Sunday, February 02, 2014

Bullet Points: Super Bowl Sunday Edition

• Wow, Shotsmag Confidential blogger Ayo Onatade was really not impressed with this weekend’s Nordicana event in London, celebrating Scandinavian crime fiction and drama. “Would I go again?” she muses in this post. “I don’t think so unless the event has a radical overhaul. It was the worst event I have ever been to in years and it is disappointing that one has to say so. I couldn’t even be bothered to turf myself out of bed to attend the second day, even though there were a couple of films that I wanted to see, as I had been unable to do so on the first day.”

• UK critic-author Mike Ripley is up with the February number of his “Getting Away with Murder” column for Shots. His comments--both instructive and droll--cover material ranging from publisher Hodder’s recent party for its authors and the 1967 guide book Deighton’s London Dossier, to “detectives solving crimes from their sickbeds” and upcoming works by John Harvey, Helen Giltrow, and Mason Cross. You will find the entirety of Ripley’s column here.

• I’m extremely sorry to hear that 65-year-old Swedish writer Henning Mankell, author of the Kurt Wallander detective novels and other works, has been diagnosed with cancer.

• It’s been a long time since I last heard of Thrilling Stories of the Railway, a peculiarly collectible volume by Reverend Victor L. Whitechurch, published in 1912. But now that I understand it contains what Ellery Queen called “the first of the specialty detectives”--Thorpe Hazell, a health nut and expert on railroad doings--I’ll have to keep my eyes open for reprints of that collection. Benedict Cumberbatch of Sherlock fame read adaptations of the Hazell tales for BBC Radio 7 in late 2012, but those shows can no longer be accessed.

• Facebook friend Paul Bishop points me toward this video interview with Gary Phillips, the creator of Ivan Monk, Luke Warfield, and many other crime-fiction characters. During the course of it, Phillips identifies one of his favorite crime-fiction lines, admits that he would love a crack someday at penning a novel starring Robert B. Parker’s Hawk, and talks about a couple of forthcoming e-books, including The Anti-Gravity Steal. Again, you can watch the full video here.

January Magazine picked upan epic infographic” purporting to show the best books of the 21st century--well, I guess the best so far. Or the best, according to the people who constructed that chart. The rest of us might not agree with all of the choices; I, for instance, would have nixed both Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian and Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, just to begin. Yet there remain enough decent selections--several of them found in the non-fiction section (The Devil in the White City and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks--yay!)--to make perusing this graphic worthwhile.

• R.I.P., actors Maximilian Schell and Christopher Jones.

• Let us bid adieu also to Philip Seymour Hoffman. The 46-year-old performer--who first entered my personal radar with his role in the 2009 film Pirate Radio--was found dead in his New York apartment earlier today, the victim of what was likely a drug overdose. You’ll find tributes to Hoffman here, here, here, and here. And click here to read The New York Times’ obituary.

• Chilean writer Isabelle Allende is receiving more than a bit of grief for dissing crime fiction (“I’m not a fan of mysteries,” she told National Public Radio last week) at the same time as she’s promoting a new San Francisco-set crime novel of her own, Ripper (Harper). Read Erin Mitchell’s response to her remarks here, and Mystery Scene contributor Oline Cogdill’s here.

• With the notable exception of Salma Hayek’s super-seductive snake dance, I was not a fan of Quentin Tarantino’s 1996 crime/vampire flick, From Dusk Till Dawn. So I’m surprised to see that it has spawned a soon-to-premiere (on March 11) American horror television series. If you don’t believe me, watch the trailer here.

• Frank Bill, author of the 2013 novel Donnybrook, has a new short story in Beat to a Pulp titled “Life of Salvage.”

• Was Breaking Bad really the best TV show ever made?

• What does our continuing obsession with fictional sleuth Sherlock Holmes tell us about ourselves? That we are, as Esquire columnist Stephen Marche puts it, “branding whores, rampantly violent, and trapped in a technologically enabled loneliness.” Uh ... OK.

• Finally, if you can tear yourself away from today’s Super Bowl game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos, consider the inspiration for the Seahawks team logo. Go Hawks!


Naomi Johnson said...

I had heard about Schell and Hoffman, but not about Christopher Jones. When I read about him dying I could feel my youth passing before my eyes. "FOURTEEN OR FIGHT!"

J F Norris said...

Thanks for the link to my post on Whitechurch, Jeff.

I was really shocked by Hoffman's death. I used to work with his brother Gordon, a playwright, who lived in Chicago back in the 1990s. He had the same energy and raw talent as his brother Philip. Gone way too soon. Yet another gifted performer lost to the ravages of drugs.