• The date on which to expect an announcement of which author has won this year’s Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel has finally been set for Sunday, October 4, in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you need reminding of the five books in contention, click here.
• Hallie Ephron (Night Night, Sleep Tight) is Nancie Clare’s latest guest on the podcast Speaking of Mysteries. Listen to their exchange here. And Clare has a good selection of interviewees coming up later this month, including Matthew Guinn, author of The Scribe, and former basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who, along with Anna Waterhouse, wrote Mycroft Holmes,
which tells of “how Sherlock Holmes’s older brother evolved into the shadowy political fixer for Her Majesty’s Government that he became.” You might as well bookmark Speaking of
Mysteries now, as you’ll need it for later reference.
• This new piece in The New Yorker looks at Agatha Christie’s altogether liberal use of toxins in her mystery fiction, an entertaining record of which has been made in chemist Kathryn Harkup’s new book, A Is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie (Bloomsbury).
• Having read and rather enjoyed Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman (despite its jarring inconsistencies with To Kill a
Mockingbird), I was interested to read this story in The Christian Science Monitor about a crime novel Lee apparently
began researching in the late 1970s. It was to be based on the true story of Robert Burns, “who had stood up in a crowded Alexander City [Alabama] funeral home in 1977 and put a bullet in the brain of a preacher who was rumored to have dabbled in voodoo and suspected in a string of deaths …” As the Monitor explains, “Lee worked on the Alabama book for months, maybe even years, but it never materialized. Now even her notes are nowhere to be found, giving rise to another mystery: What became of the novel she had tentatively titled The Reverend?”
• As the blog Double O Section explains, “British singer Sam Smith will perform the theme song [‘Writing's on the Wall’] for the 24th James Bond movie, Spectre … The news comes on the heels of months’ worth of rumors and speculation that Smith would be the one belting out a Spectre song come November.”
• The latest entry in Killer Covers’ “haven’t we seen this front someplace before?” series looks at Campus Sex Club.
• In an “Appreciation” essay for the Los Angeles Times, Robert Lloyd writes that actor Martin Milner, who starred in both Route 66 and Adam-12--and died this last Sunday at age 83--excelled as an observer in his major TV roles. “[F]or the viewer, much of watching Milner consists in watching him watch; indeed, much of what we know about his characters--in both series, the background is sketchy--is expressed in these moments, in how he reacts to what the world is showing him, and how those reactions evolve. It's often said that good acting is good listening, and Milner was a minor master of the art of attention. He draws you in most when he appears to do the least; he was powerful because he was present.” Read all of Lloyd’s piece here.
• I’m pleased to see that Criminal Element’s Leslie Gilbert Elman--who has previously reviewed
the Masterpiece Mystery! series Grantchester, Inspector Lewis, and Endeavour--has now assumed responsibility for critiquing the three-part PBS-TV mystery drama Arthur & George. You will find her thoughts on Part I here. Part II of this show about a historical investigation conducted by Sherlock
Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle will be broadcast this coming Sunday evening.
• I was once an avid follower of the late-night CBS Radio Mystery Theater, but I don’t remember listening to this haunting adaptation of Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles. Methinks this might best be appreciated on Halloween Night. Just a thought …
• Author-publisher Debbie Mack recently launched Crime Cafe, a vlog (translated: “video blog”) in which she interviews crime, mystery, and thriller novelists of
note. The episodes run from 15 to 20 minutes in length. I stumbled across her vlog on YouTube when Mack
talked with Bill Crider (Between the Living and the Dead), but she’s conversed as well with Thomas Kaufman, Frank Zafiro, and others. You should find the complete run of Crime Cafe at this YouTube link.
• Another new online offering: The Crime Vault Live, a podcast “about crime fiction, films and
television, audio books, and true crime” that British journalist Michael Carlson is putting together, along with novelist Mark Billingham and producer Harry Holgate. The first episode, which can be acquired through iTunes (for free, no less), welcomes guest Martyn Waites--“who also writes novels under the nom de guerre Tania Carver”--and finds the hosts talking not only about new works by Gilly Macmillan, Johan Theorin, and Simon Toyne, but also comparing notes on recent TV shows and movies. There’s no mention of how often new Crime Vault Live podcasts will appear, but that might depend on the popularity of its initial installments.
• From In Reference to Murder: “Sara Paretsky has been named the fourth recipient of the Paul Engle Prize, presented by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature organization. The award is handed out to ‘a pioneering spirit in the world of literature through writing, editing, publishing, or teaching, and whose active participation in the larger issues of
the day has contributed to the betterment of the world through the literary arts.’” Good for Paretsky!
• Edward A. Grainger (aka David Cranmer) proclaims that Meursault, the French Algerian protagonist in Albert Camus’ The Stranger (1942), “is the ultimate noir outsider, cynical and unrepentant to the very
bleak end.” More thoughts on reading Camus’ novel as crime fiction, this time from novelist Patrick Lennon, can be enjoyed here.
• Finally, congratulations to Queen Elizabeth II, “who today, September 9, 2015, became the longest-reigning British monarch in history, surpassing her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria.” The now 89-year-old Elizabeth has been on the thrown since 1952, more than 63 years ago. More from Vox.