• I should make a poster of this quote and hang it above my favorite reading chair. The statement comes from 19th-century Scottish philosopher-essayist Thomas Carlyle: “If time is precious, no book that will not improve by repeated readings deserves to be read at all.”
• This is most welcome news: TV Obscurities reports that Visual Entertainment Inc. (VEI) has licensed 11 older American TV dramas for future DVD release. They include two of my personal favorites, Bill Bixby’s The Magician (NBC, 1973-1974) and James Franciscus’ Longstreet (ABC, 1971-1972), together with Christopher George’s The Immortal (ABC, 1970-1971), William Conrad’s Nero Wolfe (NBC, 1981), and others. “No release dates or details are available,” explains TV Obscurities. All of these shows appear on VEI’s Coming Soon page alongside others such as Barry Newman’s Petrocelli (NBC, 1974-1976) and Lee Horsley’s Matt Houston (ABC, 1982–1985). All are programs that have languished far too long in limbo, while a variety of second-rate series were moved to the head of the DVD line. Thank goodness VEI is finally stepping up to correct this injustice.
The opening title sequence from Longstreet.
• Let me offer a toast to Martin Edwards, who this month became president of Britain’s esteemed Detection Club. “The high point of my crime writing life” is how he describes the honor in this blog post.
• Linwood Barclay fans, take note. Bookreporter is hosting a contest to promote his latest novel, Broken Promise (NAL). Twenty-three “personalized signed” copies of Barclay’s thriller are set to be given away. The idea is to nominate somebody from your holiday gift list who you think would like to receive Broken Promise. You’ll find the entry form here. This contest is open only to U.S. residents, and entries will be accepted from now through Monday, December 7.
• In my Killer Covers blog today, I look back at the wonderful, mid-20th-century paperback artistry of Robert Foster.
• Janet Rudolph has spent years putting together lists of holiday-appropriate reading material for her blog, Mystery Fanfare. Finally, she has created a separate page dedicated to those sometimes lengthy lists. Click here to find her rundowns of Thanksgiving mysteries, Chanukah mysteries, Christmas mysteries, and more.
• Canadian broadcaster CTV “is getting into the serialized drama game, beginning with Giles Blunt’s award-winning John Cardinal mysteries,” reports TV, Eh? “Bell Media announced the ordering of the six-part Cardinal (working title) from Toronto-based Sienna Films and Entertainment One. Adapted from Forty Words for Sorrow , the upcoming project--set to bow as part of CTV’s 2016-17 broadcast schedule--follows detective John Cardinal and his new partner, Lise Delorme, as they investigate the death of Katie Pine, a 13-year-old discovered in an abandoned mine. Production on Cardinal is scheduled to begin in February 2016 in Northern Ontario ...”
• Shotsmag Confidential offers a wrap-up of book-to-broadcast bits, including this item about one of my favorite Len Deighton novels:
A new period drama for the BBC is SS-GB from the pen of Len Deighton. The drama is likely to end up being a five-part limited series. Kate Bosworth will star in the role [of American reporter] Barbara Barga alongside Sam Riley, who is set [to] play the role of [Detective Superintendent Douglas] Archer. Adapted by screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, the story takes place in London 1941 and [follows] a ‘what-would-have-happened-if’ scenario. The novel, published in 1978, was a popular book and has become an iconic alternate history tome.• Literary Hub has posted this fine piece about the ways in which Raymond Chandler’s divided life--he was born in Chicago, but educated in Britain before returning to the States--affected his storytelling.
• If you haven’t been checking in regularly on Nancie Clare’s Speaking of Mysteries podcast series, you have missed out on some fun. In her latest interview--found here--she talks with Robert Crais, author of the new Elvis Cole/Joe Pike/Jon Stone/Scott James and Maggie the LAPD K-9 novel, The Promise (Putnam).
• I am ridiculously far behind in watching NBC-TV’s new crime drama Blindspot, about “a beautiful woman (Jaimie Alexander) with no memories of her past, [who] is found naked in Times Square with her body fully covered in intricate tattoos. Her discovery sets off a vast and complex mystery that immediately ignites the attention of the FBI, which begins to follow the road map on her body to reveal a larger conspiracy of crime while bringing her closer to discovering the truth about her identity.” But news that the program has been renewed for a second season is impetus for me to catch up.
• Meanwhile, Double O Section has word that Agent Carter, Marvel’s kick-ass period spy drama starring Hayley Atwell and James D’Arcy, will return to the ABC-TV schedule on January 5 with a two-hour episode. “This season,” writes Matthew Bradford (aka Tanner), “Peggy Carter relocates to Los Angeles and finds 1949 Tinseltown teeming with noirish plots and conspiracies in the early days of the Cold War.” Click over to Double O Section to watch a Season 2 trailer.
• Another interesting item, this from In Reference to Murder:
Brenda Starr, the glamorous, feisty redheaded reporter created by Dale Messick, captivated newspaper readers from 1940 through the comic’s demise in 2011. But Brenda Starr is staging a comeback to headline a mystery novel series created by USA Today bestselling author J.J. Salem, with the first title, Black Orchid Murders, set for publication in Spring 2016. The 21st-century version finds the character in her early 40s working as a TV pundit and visiting college professor. But she returns to hard news at a digital start-up when a series of murders targeting Chicago’s elite hits too close to home, “all while navigating the complexities of modern life with a younger lover, a tycoon ex-husband and a head-strong, college-aged daughter showing signs of becoming Brenda Starr 2.0.”Naturally, there’s a Facebook page set up for these new Brenda Starr Mysteries. It includes illustrations of the rebooted reporter that make her look like a woman in her 20s, not one who’s pushing 50.
• Steve Aldous, an expert on the exploits of 1970s New York private eye John Shaft, provides a brief synopsis in his blog of Shaft: Imitation of Life #1, the first of four entries in a new graphic novel series composed by David F. Walker, “due for publication in February 2016 alongside Walker’s novel, Shaft’s Revenge.”
• On the right is a great present idea for fans (yours truly included) of the old Perry Mason TV series. I’d like the dark blue version, please.
• Browsing through these century-old postcards of the sites involved in last week’s Paris terrorist attacks reminds us that “there is something essential to the experience of living in Paris that involves spending time outside on its streets, whether to shop, observe, drink, eat, dance, talk or listen,” writes Alex Toledano in The New York Times Magazine. Paris’ “architecture invites people to continue to explore, to take wrong turns, to fall in love, to protest and simply to have a drink in the same places, streets and buildings that countless others have in the past.”
• Musing on Paris reminds me of some favorite old paperback book covers featuring France and that nation’s capital, specifically.
• David Cranmer is rewatching Breaking Bad for Criminal Element, and writing about each installment along the way. Here are his comments about the show’s 2008 pilot. Cranmer is up to episode five already--only 57 more to go. Follow his whole series of posts here.
• Was best-selling thriller writer Robert Ludlum murdered?
• Brash Books, the independent publishing house created by Lee Goldberg and Joel Goldman, wins valuable notice on the Mystery Scene Web site, thanks to its three most recent releases, one of which I wrote about recently, The Last Good Place, by Robin Burcell.
• As part of its fifth-anniversary celebration earlier this month, Mystery People--a mystery-fiction seller located within Austin, Texas’ largest independent bookstore, Book People--posted a list of its “Top 100 Crime & Suspense Novels.” The complete list, which you will find here, includes such durable favorites as Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye, Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress, Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, George V. Higgins’ The Friends of Eddie Coyle, Ross Macdonald’s The Way Some People Die, Chester Himes’ Cotton Comes to Harlem, Ellis Peters’ A Morbid Taste for Bones, Jim Thompson’s Pop. 1280, Megan Abbott’s Dare Me, and … hey, there are 100 of the damn things. Do you expect me to list them all?
• Congratulations to Brian Abbott for his five years of blogging at The Poisoned Martini. “It hardly seems like it’s been that long,” he observes. Boy, can I sympathize! The Rap Sheet is coming up on its 10th anniversary in May, but it seems like only yesterday that I was wondering whether I might have a future in blogging.
• Speaking of 10th anniversaries, editor Elizabeth Foxwell noted earlier this month that she’s also spent the last decade blogging about mystery and crime fiction at The Bunburyist. Excellent work!
• Included in its new selection of “15 Great and Bookish Gift Ideas for the Holidays,” Pornokitsch mentions editor Sarah Weinman’s Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & ’50s (Library of America) as well as one of my favorite volumes from last year, The Art of Robert E. McGinnis (Titan).
• Here’s something I didn’t know until reading about it on cop-turned-author Paul Bishop’s Facebook page:
In 1970, Leave It to Beaver’s Ken Osmond [“Eddie Haskell”] joined the Los Angeles Police Department after typecasting curtailed his acting career. He grew a mustache in an effort to secure his anonymity. He worked in vice and narcotics and as a motorcycle officer.• Once Upon a Spy--the James Bond film you’ll never see, penned by Frost/Nixon screenwriter Peter Morgan and featuring a plot that “began during the Cold War with Judi Dench’s M an MI6 agent stationed in Berlin.” Although Morgan’s story was eventually rejected, it had an affect on the new Skyfall.
On September 20, 1980, Osmond was hit by three bullets while in a foot chase with a suspected car thief. He was protected from two of the bullets by his bulletproof vest. The third bullet ricocheting off of his belt buckle. Osmond was placed on disability and eventually retired from the force in 1988. The shooting was later dramatized in a November 1992 episode of the CBS series Top Cops.
• I’ve never read Kingsley Amis’ 1968 James Bond novel, Colonel Sun, but David B. Hobbs’ remarks about the book in Hazlitt certainly make me want to track down a copy.
• The mystery of 003½: The Adventures of James Bond Junior.
• Novelist Ian Rankin (Even Dogs in the Wild) “shares some of the secrets to his success” in this short piece published by Canada’s Globe and Mail. Rankin also takes part in the latest Crime Vault Live podcast, hosted by Michael Carlson and Mark Billingham. Listen to that and previous episodes by clicking here.
• Frederick Forsyth’s new autobiography, The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue, hasn’t yet found a place in my to-be-read pile. But Irish author-critic Declan Burke’s declaration that it’s “an enthralling account of a life that would make for a thrilling, if delightfully implausible, novel” makes me curious to learn more.
• Some interviews worth checking out: Pulp Curry’s Andrew Nette talks with film noir expert Eddie Muller; Sons of Spade’s Jochem van der Steen fires questions at S.W. Lauden, the author of Bad Citizen Corporation; and Crimespree Magazine’s Elise Cooper chats up Frederick Forsyth about the aforementioned The Outsider, which he says is his final book (“I hope I am going out on top.”).
• R.I.P., P.F. Sloan, co-writer of the song “Secret Agent Man,” which The Spy Command calls “an anthem for the 1960s spy craze.” That song figured into the opening titles of at least two TV shows, the 1960-1968 UK series Secret Agent Man (aka Danger Man) and UPN’s somewhat sexier 2000 drama, Secret Agent Man.
• Oh no, not another theory of Jack the Ripper’s identity!
• And I could swear that the last time I passed through North Bend, Washington--where the 1990-1991 ABC-TV series Twin Peaks was partially filmed--the former Mar-T Café, which became that show’s “Double R Diner” and was later rechristened Twede’s Café, had lost its tourist appeal, thanks to arson and a subsequent rebuilding. However, the Atlas Obscura Web site reports that the old diner has recouped its classic character: “As part of the production of the new season of Twin Peaks (and on the production company’s dime), the interior of Twede’s Café has been fully restored to the moody, campy diner of our fondest Lynchian memories. The restaurant will once again serve as the shooting location for the Double R Diner. The renovations are reportedly permanent and will stay in place after shooting wraps.”