If you can tear your eyes away from this week’s train wreck of a Republican Party convention in Cleveland, here are some crime-fiction-related items worth your attention.
• Please take a moment today to send good wishes in the direction of Alvin, Texas, author Bill Crider (Survivors Will Be Shot Again), whose 75th birthday is coming up on July 28. He reported in his blog yesterday that his doctor wanted him to “check into the hospital ASAP, as he thinks I might be having kidney failure. This can’t be good.” Crider, whose wife of 49 years, Judy, passed away in 2014, has always come across—in print and in person (on those several occasions I’ve seen him at Bouchercons)—as a fine and funny individual. His recent adoption of three abandoned kittens demonstrated his generosity, as well. Our thoughts are with you, Bill. Get well soon.
• Having gained renown for bringing out hard-boiled paperback crime fiction, Hard Case Crime is now preparing to launch a companion comic-books line in association with publishing partner Titan. “Kicking-off the imprint,” reports Comic Book Resources, “are two new crime series: Triggerman by writer Walter Hill, the acclaimed director of The Warriors, and artist Matz (Body and Soul), and Peepland from
crime authors Christa Faust and Gary Phillips and artist Andrea Camerini (Il Troio). Also launching in 2017 is a comic adaptation of author Max Allan Collins’ Quarry, which is currently being developed for television.” News-a-Rama adds that Triggerman—which will debut in stores on October 5, “is an operatic Prohibition-era mini-series,” while Peepland—scheduled to be available a week later—is “a semi-autobiographical neo-noir mini-series with a punk edge set in the seedy Times Square peep booths of 1980s New York City.” In his blog, author Collins explains that “no artist has been selected” for his Quarry tale, “and I probably won’t start writing for two or three months; the graphic novel will likely be called Quarry’s War and will deal more directly with his Vietnam experiences than I’ve ever done in the novels.” It’s been many years since I was a regular reader of comic books, but these Hard Case releases are definitely of interest to me, if only because I know some of the writers involved. Also, the issues I’ve seen boast beautiful covers, one of which is shown on the right.
• By the way, that Collins post I just mentioned also features a new trailer for the coming Cinemax TV series, Quarry. It’s apparently narrated by South Africa-born actress Jodi Balfour, who plays Joni, the ex-wife of Collins’ protagonist—looking quite a bit less glamorous than she did in the Canadian series Bomb Girls, which my wife and I are currently in the process of watching on Netflix.
• Another graphic novel of interest: Last Fair Deal Gone Down (12 Gauge), an adaptation of Ace Atkins’ first story starring Louisiana footballer-turned-sometime private eye Nick Travers. The Crimespree Magazine blog says the artwork dramatizing Atkins’ story was done by Marco Finnegan, who is “a fan of the Travers stories and the genre of crime. You feel the mood and the atmosphere on every page.”
• MysteryPeople also weighs in on Atkins’ graphic novel.
• There are apparently three finalists vying for the 2016
T. Jefferson Parker Mystery and Thriller Award: Before the Fall, by Noah Hawley (Grand Central); Orphan X, by Gregg Hurwitz (Minotaur); and The Promise, by Robert Crais (Putnam). The Parker award is given out annually by the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association. It is one of seven categories of prizes sponsored by SCIBA. Winners are expected to be announced during the SCIBA Trade Show to be held in Los Angeles, October 21-22.
• Jose Ignacio Escribano reports in A Crime Is Afoot that “The 2016 Dashiell Hammett Prize—awarded each year by the International Crime Fiction Festival, la Semana Negra de Gijón—has been bestowed to the novel Subsuelo, by the Argentine writer Marcelo Luján.”
• Blogger-editor Janet Rudolph needs submissions to her next edition of Mystery Readers Journal.
She says that issue “will focus on mysteries featuring Small Town Cops,” and that she’s “looking for reviews, articles, and Author! Author! essays. Reviews: 50-250 words; articles: 250-1000 words; Author! Author! essays: 500-1,500 words.” The deadline for submissions is August 10. Learn more here.
• Just last month I mentioned on this page that I was very happy to see David Cranmer writing, in the Criminal Element blog, about Isaac Asimov’s trilogy of Elijah Baley/Daneel Olivaw yarns. Yesterday Cranmer completed his critiques of those science-fiction whodunits, posting this fine piece about The Robots of Dawn (1983) to add to his earlier remarks on The Caves of Steel (1954) and The Naked Sun (1957). Good going, Mr. Cranmer!
• This is an interesting development: “Steeger Properties, LLC, is pleased to announce that it has added the most prominent pulp magazine ever published, Black Mask, to its intellectual property holdings. As the periodical where the hard-boiled detective story was created and cultivated, Black Mask’s historical significance in popular fiction is unequaled. … Black Mask rejoins Dime Detective and Detective Fiction Weekly in Steeger Properties, LLC’s holdings once owned by Popular Publications Inc. ... This marks the first time in over 50 years that all three titles [are] owned by one entity.”
• If you need a Caribbean mystery fix, check this out.
• Columbo star Peter Falk, who passed away in 2011 at age 83, will be the subject of this week’s installment of TV Confidential, Ed Robertson’s popular two-hour radio talk show. William Link (who, with Richard Levinson, created that NBC Mystery Movie series) and TV critic Mark Dawidziak will join Robertson on the show, which is set to air from Friday, July 22, through Monday, July 25, on a variety of radio stations. It will later be archived here for your enjoyment.
• It was two years ago yesterday that prolific actor James Garner died at 86 years of age. Quite to my surprise, I am still discovering new films and small-screen productions in which he starred. Just last week, for instance, I finally got around to watching 1997’s Dead Silence, adapted from Jeffery Deaver’s 1995 novel, A Maiden’s Grave, and starring Garner as a hostage negotiator.
• Author brothers Lee and Tod Goldberg have won valuable attention in Palm Springs, California’s Desert Sun newspaper for the fact that they “have pulled off a rare feat by both appearing on the same New York Times Best Sellers list at the same time for different books.” (Yes, I know I mentioned this previously.)
• The real reason Showtime’s Penny Dreadful was canceled?
• I was just thinking the other night about how much I’d like to rewatch last year’s thrills-packed Guy Ritchie picture, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.—which I very much enjoyed at the time of its release—when what should appear in Bill Crider’s blog but this favorable assessment of that flick as an “overlooked movie.” (Crider also offered this trailer.) These stars having thus aligned, I now have The Man from U.N.C.L.E. stored in my TV queue for imminent viewing.
• Sadly, while Ritchie’s U.N.C.L.E. survived the first round of online voting in the 2016 MTV Fandom of the Year awards, it
fell out of the running in round two.
• Stephen Bowie presents a superior write-up in The Classic TV History Blog about The Defenders, the
often-acclaimed 1961-1965 CBS-TV legal drama, Season One of which was finally released in DVD format last week by Shout! Factory.
• Meanwhile, Ivan G. Shreve Jr. applauds Shout!’s recent release of Lou Grant: Season One. Lou Grant, you will recall, was the excellent 1977-1982 CBS series in which Edward Asner played the tough but thoughtful city editor of the (fictional) Los Angeles Tribune newspaper. He’d previously appeared as Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Lou Grant: Season Two will go on sale in August.
• Again on the subject of TV programs, have you heard about Wayne State University Press’ evolving collection of releases about such memorable boob-tube productions as Have Gun—Will Travel, The X Files, Maverick, The Fugitive, and Miami Vice? This might be something to keep a watch on for the near future.
• Some author interviews worth your attention: Underground Airlines’ Ben H. Winters
goes one-on-one with Lori Rader-Day for the Chicago Review of Books; in that same publication, Lauren Sacks quizzes David Baker (Vintage); Todd Robinson (Rough Trade) chats with Crimespree Magazine; writer-publisher Jason Pinter submits to an interrogation by S.W. Lauden; MysteryPeople turns its attention to both Peter Spiegelman (Dr. Knox) and Douglas Graham Purdy (We Were Kings); James Henry, aka James Gurbutt, talks with Cleopatra Loves Books about his new UK release, Blackwater; Mystery Playground fires
questions at Terrence McCauley (A Murder of Crows); In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel discusses the old Sergeant Cuff novels with Martin Edwards; and Camilla Way (Watching Edie) stops by for a bit of a palaver with Crime Fiction Lover.
• Seattleite Vince Keenan, the managing editor of Noir City (the Film Noir Foundation’s “house rag”), offers this short but snappy look back at the film and television career or Roy Huggins,
the creator of Maverick and the co-creator of The Rockford Files.
• Despite its hype and publishing success, I found Stephanie Meyer’s vampire-themed Twilight
series unreadable, so I won’t be buying her forthcoming adult thriller, The Chemist, which she describes as “the love child created from the union of my romantic sensibilities and my obsession with Jason Bourne/Aaron Cross.” But for those of you who are curious to know more, click over to this Omnivoracious post.
• Darn! I wish I could be in Britain this week to watch “BBC 1’s lavish new adaptation of
Joseph Conrad’s 1907 novel, The Secret Agent.” (There’s a trailer at the link.) Fortunately, Wikipedia says this three-part
mini-series, starring Toby Jones, will cross the Atlantic at some as-yet-unannounced date, courtesy of Acorn TV.
• In The Guardian, Mark Lawson calls Conrad’s The Secret Agent “a prescient masterpiece that has shaped depictions of terrorism and espionage.” It’s hard to argue with that assessment.
• For folks who like lists, try these on for size. Wolf Lake author John Verdon recommends the “10
Best Whodunits” in Publishers Weekly, while Joseph Finder (Guilty Minds) serves up his picks of the “10 Best Movie Thrillers” on the Strand Magazine Web site.
• Among Brooklyn Magazine’s list of “100 Books to Read for the Rest of 2016” are several crime and mystery fiction picks, including Good as Gone, by Amy Gentry, The Kingdom, by Fuminori Nakamura, and Underground Airlines, by Ben H. Winters.
In Reference to Murder: “There are plans afoot to bring the Idris Elba-starring crime drama Luther to the big screen. Luther creator Neil Cross indicated that the Luther movie would play as [a] prequel to the series, meaning that some of the characters from early in the show could return, including Luther’s old partner Ian Reed (Steven Mackintosh), and his sidekick Justin Ripley (Warren Brown). Cross added, ‘It will follow his career in the earlier days when he is still married to Zoe [Indira Varma], and the final scene in the film is the first of the initial TV series.’”
• With only two months to go now (yikes!) before Bouchercon 2016 kicks off in New Orleans, Louisiana, conference organizes have made all six of this year’s Anthony Award-nominated short stories available online here for your consideration.
• Finally, because Donald Trump & Co. are still huffing and puffing and blowing themselves up on stage in Ohio, here’s a note of interest from the online Seattle Review of Books: “Would
you care to guess what Donald Trump reads? Is ‘not much of anything’ your answer? The good news is, you’re right! (The bad news is: you’re right.)” More about Trump’s anti-intellectualism can be found here.