Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bullet Points: Pre-Holiday Edition

• Today marks 10 years since the premiere of Die Another Day, the 20th James Bond picture and the last of four to star Pierce Brosnan as Ian Fleming’s Agent 007. The HMSS Weblog reminds me that “Die Another Day contained numerous references to the 007 series, including a sequence where Brosnan-Bond and Q (John Cleese) are in a storage area of gadgets, including the Thunderball jet pack. Q gives Bond a watch with a laser beam (Bond’s 20th watch, we’re told). Halle Berry as Jinx, a U.S. operative, made an entrance in a bikini, modeled after Ursula Andress’s first appearance in Dr. No.” Although it received some mixed reviews, The HMSS Weblog
notes that Die Another Day was a financial hit, “with almost $432 million in worldwide ticket sales, a 19 percent jump from 1999’s The World Is Not Enough.”

• Most Rap Sheet readers have probably never read the stories of Oklahoma-born detective novelist (George) Todd Downing (1902-1974), who composed a series of books--set mostly in Mexico--about a U.S. customs inspector named Hugh Rennert. However, Curt Evans knows that fictionist’s work very well indeed. Evans is the author of Masters of the “Humdrum” Mystery (which I wrote about recently in Kirkus Reviews), and he has a book devoted to Downing’s tales, Clues and Corpses, due for publication in December. What’s more, he penned an introduction for reprints of six Downing novels released this month by Coachwhip Publications. I confess to having never read any of Downing’s books, but with all of this attention being lavished upon him, maybe I’d better try a couple.

• Another reprint worth finding, this one in e-book form: Unfaithful Wives, by Orrie Hitt, originally published in 1956.

• Roberta Alexander’s review of The Bones and the Book, a historical mystery by Jane Isenberg, was posted this morning in January Magazine. You can read it here.

• So much for widespread rumors that Christopher Fowler’s series about Arthur Bryant and John May of the Peculiar Crimes Unit had reached its end after 10 installments. As Fowler reports in his blog, “Bryant & May have been given the go-ahead in the U.S. for a further two novels! ... First up will be Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart, in which the decrepit detectives investigate the case of a man found dead in a cemetery. I’ll rephrase that. A man thought dead, then found alive, then dead because--hell, you’ll just have to wait and see how Bryant & May deal with what appears to be the return of Resurrectionists in London graveyards.”

• I haven’t really heard much about the 2013 heist film Now You See Me. Its been described as a thriller about an elite FBI squad “pitted in a game of cat and mouse against ‘The Four Horsemen,’ a super-team of the world’s greatest illusionists, who pull off a series of daring heists against corrupt business leaders during their performances, showering the stolen profits on their audiences while staying one step ahead of the law.” But the trailer--spotlighted in Omnimystery News--does a good job of getting me interested in that big-screen flick, which stars Jesse Eisenberg and Mark Ruffalo.

• Author Sophie Littlefield (A Bad Day for Mercy) is the featured interviewee on the 90th episode of Jeff Rutherford’s Reading & Writing podcast. Listen to their exchange here.

A sad end to what was once a technological icon.

• “The 40 Most Gruesome Deaths in Literature.” Now, there’s a headline you cannot slide by without at least giving a quick look at the piece beneath. Among the mortal endings included in this Shortlist.com compilation are several from crime, mystery, and thriller works, among them Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest and Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Here’s a short video from the recent Bouchercon in Cleveland, showing Max Allan Collins receiving The Hammer for his Nate Heller private-eye series. The Hammer--named in honor of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer--is given out by the Private Eye Writers of America. Click here to learn more about Collins and this prize.

• And if all goes as planned, tomorrow will bring the concluding entry in Win Scott Eckert’s series of blog posts featuring 11 covers from paperback editions of Honey West novels. Today’s photographic front from Honey on Her Tail is rather disappointing in relation to those that have come before. But we’ll see what Eckert can come up with for Wednesday. You should find his whole series of posts here.

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