Sunday, July 31, 2011

Raiding the Stockpile

• It was on this date 25 years ago that mystery fictionist Stanley Ellin--“one of the modern masters of the genre” (to quote the Books and Writers site)--died of a heart attack in his birthplace of Brooklyn, New York. He was 69 years old. A three-time Edgar Award winner, Ellin was the author of such novels as The Eighth Circle (1958) and Star Light, Star Bright (1979), as well as Mystery Stories (1956), which UK writer Julian Symons dubbed “the finest collection of stories in the crime form published in the past half century.” The Mystery Writers of America bestowed its esteemed Grand Master Award on Ellin in 1981.

• Tonight will bring the concluding installment of Zen, the three-episode British series broadcast under PBS-TV’s Masterpiece Mystery! umbrella. Titled “Ratking” and based on Michael Dibdin’s 1988 novel of the same name, this final 90-minute show is the best of the bunch, as far as I’m concerned--a fine blend of character development and complicated plotting, with some nice revenge thrown in to spice things up. “Ratking” is scheduled to begin this evening on PBS at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Click here to watch a preview.

• Mike Ripley’s new “Getting Away with Murder” column has just been posted in Shots. This month’s consignment of newsy bits and quips includes notes on fresh novels by Lee Child, Constance Briscoe, and Ian Morson; Barry Forshaw’s appropriation of a title “made famous back in 1980” by Robert Barnard--Death in a Cold Climate--for his own forthcoming book about Scandinavian crime fiction; and the first “History in the Court” event scheduled for September 29 in Cecil Court, London, the home of sponsor Goldsboro Books, and “aimed at historians, writers of historical fiction, and readers of both” (more details to come here).

• Daniela de Gregorio and Michael Jacob, the Italy-based authors who pen fine historical mysteries under the byline “Michael Gregorio,” report that “We have just been awarded the keys to the city of Spoleto in the form of something called The Lex Spoletina. It’s a replica of the Roman laws which once governed the city. The prize has been awarded this year to Michael Gregorio and Carlo Verdone, the Italian actor and film director.” Congratulations, Daniela and Mike!

• The paperback edition of Tony Black’s first Detective Inspector Rob Brennan novel, Truth Lies Bleeding, will be released this week. To promote it, Black put together a video trailer that features him reading from the book in a wonderfully Scottish-accented English that might take some concentration for Americans to comprehend.

Have you heard of the Vidocq Society?

• BBC America’s first new scripted series will be a crime drama, Coppers. Omnimystery News reports that it will “center on a young Irish cop assigned to the Five Points neighborhood of New York City in the 1860s. He must ‘navigate the unruly and sometimes violent currents of his immigrant neighborhood, while simultaneously interacting with uptown Manhattan high society and the emerging black community in Harlem.’” Coppers is expected to premiere in the summer of 2012.

• This week’s short-story offering in Beat to a Pulp comes from one of my fellow Anthony Award nominees, Hilary Davidson. Her tale is titled “The Other Man.”

• In the Murder Is Everywhere blog, Icelandic crime novelist Yrsa Sigurðardóttir shares some thoughts on the recent terrorist attacks in Norway by right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik. Meanwhile, The New Yorker recalls author Steig Larsson’s warnings about the rise of right-wing hate groups in Scandinavia and elsewhere.

• Spain’s Hammett Prize goes to Argentinean author Ricardo Piglia for his 2010 work, Blanco Nocturno (Nocturnal Target). Thanks to Jose Ignacio of The Game’s Afoot for this tip.

• Finally, J.F. “John” Norris has some very nice things to say about Uncle Edgar’s Mystery Bookstore in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where I, too, have picked up many out-of-print and vintage tomes over the years. Chiming in with more applause for independent bookstores is blogger Puzzle Doctor at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel.


pattinase (abbott) said...

I just can't get past BBC series set in Sweden and Italy where the British accent is so prevalent. It just takes me out of the setting. And what a waste it is with Italy, the setting. And when they insert a few characters with Italian accents, it grows worse.

Dwight Brown said...

"Have you heard of the Vidocq Society?"

Sure. And this might be a good place to mention that Frank Bender passed away over the weekend.

Here's the NYT obit.

And I thought this was a nice appreciation of him from one of the Philadelphia newspapers.

Richard L. Pangburn said...

Well, RAT KING was by far the best of the first three Zen presentations, and a fine novel it was upon.

The beauty of the series is that the protagonist must circumvent the edicts of the bureaucracy if he is to get his job done. This rings true in modern times where the bureaucracies control almost everything.

Government bureaucracy is bad, yes, but not nearly so bad as the bureaucracies of our other institutions, military, religious, and the worst and least accountable: corporate.