Sunday, December 08, 2013

Bullet Points: Freezing in Seattle Edition

• It was announced on Friday, during the annual Black Orchid Banquet of the Wolfe Pack in New York City, that Susan Thibadeau won the 2013 Black Orchid Novella Award for “The Discarded Spouse.” As Les Blatt explains in Classic Mysteries, that commendation is “presented in conjunction with Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine [and] given to the author of a novella, the intermediate-length form employed so effectively so often by Rex Stout for his Nero Wolfe stories. The award includes a $1,000 prize, with the award-winning novella to be published next summer in AHMM.” During the course of those same festivities, Connecticut author Chris Knopf was presented with the 2013 Nero Award for his standalone novel Dead Anyway (Permanent Press). It was announced in September that he’d captured the Nero.

• Tonight brings the debut of Bonnie & Clyde, a new two-part, four-hour teleflick dramatizing the rise and bloody fall of Depression-era outlaws Clyde Barrow (played here by Emile Hirsch) and Bonnie Parker (Holliday Grainger). The preview--viewable here--demonstrates considerable potential, but I’m not expecting the boob tube to do a better job with the basic story than Arthur Penn did in his 1967 film, Bonnie and Clyde. This new picture is set for simultaneous broadcasting tonight on A&E, The History Channel, and Lifetime, beginning at 9 p.m.

• One of the more interesting and thoughtful selections of “best crime novels” from 2013 is delivered in the Barnes & Noble Review by Anna Mundow, a longtime contributor to The Irish Times and The Boston Globe. Among her less-than-conventional recommendations are The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton, and Jim Crace’s Harvest.

• Meanwhile, The New York Times100 Notable Books of 2013” rundown features several works that could fit into the field of crime, mystery, and thriller fiction, including Herman Koch’s The Dinner and Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge.

• Laura Wilson chooses her own favorite crime novels of 2013--including Derek B. Miller’s Norwegian by Night and Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites--for The Guardian.

• At least two crime-fictiony works make an appearance in Slate’s “best books” picks for the year: Cartwheel, by Jennifer DuBois, and The Silent Wife, by A.S.A. Harrison.

• And one more post along this same line: Goodreads has announced the results of its Choice Awards 2013 contest. As was expected, the picks made by online voters are unremarkable, but they’re here.

• The Gumshoe Site’s Jiro Kimura notes the passing, on December 5, of 82-year-old English author Colin Wilson, who he says “became famous at 26 when his first book, The Outsider (Gollancz, 1956), hit the street … He was a prolific writer of philosophy, literature, history, and the occult. He also wrote science fiction as well as crime fiction, including Ritual in the Dark (Gollancz, 1960), The Glass Cage (Barker 1966), and The Schoolgirl Murder Case (Hart-Davis, 1974), which is the first of the Inspector Gregory Saltfleet series.”

• Among the subjects covered by Mike Ripley in his December “Getting Away with Murder” column for Shots: Peter Guttridge’s recent public interrogation of Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5; the sadly forgotten works of mid-20th-century American novelist Charles Williams; publisher Orion’s “Murder Room” initiative to make classic but out-of-print works of crime fiction available again in e-book format; and the release of David Suchet’s Poirot and Me, “as neat and fastidious a memoir as one might expect from Hercule Poirot.” In addition, Ripley publicizes the winners of his 2013 Shots of the Year Awards, which he’d previously posted here.

In Criminal Element, Robert K. Lewis applauds the noir aspects of David Janssen’s 1974-1976 TV private-eye series, Harry O.

• I’d somehow missed hearing, until yesterday, about AMC-TV’s historical espionage series, Turn, which is set in the summer of 1778 and based on Alexander Rose’s 2006 book, Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring. Wikipedia explains that this program will focus around “a New York farmer and his childhood friends [who] form an unlikely group of spies, called the The Culper Ring, who eventually turn the tide during the American Revolutionary War.” Turn is scheduled to debut next year. Click here to watch a preview.

• Speaking of previews, here’s one for Death Comes to Pemberley, the three-part BBC-TV drama based on P.D. James’ 2011 novel of the same name. UK viewers can begin enjoying Pemberley on December 26 of this year, but Americans will have to be content with the promise that PBS-TV stations plan to air the program sometime in 2014.

• Rob W. Hart, the associate publisher of, has compiled a list of his top 10 crime-fiction clichés for the Mulholland Books blog. Almost as interesting are the additional chestnuts suggested in that post’s Comments section.

Underground London is endlessly fascinating.

Declan Burke interviews Lee Child, who he says “is acutely aware of how long [his series protagonist, Jack] Reacher has been on the road, and how implausible his journey grows with each succeeding story.” Well, now we know.

• I’m pleased to hear that the NBC-TV crime drama The Blacklist, starring James Spader and Megan Boone, has been renewed for “a full 22-episode second season.”

• Crime Time Preview has launched a series of posts focusing on “crime shows that blow us away.” His first of 50 picks is Copper, the BBC America historical drama that was cancelled in September.

Here’s a fun Australian condom ad that’s unlikely ever to be shown in the persistently prudish United States.

• Hurray! The UK TV series Foyle’s War will return in 2015.

• Finally, make a note of this: On Tuesday, January 7, PBS-TV’s American Experience series will broadcast a two-hour episode titled “The Poisoner’s Handbook,” based on Deborah Blum’s terrific 2010 non-fiction book, The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York. Here’s the news release synopsis of that show: “In 1918, on the brink of becoming the largest metropolis in the world, New York City hired Charles Norris as its first scientifically trained medical examiner. Over the course of a decade and a half, Norris and his extraordinarily driven and talented chief toxicologist, Alexander Gettler, turned forensic chemistry into a formidable science, sending impatient heirs, jilted lovers, and desperate debtors to the electric chair.” You’ll find a preview of the show here. American Experience begins at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

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