Thursday, July 02, 2015

Bullet Points: Pre-Festive Fourth Edition

With Seattle’s 10-day weather forecast promising temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s (holy cow!), and with my best friend from college due to drop in on me within days for an extended vacation, I have decided to take next week off. I won’t be completely absent from the blogging world; I have a new “Pierce’s Picks” post scheduled to go up on Tuesday, and a few fresh things will appear in my book-design blog, Killer Covers. Plus, I will not be out of computer touch, so I shall try to keep an eye open for any earthshaking developments in the crime-fiction sphere. But for the most part, next week should be pretty quiet here. Let me catch up, then, with a few short news bits.

• Bill Farley, who founded the excellent Seattle Mystery Bookshop, passed away on June 28 at age 83. He was always a kind and helpful presence in that little store on Cherry Street in Seattle’s Pioneer Square district, and I--along with so many others who posted their condolences on Facebook--will miss his reading suggestions. A photo-heavy post in the Seattle Mystery Bookshop’s blog explains:
Bill and [his wife] B Jo Farley moved to Seattle [from Philadelphia] at the end of 1989 with the aim of opening their own specialty mystery bookshop. In the summer of 1990, they opened the Seattle Mystery Bookshop with the intention that it be a place where readers could meet authors, authors could be exposed to readers, questions could be asked and information given, where the casual reader and the serious collector could all find something of interest. As Bill put it, “For mystery lovers who know what they want and for those who haven’t a clue!”

Bill was a serious bookman but was armed with a lively sense of humor and a raucous laugh.
Farley ostensibly retired way back in 1999, selling the store to manager J.B. Dickey, but he continued to make frequent visits to those book-lined digs. Click here to read a fun joint interview with Farley and Dickey from 2006.

• Sadly, Bill was not around on July 1 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Seattle Mystery Bookshop’s opening.

• Another demise worth noting: Blogger Jerry House reports that crime and mystery novelist Charles Runyon kicked the bucket on June 8 at age 87. In addition to penning such books as Color Him Dead (1963), The Prettiest Girl I Ever Killed (1965), and To Kill a Dead Man (1976), Runyon also published a trio of works under the “Ellery Queen” house name and produced “sex romps” as “Mark West.” Several years ago, Mystery*File published an Ed Gorman interview with Runyon, together with bibliographical information. In 2007, Stark House Press released a “three-fer” collection of Gold Medal novels that included The Prettiest Girl I Ever Killed; it remains in print. ADDENDUM: The Gumshoe Site has more information to share, explaining that Runyon “was once rumored to die in 1987, but it turned to be just a rumor. … His first fiction sales was ‘First Man in a Satellite,’ printed in the December 1958 of Super-Science Fiction. … He contributed mystery short stories for Manhunt, Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. His first mystery novel was The Anatomy of Violence (Ace, 1960; not 1963) and he published 13 [more] mystery novels … Power Kill (Gold Medal, 1972) was nominated for an Edgar in the paperback category.”

• Oh, and Jack Carter died on June 24. Yes, the Brooklyn-born 89-year-old was primarily a comedian of long and distinguished standing. But he also guest-starred on a number of TV crime dramas, including The Name of the Game, Mannix, McCloud, McMillan & Wife, Hawaii Five-O, Police Story, Ellery Queen, The Rockford Files, Kingston: Confidential, Switch, and … well, I could go on with this list for some while. Better that you should refer to Carter’s Internet Movie Database (IMDb) credits page here.

• Mike Ripley returns with the July edition of his Shots column, the justly popular “Getting Away with Murder.” His topics this time include: London’s Crime in the Court party, hosted last month by Goldsboro Books; a possible new TV series pairing Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini; the re-release of two “classic” works by Ianthe Jerrold; and new fiction by the likes of Brian Panowich, Peter Lovesey, Nicci French, and Bonnie MacBird.

• Tom Nolan, Los Angeles editor of the new Library of America omnibus, Ross Macdonald: Four Novels of the 1950s, continues his excellent series about Macdonald for that publisher’s blog, writing here about the often-troubled literary and personal relationship between Macdonald and his author wife, Margaret Millar.

The Sydney Morning Herald offers a nice piece about Blockbuster! Fergus Hume & The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, by Lucy Sussex. That book looks back at author Hume’s 1886 thriller, The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, set in then-booming Melbourne, Australia, with hopes of “understanding of how a low-key provincial novel written by a frustrated playwright as a way of promoting himself to theatre producers could be so commercially successful.”

• Coincidentally, I noticed the other day that a 2012 TV adaptation of Hume’s yarn is available on YouTube. Watch it while you can!

• I also found on YouTube a quartet of TV mystery movies scripted by Columbo co-creators Richard Levinson and William Link (the latter of whom I was fortunate enough to interview in 2010). Again, there’s no telling how long these videos will remain on the site, but at least for the time being you can watch Murder by Natural Causes (1979, starring Hal Holbrook and Katharine Ross), Rehearsal for Murder (1982, starring Robert Preston, Lynne Redgrave, and Patrick Macnee), The Guardian (1984, with Martin Sheen and Louis Gossett Jr.), and Guilty Conscience (1985, starring Anthony Hopkins and Blythe Danner).

• Gravetapping blogger Ben Boulden is on the prowl for facts about author Ron Faust (Nowhere to Run, Split Image, The Long Count, etc.), which he hopes to use in establishing a “permanent page” in his blog dedicated to the memory of that “best writer you have never heard of,” who died in 2011. Boulden says, “I’m looking for information about Mr. Faust and his work: first-hand stories, interviews, articles, etc. The information will be used to develop a better understanding of both the man and his work. If you have memories, knowledge of his biography, bibliography, or know of any magazine and newspaper articles featuring Mr. Faust I would love to hear them. Please send an e-mail to”

• The quarterly, indie-publishing-focused mag, Foreword Reviews, has announced the recipients of its 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards, including winners in the Thriller & Suspense category.

• Seriously? Director Michael Bay wants to remake The Birds, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 thriller film based on a Daphne du Maurier short story? Why bother, when the original picture is so incredible? I swear, somebody with new ideas is desperately needed in Hollywood!

• Steven Nester’s review of Delicious Foods, by James Hannaham, was posted earlier today in the newly redesigned January Magazine. “This finely crafted book,” Nester writes, “updates the often lugubrious [crime fiction] genre with satire, social commentary, and such personal and cultural detail that it gives the antiquated gloom-and-doom clichés a real run for their money.”

• Here’s a present for fans of James Garner’s 1974-1980 private-eye series, The Rockford Files: 74 of the usually funny messages left on Rockford’s answering machine. Download them all!

• Now that Hal Holbrook’s often-powerful 1970-1971 series, The Senator--which showed on NBC-TV as one of the rotating elements of The Bold Ones--has been released in a DVD set by Shout! Factory, get ready to see an equally short-run Bold Ones series, The Protectors, brought to market in mid-September. Explains the TV Shows on DVD site: “The Protectors stars Leslie Nielsen as Sam Danforth, the deputy chief of police in a volatile California city. He is a conservative law-and-order type who is brought in from Cleveland to try to keep the lid on, but often is at odds with the city’s idealistic, liberal black D.A., William Washburn played by Hari Rhodes.” Might all this mean that we can expect to welcome the last remaining Bold Ones components--The New Doctors (with E.G. Marshall, David Hartman, and John Saxon) and The Lawyers (with Burl Ives, Joseph Campanella, and James Farentino)--to store racks sometime soon?

• Here’s a nicely matched set of posts: Irish author Ken Bruen, creator of the Jack Taylor crime series (Green Hell), offers Publishers Weekly readers his “highly personal” list of the “10 Best Noir Novels,” while Eric Beetner (Rumrunners) chooses “10 of the Best Noir Novels of the 21st Century” for Criminal Element. There are several books in each rundown that I have not yet read.

• A very belated congratulations to Martin Edwards, who has been chosen to follow author Simon Brett as the next president of The Detection Club, a prominent organization for mystery writers founded in 1930. Brett has been president since 2000, but is expected to retire in November, after which Edwards will take over. Most ably, I am sure.

• Works by Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Leigh Brackett, and Patricia Highsmith all find places on Mashable’s idiosyncratic tally of “10 Influential Pulp Novels That Are Criminally Good.”

• Mental Floss has gathered together15 Fateful Facts About Gilligan’s Island” including this one: “THE MILLIONAIRE’S WIFE REALLY WAS A MILLIONAIRE. Natalie Schafer, who played Mrs. Lovey Howell--and allegedly only accepted the invitation to play Mrs. Howell because it meant a free trip to Hawaii to film the pilot--was a real-life millionaire. During her marriage to actor Louis Calhern, the couple had invested heavily in Beverly Hills real estate at a time when a house on Rodeo Drive could be purchased for $50,000.”

• The island nation of Malta, located in the Mediterranean Sea just south of Italy, has already enjoyed some fame in crime-fiction circles as the setting for Mark Mills’ “triumphantly old-fashioned,” 2010 novel The Information Officer. But apparently that’s not good enough for Maltese travel promoters, who recently wooed “three hugely popular thriller writers, in what must rank as one of the most unusual and canny tourist initiatives ever.” According to The Guardian, Chris Kuzneski, Boyd Morrison, and Graham Brown “came to Malta at the invitation of the Malta Tourism Authority, which is now hoping that they will return home and help promote the Maltese islands in the as-yet-untapped U.S. market by using the archipelago as a backdrop in their new thrillers.” There’s more on this story here.

• And because Saturday is the Fourth of July, check out Janet Rudolph’s list of Independence Day-related mysteries? She has everything on there from Meg Chittenden’s Dead on the Fourth of July to Carolyn Hart’s Yankee Doodle Dead and Bill Crider’s Red, White, and Blue Murder. Who knows, you might want to have something new to read between fireworks explosions.

1 comment:

Ed Gorman said...

Great Stuff and fine way to start the weekend. Thanks, Jeff.