• On the topic of “best books,” note that Crimespree Magazine editor Jon Jordan has posted his selection of 11 “damn good reads” from the last year, including Meg Gardiner’s Phantom Instinct, Chelsea Cain’s One Kick, and Tim Hallinan’s For the Dead.
• There are so many Christmas-related mysteries, that blogger-editor Janet Rudolph has had to split up her list of them in Mystery Fanfare. Click here to find dozens of works by authors whose names begin with the letters A through D. At least three more such postings of seasonal fare should follow in the coming days.
• Is there a “lost work” by Raymond Chandler? Yes, but as Sarah Weinman reports in The Guardian, it’s a comic opera discovered in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Weinman explains:
The 48-page libretto to the comic opera The Princess and the Pedlar, with music by Julian Pascal, has hidden in plain sight at the library since its copyright was first registered on 29 August 1917.(Hat tip to January Magazine.)
The work, a copy of which was obtained by the Guardian, was found in March by Kim Cooper, shortly after she published her debut novel, The Kept Girl, featuring a fictionalised Chandler in 1929 Los Angeles.
While looking for more information about Pascal, Cooper discovered a missing link between Chandler’s English boyhood and his detective fiction: a witty, Gilbert-and-Sullivan-inflected libretto for a fantasy-tinged romance between Porphyria, daughter to the King and Queen of the Arcadians, and Beautiful Jim, a “strolling Pedlar.”
• Critic Weinman tackles another classic fictionist for The New York Times Book Review, writing about Helen MacInnes, the author of Above Suspicion and many more tales.
• One more vintage detective novel I have to read someday.
• For the blog Book Noir, UK editor Barry Forshaw recalls his encounters with “two of my favourite creators (both massively talented, but neither the sweetest individual): I was able to speak to both--wait for it!--Alfred Hitchcock and Patricia Highsmith.”
• One of the most enduring urban legends has it that illustrator-turned-empire builder Walt Disney was “cryogenically frozen after he died [in 1966] so that he could be reanimated in the future.” Unfortunately, it’s not true.
• If you have never seen the 2003 pilot for a TV series based on the film L.A. Confidential, and starring Kiefer Sutherland, here it is.
• This main title sequence from Peacemaker, the 2003 USA Network Western-detective series starring Tom Berenger, is just one of several new additions to The Rap Sheet’s YouTube page.
• Number 36 in Robin Jarossi’s amusing, nostalgic countdown of “50 crime shows that blow us away” is Life on Mars, the 2006-2007 BBC One time travel/police procedural that starred John Simm and Philip Glenister, and “won a following through its freshness and cheekiness.” (Sadly, the U.S. version of that show didn’t fare so well.)
• In a short interview with The New York Times Book Review, David Baldacci was asked, “What’s the key to a great thriller?” His answer:
The same as any other genre: a great story. Characters you either hate or love, a compelling plot whose seemingly skeletal simplicity belies the mounds of meat underneath. And of course a contortionist writer at the helm who manages to stay a step ahead of even the most astute/cynical story-gobblers. You make it look easy and seamless, when it’s actually the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life and the whole thing seems held together by fraying duct tape and spit.• In conversation with Crimespree, Michael Connelly addresses the question of whether the career of his main protagonist, Los Angeles cop Harry Bosch (The Burning Room), is coming to an end. “It is very clear from the last few books his time is up with the badge, but not as a literary character,” insists Connelly. “I planted a number of seeds in the last three or four books that can show his continuation in some way. It does not necessarily have to be Harry Bosch up front. I have not decided yet what to do and have it as open-ended in this book so I have time to think about it. There are a number of possibilities including bringing him back as a cop in one more book, although I am leaning towards not doing it. It appears that his life is not dictated by any dates, but the needs of the series. In every four or five books something happens. It is time for a new direction for Harry.” You might remember that Detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch was introduced in Connelly’s first novel, The Black Echo (1992).
• Actor Howard Duff certainly had a great voice for radio.
• This is unfortunate news from In Reference to Murder: “[A]nother crime fiction [resource] bites the dust, as the authors of Sleuths, Spies, and Alibis have chosen to end the three-year-old blog.”
• And longtime supporter of The Rap Sheet Randal S. Brandt writes: “My friend Jean Buchanan has published a short piece called Mr. Dodge, Mr. Hitchcock, and the French Riviera: The Story Behind To Catch a Thief. It is published as an Amazon Kindle Single and is available via this link: http://www.amazon.com/Mr-Dodge-Hitchcock-French-Riviera-ebook/dp/B00P9GIATI/ (Or in the UK, from this link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mr-Dodge-Hitchcock-French-Riviera-ebook/dp/B00P9GIATI/) … The new piece explores the relationship between the novel and the film, and the circumstances under which the novel was written.” He adds that “Jean also contributed the Afterword to the Bruin Books edition of To Catch a Thief that was published in 2010, as well as adapting the novel as a radio play for BBC Radio 4 (broadcast in 2010).”