Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Bullet Points: Wet Wednesday Edition*

• To celebrate the release this month of his new non-fiction work, Ellery Queen: The Art of Detection, Francis M. Nevins recalls his introduction to the two “fractious” cousins who, under the Queen pseudonym, “reshaped the modern detective novel.”

• I’m very sorry to hear that Portland, Oregon’s Murder by the Book, on SE Hawthorne Boulevard, will close in April, after 30 years in business. A notice on the store’s Web site reads, in part:
As you know, these past few years have been difficult financially for many reasons, including the generally depressed economic climate, growth of e-books, and elevation in the price of print books. In addition, Barbara [Tom] and Carolyn [Lane] are ready to really retire.

So far we have not found others who want to take on the labor of love that an independent bookstore represents. We will be making a concerted effort to find some kind of successor in the next few weeks and months. (Of course, we would happily entertain discussions with you or anyone you know who would consider this a great opportunity!)

In the next few months, the store will operate normally--that is, with a wide selection of books and an unlimited amount of advice--so we would hope for your continued support.
Even though I am a frequent visitor to Portland (at least its west-of-the-river side), I’ve only been to Murder by the Book a few times. I’ll have to make a point of dropping in there sometime this spring.

• Happy 150th birthday to the London Underground, the oldest sections of which began operations on January 10, 1863. To commemorate this occasion, author Christopher Fowler has posted some Underground trivia, while Janet Rudolph has assembled a list of crime novels and short stories that take place on the Underground.

• Curiously, today also marks what would have been the 100th birthday of another frequent lurker in the shadows: Richard M. Nixon, the former Republican U.S. president who will forever be remembered by the unfortunate epithet “Tricky Dick,” and who resigned partway through his second term as a result of the Watergate scandal--an event that spawned a wealth of political thrillers. It should come as no surprise that, according to a piece in Politico, “2 in 3 Americans still disapprove of the job Nixon did as president, making him by far the most toxic president of the past 50 years.”

• And though I didn’t know Larry Storch was still alive, it turns out that this comic actor best known for his role in F Troop celebrated his 90th birthday on Tuesday. By the way, in addition to his sitcom efforts, Storch also appeared over the years in The Name of the Game, Tenafly, Mannix, and Police Story. Check here for more.

From In Reference to Murder: “Author Thomas Pynchon is in talks with director Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood) to bring Pynchon’s 2009 stoner private-eye novel, Inherent Vice, to the big screen.” You hear that? It’s time to roust ’60s-era gumshoe Larry “Doc” Sportello from his haze and get him prettied up for the cameras. The results of this project should be interesting.

• British author Chris Ewan subjects his new (in the States, at least) thriller, Safe House, to the challenge of Marshal Zeringue’s Page 69 Test. See the results here. Ewan is, of course, best known as the author of the “Good Thief’s Guide” series, including The Good Thief’s Guide to Vegas and, forthcoming, The Good Thief’s Guide to Berlin.

Celebrating Chinatown one more time!

In a piece for Kirkus Reviews, Sue Grafton looks back on her 30 years in the crime-fiction biz. Meanwhile, Jen Forbes critiques Kinsey and Me, Grafton’s new collection of stories about herself and her famous series P.I., Kinsey Millhone.

• Five modern female crime writers--Denise Mina, Jassy Mackenzie, Sara Gran, Donna Leon, and Nevada Barr are interviewed by The Christian Science Monitor’s Randy Dotinga.

• Mystery fictionist Ed Lacy, who died 45 years ago this week, is profiled at welcome length in Tablet. Concurrently, J.F. Norris of Pretty Sinister Books reviews Moment of Untruth, Lacy’s 1964 “sequel of sorts” to his well-regarded 1957 novel, Room to Swing.

• And Kevin Burton Smith delivers a keen defense of the 1947 film The Brasher Doubloon, based on Raymond Chandler’s novel The High Window (1942). In a piece in The Thrilling Detective Blog, Smith calls it “a clean, relatively straightforward screenplay ... that leans heavily on Chandler's penchant for wisecracks.” More on the source of this picture’s name is here, and you can read about some other big-screen productions based on Chandler’s stories here.

* Yes, it’s been raining in Seattle again. Remind me, why do I live in such a damp environment? I’m sure there’s a reason ...

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