Magazine’s Best Books of 2009 feature, The Rap Sheet can at last return to its regularly scheduled programming--and more! We have a special treat planned here for this coming Thursday--our third short-story offering (after this and this)--and on Friday, the “Books You Have to Read” series will return with Cathi Unsworth’s comments about Derek Raymond’s 1990 novel, I Was Dora Suarez. For now, though, there are plenty of smaller matters and mysteries that deserve noting:

• Megan Abbott interviews Robert Crais (The First Rule) for an article in the Los Angeles Times Magazine.

• Howard Duff in your ear: Evan Lewis has posted “The Cheesecake Caper,” a full 1949 episode from actor Duff’s old Sam Spade radio drama, at Davy Crockett’s Almanack.

• After a 20-month hiatus--long enough to make me think it had become an archive site only--Scott Monty’s I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere (“The podcast for those interested in the life and times of Mr. Sherlock Holmes--where it is always 1895”) has suddenly risen from the grave. Just in time to help celebrate the release of the new Robert Downey Jr./Jude Law/Rachel McAdams movie based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters. For anyone who needs a recap on all things Sherlockian for 2009, click here.

• By the way, it’s being reported that “The executors of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary estate have threatened to withdraw [director] Guy Ritchie’s rights to the Sherlock Holmes story if the director hints at a homosexual relationship between the lead characters in his sequel.” Apparently, Downey made some rather suggestive comments on Late Night with David Letterman, and set this whole brouhaha off. But what I find interesting is that there are already plans for a Sherlock Holmes sequel, when I haven’t even seen the first film yet.

• And here’s a provocative suggestion: The true identity of Victorian serial killer Jack the Ripper? Well, he was none other than Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle.

• From the No Surprise Department: NBC-TV is planning to renew Law & Order for a 21st season. As TV Squad notes, “That’ll mean that [producer Dick] Wolf’s show will break the long-running record of 20 seasons for a dramatic series held by Gunsmoke.”

• The latest short-story to be featured in Beat to a Pulp is “Missed Flight,” by Virginia writer and blogger Steve Weddle.

• As part of Mystery Fanfare’s “Partners in Crime” series, Reed Farrel Coleman writes about collaborating with Ken Bruen on their 2009 thriller, Tower.

• Is this the goofiest book cover ever, or what?

The worst political scandals of the decade.

• For the second year in a row, The Drowning Machine’s Corey Wilde hands out his Lowhead Dam Awards. There are some great reading choices here.

“The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers is bestowing The Faust, its Grand Master Award for excellence, to author William Johnston, the writer of over a hundred tie-in novels and the most prolific practitioner of the craft ...” Learn more here.

• How ridiculous is it for reviewers to write about some crime novels “transcending the genre”? Oline H. Cogdill has her say here, with Brian Lindenmuth adding many historical references here.

This is the horror movie I remember best from my childhood. The first time I saw it, it gave me nightmares for a week. And then, of course, I continued watching it three or four more times on Saturday TV matinees. But I hadn’t thought about it along time. Thanks to Mystery*File’s Mike Tooney for the reminder.

• Good news for Ironside fans: The third season of that 1967-75 NBC crime drama starring Raymond Burr will finally be released in DVD format this month. But unlike the previous two seasons, these DVDs will only be available through a “Direct to Consumer” arrangement from Shout! Factory. The set retails for $49.98. Full purchase details can be found here. It’s too bad Christmas has passed already. This would’ve been an ideal present for yours truly. But maybe for my birthday in March ...?

• Speaking of DVD releases, Chuck: The Complete Second Season is due out this week. And Simon & Simon: Season 4 is coming from Shout! Factory on April 6.

Philadelphia’s small claim on Dashiell Hammett’s legacy.

• My thanks go out to Dan Wagstaff of the book-design blog, The Casual Optimist, for mentioning The Rap Sheet’s companion page, Killer Covers, among his “10 Websites for Vintage Books, Covers, and Inspiration.”

• Some people may have forgotten about these deliciously designed paperback covers, but it wasn’t us. For more pulp finds, click here.

• Author John D. MacDonald, the creator of “salvage expert”-cum-detective Travis McGee, is featured on the cover of the most recent Harvard Business School alumni magazine. The story inside is also here. (Hat tip to Ed Gorman’s Blog.)

A new post in Peter Rozovsky’s blog, Detective Beyond Borders, reminds me to pass along word that Soho Crime will soon reissue at least the first couple of James McClure’s eight novels featuring those mixed-race South African partners on the Murder and Robbery Squad, Afrikaan Lieutenant Tromp Kramer and his Zulu assistant, Sergeant Mickey Zondi. The Steam Pig (1971) is due in bookstores come July, with The Caterpillar Cop (1972) to follow a month later. I remember McClure’s series as being incisive and often humorous. The author was also, as I wrote in my 2006 obituary of him, “a pioneer of sorts, exposing the natural beauty and ugly social contradictions of apartheid-era South Africa through the framework of crime fiction.” It will be a pleasure to rediscover the Kramer and Zondi series.

• The reading period for the novel categories of the annual Spinetingler Awards is now officially open. Authors, editors, and publicists should contact Brian Lindenmuth to be sure that the judges have copies of their books on hand for consideration. The Spinetinglers are given out annually in association with Spinetingler Magazine. A list of last year’s winners (including The Rap Sheet, it should be noted) is here.

Just downright repulsive. And bad for America’s future.

• And while we’re on the subject of idiocies, how ’bout Fox “News” host Brit Hume’s comment about golfer Tiger Woods and his religion? More on that here and here.

• Finally, if you aren’t already sick and tired of 2009 end-of-the-year “best books” rundowns, sample these: “The Best of 2009 Mystery Lists,” parts one and two (Janet Rudolph); “The Best Mysteries of 2009” (Mystery Books News); “Favourite Reads of 2009” (Donna Moore); “Best Crime Novels 2009” (Rob Kitchin); “Crime Fiction Top 10 for 2009” (Barbara Fister); “Favorites of 2009” (Sons of Spade); “Bookgasm’s Best (and Worst) of 2009” (Bookgasm); “Top Crime in 2009” (Bruce Grossman); “My Ultimate Top 10 Mysteries List” (Keith Raffel); “Books of the Year: Page-turners” (The Economist); “Favourite New Books of 2009” (The Casual Optimist); and “The Best Fiction of 2009” (Salon). While many publications will probably wait until the end of 2010 to announce their editors’ favorite books of the early 21st century, Sarah Weinman has already put together her list of “The Best Crime Fiction of the Decade,” and The Hungry Detective’s Dan Wagner tries the same thing in two posts, here and here.


Corey Wilde said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Jeff. Would you be offended if I said your posts "transcend the genre"?

Anonymous said...

Your comment on "executors of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary estate" refers to a media report quoting a person who has no claim on ACD's literary estate. She has lost repeatedly in Federal Court. See: http://www.sherlockian.net/acd/copyright.html.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Corey: I am lucky just to be working in some capacity with the genre. I have no wish to transcend it.

Anonymous: Thanks for the heads-up about Andrea Plunket. It's good to know that she's unlikely to be able to derail any planned Sherlock Holmes sequel.


Scott Monty said...

Hey, even Holmes had a hiatus. :-)

We're glad to be back.

Scott Monty, BSI
I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere
TheBaker Street Blog

Anonymous said...

Thanks for referencing my transcending rant. much appreciated and happy new year. loved the posts.

Steve Weddle said...

Thanks for the mention -- and for pointing to so much great work out there.