Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bullet Points: Pre-Super Bowl Edition

I’m not usually a football follower, but living in Seattle, it’s hard not to get caught up in all of the excitement surrounding this Sunday’s Super Bowl game, pitting the Seattle Seahawks against the New England Patriots. My wife and I were actually invited to a Super Bowl party, and we’ve accepted--even though most of the folks who will be attending aren’t football enthusiasts either, just bandwagon fans, so we’ll all be equally confused by the twists and turns of play. It should make for a funny scene. Anyway, fingers crossed for the ’Hawks.

• Amid all the publicity surrounding Paula Hawkins’ debut crime thriller, The Girl on the Train (Riverhead), Crime Fiction Lover surveys the broader field of “railways in crime fiction.” Works by Edward Marston, John Buchan, and (no surprise here) Agatha Christie all figure prominently in the mix.

I had a good deal to say about the beautiful book The Art of Robert E. McGinnis when it was first published last fall. But blogger Andrew Nette piles on with this recent appreciation in Pulp Curry.

• There’s been lots of news recently from Hard Case Crime. Not only does it have two long-out-of-print Ed McBain works slated for publication (one this coming July, the other--with a McGinnis-painted front--planned for release come January 2016), but it’s readying a brand-new Lawrence Block novel, The Girl with the Deep Blue Eyes, for distribution in September 2015. According to a news release, Block’s book “tells the story of a former New York police officer, now working as a private eye in Florida, who gets drawn into the web of a local wife who’s looking for a hit man to help her become a widow. Block has described the book as ‘a down-and-dirty noir thriller, characterized by my Hollywood agent as “James M. Cain on Viagra.”’”

• “The 50 Sexiest Literary Villains,” according to Flavorwire, include Helen Grayle from Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Irene Adler, Veda Pierce from James M. Cain’s Mildred Pierce, and Francisco Scaramanga, played by Christopher Lee in the 1974 film version of Ian Fleming’s The Man with the Golden Gun.

• I have never before seen this 1976 British telefilm adaptation of Geoffrey Household’s best-known thriller, Rogue Male. Watch it yourself … before YouTube takes it down.

• For January Magazine, Brooklyn critic Anthony Rainone reviews The Burning Room, the latest entry in Michael Connelly’s popular Harry Bosch detective series.

• Unfortunately, I have two deaths to report: Best-selling Australian novelist Colleen McCullough has passed away at age 77. Although she was known most widely as the author of The Thorn Birds (1977), which was made into a 1983 TV miniseries starring Richard Chamberlin and Rachel Ward, McCullough also penned five novels featuring a small-town detective named Carmine Delmonico (beginning with 2006’s On, Off). Meanwhile, Elizabeth Foxwell notes in The Bunburyist that “Helen Eustis, Edgar winner for The Horizontal Man (1946) and the last living author on the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone list of essential mysteries, died on January 11 at age 98. She was also known for The Fool Killer (1954, adapted for a 1965 film with Anthony Perkins).”

• Friend of The Rap Sheet Tony Black (Artefacts of the Dead) has a stage play, The Ringer, opening for a two-day run at the Gaity Theater in Ayr, Scotland, on Wednesday, February 11. “Told in the raw Scots tongue,” it’s based on his short 2014 novel of the same name. As the Gaity’s Web site explains, this “hard-hitting crime drama … is a cautionary tale of revenge, enacted upon the most unsavory of characters.” Here’s a plot synopsis:
For small-time Glasgow drug dealer Stauner, life is sweet when he meets Monique. With free board and an unpaid servant at his beck and call, the daily trip to the bookies is his toughest chore. It could all be too good to be true, but the misogynist Stauner stupidly believes it’s his due. When the wide boy’s deluded state persuades him that Monique should steal from night-club boss Davie Geddes, however, Stauner’s arrogance gets the better of him. Soon his cloak of small-minded bigotry is stripped from him and he’s forced to pay for the grievous misdeeds of his past.
Click here to watch a video preview of The Ringer. UPDATE: There’s more coverage of Black’s stage play to be accessed here.

• Ian Rankin’s Inspector John Rebus is being called out of retirement once more. The Scottish author isn’t giving much information regarding his next Rebus novel, but he did tweet recently, “I’m keeping the title of my next book under wraps, but am beginning to wish I hadn’t named it after a song with such a catchy chorus …”

• As I’ve mentioned, UK screenwriter and author Anthony Horowitz (House of Silk, Moriarty) has completed his writing on the next James Bond novel, “based on an Ian Fleming idea for a never-made James Bond television series and [with] a setting in the world of auto racing.” Like Ian Rankin, Horowitz isn’t revealing the title of his book yet, but The HMSS Weblog has a suggestion for what it could be.

• Let me go on record as agreeing with Kristopher Zgorski’s comment, in BOLO Books, that Grantchester, the British sleuth drama now showing in the United States as part of PBS-TV’s Masterpiece Mystery! series, “is a pure delight to watch.” Based on the fiction of James Runcie, it stars James Norton (who played the creepiest of killers in Season 1 of Happy Valley) as Anglican priest and amateur gumshoe Sidney Chambers, who repeatedly comes to the investigative aid of overworked, ill-tempered Detective Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green). As Zgorski explains, “The first season of Grantchester is based on the debut novel in the series, Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death [2012]. Since the book is more of a collection of short stories featuring recurring characters, the television series follows the same format. Each hour-long episode is dedicated to one case that Sidney and Geordie must solve. As one would expect, the mysteries contained within have various levels of complexity, but they are nevertheless entertaining.” Only two of six episodes of Grantchester have been broadcast so far, and Criminal Element’s Leslie Gilbert Elman is keeping close track of them.

• Hmm. I, for one, had never looked at Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire as a mystery. But apparently I should have.

• In the blog Ontos, Mike Gray looks back at three episodes of the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) that featured detective and mystery themes. If my memory serves, however, the first time Star Trek incorporated a criminal investigation into its fictional universe was in “Wolf in the Fold,” a 1967 episode of the original series that found the Enterprise’s chief engineer, Montgomery Scott, being suspected of having slain several women during a shore leave on the planet Argelius II.

• I only vaguely recall this Saturday morning cartoon show.

• And don’t forget that the submission deadline for entries to the 2015 Debut Dagger competition, organized by the British Crime Writers’ Association, is this Saturday, January 31. As the CWA Web site explains, “The Debut Dagger is open to anyone who has not yet had a novel published commercially. All shortlisted entrants will receive a professional assessment of their entries. Winning the Debut Dagger doesn’t guarantee you’ll get published. But it does mean your work will be seen by leading agents and top editors, who have signed up over two dozen winners and shortlisted Debut Dagger competitors.”

1 comment:

Scott Parker said...

Horowitz - Glad to hear he's doing a Bond book. Really enjoyed House of Silk and Moriarty is next on my list.

Grantchester - Been seeing promos for it every Sunday after Downton. Looks interesting. Anytime there's a priest involved, I'm usually interested.

Star Trek - Well, there are two episodes that features Moriarty himself in The Next Generation.

Chan cartoon - I remember it. There were a ton of teenagers-as-detectives shows in the 70s.