Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Bullet Points: Post-Vacation Edition

Homes overlooking Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

I’m usually pretty resistant to taking time out of my schedule for vacationing. However, I did spend a few days at the end of last week and through this last weekend in Cannon Beach, a small, historic town located on the northern Oregon coast. (Which explains why The Rap Sheet has been quiet of late.) It gave me some much-needed distance from my overheated computer and an opportunity to catch up at least a bit on my reading. I also browsed a couple of the local bookshops, in the second of which I stumbled across a used copy of The Golden Urge (1954), one of Robert Kyle’s less highly regarded paperback standalones. And on the recommendation of a friend, my wife and I breakfasted not once but twice at Wanda’s Café in Nehalem, south of Cannon Beach. I am feeling rather more relaxed now, and ready once again to scout the Web for interesting news. To wit:

• The Australian Crime Writers Association (ACWA) has issued its shortlist of contenders for the 2013 Ned Kelly Awards, in three categories. Winners will be announced during the Brisbane Writers Festival, September 4-8. The longlist of books and authors considered for these commendations can be found here.

• Meanwhile, organizers of the international crime-writing festival Bloody Scotland have announced the 2013 shortlist of contestants for the Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year. This competition is open to authors with “Scottish roots.” The half-dozen nominees are:

-- Dead Water, by Ann Cleeves (Macmillan)
-- Pilgrim Soul, by Gordon Ferris (Corvus)
-- How a Gunman Says Goodbye, by Malcolm MacKay (Mantle)
-- The Red Road, by Denise Mina (Orion)
-- The Vanishing Point, by Val McDermid (Little, Brown)
-- Standing in Another Man’s Grave, by Ian Rankin (Orion)

A winner will be declared on September 14, during the Bloody Scotland Festival. He or she will receive a trophy and a check for £1,000.

• And Jane Cleland won the 2013 David Award during this last weekend’s Deadly Ink conference in New Brunswick, New Jersey. That annual prize, named in honor of David G. Sasher, went to Cleland for her 2012 mystery, Dolled Up for Murder.

• Omnimystery News has posted the fine trailer for the seventh season of Foyle’s War, the British detective drama that is scheduled to return to PBS-TV’s Masterpiece Mystery! with three new episodes, beginning on Sunday, September 15.

• Seriously, Texas law enforcement’s full cavity search technique for marijuana possession is beyond belief--and nowhere near constitutional! What’s wrong with Texas?

• If you’re planning to attend the 2013 Bouchercon in Albany, New York (September 19-22), note that the Private Eye Writers of America organization has scheduled its Shamus Awards banquet for Friday, September 20, at 6:30 p.m. “The event is open to the public. You need not be a PWA member to attend,” says author Robert J. Randisi. “Come rub elbows with your favorite writers.” If you have any questions or need ticket information, drop an e-note to Randisi at RRandisi@aol.com.

• Northern California’s Monterey Herald has published a front-page profile of 77-year-old novelist and former TV writer Peter S. Fischer, whose name should be familiar to you from episodes of Columbo, Ellery Queen, and Murder, She Wrote, but who also won a 2013 Benjamin Franklin Award for his fiction. The newspaper article--which can be read in its entirety here--notes that Fischer “has completed 13 novels (five of which are awaiting release) and says he’s midway through his 14th. A non-fiction book, ‘Me and Murder, She Wrote,’ is due for release on Sept. 15.”

• After a lengthy novel-writing hiatus, counselor and author Zachary Klein says he’s “working hard to publish Ties That Blind,” the fourth installment in his series about Boston private investigator Matt Jacob. The last Jacob tale to see print was No Saving Grace (1994). Klein explains on his Web site that this new novel was actually “written shortly after No Saving Grace. I took it with me when I left writing in disillusionment due to serious censorship issues with my publisher. But after 16 years and a revolution in technology, I’m back.” He has already released e-book versions of the first three Jacob yarns.

• Max Allan Collins brings us up to date--here and here--on the production of Quarry, a 1970s-set Cinemax TV pilot based on his novels about a Vietnam vet turned hired killer. The 2014 film casts Logan Marshall-Green in the title role.

A Sherlock Holmes/Man from U.N.C.L.E. connection?

PolitiFact embarrasses itself again, this time on the question of whether the United States continues to suffer from a growing deficit. In fact, the deficit is shrinking.

• After a nine-month break, the blogger known as Puzzle Doctor has returned to his self-imposed task of reviewing, one by one, the more than 40 novels featuring amateur sleuth Ellery Queen. His latest subject is the 1939 book The Dragon’s Teeth (aka The Virgin Heiresses). “So, what to expect from The Dragon’s Teeth?” he teases. “Ellery as an official private eye! A second Ellery Queen! Romance! Murder! Strange clauses in wills! A burst appendix! Mysterious millionaire recluses dying at sea! Chewed pencils! This one has it all!”

• Here’s something I didn’t know: James M. Cain’s 1940s advocacy for an an American Authors’ Authority designed “to give a writer better terms, from publishers, employer, government and everybody else,” was denounced as a communist scheme.

I guess I won’t be shopping at Home Depot anymore.

• Although I much prefer the novel version of Michael Crichton’s The Great Train Robbery (1975), the 1978 big-screen adaptation--which starred Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland, and Lesley-Anne Down--was also pretty darn good as movies go.

• R.I.P., Michael Ansara and Nate Esformes.

Are these really the 10 best Alfred Hitchcock films?

• And I only recently discovered South of Sunset, a 1993 CBS-TV series about Beverly Hills private eyes that somehow slipped by me in its original presentation (probably because CBS cancelled it after one episode). But Mystery*File’s Michael Shonk has posted a good backgrounder on the show, which he says “deserved its quick death.” You can decide for yourself whether that’s true; at least for now, five episodes of the show are available on YouTube and embedded in Shonk’s informative post.

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