Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bullet Points: Well-Loaded Tuesday Edition

• Last night brought word of which books have won House of Crime & Mystery’s Second Annual Readers Choice Awards. Montreal blogger Jacques Filippi had organized it as a vote-by-e-mail competition, with novels and authors that attracted the greatest numbers of endorsements topping the list. “Ballots came in mainly from the USA, UK, and Canada, like last year,” Filippi reports, “but votes in Canada alone almost doubled. There were also many more voters from French Québec and France. And a good chunk came from Australia, Germany, Africa, Norway, and Spain. In total, I’ve received 1,117 ballots (compared to 632 last year).” Among this year’s winners:

-- Best International Crime Novel:
Watching You, by Michael Robotham (Sphere)
-- Best Crime Novel in the United Kingdom:
The Wrath of Angels, by John Connolly (Atria/Emily Bestler Books)
-- Best Crime Novel in the USA:
The Black Box, by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)
-- Best Crime Novel in Canada:
Vigilante Season, by Peter Kirby (Linda Leith)

There are half a dozen other categories in Filippi’s competition, as well. Click here to find the whole lot.

• What with all the Christmas hoopla, I forgot to mention that the winter edition of Plots with Guns has been posted. Stories by Tom Barlow, Marie S. Croswell, Rob Pierce, and others are included.

• Also available now is the 15th issue of Crime Factory. The only disappointing (but inevitable) thing is that this periodical can no longer be read online without charge. As editor Cameron Ashley explains, “Your formerly free PDF download now will cost you $1.99. Your Kindle edition also now costs $1.99. Your print has gone up to $8.99.”

• Sarah Weinman’s excellent piece in the latest issue of The New York Times Magazine, “The Murderer and the Manuscript”--about a convicted killer winning the 2012 St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America Best Private Eye Novel Contest--has received some well-justified acclaim, both online and off. Britain’s The Guardian newspaper gives this synopsis of the tale: “Alaric Hunt, a convicted murderer who has been jailed since 1988, pieced together a vision of the outside world gleaned from episodes of Law and Order and novels to write a serial killer thriller [Cuts Through Bone] that would go on to win him both a literary award and a publishing deal …” But don’t let that brief suffice; read Weinman’s full piece here.

• In another piece for The Guardian, Manchester writer A.K. Nawaz (author of the 2013 e-book The Cotton Harvest) ponders why it is that “the genre of ‘northern [England] crime’--where it’s recognised at all--has never enjoyed the same traction with audiences” as, say, Scottish or Scandinavian/Nordic crime fiction. He notes that it’s “[a] land where kidnapped policemen are brutalised with medieval devices (Val McDermid’s The Mermaids Singing), drugged journalists shoot paedophile business moguls (David Peace’s Red Riding [Quartet]), and single-mum private eyes challenge the criminal underworld (Cath Staincliffe’s Sal Kilkenny series). Truly it’s grim--but for some reason not grim enough for international audiences.”

• My friend Charlie Smyth will be disappointed to hear this: The FX Network crime drama Justified, starring Timothy Olyphant and inspired by Elmore Leonard’s Raylan Givens tales, will reportedly end after Season 6. It’s fifth season just kicked off this month.

• Robin Jarossi surveys the field of TV crime dramas set to air in the UK this year, including Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Honourable Woman, Sofie Grabol’s Fortitude, Dominic Cooper’s Fleming, and Common, the new 90-minute film by Jimmy McGovern of Cracker fame.

• Harper Lee’s To Kill and Mockingbird and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment are the only two obvious crime/mystery tales on Flavorwire’s list of “50 Novels Guaranteed to Make You a Better Person”--“kinder, cleverer, more productive, and a whole lot more open to the experience of others.”

• The forthcoming movie version of Gone Girl will evidently have a dramatically different ending from the 2012 novel, and author Gillian Flynn has no one but herself to blame for that fact.

• Author Hilary Davidson’s remarks on misogyny and violence in crime fiction, made during last year’s Bouchercon, spurred Library Journal to ask her to elaborate on the subject for this post.

• Had it not been for the fact that my wife and I went to see the big-screen film American Hustle this last weekend (a truly exceptional production, with special kudos deserved by Christian Bale and the ever-lovely Amy Adams), I might not have heard about the forthcoming, six-episode Discovery Channel mini-series Klondike, set to debut next Monday, January 20. However, we arrived at the theater early, and had to sit through all of the pre-feature advertisements, one of them promoting Klondike, which the blog Dark Horizons says “follows two childhood best friends who risk everything to pursue their dream of striking it rich during the 1890s gold rush in the brutal Yukon Territory.” (You can see a preview of that mini-series here, with more information available here.) As somebody who’s written a good deal about the Klondike Gold Rush (including here), you can bet that I’ll give this Discovery drama a shot. How about you?

• Norwegian author-musician Jo Nesbø has been recruited to “retell” William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It’s part of a project mounted by the Penguin Random House Group to recruit authors (also including Margaret Atwood and Jeanette Winterson) to reintroduce Shakespeare’s plays to 21st-century audiences. This new Hogarth Shakespeare line of books will debut in 2016 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the “matchless Bard’s” death. One wonders how differently Nesbø might treat the 17th-century source material from what A.J. Hartley and David Hewson already did in their 2012 novelization, Macbeth (Thomas & Mercer).

Mystery Scene’s Oline Cogdill laments that 2014 is “a year in which we will not have a [new] novel by the master,” Elmore Leonard, who perished last summer at age 87. “It just doesn’t seem justified.”

• Mystery Fanfare alerts us to London’s upcoming Nordicana 2014, “a two-day event [February 1-2] for anyone interested in--or obsessed with--Scandinavian crime fiction and drama.”

• I haven’t watched NBC-TV’s Today Show in years, but the blog All Things Law and Order has posted a clip from this morning’s broadcast, in which former co-stars Jill Hennessy, S. Epatha Merkerson, and Elisabeth Rohm reminisce about their participation in that very-long-running NBC crime drama.

• Congratulations to The Newsroom, writer Aaron Sorkin’s political drama, which HBO-TV has renewed for a third and final season.

• I don’t remember the 1982 TV movie Rehearsal for Murder, starring Robert Preston, Lynn Redgrave, and The Avengers’ Patrick Macnee. Yet it was penned by none other than Columbo co-creators Richard Levinson and William Link, and the blog Ontos calls Rehearsal “an ensemble piece with great acting and an ingenious solution.” Luckily, that 96-minute teleflick is available in DVD format as well as through Amazon’s “instant video” program. Don’t expect too much time to pass before I’ve plugged this hole in my experience of Levinson and Link’s work. Read more on the film here.

• Speaking of things I must have, you can add to that roster Mysteries Unlocked: Essays in Honor of Douglas G. Greene, which the book’s editor, Curtis Evans, describes as “a collection of essays in honor of the seventieth birthday of Professor Douglas G. Greene, biographer of the great Golden Age detective novelist John Dickson Carr, head of Crippen & Landru Publishers, and one of the most accomplished and admired figures in mystery genre criticism over the last thirty-five years.” Mysteries Unlocked is due out in July and will feature contributions by Mike Ashley, Jon L. Breen, Tom Nolan, Julia Jones, Martin Edwards, and many others.

• Of the 10 books author Stav Sherez describes as “crime novels in disguise”--works “originally marketed as literary novels but [that] contain all the ingredients, tropes, and page-turning fury of the best crime books”--I am quite embarrassed to admit I’ve read only three. I did see the 1979 film adapted, by John Huston, from Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood, but that probably doesn’t count.

Crimespree Magazine’s Web site has the first lobby poster for the much-anticipated big-screen version of Veronica Mars, about which I wrote in my last news wrap-up.

• And I am sorry to hear that, after seven years in business, the group blog Poe’s Deadly Daughters will close on what would have been Edgar Allan Poe’s 115th birthday, January 19, 2014. “We’ve never stopped having fun,” writes Elizabeth Zelvin, one of Deadly Daughters’ eight “blog sisters, past and present,” “and the pleasure of interacting with our readers has played an enormous part in that. But as 21st-century life gets more and more hectic, reading a favorite blog daily or even weekly has become harder for even the most devoted followers. And writing a 500-800-word post that’s entertaining, informative, and polished every week for seven years--well, do the math: 52 x 7 = 364 posts from each of us. And 364 x 700 words (let’s be conservative and use an estimated average) = 254,800 words per blogger, or the equivalent of 3½ novels apiece.” The site’s contributors are currently producing good-bye posts to mark this occasion. I am pleased to hear that Poe’s Deadly Daughters will remain available here as an archived resource.

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