• Today brought the much-anticipated launch of a new, e-book line of reprints from Black Mask, the classic, 1920-1951 magazine that showcased so much early American hard-boiled fiction. This debut is a joint venture between publishers Mysterious Press and Open Road Media, and Keith Deutsch of Blackmaskmagazine.com. As Don Herron explains in his blog, “Each and every month the plan is to release a new collection of tales from The Mask, vintage stories that haven’t been available for over half a century. You want pulp--and you’ve got an e-reader--then pulp you can get.” The first offerings being introduced are stories by Paul Cain, Norbert Davis, and Steve Fisher, along with a 25-tale collection by Theodore A. Tinsley, Jerry Tracy, Celebrity Reporter. Mysterious Press editor Otto Penzler provides some background on Black Mask (and the difference between hard-boiled detective fiction and noir fiction) in this video.
• Nobody should be surprised to learn that Elmore Leonard was in the midst of producing yet another novel when he died last week. That book is titled Blue Dreams, and according to the Los Angeles Times, it may yet reach bookstore shelves, completed by his author son, Peter Leonard. Blue Dreams “has been described as involving a rogue Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent and a retired bull rider who falls for a movie star,” writes the Times’ Carolyn Kellogg. “Although [the elder] Leonard’s books often had complex, fast-moving plots, they were always driven by character--so we know first who is in the book before we come to learn what they’ll do. That may make things difficult for Peter, who seriously turned his hand to fiction only after he turned 51, after suffering a harsh critique from his father when he was right out of college.”
• While I’m pleased with the coverage The Rap Sheet gave Leonard’s passing last week, it did set me back a bit in terms of keeping up with such basics as the reporting of who received various genre honors. Fortunately, Mystery Fanfare’s Janet Rudolph kept her eyes on those prizes. Click here to see who picked up this year’s Stalker Awards. (One result: The commendation for “Most Eye-Popping Cover” went to Megan Abbott’s Dare Me.) And click here to discover that Sara J. Henry’s A Cold and Lonely Place received the Silver Falchion Award, presented during
this last weekend’s Killer Nashville convention.
• Meanwhile, Rudolph alerts me to the existence of the Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction, newly established by the Women’s National Book Association of New Orleans, and set to be handed out during the 2014 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival (March 19-23). According to the festival’s Facebook page, “The Pinckley Prize for Debut Novel will honor a debut novelist in adult crime fiction, and the Pinckley Prize for Achievement in Crime Fiction will honor an established writer who has created a significant body of work.” Entry forms can be found here.
• And a shortlist of six nominees for the 2013 Bloody Scotland Short Story Competition has been released. They are:
-- “Preacher Man,” by Ben Borland
-- “Bad Luck and Trouble,” by Keith Dumble
-- “A Different Kind of Freedom,” by Carol Hunter
-- “The Jonah,” by Stuart McLean
-- “The Best Dish,” by Mindy Quigley
-- “Bishop,” by Keith B. Walters
Read all of these stories on Bloody Scotland’s Web site, and vote for your favorite. A victor will be named during the festival, which is to be held in Stirling, Scotland, from September 13 to 15.
• Blogger and author Patti Abbott has declared the start of a new flash-fiction challenge. She explains that the theme for this one comes from a 1913 Detroit newspaper headline, “Michigan Man’s Tastes Get Him Into Trouble.” Stories should run
1,000 words or fewer, and are to be posted on your blog on September 26. Click here for more details and to let Abbott know that you’d like to
• So now we have at least a basic description of the plot of Solo, “the new James Bond novel by William Boyd due for release in the UK on
September 26 and the U.S. on October 8, 2013.”
• Luther, the BBC One psychological crime drama starring Idris Elba, is set to end its run after Season 3 (which begins showing on BBC America on September 3).
• March 2014 may seem like a long ways off, but it’s really not. So if you have been thinking that you’d to attend next year’s Left Coast Crime convention in historic Monterey, California (March 20-23), remember to register soon.
• The end of a motoring legend.
• Wow, I never thought this would happen: Warner Home Video has scheduled the DVD debut of James Garner’s distinctive, 1971-1972 Western TV series, Nichols.
“Slated as an MOD (manufacture on demand) release for September 10th, Nichols--The Complete Series is priced at $49.95 SRP,” reports TV Shows on DVD. Garner has periodically remarked that Nichols--which found him playing the very reluctant sheriff of a small Arizona town in 1914--was one of his favorite boob-tube ventures. But as he told me in a 2011 interview, its sponsor didn’t back the NBC series strongly enough and it was scheduled in conflict with ratings giant Marcus Welby, M.D. “I think Nichols was ahead of its time,” said Garner. “I put it right up there with Maverick and Rockford, even though it ran less than a year. It wasn’t like anything else on the air at the time.” I actually purchased a bookleg copy of Nichols a few years back, but because the color on it is so poor, you can guarantee I’ll be in line to buy Warner’s coming commercial release.
• Congratulations are in order for three blogs I visit frequently. Booksteve’s Library, written by Steve Thompson, celebrates eight years of publication. Bill Selnes’ Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan has
produced its 500th entry. And Randy Johnson’s fine blog, Not the Baseball Pitcher, just racked up its 2,000th post.
• This afternoon I posted the second installment of a new series in my book art-oriented blog, Killer Covers. Titled “Two-fer Tuesday,” it’s a twice-monthly pairing of book covers that just seem to go together. You’ll find today’s overexposed entry here.
• It’s about time Ian Rankin took a breather.
• Get ready for next month’s launch of Crime and Science Radio, a bimonthly Saturday morning Internet program that’s to be hosted by authors D.P. Lyle and Jan Burke.
• As Ivan G. Shreve Jr. notes, announcer and actor Larry Thor--who starred in the 1949-1954 radio crime drama Broadway’s My Beat--“was born ninety-seven years ago on this date ... in an Icelandic village in Lundar, Manitoba, Canada.”
• And here’s a bit of nostalgia: Mystery*File’s Michael Shonk looks back at the six-hour, 1978 CBS-TV miniseries The Dain Curse, based on Dashiell Hammett’s 1929 novel of the same name.
That production evidently scored three Emmy Award nominations, and its
script walked away with the 1978 Edgar Award for Best Television Feature or Miniseries. Yet it’s hard to imagine why it received such accolades. I don’t remember
whether I watched the miniseries all the way through when it was originally broadcast, but I did rent it a few years back ... and found it downright tedious, even
though I enjoyed James Coburn’s portrayal of The Continental Op (who’s given
the name “Hamilton Nash” here and seems as much based on Hammett himself as he
does on that author’s first series detective).