Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bullet Points: Typewriter Nostalgia Edition

Sorry for the less-than-consistent postings this week, but I have learned that my day-job is going to end in a couple of months. As a consequence, I’m having to figure out how to replace that work with something else. If you know of an opening for a high-quality editor--one that doesn’t require my relocating from Seattle--please let me know. Now on to another collection of crime-fiction news items that don’t necessarily justify separate posts:

• Although she tried to hide behind a pseudonym, at least initially, British author J.K. Rowling seems now to have embraced her role as a crime novelist. Following up on The Cuckoo’s Calling, which she published last year as “Robert Galbraith,” Rowling has happily announced the coming of a sequel, Silkworm, in June of this year. “According to the novel’s publisher, Little, Brown, Silkworm will find [series sleuth Cormoran] Strike hired to investigate the disappearance of writer Owen Quine,” reports The Christian Science Monitor. “His wife, who hires Strike, believes Owen has simply left for a few days and wants Strike to locate him, but the detective soon discovers that Quine’s whereabouts aren’t quite so easily solved and that the writer recently finished a book that contains thinly veiled and nasty versions of just about all his acquaintances.”

• February is Black History Month in the United States, and author John F. Allen is celebrating with a look back at the life and work of African-American crime writer Chester Himes (Cotton Comes to Harlem, A Rage in Harlem, etc.)

• A posthumous honor for Rex Stout: The New York Center for the Book has selected the renowned creator of detective characters Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin for induction into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame (even though he was actually born in Indiana in 1886). The ceremony--which will also honor half a dozen other inductees--is scheduled to take place on Tuesday evening, June 3, 2014, at the Princeton Club on 43rd Street in Manhattan. “For cost and further details regarding the dinner,” advises a news release, “check the Wolfe Pack Web site,, or send an e-mail to the Wolfe Pack ‘Werowance’ (‘Indian Chief,’ as Archie addressed Mr. Wolfe in Too Many Cooks), Ira Brad Matetsky, at”

• Who remembers this 1970-1971 TV crime drama?

• If you’re planning to attend the 2014 Left Coast Crime convention, to be held in Monterey, California, from March 20 to 23, be sure to check out this tentative program schedule and this “nearly final panel schedule.” I wish I could attend.

• Thank goodness for The Gumshoe Site and its longtime writer, Jiro Kimura, who always seems to catch the deaths of prominent people when I miss noticing them for one reason or another. Kimura recently mentioned the passing of Eric Bercovici, who was
the writer-producer of TV movies and miniseries and co-won an Emmy for the NBC epic Shogun with author James Clavell. He penned TV scripts for I, Spy, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible, [and] Hawaii Five-O, among others.” He also wrote three crime novels: Wolftrap (Antheneum, 1979); So Little Cause for Caroline (Antheneum, 1981); and Tread Lightly, My Dear (Birch Lane, 1990). So Little Cause, a private eye novel set in California, was turned into the 1982 TV movie One Shoe Makes It Murder, starring Robert Mitchum. Its TV script writer, Felix Culver, was nominated for the 1983 Edgar in the TV feature category.
You can watch a clip from One Shoe Makes It Murder here. Bercovici was 80 years old and died at his home in Honolulu, Hawaii.

• For The Philadelphia Inquirer, Peter Rozovsky talks with Julie M. Rivett, Dashiell Hammett’s granddaughter and the co-editor (with Richard Layman) of The Hunter and Other Stories, “a new volume of previously uncollected and/or unpublished writing” by Hammett.

• This is International Typewriter Appreciation Month!

• Shotmag Confidential reports that “AM Heath, in association with The Writers’ Workshop” has announced the creation of “Criminal Lines 2014, a new crime-writing prize open to unagented, debut authors, born or resident in the UK and Ireland.”

From The New York Times: “Harper Lee, the author of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ is settling a lawsuit filed last year against a museum in her Alabama hometown claiming that it had sold merchandise featuring her name and the title of her novel without compensation.” You can read more about that settlement here.

If only I had $20,000 to $30,000 to spare …

• With the first season of HBO-TV’s dramatic new series, True Detective, set to conclude its U.S. run on March 9, it might be a good idea to check out BuzzFeed’s list of “dark, weird, and southern gothic books,” prepared especially for fans of the show. Even if True Detective is renewed for another season (and my guess is, it will be), there’s still going to be a whole lot of time in between for viewers to get better acquainted with the mythology and philosophy behind the series. These books might help you fill the hours.

• It seems there’s a great deal being written about True Detective lately. The always-captivating Michelle Monaghan talks with The Playlist about her role as Maggie Hart, the wife of Woody Harrelson’s Detective Martin “Marty” Hart. In The New Republic, Isaac Chotiner says the series’ detractors are just plain wrong. And Chris Philpott, TV critic for The New Zealand Herald, writes that “if you’re not watching True Detective yet, you should be.”

• Or is NBC’s Hannibal really the program to watch? Matt Zoller Seitz tells the readers of New York magazine that it’s “the best drama you’ll find on network TV.” He elaborates:
Drawn from the fiction of Thomas Harris, this brooding drama from Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies) seemed a bad idea on paper--especially if, like me, you found the Howard Roark-like Hannibal the Cannibal more tiresome with each book and movie sequel and the Diabolical Serial Killer genre intellectually and aesthetically bankrupt, with a few exceptions. But in practice, this program is serenely unlike anything else on TV or anything that ever has been on TV. Although it’s intricately plotted and packed with strong actors playing psychologically complex human beings--including Caroline Dhavernas as psychiatry professor Alana Bloom, who adores and wants to save Will, and Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford, the FBI’s agent-in-charge of the Behavioral Science Unit--it goes against the grain of so much so-called quality TV, in that it is not interested in being a mere script-delivery device.
• I mostly disagree with Flavorwire’s new rundown of novels that we should stop calling “classics.” But I think it’s worth checking out, nonetheless--if only to marvel at how dismissive some critics can be of writing superior than their own.

Ed Gorman champions “old” fiction writers--and does it well.

• Damn! I wish I’d thought of this first: For everybody who’s been tuning in so hungrily to watch televised events from the Winter Olympics in Sochi, the Open Road Media blog highlights four “tales of historical intrigue [and] high-stakes espionage” set in Russia--in addition to a collection of Cold War zombie stories.

• Congratulations to our good friend Mike Ripley, who writes the “Getting Away with Murder” column for Shots. As blogger Ayo Onatade notes, “A new Telos Crime edition of his 1989 novel Angel Touch has been published this week [in the UK] to mark the 25th anniversary of the title winning the first-ever Last Laugh Award, created by the Crime Writers’ Association to celebrate comedy in crime writing. Nowadays sponsored by Goldsboro Books and presented during the annual CrimeFest convention, winners of the Last Laugh have included Carl Hiaasen, Janet Evanovich, Christopher Fowler and Ruth Dudley Edwards.” You can order Angel Touch here.

• I haven’t given much thought to Richard Hoyt’s Trotsky’s Run in many years. However, I just happened upon Ben Boulden’s new review of that 1982 novel in Gravetapping. “Trotsky’s Run is as smooth an espionage novel as you will read,” Boulden says. “The prose is sparse and economical. It is long on narrative and short on dialogue. The plot is crisp, complicated, and at times outlandish--although not in bad way, but rather in a mildly satirical manner that feeds off extreme cold war paranoia.” I remember the novel fondly myself.

• Are books that receive awards more likely to be reviewed negatively online than other works? The question is addressed here and here.

• You haven’t forgotten about Matt Houston, have you?

• Louise Doughty, the author of Apple Tree Yard and other novels, shares with The Guardian a list of her 10 favorite courtroom dramas. Please forgive the fact that this list is offered as one of those gimmicky, time-consuming slide shows.

Patrick Stewart continues to be cool.

• Finally, it’s a shame that newspapers and so many other publications these days have made the cost-cutting decision to reduce the size of their proofreading staffs--or do away with them altogether. That’s the reason you now see typographical errors plaguing the print media. I’m pleased to learn this woman has stepped up to fix the problem, at least in Florida’s St. Augustine Record, but it’s unfortunate that she has to do it on a volunteer basis. Why must intelligent readers accept poorly copy-edited and proofread material, in order that corporate owners can pocket bigger profits? You can read more thoughts on the importance of copy editing here.


RJR said...

I remember The Most De3adly Game from when it first came out, and I LOVED ONE SHOES MAKES IT MURDER, With Mitchum and Angie Dickinson.


michael said...

Those who don't remember The Most Deadly Game might forgive my shameless plug and check my review of the series.

Upstate Crippler said...

I had completely forgotten about The Most Deadly Game. I was ten years old when it was televised and I loved it. I was reading The Hardy Boys and Doc Savage novels at the time and something about that show coincided with what enjoyment I was receiving from reading those type of mysteries. The Most Deadly Game was also the gateway drug that led me to all the other mystery shows - Mannix, Rockford, Toma, McMillan & Wife and Tenspeed & Brownshoe I remember as particular favorites. I don't know how many ten year old kids were watching those shows but I was full of pride that I was watching such "grownup" shows. Thank you for reviving a happy memory.

Kristopher said...

Sorry to hear about the job situation. I will keep my ears open here at Johns Hopkins University Press. You never know.