Thursday, August 06, 2015

Bullet Points: Sick Day Edition

I almost never become ill, but I’ve suddenly been hit with a sore throat (what, in summer?) and general fatigue. So if you discover errors or any non-English sentences in the following news wrap-up, please forgive them--I’m not running on all cylinders today.

• I sure hope this is true: Variety reports that filmmaking siblings Joel and Ethan Coen “will write and possibly direct an adaptation of Ross Macdonald’s bestselling novel Black Money for Warner Bros.” I’ve found great entertainment in several Coen brothers pictures in the past--from Blood Simple and Miller’s Crossing to Fargo and True Grit--so I have no doubt their interpretation of Macdonald’s 1966 Lew Archer private-eye tale could be compelling. Only two other Archer yarns have so far been turned into big-screen dramas: The Moving Target (1949), which was the basis for Paul Newman’s 1966 film Harper (watch clips here and here), and The Drowning Pool (1950), which also became a Newman flick, in 1975. Mission: Impossible’s Peter Graves starred in a better-than-average 1974 NBC-TV series pilot based on Macdonald’s The Underground Man (1971), that failed to earn him a return to America’s weekly small-screen schedule (though it did convince NBC to hire Brian Keith, instead, to lead the 1975 midseason replacement series Archer). And nothing seems to have come of rumors, spread in 2006, that Macdonald’s 1959 turning-point novel, The Galton Case, would become a feature film, courtesy of Random House films and Focus Features. So the prospect that Black Money will show up in movie theaters is--to borrow a line from Vice President Joe Biden--a big fucking deal. Meanwhile, if haven’t already enjoyed the novel Black Money, consider this provocation to catch up on your reading of Macdonald’s work.

• It sounds as if author Steve Hamilton underwent a particularly acrimonious parting recently from his longtime publisher, St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur. Both sides are accusing the other of inciting the split. “In the end,” Hamilton is quoted as saying, “I just want to work with a publisher who’s passionate about my work, and who has a real plan for reaching the widest possible audience. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. But I didn’t feel like any of that was in place at St. Martin’s Press, or that it ever would be.” Apparently he has more faith in G.P. Putnam’s Sons. The Associated Press says that Hamilton has already signed a four-book deal with that rival publishing house. This will ensure the release of his next novel, The Second Life of Nick Mason, about a character who “has already spent five years inside a maximum security prison when an offer comes that will grant his release twenty years early.” St. Martin’s had planned to deliver the book to stores in late September, but Putnam now has it listed for a mid-2016 release.

• The August issue of Mike Ripley’s “Getting Away with Murder” column for Shots includes notes about the annual “What’s Your Poison?” summer celebration at Cambridge’s Heffers bookshop, thrillers set in an alternative version of the Second World War, the long-running radio escapades of Simon Templar (aka The Saint), and new releases by David Hewson, Sophie Hannah, Felix Francis, and Liberian author Vamba Sherif. Click here to find Ripley’s full column.

• Having watched the dramatic trailers for the Man from U.N.C.L.E. movie--scheduled to debut in U.S. theaters next Friday, August 14(!)--I have had my radar out for associated news reports. And Bill Koenig’s The Spy Command blog has delivered, big-time. Here, for instance, is a list of “five U.N.C.L.E. stories from the 1964-68 [TV] series that may enhance the experience of new fans ahead of the film.” Click here to read an interview with Daniel Pemberton, who composed the picture’s soundtrack. And 81-year-old actor David McCallum, who played “loyal Soviet” spy Illya Kuryakin in the TV series, says he endorses the coming film: “I think it’s a wonderful success.”

• Speaking of Koenig’s blog, it suggests the next fictional spy who should be reanimated for cinematic purposes is … Matt Helm.

• The three-part ITV adaptation of Julian Barnes’ 2005 novel, Arthur & George, starring Martin Clunes, is set to begin showing in the States on Sunday, September 6, under the umbrella of PBS-TV’s Masterpiece Mystery! As the PBS Web site explains, this mini-series--based on historical events--finds Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle (Clunes) “outraged by injustice to an Anglo-Indian solicitor” and using “the methods of his own fictional detective to get at the truth. Co-starring are Arsher Ali (The Missing) as George Edalji; and Charles Edwards (Downton Abbey) as Alfred Wood, Sir Arthur’s real-life ‘Dr. Watson.’” A preview of Arthur & George is posted below.

Writing in January Magazine, I couldn’t help but weigh in on the controversial decision by an independent Michigan bookstore to “refund the price of Harper Lee’s novel Go Set a Watchman (Harper) to any reader who’s dissatisfied with their purchase of said work.” Let me just say, I am not impressed.

• Crime Fiction Lover offers a first look at Ian Rankin’s new John Rebus novel, Even Dogs in the Wild, which is due out in the UK in November (with an as-yet-to-be-determined U.S. release date). Here’s the plot brief: “[Siobhan] Clarke is investigating the death of a lawyer, who was killed during a robbery, but it looks less like a random attack when she receives a note from an anonymous source. Big Ger [Cafferty] gets a similar message--a threat--and as the ageing gangster has been a bit closer to Rebus in the twilight of their respective careers, Clarke calls the ex-detective out of retirement to help save Cafferty’s skin.”

From In Reference to Murder: “Ever wondered if there was a secret formula behind Agatha Christie's plotting? Research commissioned by UKTV channel Drama for their Agatha Christie Hour says it looks a little something like this: k l,n,s=f[m-lkf+lk+n+s].”

• Did you know there is yet another Star Trek film in the works, this time an independent one called Star Trek: Axanar? It’s already exceeded its public fund-raising goal and has received the endorsement of “Spock’s son,” Adam Nimoy.

• Fancy owning your own Jim Rockford cutout?

• It was only this last weekend that I finally found the free time to see Mr. Holmes, the new film based on Mitch Cullin’s 2005 novel, A Slight Trick of the Mind, and starring Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, and Milo Parker. It’s beautifully shot, I found McKellen thoroughly convincing as an aged Sherlock, young Parker’s performance suggests he is destined for a rich on-screen career, and while I missed Cullin’s prose, his story about “a lonely man, increasingly showing signs of frailty and dementia” (to quote from Patti Abbott’s Crimespree review of the film) is generally well-translated. If you haven’t seen Mr. Holmes already, I suggest you add it to your movie-going schedule.

• I’ve been rather remiss in not alerting everyone about Nancie Clare’s recent additions to her excellent Speaking of Mysteries podcast series. Skip tonight’s Republican presidential-wannabe circus … er, “debate” on television and instead turn an ear to the following conversations Clare has had recently with crime-fiction contributors: Vu Tran, the author of Dragonfish; Otto Penzler. “dean of the mystery fiction genre”; Ace Atkins, whose new Quinn Colson thriller, The Redeemers, recently saw print; Ingrid Thoft, author of the latest Fina Ludlow P.I. novel, Brutality; and Robert Rotstein, who’s out with The Bomb Maker’s Son, the third of his Parker Stern mysteries.

• Other interviews worth checking out: Gravetapping’s Ben Boulden has posted a superior conversation with Bill Crider (Between the Living and the Dead); Mark Rubinstein talks with Linwood Barclay (Broken Promise) for The Huffington Post; New Zealand blogger Craig Sisterson has a short exchange with Patricia Melo, Brazilian author of The Body Snatcher; and retired professional basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar fields some questions about Mycroft Holmes, his September novel, from Crimespree’s Erica Ruth Neubauer.

• Frank Bill, Hilary Davidson, and Johnny Shaw are all on Dead End Follies’ list of “New Generation Genre Writers You Need to Read.”

• Talking about Season 4 of Longmire, which will debut on Netflix come September 10, executive producer Greer Shephard explains the new episodes will focus on “second chances. Who you are as a person is defined by how you handle the second chance. Netflix has incorporated that theme in their campaign. There are a lot of ways in which people can rebuild themselves after devastating experiences. We explore that theme throughout each of our characters. Now that [Sheriff Walt Longmire] knows the murderer of his wife, how does he go on? With Henry [Standing Bear], he has a new-found freedom, what does he do with it?”

• Finally, A.V. Club reports that Australian actress Yvonne Strahovski, who was so captivating as a spy in the 2007-2012 NBC-TV series Chuck, has signed on to star as a “mysterious Pinkerton detective” in Edge, a “post-Civil War-set Western, based on a series of pulpy oaters by novelist George G. Gilman.” She’ll play Beth, “a newcomer to the town of Seward, Kansas, where the various parties at play in Edge come together for their violent confrontations. She’ll be joined by Max Martini, playing Edge himself, a vengeance-seeker who comes to repay his brother’s death upon his former comrade, Meritt Harknett (Ryan Kwanten, from True Blood).”


pattinase (abbott) said...

So much work for a sick man! Feel better soon.

Clinton Greaves said...

Had a summer bug myself. Not fun. Wish you well soon.

P.S. The Steve Hamilton biz was fascinating.

Art Taylor said...

I think these bullet-point round-ups are my favorite columns of yours--but sorry to hear the lead here! And hope you're feeling better soon.

Bob said...

A few bullet points comments:

Would love to see a serious film version of Matt Helm.

Mr. Holmes is my favorite film to date. Wonderful performances and film score.

Can't wait for Longmire.