Sunday, May 25, 2014

Bullet Points: Eighth Anniversary Edition

Believe it or not, I forgot about The Rap Sheet’s anniversary last week. This blog marked the end of its eighth year in business on Thursday, May 22. In previous years, I’ve made a big production of these milestones. But I was too involved over the last several days in putting together my piece about eight decades having passed since Bonnie and Clyde were killed, as well as a column to be posted in Kirkus Reviews this coming Tuesday. The Rap Sheet’s anniversary … well, it simply slipped my mind. But I ought not let the occasion pass without at least thanking everybody who reads and comments on this blog, and especially those people who have been kind enough to pitch a few dollars into the pot now and then to keep it going. It’s astounding to think that I launched The Rap Sheet way back in May 2006, and have since benefited from contributions by such talented folks as Linda L. Richards, Ali Karim, and the other “Usual Suspects” to enhance its Web presence.

Now on with this weekend’s edition of quick newsy hits:

• Crime-fiction blogs come and go, but some of them go … and then come back eventually! Two examples: Cullen Gallagher’s Pulp Serenade, which went dormant in December 2012, only to suddenly kick back into gear (while I wasn’t paying attention) in late April; and Zachary Klein’s Just Sayin’, which the author put on hiatus last December, but which he promises to reinvigorate tomorrow. Welcome back, guys!

Memorial Day mysteries for your holiday reading pleasure.

• I was honored a few months ago to be asked to contribute to the seventh issue of Black Scat Review, a publication edited by “Norman Conquest,” better known as Derek Pell. Since the theme of the issue was going to be “Lit Noir,” I decided to compose an essay about how I first became interested in crime fiction, and how that curiosity provoked my subsequent obsession with vintage detective yarns (and their often-beautiful covers). The “Lit Noir” issue, finally released late last week, also includes work by Kelli Stanley, John Nickle, Michael Hemmingson, and Michelle Gray. You can purchase a copy of Black Scat Review for yourself here, in either print or digital formats.

• Speaking of Conquest/Pell, he’s celebrating this holiday weekend on his Facebook page with what he describes as “a marathon (some might say orgy) of posted excerpts from my unpublished manuscript Missing Mysteries: A Pictorial History of Nonexistent Mysteries (1840-2013). [It’s] a 200-paged monster, featuring rare cover art and descriptions, and covering nearly 100 little-known subgenres.” If you’re not a “friend” of the author, you can still check out Missing Mysteries here.

In a fun piece for Criminal Element, Edward A. Grainger (aka David Cranmer) offers a list of 10 fictional modern cowboys endowed with grit, including Raylan Givens from Justified, Walt Longmire from Longmire, and Sam McCloud from McCloud.

• That same blog hosts Jake Hinkson’s list of books that should be of particular interest to fledgling film noir geeks.

• Fears that Edgar Allan Poe’s old home, long an attraction in Baltimore, Maryland--and a National Landmark--would not reopen came to naught yesterday, when the residence welcomed back visitors.

• Really, another Bonnie and Clyde film? My recent focus on that pair of Depression-era outlaws led me to this story from The Wrap, which says that “Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke and X-Men actor Nicholas Hoult will play [the bank-robbing duo] … in [director] Michael Sucsy’s Go Down Together,” a picture adapted from Jeff Guinn’s thoroughly engrossing 2009 non-fiction book of the same name. Who knows how this latest cinematic interpretation of the Bonnie Parker-Clyde Barrow adventure will turn out (and whether it will ever be released), but I’m not encouraged by production notes saying that “Bonnie Parker was a prostitute before joining up with and eventually going down in a hail of bullets with Barrow.” Guinn’s contention that Bonnie may have offered sex for pay prior to her criminal escapades has been strongly denied by her niece, and is only mentioned in passing in Guinn’s book. That the filmmakers emphasize this allegation makes me think the production Sucsy has in mind will be no less sensationalized and distorted than its predecessors. Too bad.

• More promising entertainment might be had from The Escape Artist, a British drama/thriller starring David Tennant and scheduled to be broadcast on PBS-TV’s Masterpiece, beginning on Sunday, June 15. Although it showed in the UK as a three-part miniseries, Masterpiece is offering The Escape Artist in two parts. Find out more about this program and watch a preview in Mystery Fanfare.

• Anybody want to buy Dracula’s bathroom-less castle?

• Being a longtime fan of South African novelist James McClure, creator of the Apartheid-era Tromp Kramer-Mickey Zondi series, I was happy to read in Peter Rozovsky’s Detectives Without Borders that “a collection of McClure’s short stories and scripts,” titled God It Was Fun, is now available. Unfortunately, I only see an e-book version of this work, which isn’t going to cut it with someone like me, who hasn’t successfully read an e-book yet. I’m strictly a print-edition guy.

• Max Allan Collins (King of the Weeds) had a delightful piece in The Huffington Post last week about long-running fictional sleuths who have, or have not, been allowed to age. Read the essay here.

• It’s hard to keep up anymore with all of the Internet blogathons either underway or in the works. But this one caught my attention: a June 2-5 celebration of the many classic small-screen series now broadcast on MeTV. Among the focuses of planned posts are Peter Gunn, The Saint, Columbo, and Adam-12. You’ll find the schedule here.

• I’m not convinced Dashiell Hammett would have approved: In this February 28, 1958, episode of the Peter Lawford-Phyllis Kirk series, The Thin Man, the married detectives meet Robby the Robot.

• If you’ve ever thought about spiffing up your bookcases with some handsomely produced editions of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot novels, this new four-volume set published by The Folio Society might be just what you need.

• Has it really been 20 years since the release of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction? The Dissolve commemorates this occasion with a look back at “five great shots” from that influential film.

• Wow, this is quite a treat: The blog Where Danger Lives has put together a colorful gallery of “50 Extraordinary Noir and Crime Posters from Republic Pictures!

• How sad it is to hear that Leslie Thomas, the British author who came to fame with his 1966 comic novel, The Virgin Soldiers, died earlier this month at age 83. My first experience with Thomas’ fiction came courtesy of the 1976 Dell paperback release of Dangerous Davies: The Last Detective. As The Gumshoe Site recalls, that novel “was turned into the 1981 TV movie of the same name starring Bernard Cribbins as the CID officer in the London borough of Willesden, with Thomas and director Val Guest co-writing the script. Also, The Last Detective became [a] TV series starring Peter Davison, with 17 episodes broadcast from 2003 [to] 2007.”

• Are women hooked on violent crime fiction? According to The Guardian’s Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, the answer is “yes.” She writes: “Friends can spend hours online, reading about serial killers. I myself became fascinated by the Black Dahlia case in the 1940s, after reading a reference to it in a crime novel. The female author Jessie Keane says that consuming crime fiction allows women to examine violence ‘in a safe way.’ In other words, we are attempting to address our fears.”

• Two interviews worth reading: Anthony Neil Smith, the author most recently of XXX Shamus (published under the pseudonym Red Hammond), talks with Crimespree Magazine, while Reed Farrel Coleman (The Hollow Girl) fields a few questions from MysteryPeople.

• And if you’ve tired of crime and thriller novels backdropped by such familiar locales as New York City, London, and Scandinavia, take a gander at Crime Fiction Lover’s list of “The 10 Most Unexpected Crime Fiction Settings.” American Samoa, anyone?


TracyK said...

Congratulations on eight years. It seems longer than that but I must be remembering the reports at January Magazine. I probably said that the last time you had a blog anniversary.

Ronald Tierney said...

Congratulations on your Eighth!

Gary Phillips said...

A most happy bleated congratulations on your 8th, Jeff, and many more.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the eighth blog-o-versary of the Rap Sheet. It makes such a big contribution to crime fiction fans.

On the issue of whether women readers like violent crime fiction, that is a matter of individual taste. I love mysteries, but not brutal, violent books. I prefer books with interesting plot lines, unusual stories,character development.

Also, other women friends seem to prefer books without a lot of violence, or they simply skip parts of the text.

That said, Denise Mina's recent book "The Red Road," while it has some violence, it's not graphic or gratuitous. It's a terrific read, and shows off Mina's brilliance.