• Two months after the death of actor Mike Connors, TV Shows on DVD has announced that a complete series set of Mannix, the 1967-1975 private-eye drama with which he is best associated, will be released by CBS/Paramount on May 9. Reads a press release: “Here are all 194 episodes together, that bring the action, the music, and the style of an era back to life. Developed for television by executive producer Bruce Geller (TV’s Mission: Impossible), Mannix cruises the mean streets of Los Angeles, cracking cases that feature an array of ne’er-do-wells, from the most dangerous of criminals to the syndicates of high society.” The 48-disc set will retail for $129.98.
• Via Eurocrime comes news that Booker Award-winning author Eleanor Catton’s third novel (following The Luminaries) will be Birnam Wood, “a psychological thriller, set in a remote area of New Zealand where scores of ultra-rich foreigners are building fortress-like homes, … following the guerilla gardening outfit Birnam Wood, a ragtag group of leftists who move about the country cultivating other people's land … [Their] chance encounter with an American billionaire sparks a tragic sequence of events which questions how far each of us would go to ensure our own survival—and at what cost.” The book has been sold “to Farrar, Straus (U.S.); McClelland & Stewart (Canada); Granta (UK/Australia); and Victoria University Press (NZ).”
• And this from In Reference to Murder: “Mystery Fest Key West has announced a call for submissions for this year’s Whodunit Mystery Writing Competition. The winner will claim a book-publishing contract with Absolutely Amazing eBooks, free Mystery Fest Key West 2017 registration, airfare, hotel accommodations for two nights, meals, and a Whodunit Award trophy to be presented at the 4th Annual Mystery Fest Key West, set for June 16-18 in Key West, Florida. For more information and deadlines, follow this link.”
• I feel like I’m always behind in listening to Nancie Clare’s Speaking of Mysteries podcasts. That may be because they tend to come out irregularly, yet in bunches at a time. Since I last made note of Clare’s work here, she has added exchanges with Scott Reardon (The Prometheus Man), David Mark (Cruel Mercy), Suzanne Chazin (No Witness But the Moon), David Joy (Weight of this World), Rhys Bowen (In Farleigh Field), and Kate White (The Secrets You Keep). Clare’s count of podcast interviewees now exceeds 110, and the previous installments remain available for your listening pleasure.
• Speaking of Nancie Clare, she sent me an e-mail note not too long ago, posing a question that I have so far been unable to answer on my own, so let me seek assistance from The Rap Sheet’s extraordinarily well-read audience. Her note reads: “A friend of mine is trying to recall a series of mysteries set in Boston. The detective/fixer works for a bank executive (who has something over him) and looks into things that the bank’s clients wouldn’t, or couldn’t, go to the authorities for. He describes them as funny and a bit quirky, Joe Lansdale-esque (that’s my interpretation anyway). Any, ahem, clue?” If you think you know which mystery series Clare is describing here, please drop me a message in the Comments section at the end of this post.
• In advance of marketing its paperback edition of Patrick E. McLean’s The Soak in May, publisher Brash Books has released its very first audiobook: an adaptation of McLean’s novella prequel, The Lucky Dime, read by none other than the author himself.
• Here’s a work I look forward to reading: Mike Ripley’s Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang: The Boom in British Thrillers from Casino Royale to The Eagle Has Landed (HarperCollins). In a preview for Shots, Ripley explains that “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang—or KK-BB as it is known in certain circles in honor of Len Deighton—has been many years in its gestation, you might say about 50 years since, as a callow youth, I realized that I was reading my way through a purple path of British thriller writing. Was it a ‘Golden Age’? Well, that is, as with all ‘Golden Ages’ a matter for debate, but it was undeniably a boom time for British thriller writers, who dominated international bestseller lists.” Ripley’s volume seems destined to find a choice spot on my overcrowded bookshelves beside Martin Edwards’ The Golden Age of Murder.
• The third episode of Writer Types, a podcast hosted by S.W. Lauden and Eric Beetner, is now ready for your inspection. Lauden touts the contents thusly: “Check out interviews with Johnny Shaw and Sue Ann Jaffarian. Spend a night at Noir at the Bar—L.A. with Glen Erik Hamilton, Nolan Knight, Sarah M. Chen, Travis Richardson, John Lansing, and Stephen Blackmoore. Go to rock school with Alex Segura, Joe Clifford, and Corey Lynn Fayman. And listen to a haunting short story from Jen Conley. Plus, reviews from Kate Hackbarth Malmon and Dan Malmon.” Lots to keep you interested.
• I’ve added a couple more vintage TV show intros to The Rap Sheet’s YouTube page—from the Elmore Leonard-inspired Maximum Bob (1998) and Stephen J. Cannell’s Broken Badges (1990-1991).
• Foreword Reviews has broadcast its lists of finalists for the annual INDIES Book of the Year Awards, including contenders in both the Mystery and Thriller categories. The winners in each category will be declared on June 24 during the 2017 American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago.
• Say good-bye to Blasted Heath. That small press, spearheaded by Al Guthrie and Kyle MacRae, is closing up shop. Which is a damn shame, because ever since it was launched in November 2011, it’s been turning out intriguing crime fiction by the likes of Anthony Neil Smith, Elaine Ash (aka Anonymous-9), Nigel Bird, Gerard Brennan, Ray Banks, and others. As Brennan notes in his blog, “the books are going to be available for a few more days, I think. You can’t keep good talent down, so they won’t be unavailable forever, but if you want the Blasted Heath version of any of their great titles, you need to move your hole.” Oh so quaintly put.
• While Crimespree Magazine celebrates the 30th anniversary of the release of Ian Rankin’s Knots and Crosses, the novel that introduced maverick Detective Inspector John Rebus, the author himself brings us new details about the program for the inaugural RebusFest, to be held in Edinburgh, Scotland, from June 30 to July 2.
• Also online now is the schedule of events being put in place for this year’s Newcastle Noir (April 29-30), “a festival dedicated to promoting crime fiction under all its guises from all over the world.” Authors taking part include William Ryan, Erik Axl Sund, Quentin Bates, Sarah Ward, and Michael J. Malone.
• I did something last week that was fairly unusual for me: I registered early for this year’s Bouchercon, which is set to take place in Toronto, Canada, from October 12 to 15. If memory serves, I finally signed up for Bouchercon 2015 sometime late in the summer preceding that Raleigh event, and for Bouchercon 2016 only two months prior to festivities beginning in New Orleans. This could well be the last Bouchercon I attend for a while (subsequent conventions in St. Petersburg, Florida, Dallas, Texas, and Sacramento, California, aren’t big draws for me), so I wanted to make sure I had all of my ducks in a row as soon as possible. See who else will be at Bouchercon 2017 by clicking here. And if you’d like to register yourself, you can do so here.
• From Kevin Burton Smith of The Thrilling Detective Web Site:
Adam Lerner and Bill Boyle have launched a fund-raising IndieGoGo campaign to get Raymond Chandler a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, with the approval of the Chandler Estate and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. This would make Chandler the first writer (who is not also a director, producer, or animator) to get a star.• As part of a piece in The Guardian about the 21st-century relevance of fictional private eyes, author Christa Faust argues that the hard-boiled essence of such protagonists remains vital. That is, she says, “if you mean a complex, conflicted loner with a generally cynical worldview who gets mixed up in criminal endeavors but maintains a strong, though often unconventional, moral code. A wise-cracking, ruggedly handsome middle-aged white guy in a fedora and trenchcoat who slaps women and then kisses them? Maybe not so much.”
They argue that “If there were no Raymond Chandler there would certainly be no Philip Marlowe. and if there were no Philip Marlowe there would arguably be no Hollywood Noir or Hollywood Walk of Fame.”
I’m not sure if I buy all that argument, but if there’s a writer who deserves that star, it’s definitely Chandler. Let’s help give him his due.
• Hooray for the return of Dan Wagner’s The Hungry Detective!
• A few author interviews worth reading: In Criminal Element, Ardi Alspach questions Lyndsay Faye about her new Sherlock Holmes short-story collection, The Whole Art of Detection; Melissa Scrivner Love chats with Mystery Tribune about her debut thriller, Lola; Crime Fiction Lover quizzes Iceland’s Arnaldur Indridason on the subject of his new novel, The Shadow District, which is the opening entry in a new series; an Australian Web site called Daily Review does a quickie interview with Peter Robinson, whose next Alan Banks yarn, Sleeping in the Ground, is due out in the States come August; and Do Some Damage’s Steve Weddle talks briefly with Kieran Shea about his soon- forthcoming “space heist” yarn, Off Rock.
• R.I.P., Robert Day, the UK director behind four Tarzan flicks, who devoted a majority of his efforts during the mid-20th-century to TV projects. According to Deadline Hollywood, he helmed “multiple episodes of The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Avengers, The F.B.I., The Name of the Game, Cade’s County and earn[ed] a DGA [Directors Guild of America] nom for 1970’s The Bold Ones: The Senator. He continued to direct TV dramas throughout the ’70s, including episodes of such classics as Police Story, The Streets of San Francisco, McCloud, Kojak, and Dallas.” Day was 94 years old.
• Talk about depressing charts!
• And this news, reported last year, reminds me of another, older TV series of the same name. According to Deadline Hollywood, “The Mark Gordon Company has put together big TV series package The Barbary Coast. The series will be directed and co-written by Mel Gibson, with Kurt Russell and Kate Hudson set to star. Gibson also will have a recurring role on the series. The project is inspired by Gangs of New York author Herbert Asbury’s book The Barbary Coast, about the birth of San Francisco. … The Barbary Coast begins with the [California] Gold Rush in 1849 which saw the biggest influx of gold-seekers, gamblers, thieves, harlots, politicians. and other felonious parasites to the infant city. Thus arose a unique criminal district that for almost 70 years was the scene of more viciousness and depravity—yet at the same time possessed more glamour and intrigue—than any other area of vice and iniquity on the American continent.” I wonder whatever happened to this project. I’ve seen only one small update since.