Sunday, January 08, 2012

Bullet Points: First Round-up of 2012

• In addition to its regular episode-by-episode coverage of the 1974-1975 ABC-TV series, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, the new blog It Couldn’t Happen Here ... also recently added three posts about “Universal TV’s Supernatural Sleuths” (access them by clicking here, here, and here). Written by Gary Gerani, those pieces look back at “How Hollywood’s fear factory tried to conjure ‘Mannix in a cemetery’ for network TV.” While I don’t remember most of those series and teleflicks, Gerani was obviously paying closer attention.

R.I.P., Josef Skvorecky, the Czech author of such novels as Two Murders in My Double Life.

• The HMSS Weblog passes on the news that Bob Holness, “the second actor to have portrayed James Bond” (in his case, on South African radio), has gone to his grave at age 83.

• Humorist Robert Benchley’s 1936 short film, How to be a Detective, receives an airing in freelance journalist William I. Lengeman III’s blog, Traditional Mysteries.

• Speaking of Agent 007, Steven Powell has an interesting post in The Venetian Vase about Terence Young, who not only directed three of the first four James Bond films, but also “worked with British Intelligence during the Second World War.”

• Only one of Jussi Adler-Olsen’s “Department Q” novels has been published in English so far: The Keeper of Lost Causes, which featured on January Magazine’s “Best Books of 2011” list. Yet already, according to Omnimystery News, film and TV adaptations of the Danish author’s first four books in that popular series are being organized.

• One death I missed mentioning in The Rap Sheet’s wrap-up of people from the crime-fiction community who died last year was English author and book reviewer Celia Dale. Fortunately, Martin Edwards notes her passing away on December 31.

• Three recent birthdays worth noting: TV situation-comedy star Danny Thomas would have turned 100 years old on January 6 ... which has also been proposed as Sherlock Holmes’ birthday. And as critic Edward Copeland notes, Puerto Rican-born actor-director José Ferrer--who appeared in numerous films and TV series during his long career (including The Name of the Game, Columbo, Magnum, P.I., and the 1971 pilot film for Banyon)--would’ve celebrated his 100th birthday on January 8, had he not died in 1992.

• British film and stage performer Sean Bean is supposedly in line to play South African Detective Inspector Benny Griessel in a movie adaptation of Deon Meyer’s 2010 thriller, Thirteen Hours.

• Among the nominees for this year’s Independent Literary Awards are five titles from the mystery/thriller shelves:

-- Missing Daughter, Shattered Family, by Liz Strange (MLR Press)
-- The Cut, by George Pelecanos (Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown)
-- A Trick of the Light, by Louise Penny (St. Martin’s Press)
-- The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes, by Marcus Sakey (Dutton)
-- Fun & Games, by Duane Swierczynski (Mulholland)

Thanks to book reviewer Elizabeth A. White for this news.

• I, for one, am looking forward to watching BBC America’s “first original series ever,” the forthcoming historical TV crime drama Coppers. It’s scheduled to debut this coming summer. Criminal Element and the Los Angeles TimesShow Tracker blog both offer more information about the program.

• I wish this novel’s story was as cool as its cover.

• Maybe it’s time to read David Goodis’ Dark Passage again.

This bungled burglary attempt sounds like something Donald E. Westlake might have concocted. (Hat tip to Gary Phillips.)

• Steve Holland’s collection of covers from books by 20th-century English journalist and crime novelist Andrew Garve (né Paul Winterton) makes me want to dip once more into that crop of thrillers. I’d especially like to own the 1966 Pan Books editions of Prisoner’s Friend and The Sea Monks that he includes. Fabulous covers!

• I’m almost ashamed to admit that, for as many times as I have visited Portland, Oregon, over the last 20 years, I have never once visited the supposedly charming East Side establishment, Murder by the Book. I must soon remedy that oversight.

• And though this is off-topic, it’s still worth mentioning. Tonight looks very promising for American TV viewers. The second season of that immensely popular British historical drama, Downton Abbey, will debut at 9 p.m. ET/PT under PBS’ Masterpiece Classic umbrella. And ABC-TV’s much-underrated series, Pan Am, returns at 10 p.m. for the first of at least three more episodes. Since these shows will overlap, may I recommend that you record one and watch the other?

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