Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bullet Points: Shiver Me Timbers Edition

Bouchercon 2013 began today in Albany, New York. Although I shall once more not be attending this annual convention of crime writers and fans, The Rap Sheet’s chief British correspondent, Ali Karim, is on hand in the New York capital to take photographs, report the names of award winners, keep tabs on doings throughout the four-day event, and--I presume--spend plenty of quality time in the nearest bar, sampling gin with friends new and old. Stay tuned to this page for Bouchercon updates throughout the weekend.

• By the way, if any Bouchercon attendees want to brush up a bit on Albany’s criminal past, they might start with this story about an 1827 murder at a “stately mansion” overlooking the Hudson River.

• I haven’t seen the NBC-TV series Kingston: Confidential since it first aired back in 1976. But over the last few years I’ve started looking around on the Web for downloaded episodes or even clips from that show, which featured Raymond Burr as R.B. Kingston, the editor in chief/troubleshooter for an international news media conglomerate. What did I get for my troubles? Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Yesterday, though, I stumbled across the opening sequence from the series on YouTube, and have now added it to The Rap Sheet’s YouTube page. You can go directly to the Kingston: Confidential intro here. Now, if somebody would only release that Burr series on DVD ...

This show, though, doesn’t register with me at all.

• I’m pleased to say that I have read most of the works on novelist Stav Sherez’s list, in Shots, of “The 10 Best Crime Novels You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of.” The exceptions are Glen Duncan’s Love Remains and Barry Gifford’s Southern Nights, neither of which I recall ever seeing in bookshops.

• Meanwhile, the Classic Film and TV Café has posted its selections of “The Five Best TV Detectives.” There are no surprises here, though I would probably have substituted some character with a bit more grittiness--say, Lieutenant Mike Torello (Dennis Farina) of Crime Story, Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson) of Miami Vice, or Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) of Longmire--for Angela Lansbury’s Jessica Fletcher.

• Two birthdays worth celebrating today: Scottish actor David McCallum (The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Invisible Man, NCIS) turns 80, while Batman’s Adam West will be blowing out 85 candles on his own birthday cake. I wish them both well.

• It’s about time Bob Newhart won an Emmy!

• Thanks to correspondent Nancie Clare, The Rap Sheet had last weekend’s Bloody Scotland festival well covered. But now the blogger who styles herself “Crime Thriller Girl” has begun weighing in with her own series of recollections from that convention. Click here to read about her experiences on Day 1.

• This may be something that only an editor could love. But, boy, I sure do love it. In his blog, Past Offences, Rich Westwood analyzes the correct spelling of whodunit/whodunnit and looks at the history of that term. The short answer seems to be that Americans (like me) prefer the one-n version, while Brits like the two-n style.

• Something to enjoy during this weekend’s downtime:The Floater,” the premiere episode of 87th Precinct, a 1961-1962 NBC-TV drama based on Ed McBain’s detective novels.

R.I.P. Richard Safarian, who directed episodes of The Wild Wild West, I Spy, and other 1960s TV espionage series.

• I’m not a big fan of James Patterson’s thriller fiction, but he won me over with this news. According to the Los Angeles Times,
Bestselling author James Patterson wants to support independent bookstores, and he’s putting his money where his heart is. On Monday he pledged to give $1 million to independent bookstores in the next year.

“We’re making this transition to e-books, and that’s fine and good and terrific and wonderful, but we’re not doing it in an organized, sane, civilized way. So what’s happening right now is a lot of bookstores are disappearing," Patterson told CBS’ This Morning.

Patterson says he hopes the funds will support everything from raises for staff who haven’t gotten them in years to larger projects. What’s essential is that the bookstores have a viable business model and that their shops include a children’s section.

People interested in learning more can fill out a form on Patterson’s website.
• Issue No. 14 of Crime Factory is now available. It includes an interview with Peter Corris, author of the Cliff Hardy private-eye novels, as well as Peter Dragovich’s look back at the film made from one of my all-time favorite Western novels, Ron Hansen’s The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford (1983). Oh, and too-infrequent Rap Sheet contributor Kevin Burton Smith has a short story in this issue, “The Peach-Streaked Blouse.”

This is a great photo of the young John le Carré. Can there be any doubt that he was cut out to write espionage fiction for a living?

Happy 80th birthday this month to Kirkus Reviews!

• And happy third anniversary to The Nick Carter & Carter Brown Blog and its compiler, “Scott” from Denver, Colorado.

• I’m most pleased to see that Criminal Element’s Leslie Gilbert Elman has taken up the task of reviewing the current season of Foyle’s War, the historical whodunit starring Michael Kitchen and Honeysuckle Weeks. Her write-up about “The Eternity Ring,” last Sunday night’s installment can be enjoyed here. Foyle’s War will continue this Sunday, September 22, on PBS-TV’s Masterpiece Mystery! series with an episode titled “The Cage.”

• And yes, it’s Talk Like a Pirate Day. Time to get your aaaargh! on.

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