Friday, October 17, 2014

Bullet Points: Wheeling Around the Web

• Today brought the opening, at the Museum of London, of an exhibit called “Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die.” As Mystery Fanfare explains, this show “celebrates the world of the greatest fictional detective of all time. The exhibit will run through April 12, 2015, with a variety of rare treasures,” including “the original manuscript of ‘The Adventure of the Empty House’ (1903).”

• We’re still almost two weeks out from Halloween, but blogger Janet Rudolph has already posted a lengthy list of mystery and crime fiction associated with that celebration.

• The All Hallows’ Eve posts keep on coming. Following the success of their recent “Summer of Sleaze” series at, bloggers Will Errickson and Grady Hendrix have launched a brand-new series called “The Bloody Books of Halloween” (which I presume will continue through October 31). Today’s entry, by Errickson, looks back at Ray Bradbury’s 1955 short-story collection, The October Country.

• A belated “happy birthday” to Sir Roger Moore! The former James Bond star celebrated his 87th birthday this last Tuesday.

• Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Tana French’s In the Woods, Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, and Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale--they all feature prominently on Flavorwire’s list of “50 of the Greatest Debut Novels Since 1950.”

• While we’re on the subject of Casino Royale, Ian Fleming’s first Bond thriller, let me refer your attention to The HMSS Weblog’s “reappraisal” of CBS-TV’s early, much-maligned adaptation of that 1953 novel. As I’ve mentioned previously, this small-screen version of the tale starred American actor Barry Nelson alongside Mexico-born actress Linda Christian and the familiar Peter Lorre. It was first broadcast on October 21, 1954--60 years ago next week--as part of the CBS-TV series Climax! “While Ian Fleming’s first novel was short, it still covered too much ground to be covered in a 60-minute time slot,” opines blogger Bill Koenig. “Excluding commercials and titles, only about 50 minutes was available to tell the story. … This version of Casino Royale’s main value is that of a time capsule, a reminder of when television was mostly done live. Lorre is suitably villainous. If you find him fun to watch on movies and other television shows, nothing here will change your mind.” You can watch the whole show here.

• I’m pleased to see Moonlighting and Hill Street Blues included in this piece about “The Top 20 Theme Songs of the 1980s.” But really, Highway to Heaven made it, too?

• And this latest addition to The Rap Sheet’s YouTube page should inspire happy memories of 1970s television programming.

• This Sunday night, October 19, will bring to PBS-TV’s Masterpiece Mystery! series the last installment of Inspector Lewis’ latest, three-episode season. It’s titled “Beyond Good and Evil,” and the plot synopsis reads: “Thirteen years after [Robbie] Lewis’ first successful arrest as a Detective Inspector, the forensics have been called into question and the case reopened for appeal. Lewis fears the worst, but nothing can prepare him for the resumption of the original murders with the original weapon. Did he arrest an innocent man? With Lewis’ reputation in jeopardy, [DI James] Hathaway and [DS Lizzie] Maddox race to catch the killer.” The episode is set to begin broadcasting at 9 p.m. on Sunday. You should find a video preview here.

Spicy Detective magazine must have drawn a great deal of (male) attention during its years of publication 1934-1942). If you’re interested in ogling more Spicy Detective fronts, you can do so here.

• Speaking of covers--though of the book sort this time--have you been keeping up with Killer Covers’ month-long tribute to renowned paperback illustrator Robert McGinnis? You can see all the daily posts here. This series will conclude on October 31.

The new, 600th post for the blog In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel suggests some nominees for the “Top Five Underappreciated Books.” I’ve read all but one of those listed, and would certainly have come up with far different choices, had I been assigned to the project. But each reader has his or her own preferences. So be it.

Reassessing Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry.

• I wasn’t aware of this until today, but Poe’s “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether,” a short story published in 1845, has been adapted for the big screen as Stonehearst Asylum. This movie stars the ever-divine Kate Beckinsale and is scheduled for release on October 24. Criminal Element offers the trailer.

• On top of the news that director David Lynch plans to revive Twin Peaks, the 1990-1991 cult TV series, for cable channel Showtime in early 2016, comes word that series co-creator Mark Frost is writing a book titled The Secret Lives of Twin Peaks. According to a press release, “The novel reveals what has happened to the people of the iconic fictional town since we last saw them 25 years ago, and offers a deeper glimpse into the central mystery from the original series.” It’s set for release in late 2015.

• Meanwhile, the great Twin Peaks rewatch continues.

• And novelist Megan Abbott comments, in New York magazine’s Vulture blog, on how Twin Peaks influenced her own writing.

• After an unplanned three-year hiatus, The Trap of Solid Gold--Steve Scott’s excellent blog about author John D. MacDonald and his works--has suddenly reappeared. Scott reports here that his extended quiet was attributable to family health problems. But he’s moved quickly to dust off his site and begin posting again, including on the subject of MacDonald’s 1957 novel A Man of Affairs (the paperback cover of which was illustrated by the great Victor Kalin). Let me just welcome The Trap of Solid Gold back into the blogging fold.

This comes from The New York Times: “Elmore Leonard died in 2013, but now some of his signature Hawaiian shirts will be preserved forever at the University of South Carolina, which has acquired more than 150 boxes of Mr. Leonard’s archive.”

• Who would have imagined it? “Publicity makes for strange bedfellows,” writes Jake Hinkson in Criminal Element. “So does crime. So does religion, for that matter. Add publicity, crime, and religion together, and you get the fascinating story of how the Reverend Billy Graham set out to save the soul of the most notorious gangster in the history of Los Angeles: crime lord Mickey Cohen.”

• And I must say good-bye to an old friend, Geoffrey Cowley. Many years before he took up his post as Newsweek’s health editor and was later hired as a national writer for MSNBC, Geoff attended college with me. He was also the editor of our school’s newspaper, in the year I served as its managing editor. (Most everyone on the staff called him “Gee-off,” in order to distinguish between us.) I went on to succeed him in the editor’s post. Geoff and I had not stay in close touch in recent years; there are undoubtedly many people who knew the older Geoff Cowley better than I did. But I always remember him as a fine, bright, and generous human being. We need more people like him in this world, not fewer. According to this obituary in The New York Times, Geoff died of colon cancer on October 14. Very, very sad.

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