Monday, October 14, 2013

Bullet Points: Columbus Day Edition

• Congratulations to Raven’s Head Press, a new independent publisher, on its launch and the debut of its first book, Gilbert Collins’ The Starkenden Quest, which was originally released back in 1925. “Plans are to reissue [works of] adventure, crime, and supernatural fiction that exemplify the kind of gripping and exciting stories published in the long-gone pulp magazines and the vintage paperback imprints like Dell Mapbacks and Gold Medal,” part-time bookseller J.F. Norris explains in his fine blog. He adds: “We are currently looking at books by Dorothy B. Hughes, Ramona Stewart, Lionel White, Hugh Wheeler (aka Patrick Quentin and Q Patrick), Samuel Taylor, and Walter Van Tillburg Clark. We are also in negotiations to obtain exclusive American reprint rights for the reissue of the books of Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac.” Norris, who contributed the introduction to this new edition of Starkeden, is offering two free copies of the novel through a contest, but you’ll have to act fast to have a shot at winning one: entries will be accepted only through Wednesday of this week. Click here to participate.

• Meanwhile, critic and editor Mike Ripley tells me that Ostara Publishing is readying new editions of two novels featuring Margery Allingham’s aristocratic sleuth, Albert Campion. Both were penned by her husband, journalist-designer Philip Youngman Carter, after Allingham’s demise in 1966. Those books, as you’ll see from this post in the blog Tipping My Fedora, are Mr. Campion’s Farthing (1969) and Mr. Campion’s Falcon (1970). Learn more about Carter here.

• Do we really need a new version of Remington Steele, the 1982-1978 NBC-TV comedy-drama that launched Pierce Brosnan’s cinematic career? According to Deadline Hollywood, the program “is getting a next-generation reboot, this time as a half-hour comedy.” The reboot, we’re told, “follows Olivia Holt, the daughter of Remington Steele and Laura Holt, as she reopens the once-world-famous Remington Steele Detective Agency--only to fall into the same hilarious, action-packed, romantic entanglements of her parents.” Now, I was very fond of the original Remington Steele, primarily because I enjoyed watching lovely Stephanie Zimbalist--who played Los Angeles private eye Laura Holt--try to manage the unmanageable, fiction-come-to-life Steele (Brosnan), while also solving crimes every week. (I enjoyed, too, the show’s opening sequence, with music by Henry Mancini.) But hasn’t history already proved the sheer folly of trying to restart classic boob-tube shows? Aside from Battlestar Gallactica and Hawaii Five-O, such attempts have been disastrous. Need I mention Charlie’s Angels, Knight Rider, Ironside, or the worst idea of all, a non-James Garner resurrection of The Rockford Files? Perhaps it would be kindest to dump any “new” Remington Steele series--especially one with a stupid laugh track and shallow crime plots (for what else can you expect from a half-hour show?)--right off the bat. Before a cast is even hired or dollar one spent.

• Here’s a death I failed to mention: Henry F. (“Hank”) Simms, an Oklahoma native who went on to become a familiar announcer on many of producer Quinn Martin’s TV crime dramas (including The FBI, The Streets of San Francisco, and Barnaby Jones), died on August 7 of this year in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Bill Koenig, managing editor of The HMSS Weblog, alerted me to Simms’ passing and includes in this post more of the deceased’s biographical details, along with some clips of the voice work he did over the years. Simms was 90 years old. “I’m surprised [his death] hasn’t gotten more attention, but that’s how things go,” Koenig concludes. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has posted its own belated Simms obituary here.

• I was very sorry to hear that New York-born novelist Oscar Hijuelos--who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1989 novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love--died on Sunday at the youthful age of 62. In addition to Mambo Kings, I was also delighted with his 2002 work, A Simple Habana Melody, and have Beautiful Maria of My Soul (2010) on a shelf, still waiting to be enjoyed. More on Hijuelos here.

• When Dorchester Publishing severed ties with Charles Ardai’s Hard Case Crime line of paperback novels back in 2010, it also seemed to end Ardai’s parallel series of adventure tales featuring Gabriel Hunt, six of which had by then seen print. Hard Case went on to strike a deal with Titan Books that has greatly extended the line. But only now does word come--from James Reasoner, who wrote one of the Hunt installments (Hunt at the Well of Eternity)--that new editions of the Hunt titles “are on the way.” Unfortunately, those six reissued works won’t carry their original, pulpy covers, illustrated by Glen Orbik (and still to be appreciated in this post). However, Reasoner insists “the new covers are pretty snazzy, too.”

UPDATE: I e-mailed Charles Ardai earlier today to ask whether there might be more Gabriel Hunt stories in the future. His response:
I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of more Hunt books. Certainly if the original six prove popular with readers in their reissued form we’ll have an incentive to do more. I have no shortage of plot ideas, if it comes to that. (And if I ever ran out, I know James and my other fellow Hunt-ers have even more fertile imaginations than I do.)

It’s entirely a question of whether readers want more. It would be fun if they did.
• James Ellroy is returning to the 1940s with four crime novels, beginning with Perfidia, due out from Knopf in the fall of 2014.

My own humble remarks about William Boyd’s Solo are included in this sampling of critical comments on that new James Bond novel.

• I haven’t yet got around to reading Kathleen Kent’s new Western thriller, The Outcasts. But author-blogger Erica Mailman has posted this interview with Kent that, although too damn short, nonetheless heightens my curiosity about the novel.

Is the Republican Party flirting with suicide?

• The Crimespree Magazine blog offers a preview of Mob City, the “three-week television event,” due to begin on TNT on Wednesday, December 4. That drama is based on John Buntin’s 2009 non-fiction work, L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City. After last year’s Gangster Squad, some viewers might be leery of another tale rooted in Los Angeles’ criminal past, but the clip from Mob City certainly makes this new production look promising.

• And A Shroud of Thoughts writer Terence Towles Canote has put together an excellent backgrounder on Four Star Productions, which was once responsible for producing such classic small-screen series as Richard Diamond, Private Detective, Burke’s Law, The Rogues, Harry Guardino’s Monty Nash, The Rifleman, and The Big Valley.


Naomi Johnson said...

No, please, no. Can't they just leave me with fond memories of 'Remington Steele'?

J F Norris said...

Thanks so much for linking to my post about Raven's Head Press. Every bit of P.R. helps!