Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fishing All the Ponds

• It’s only mid-November, but already we’re starting to see lists of the Best Crime/Mystery/Thriller Novels of 2012. The editors at bookseller Amazon this week posted their top 10 picks:

1. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
2. Sweet Tooth, by Ian McEwan
3. Live by Night, by Dennis Lehane
4. Phantom, by Jo Nesbø
5. Defending Jacob, by William Landay
6. Broken Harbor, by Tana French
7. Creole Belle, by James Lee Burke
8. May We Be Forgiven, by A.M. Homes
9. Afterwards, by Rosamund Lupton
10. The Thief, by Fuminori Nakamura

(Hat tip to Crime Watch.)

I can’t say that I agree with all of those choices, but that’s my prerogative as a critic and enthusiastic reader in the genre. I evidently have different tastes than the folks at Amazon. I’m currently preparing my own catalogues of “favorites,” one set to appear in my Kirkus Reviews column of November 27, with additional titles to be featured in January Magazine not long after that.

• With just a week left before Thanksgiving, you might want to give some thought to finding a holiday-appropriate crime-fiction read. Here’s Janet Rudolph’s list of Thanksgiving mysteries from 2011. And click here to see some additional selections from B.V. Lawson of the blog In Reference to Murder.

• I heard some time ago that Netflix was planning to launch a new adaptation of Michael Dobbs’ 1989 political thriller, House of Cards. But I’d forgotten just how soon it was set to appear on TV screens. As Omnimystery News reports, this Americanized version--starring Kevin Spacey as Congressman Francis Underwood and Robin Wright as his wife, Claire--will be available
“only for Netflix streaming subscribers on February 1st, 2013.” (The trailer is embedded on the left.) With Spacey acting as one of the project’s developers and executive producers (together with David Fincher, who brought us both the U.S. version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and 2007’s Zodiac), the results are likely to be worth watching. But I have to say, I don’t want this second adaptation--set on Capitol Hill, rather than in the Houses of Parliament--to supplant my memories of the original, 1990 BBC-TV version, with starred Ian Richardson as Francis Urquhart, the British Conservative Party’s ambitious, calculating, and thoroughly amoral chief whip. Richardson, a Tony Award-winning founding member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, brought the ideal balance of arrogance and odiousness to the part of Francis Urquhart (brilliantly nicknamed “F.U.”). In fact, so popular was his House of Cards on both sides of the Atlantic, that it spawned two sequels. If you have not already watched Richardson’s mini-series, you ought to do so before tuning in Spacey’s remake. You’ll find the original show’s distinctive opening here.

• The blog Tipping My Fedora has reviewed one of my favorites among Ross Macdonald’s 18 private-eye Lew Archer novels, The Zebra-Striped Hearse, first published in 1962.

• Following his previous collection of paperback spy-novel fronts (check them out here), Andrew Nette of Pulp Curry today features a second set of covers, these from stories set in Asia.

• The four-part Sky Atlantic TV drama Falcón, based on the first two of Robert Wilson’s exceptional novels about Seville-based Inspector Jefe Javier Falcón and starring Marton Csokas, began showing tonight in Britain. I hope that it will eventually become available to American television watchers like me. But in the meantime, I’m left to appreciate this minute-long trailer for the series.

I’ve long been a fan of this movie opening.

• Congratulations to Terence Towles Canote on his 2,000th post in A Shroud of Thoughts. He has been working on that movie- and TV-oriented blog ever since 2004.

• Jeremy Lynch of Crimespree Magazine writes that the U.S. TV network The CW “is looking to develop Thomas Perry’s Jane Whitefield for a series. Jane, who has appeared in seven novels, is a Native American guide who helps people in danger disappear.” Perry’s most recent Whitefield adventure is Poison Flower, which saw print earlier this year, but he has a new, non-series suspenser, The Boyfriend, due out from The Mysterious Press in March 2013.

Law & Order fans, take note: has put together a database of 20 years worth of L&O episodes, including the legal outcomes of each show. What a daunting project that must have been ... Also worth checking out, by the way, is Chris Zimmer’s blog, All Things Law and Order.

• NoirCon 2012 took place last week in Philadelphia, but Cullen Gallagher is still posting about it in Pulp Serenade. You’ll find a video excerpt from Robert Olen Butler’s keynote address here. And you can watch Lawrence Block accept the David Loeb Goodis Award here.

• Meanwhile, blogger Jen Forbus offers a nice wrap-up of Muskego, Wisconsin’s Murder and Mayhem convention, which took place on Saturday, November 10. She’s also posted an almost-complete video of the interview she did there with Robert Crais.

• Jim Napier reviews Lehrter Station, the latest installment in David Downing’s World War II espionage series, for January Magazine.

• Well, that’s frustrating. In a list of the “Top 10 Most-Read Books in the World,” there’s only one crime or thriller work ... and it’s Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.

• In an interview that appeared originally in The Browser, Keith Jeffery, author of The Secret History of MI6: 1909-1949, talks about the origins of Ian Fleming’s renowned Agent 007 and five books that influenced his own writing.

• And here’s something that every James Bond lover will love.

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