Saturday, July 09, 2016

Bullet Points: Serene Saturday Edition

• It appears there will be no 2016 Tony Hillerman Prize competition, while a new partnership is being established to organize that annual contest. The Hillerman Prize, you will recall, promotes debut mysteries based in the American Southwest. A press release carried in the Crimespree Magazine blog explains that “Minotaur Books/A Thomas Dunne Book and Wordharvest are delighted to announce that we have joined forces with Western Writers of America, who will host the Tony Hillerman Prize going forward. With this change come a new submission deadline, an option for electronic manuscript submission, and a new venue for the announcement of the winner at the annual Western Writers of America convention. In order to prepare for these changes, we have made the decision to suspend the competition for 2016. The deadline for the 2017 competition will be January 2, 2017. You can view the guidelines and online submission form online at” A list of previous prize winners is available here.

• Mike Ripley’s latest “Getting Away with Murder” column in Shots features remarks pertaining to the 50th anniversary of the death of Margery Allingham, the upcoming Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival (September 9-11), Walter Satterthwait’s New York Nocturne, a theatrical staging of John Harvey’s Darkness, Darkness, and the Sicily-set novel Ripley declares is “the feel-good-Euro-read of the summer.” Read all about these matters and more here.

• By the way, I’m not sure that I mentioned Ripley’s June 2016 column on this page. You should look that one up here.

• The Los Angeles Times carries this interesting look at the new eight-part HBO-TV miniseries, The Night Of, which is set to premiere tomorrow evening. “Created by acclaimed writers Steven Zaillian and Richard Price, and starring John Turturro and Riz Ahmed, the New York-set show examines what happens when the 23-year-old son of a Pakistani-immigrant cab driver is tossed into the criminal justice system for a murder he may or may not have committed,” writes the Times’ Steven Zeitchik. Wikipedia will be rolling out individual episode synopses as the series progresses.

• Based on a UK series titled Criminal Justice, The Night Of was “the passion project of the late James Gandolfini,” according to this 2014 piece from Deadline Hollywood. Following Gandolfini’s sudden death in 2014, Robert De Niro was brought in to fill his role in the miniseries, playing “ambulance-chasing New York City attorney” Jack Stone. But De Niro later had to withdraw from the project for “scheduling reasons.” John Turturro (who is starting to look a lot like Al Pacino as he ages, don’t you think?) was ultimately brought in to star. I look forward to seeing what he can do here.

• What a great, humorous title for a work of crime fiction! On the left you’ll see the cover from a 1950s edition of Colin Calhoun Detective, a digest-size pulp periodical published in Australia. The cover story, “The Stripper Died Dressed,” is credited to one Conrad Paul. Also in that issue were the stories “Redheads in Jeopardy” and “The Callgirl and the Cop,” both by Benn Raymond. (Hat tip to The Seattle Mystery Bookshop Hardboiled blog.)

The shortlist of nominees for this year’s first-ever HWA (Historical Writers’ Association) Goldsboro Debut Crown award, recognizing excellence in historical fiction, includes a work of crime fiction, so it merits mention here. The half-dozen contenders are: Death and Mr. Pickwick, by Stephen Jarvis (Jonathan Cape); Eden Gardens, by Louise Brown (Headline); The Hoarse Oaths of Fife, by Chris Moore (Uniform Press); Mrs. Engels, by Gavin McCrea (Scribe); Summertime, by Vanessa Lafaye (Orion); and Wolf Winter, by Cecilia Ekbäck (Hodder), described as “a powerful, beautifully written gothic murder mystery in a remote area of 18th-century Lapland.” The winner is expected to be declared during Britain’s Harrogate History Festival (October 21-23).

• Sad news. Omaha, Nebraska’s Mystery Bookstore, founded back in 1995, will shut its doors at the end of September. Owner Kate Birkel wrote in a Facebook post: “As many of you know, I am located next to the Bohemian Café, an Omaha landmark for many decades. (They also happen to be my landlords—the greatest landlords anyone could ever hope to have.) Like many of Omaha’s traditional, family-owned restaurants, the Bohemian recently decided to close. The current generation running the Café is more than ready to retire and none of their kids wants to buy them out. (The common explanation is: “Hell, no! I’m not working my butt off 60 to 80 hours a week! I want a life!”) Much of my walk-in traffic comes from the Bohemian. Sales at the bookstore have been nose diving for the past several years, and I just see no way forward without that walk-in traffic from the Café. Between now and 30 September, I will be selling books, embroidery supplies, and beads on eBay; my seller name is mysteries-to-go. Please check in occasionally. You’d be surprised what I have laying around after nearly 25 years.” Minnesota writer William Kent Krueger mentions in his blog that he will be signing copies of his new Cork O’Connor mystery, Manitou Canyon (Atria), at Birkel’s shop on September 17—“the store’s last official author event.” He adds, “I’ve decided to use the occasion to throw Kate a ‘Goodbye and Thank You’ celebration.”

• Anyone who has ever tried to compose a crime-fiction blog knows just how difficult it can be to remain active and relevant in the game. So author James Reasoner deserves hearty applause for 12 years of writing Rough Edges. Thank you, Jim.

• PBS-TV host Tavis Smiley talks with Walter Mosley about his excellent new, 13th Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins novel, Charcoal Joe.

• Meanwhile, Eric Beetner revisits Mosley’s first Rawlins tale, 1990’s Devil in a Blue Dress, in a nice piece for Criminal Intent.

• Pennsylvania educator and writer Brian R. Sheridan has started a petition on, asking that Warner Archives release the 1971-72 NBC-TV series Banyon in DVD format. “The show was created by Ed Adamson,” Sheridan explains, “and became a Quinn Martin production starring the outstanding actor Robert Forster as a 1930s private eye, Miles Banyon. The show lasted only 16 episodes [including a 1971 pilot film] but is highly regarded by detective-show fans. The outstanding pilot used to turn up on TV stations but, like the series, seems to have faded into obscurity. We are asking the show to be a MOD-DVD release.” I don’t know whether a petition such as this can have much impact on bottom-line-focused Warner execs, but I do remember Banyon fondly, and I’d love to watch that series again. So I signed. You can do so here. What’s the harm?

• Given the shootings earlier this week in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas, I’m not sure The Guardian’s rundown of the “Top 10 Novels About Deranged Killers” will find widespread readership in the States, but the piece is out there for your delectation.

• It’s nice to see that readers are still discovering Arthur Lyons’ 11 novels about Los Angeles private investigator Jacob Asch, even eight years after the author passed away.

• This last April 18 brought the 110th anniversary of San Francisco’s devastating 1906 earthquake and fire, a disaster about which I have written on more than one occasion. What’s really amazing about the downtown destruction is that so much film footage of its aftermath exists. Silent footage, yes, but dramatic nonetheless. Here’s one “haunting” example.

• A few interviews worth noticing: John Farrow, aka Trevor Ferguson, answers questions from Criminal Element about his new Émile Cinq-Mars novel, Seven Days Dead; Benjamin Whitmer (Pike, Cry Father) survives interrogation by S.W. Lauden; Dana King (Dangerous Lesson, The Man in the Window) fields queries lobbed his way by New Mystery Reader Magazine; Speaking of Mysteries’ Nancie Clare talks with Mark Billingham (Die of Shame) and Martin Walker (Fatal Pursuit); and crime analyst-turned-author Spencer Kope chats with Criminal Element about Collecting the Dead.

• Thanks to a recommendation from John and Muriel Higgins, who operate The Victor Canning Pages (devoted to the life and work of that prolific 20th-century writer), I have added a link from The Rap Sheet’s Author Web Sites/Blogs page to this tribute site focused on British journalist-novelist Desmond Bagley (1923-1983), the author of such thrillers as 1967’s Landslide and 1971’s The Freedom Trap (later filmed as The Mackintosh Man). Check it out.

• Finally, Elizabeth Foxwell informs us of an “effort by Edgar winner LeRoy Lad Panek (Introduction to the Detective Story) and Mary Bendel-Simso (McDaniel College, MD) to compile”—for the Westminster Detective Library—“an online repository of short detective works published in the United States prior to 1891 … The pieces include 87 stories by 48 female authors, and Panek states, ‘There are no doubt many more as the majority of the stories we have catalogued have no author listed in the original.’” Foxwell’s post provides some direct links to individual stories, but you can access the Detective Library’s new Web interface here. What a splendid resource!

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