The last week or so has been kind of a crazy time here at Rap Sheet headquarters. Too many responsibilities and too little time to concentrate fully on everything I wished to finish. So I let the blog languish a bit. Now, though, I’m back behind the editor’s desk and ready to bring your attention to some recent developments in the crime-fiction world. Prepare yourselves.
• In celebration of tomorrow being Halloween, editor-blogger Janet Rudolph has assembled a quite extensive list
of related crime novels. Yvette Banek offers a compilation of “10 fabulous Halloween
movies.” The blog Found in Mom’s Basement presents three of the weirdest Halloween postcards you’ll ever see. Flavorwire suggests some “terrifying new reads” for 2012, and recommends “12 horror sequels that don’t suck.” Richard L. Pangburn has posted his top-10 list of the “all-time most beautiful witches” (yes, he includes Elizabeth Montgomery). Terence Towles Canote has posted half a dozen of his
favorite classic horror-movie trailers. Svengoolie, Crematia Mortem, and
other eccentric late-night TV film hosts are being given rare recognition in
the Classic TV Horror Host Blogathon. And J.F. Norris of Pretty Sinister Books has some “suggestions for this year’s Halloween mini-movie fest, one you can have in the privacy of your own home.” I have to admit, I haven’t seen any of Norris’ picks. Clearly, I don’t get out enough. Or don’t stay home enough with my DVD player.
• With America’s eastern seaboard still weathering heavy damage from Hurricane Sandy, Mystery Fanfare has put forward a selection of hurricane-related crime fiction. It includes John D. Macdonald’s Murder in the Wind, Tim Dorsey’s Hurricane Punch, Margaret Maron’s Storm Track, and James Lee Burke’s Tin Roof Blowdown.
• I’ve been looking forward to seeing the upcoming crime film Gangster Squad, if
only for two reasons: (1) it’s about Los Angeles police detectives struggling
to purge their city of organized mobsters during the 1940s and ’50s; and it features
Sean Penn as well as the increasingly captivating Emma Stone. mass shootings at a movie theater in Colorado. And as Omnimystery News reports, a movie house shootout between cops and crime boss Mickey
Cohen’s henchmen has now been removed from the picture, as a result of the Colorado killings. The current Gangster Squad trailer is embedded on the right, but the original can still be viewed here. (The theater scene begins at the 2:00 mark.)
• Slaughter’s Hound, by Declan Burke--an Irish novelist and editor, as well as a sometime Rap Sheet contributor--is among the nominees for the 2012 Irish Book Awards. Also in the running: Vengeance, by Benjamin Black; Broken Harbour, by Tana French; The Istanbul Puzzle, by Laurence O’Bryan; Too Close for Comfort, by Niamh O’Connor; and Red Ribbons, by Louise Phillips. The winners are supposed to be announced on November 22.
• In his blog, The Passing Tramp, Curt Evans posts a pretty terrific tribute to Jacques Barzun, the historian and literary critic who died last week at age 104. Among other accomplishments, Barzun was the
co-author (with Wendell Hertig Taylor) of what Evans calls a “magisterial critique of crime fiction,” 1971’s A Catalogue of Crime. There’s more about Barzun in Martin Edwards’ blog.
• The social reading site Goodreads has introduced its fourth
annual Readers Choice Awards competition, with nominees in several
categories--including mystery and thrillers. Click here to select among crime-fiction contenders that run the gamut from Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and Robert Crais’ Taken to William Landay’s Defending Jacob. Winners will be announced on December 4.
• With the 23rd James Bond picture, Skyfall, having already premiered in Britain and being set to debut in the States on November 9, it’s understandable that the Web should be rather rife with associated content. The online magazine Pacific Standard ponders the question of whether Agent 007 is “the least interesting man in the world?” Esquire checks out the latest Bond duds and interviews a Bond stuntman. The HMSS Weblog picks up the story that screenwriter John Logan has been hired to put together the script for Bond 24. And Think Progress’ Alyssa Rosenberg gives a thumbs-up to talk of black actor Idris Elba (of Luther fame) being tapped as the next man to portray Ian Fleming’s superspy on the silver screen.
• Author Olen Steinhauer (The Tourist, The Nearest Exit) chooses four television series that he thinks are “the cream of the cream of the crop,” as far as a spy shows go. It should come as no surprise that The Avengers is one of them. Read his full post here.
• If performance of the Dow Jones industrial average is an accurate predictor of who will win America’s quadrennial presidential races--as it has so often been in the past--then President Obama should be planning for a second term. “The stock market has done better than average during his tenure,” The New York Times notes, “not to mention better than during either of the two terms of his predecessor. In the past, such a healthy stock market performance has usually been followed by a victory for the incumbent party.”
• Meanwhile, Washington Monthly offers a list of President Obama’s “top 50 accomplishments” during his first term. Pass that along to any right-wingers who claim the president has somehow “failed.”
storied Magic Castle, long a nightclub and magicians’ clubhouse, will reportedly be the setting for “a feature film being developed by producer Ted Field and his company, Radar Pictures, at 20th Century Fox.” If all goes well, the club might be used in other future movies and TV series. All well and good, but let’s not forget that the Magic Castle was already prominent in one small-screen series, The Magician (1973-1974), serving as home to illusionist-cum-sleuth Anthony Blake (Bill Bixby) in the second half of that program’s run. It’s said to have been “the first time filming had been permitted inside” what was originally a private home.
• Here’s an odd fashion item from the 1970s.
• In part one of a fine feature for Press Play, critic Edward Copeland reminded me that the multiple-award-winning medical drama St. Elsewhere debuted on NBC-TV 30 years ago last Friday. I look forward to reading his second installment.
• This week’s new short story in Beat to a Pulp comes from
North Carolina author Joseph D’Agnese. It’s titled “Back to
• Look in the blog Tipping My Fedora for a good overview of the six Perry Mason movies made by Warner Bros. between 1934
• Lee Goldberg, who’s penned 14 novels based on the 2002-2009 TV series Monk (including Mr. Monk Is a Mess) has announced that Monk writer-producer Hy
Conrad will take over composing those books, following’s Goldberg’s late-December release, Mr. Monk Gets Even.
• Anybody who’s spent much time going through Washington, D.C.’s Daniel H. Burnham-designed Union Station (as I have) should appreciate these historical images of its grand interior public spaces.
• And MysteriousPress.com is preparing to release four “bibliomysteries from best-selling mystery authors” as e-books ($1.99 apiece) on November 12: The Scroll, by Anne Perry; Pronghorns of the Third Reich, by C.J. Box; Book of Virtue, by Ken Bruen; and An Acceptable Sacrifice, by Jeffery Deaver. A press release explains that these “short tales about deadly books all feature books as central plot devices.” For more suggestions of bibliomysteries, look