Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Bullet Points: Back in the Saddle Edition

OK, so I’m settling once more into my easy chair at The Rap Sheet’s sumptuous headquarters. Spending a week away from blogging certainly helped to recharge my batteries. It also let me catch up a bit on my reading. Predictably, I took some time for Web surfing, as well, which unearthed a couple of video gems I shall be sharing with everyone over the next week. But first, a few tidbits worth sharing.

• What a coincidence! Just yesterday morning, I picked up a copy of Francis M. Nevins’ authoritative new biography, Ellery Queen: The Art of Detection. Later that same day, I received word that The Mysterious Press and Open Road Media have re-released 14 Ellery Queen mystery novels in e-book format. As Les Blatt explains in Classic Mysteries, among those are “all of the early ‘puzzle’-type mysteries for which Queen was famous, with titles including a nationality (American Gun Mystery, Chinese Orange Mystery, Dutch Shoe Mystery, etc.). Also newly re-released: Cat of Many Tails, Ten Days Wonder, and And on the Eighth Day, which really are among the best and most powerful of the novels.” To promote this project, the publisher has shot a “mini-documentary” (less than two minutes long and embedded below) in which Mysterious Press editor Otto Penzler talks about the influence on this genre of Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee, the cousins behind the Ellery Queen pseudonym; also interviewed are those authors’ sons, Richard Dannay and Rand Lee,
respectively. If you haven’t read the Queen books, and are comfortable with e-books, then check out the available tiles here.

• Meanwhile, biographer Nevins raises the possibility that “there exists somewhere an ‘unknown’ Ellery Queen novel, perhaps finished, perhaps unfinished.” Writing in Mystery*File, he cites a letter penned by Manfred B. Lee to Fred Dannay that suggests the former might have been two-thirds of the way through writing a Queen novel that doesn’t appear among the known works. It’s an intriguing possibility, to be sure.

• Mike Ripley was early in posting his latest “Getting Away with Murder” column in Shots, but due to last week’s mini-vacation, I’m late in drawing your attention to it. His coverage this time ranges from two new books by Robert Wilson and Graham Hurley, to reports of the first (fictional) Maasai warrior detective, to his failed attempts at reading a new pair of serial-killer stories, and the reissuing of Donald Hamilton’s Matt Helm novels.

• No surprise: San Francisco is America’s happiest city.

• Just over six months after Warner Bros. Home Video released Harry O: The Complete First Season on DVD, it’s out with the complete second season of that 1974-1976 ABC-TV series starring David Janssen as cop-turned-private eye Harry Orwell. The blog TV Shows on DVD says “this 6-disc set contains all 22 episodes from the second and last season of the show, priced at $49.95 SRP.”

• By the way, 2013 marks the 90th birthday of Warner Bros. To help commemorate that milestone, Moviefone has posted a list of “25 things you didn’t know about the fabled Hollywood studio.” (Hat tip to Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine.)

• If you haven’t noticed yet, Patrick Ohl, author of the blog At the Scene of the Crime, has made it his mission this year to read (or re-read) all of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels. So far, he’s finished Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Moonraker, and Diamonds Are Forever. Only nine more to go. You can keep up with his efforts here.

• The Lone Ranger celebrated his 80th birthday last week.

• Meanwhile, in the Radio Spirits blog, Ivan G. Shreve Jr. points out the connection between the Lone Ranger and the Green Hornet.

A new study finds that mass shootings in the United States--“incidents in which at least four people were murdered by guns”--“have occurred at an average rate of about one per month since 2009. ... [T]here have been 43 mass shootings in 25 states over the past four years--or nearly one per month.” Still, the National Rifle Association (NRA) refuses to support any substantive gun safety measures, instead trying to scare Americans with double-talk about how the U.S. government is planning to confiscate their weapons. Isn’t it time for Congress to pass commonsense gun-safety laws to limit ammunition clips and track the possession of firearms?

Adios, Muzak.

The 12 important academic essays on crime fiction?

• Sergio Angelini offers a wholly different sort of rundown in Tipping My Fedora: the “Top 20 TV Spies,” including John Drake of Danger Man, McGill of Man in a Suitcase, Sidney Reilly of Reilly: Ace of Spies, and Sydney Bristow of Alias.

• When former New York Mayor Ed Koch died last Friday at age 88, it slipped my mind that he’d once penned a series of four mystery novels featuring a fictional character named Ed Koch. Fortunately, The Gumshoe Site reminded me of those books, beginning with Murder at City Hall (1995, composed with Herbert Resnicow) and concluding with The Senator Must Die (1998; with Wendy Corsi Staub).

• Also noted, thanks again to The Gumshoe Site’s Jiro Kimura, is the passing of Gordon Cotler. As Kimura explains, Cotler “died of Parkinson's disease on December 20, 2012, in New York City. He wrote a number of TV plays, such as episodes for McMillan & Wife and Lanigan's Rabbi. His TV script Deadly Deception (1987) was nominated for the 1988 Edgar [Award] in the TV features category, and he and his co-writer Don Mankiewicz won the 1978 Edgar in the TV features category for “Men Who Love Women,” the pilot for Rosetti & Ryan. He wrote six mystery novels. The Bottletop Affair (Simon & Schuster, 1959) was turned into the 1962 movie The Horizontal Lieutenant and The Cipher (as by Alex Gordon; Simon & Schuster, 1961) became the 1966 movie Arabesque, directed by Stanley Donen and starring Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren. He also wrote nine short stories featuring Detective Lieutenant Bernie Farber for Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in the 2000s. He was 89.”

Agatha Christie’s run-in with MI5.

• Scottish poet and novelist William McIlvanney, the winner of two Silver Dagger Awards from the British Crime Writers’ Association, is preparing to make “a rare appearance” at this year’s Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, set to take place in Harrogate, England, from July 18 to 21. Read more here.

• We told you in December that NBC-TV was hoping to reboot the 1967-1975 Raymond Burr series Ironside. Now, Omnimystery News brings word that the network has ordered a pilot for that program, starring Blair Underwood (L.A. Law) as the wheelchair-bound former chief of detectives. This could be considered an interesting development. A continuing thread of the original series found the grumpy chief’s African-American bodyguard/assistant, Mark Sanger (Don Mitchell), trying to prove his value in a city (San Francisco) and country both skeptical of black achievement. That Robert T. Ironside should now be portrayed by a black actor is a sign of America’s evolution on racial issues, though (evidenced, in part, by bigoted treatment of President Barack Obama) it still has a long way to go.

A Thin Man film knock-off?

• Author Max Allan Collins is interviewed for the Mr. Media podcast series about his third and soon-forthcoming Jack Starr comics-oriented mystery, Seduction of the Innocent (Hard Case Crime), as well as his fifth and latest Mickey Spillane/Mike Hammer novel, Complex 90 (due out in May from Titan Books). Listen here.

• Also worth checking out sometime: Kristopher Zgorski, author of the promising new blog, BOLO Books, talks with Sara J. Henry, author of the Troy Chance mystery series.

• Megan Abbott and Alison Gaylin’s graphic novel, Normandy Gold, has been optioned for a film adaptation.

• And a decade after its initial run, the much-acclaimed crime Webcomic Gravedigger, by Christopher Mills and Rick Burchett, is back online. The original tale, “The Scavenger,” is set to roll out over the next 28 weeks, with one new page every Monday. That will be followed by “an all-new, never-before-seen Gravedigger story, ‘The Predators,’” which will run for 48 weeks, again on a Monday schedule.


The Passing Tramp said...

If you scroll down to the veeery end of Mike Ripley's column, my blog is mentioned, though much of the credit really should go to Bill Pronzini.

Patrick said...

Thanks for the plug -- highly appreciated. I've actually got reviews lined up all the way to GOLDFINGER, I'm just taking my sweet time posting them to make it look like I'm doing something when I'm too busy studying to read. :)

Kristopher said...

Thanks for mentioning the blog. The interview with Sara J. Henry was a blast.