Saturday, January 05, 2013

Bullet Points: First 2013 Edition

• If you’re lucky enough to be roaming the streets of London, England, on February 13, you will want to stop by the Victoria Library for this public discussion on historical crime and thriller fiction. One of the three speakers will be Shots columnist and author Mike Ripley.

• And on Tuesday, January 15--the 66th anniversary of the gruesome discovery, in Los Angeles, that gave birth to the durable Black Dahlia murder mystery--British crime-fiction scholar Steven Powell is scheduled to deliver an address in London titled “I Never Knew Her in Life: Cultural Depictions of the Black Dahlia Case.” That event will take place at St. Bartholomew’s Pathology Museum from 7 to 8:30p.m. Rap Sheet readers will remember Powell as the editor of both last year’s must-have resource, 100 American Crime Writers, and of Conversations with James Ellroy.

• The Private Eye Writers of America has announced that it will introduce a new category of Shamus Award in 2013, for the Best Indie P.I. Novel. PWA honchos have “decided it’s time to open the organization to self-published works as the category now includes many established authors who, for one reason or another, have decided to publish their own work.”

• Just when you thought you were done reading “best crime fiction of 2012” compilations, here come a few more. Spinetingler Magazine critics weigh in on the subject here. Jen Forbus has her say here. Ransom Notes’ Jedidiah Ayres presents his 10 “flat-out favorite novels of 2012” here. The Boston Globe’s Hallie Ephron offers up another 10 remarkable works, at the same time as Elizabeth A. White chooses 10 still different books (two of them by Chris F. Holm) here. John Kenyon’s list in Grift Magazine overlaps with some previous ones, while Jon Jordan of Crimespree Magazine expresses his own opinions here. In The House of Crime and Mystery, Jacques Filippi shares the results of his blog’s first Readers’ Choice Awards in the genre. Naomi Johnson honors more memorable books with the 2012 Lowhead Dam Awards. Kerrie Smith names her dozen favorite reads of last year, two of which come from her native Australia. At the Scene of the Crime’s Patrick Ohl offers a rundown of his top vintage-novel reads from the past 12 months, while blogger “dfordoom” tackles the same task here, and “TracyK” rolls out her first list of this sort in Bitter Tea and Mystery. The splendidly designated blog Battered, Tattered, Yellowed, & Creased catalogues its favorites in both the mystery-fiction and science-fiction fields, and adds a handful of “least-favorites” for balance. William I. Lengeman III takes his own broader approach, making note of the crime-fiction books and films he liked best in 2012. Patti Abbott has a similarly wide-ranging list here. Finally, author James Reasoner--who says he “read 112 books this year”--mixes mysteries, thrillers, and Westerns in his “favorites” post.

• Going beyond the bounds of those previous rundowns ... Sandra Seamans points out her 10 favorite crime short stories debuting online. Max Allan Collins tips his hat to his favorite and least favorite films of 2012. And David Abrams has posted what he’s convinced are the best opening lines of last year.

• I have found a new source for old TV shows and films.

• Seriously? Hawaii Five-O is planning a choose-your-own-ending episode? It may be a first for a prime-time TV series, but who cares. I’d rather see this show develop more depth in its storytelling and character development. These gimmicks just make me glad I stopped watching the H5-0 reboot midway through its first season.

• Congratulations are owed to The New York Review of Books. That fortnightly publication will turn 50 years old in February 2013.

• I’m pleased to see that Open Road Integrated Media is finally bringing back into circulation the “gritty, urban” police procedurals concocted by Dorothy Uhnak, who died in 2006. It is only too bad that those books, including the Christie Opara trilogy--which inspired the 1974-1975 TV series Get Christie Love! (see here and here)--will be available only as e-books, not in printed form.

A lengthy excerpt in Salon shows us what to expect from Kinsey and Me: Stories, Sue Grafton’s collection of tales--due for release in the States this coming Tuesday--that reveal Kinsey [Millhone]’s origins and Sue’s past.” It’s only odd that this 30th anniversary work didn’t come out last year; after all, Grafton’s initial Kinsey novel, “A” Is for Alibi, was published in 1982.

• The third Kindle edition of ThugLit, which began as a free online crime-fiction publication, is now available for $0.99.

Expect a James Bond tribute during next month’s Oscars show.

• Ben Boulden celebrates two newly released novellas starring Bill Pronzini’s Nameless Detective, both of which feature outstanding cover illustrations by Glen Orbik.

Travel + Leisure’s list of “America’s Best Bookstores might just as easily have been headlined “America’s Already Best-Known Bookstores.” I’ve visited the majority of these establishments at one time or another, and am not surprised to see any of them included here. But wouldn’t a more novel conception for the article have been nice? Personally, I’d have preferred to hear about great American bookshops that haven’t been so frequently publicized and that aren’t usually included in travelers’ itineraries. Such a focus might have had the added benefit of helping smaller but no less interesting book dealers stay in business. (Hat tip to Mystery Fanfare.)

• Continuing a theme: the world’s most beautiful bookstores.

• Criminal Element looks back at “crime-solving couples of yesteryear,” among them Agatha Christie’s Thomas and Prudence Beresford, and Stuart Palmer’s Hildegarde Withers and Oscar Piper.

• Via Facebook comes news that writer Christopher Mills and artist Rick Burchett will re-launch their hard-boiled comic series Gravedigger on the Web, beginning on February 4. Writes Mills: “We’ll be posting a page a week every Monday, starting with the original Gravedigger story, ‘The Scavengers’ (which hasn't been seen online or in print for years), and then serializing the new one ... ‘The Predators.’” He promises to announce the series’ Web address “when we get closer to the launch.” So far, Mills is using only a single, deliberately provocative image to promote this project--an illustration that reminds me of some book covers I’ve written about on this page before.

• Speaking of comics, did you ever expect to see a graphic novel featuring both monster hunter Carl Kolchak and curvaceous private eye Honey West? Yeah, I didn’t either. However, someone at Moonstone Books saw the potential in that match-up.

• Don Medford, a resourceful TV director whose credits included the pilot for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (“The Vulcan Affair”) and the last, two-part episode of The Fugitive, died on December 12 in West Hills, California. He was 95 years old. A check through the International Movie Database (IMDb) finds that Medford also directed episodes of M Squad, The Streets of San Francisco, The F.B.I., City of Angels, Baretta, and Dynasty. (Hat tip to The HMSS Weblog.)

Cheers to five years of Mysteries in Paradise.

Alternet editors have published a list of the “12 most despicable things Fox News did in 2012,” but something tells me they started with way more than a dozen, and had to pare it down.

• Fans of the Martin Beck police procedurals, by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, will want to check out Sarah Ward’s growing catalogue of posts about that early Swedish detective series in Crimepieces.

• I’d never heard of the 1980 TV episonage-show pilot S*H*E until today, but it boasted a cool, James Bond-ish promotional poster painted by Robert McGinnis, who also produced the early promo art for the 007 pictures. Click here to learn more about this film starring Cornelia Sharpe, Omar Sharif, and Robert Lansing; and at least for the time being, you can watch the whole cheesy thing online here.

• And though it has nothing to do with mystery or thriller fiction, I want to remind all those Downton Abbey fans out there among my American readership that the historical drama’s third season premieres tonight on PBS-TV stations. Having watched this latest round of episodes already (thanks to a wonderful source), I can tell you that there’s much to expect in the way of surprises--both favorable and disappointing. Just don’t expect everyone who deserves his or her comeuppance to receive it.

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