Friday, August 18, 2017

Bullet Points: Pre-Solar Eclipse Edition

• Things are definitely shaping up for this year’s Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival, set to take place in Stirling, Scotland, from September 8 to 10. We already welcomed the longlist of nominees for the 2017 McIlvanney Prize, and pored over the general convention program. Now comes the list of “exciting new authors” in the genre who’ve been asked to participate in Bloody Scotland’s “Crime in the Spotlight” presentations, meaning they’ll act sort of like warm-up bands for better-known wordsmiths. Shotsmag Confidential observes that “Two years ago Graeme Macrae Burnet appeared ‘in the spotlight’ immediately before Ian Rankin, one year later he was shortlisted for the Man Booker. It’s a great opportunity to perform in front of a vast audience of potential fans.”

• It’s regrettable news, indeed, that an upcoming movie featuring Ernest Tidyman’s renowned black Manhattan private eye, John Shaft, “is going to be definitely not straight action. We’re going action-comedy or comedy-action, I’m not exactly sure which one comes first,” explains this big-screen reboot’s director, Tim Story. As Steve Aldous, UK author of The World of Shaft, grumbles in his blog: “I hold no confidence [this production] will add anything positive to the Shaft legacy.”

• On the other hand, a trailer for The Deuce—the David Simon/George Pelecanos-created drama scheduled to premiere on HBO-TV come Sunday, September 10—looks fabulous! As Criminal Element explains, the eight-episode first season of this series “explores the rise of the porn culture in New York during the 1970s and ’80s, as a cultural revolution in American sexuality met a change in the legal definitions of obscenity to create the billion-dollar industry it is today.” James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal star in the show, but also noteworthy is that novelists Richard Price, Megan Abbott, and Lisa Lutz have all taken a hand in writing for the program.

• Was recent hand-wringing in the press over whether Daniel Craig would return to star in the as-yet-unnamed 25th James Bond film unwarranted? Had Craig pledged himself to the project long ago? The Spy Command sifts through the evidence.

R.I.P., Blanche Blackwell, described by The Washington Post as “a member of one of Jamaica’s richest families but … best known as the mistress and muse of Ian Fleming, the rakish author who was the creator of James Bond.” She died on August 8 at age 104.

In an interview with BBC Radio, Ian Fleming's actress niece, Lucy Fleming, remarks on how the on-screen 007s have evolved over time “to reflect the generation they are made in.” Today, she says, “you need a tougher, more ruthless Bond than we did in 1960s.”

• And The Book Bond brings news that Vintage Classics is readying yet another fresh series of covers for Fleming’s spy novels.

• In the wake of last week’s announcement of finalists for Australia’s 2017 Ned Kelly Awards, the Australian Crime Writers Association—in partnership with the crime-fiction Web site Kill Your Darlings—has broadcast its shortlist of contenders for this year’s S.D. Harvey Short Story Competition, honoring the late Sydney journalist/TV producer Sandra Harvey. The nominees are:

— “Rules to Live By,” by Louise Bassett
— “The Ridge,” by Katherine Kovacic
— “The Enthusiastic Amateur,” by Melanie Myers
— “Shafted,” by Roni O’Brien
— “Flesh,” by Stephen Samuel
— “How to Cease Being a Man Killer,” by Roger Vickery

A winner as well as a runner-up will be declared on September 1 during the annual Ned Kelly Awards Presentation in Melbourne, Victoria.

• This item comes from In Reference to Murder:
The Malice Domestic conference announced that Brenda Blethyn will be the Poirot Award Honoree for the 2017 conference. Ms. Blethyn is an Academy Award- and Emmy-nominated, Golden Globe-winning actress who stars as DCI Vera Stanhope in the series Vera, based on the books by Ann Cleeves. She joins the already-announced lineup that includes Guest of Honor Louise Penny; Toastmaster Catriona McPherson; Lifetime Achievement Award winner Nancy Pickard; Amelia Award winner David Suchet; and Fan Guest of Honor Janet Blizard.
• Only after posting my list of favorite crime-fiction blogs last week did it occur to me that I had neglected to mention Sarah Weinman’s The Crime Lady. Of course, that’s not a blog or a Web site, but is instead a once-or-twice-a-month newsletter, and I wasn’t focused on such things when compiling my recommendations. Nonetheless, The Crime Lady deserves reader attention. The New York-based Weinman, who for a long time wrote the excellent blog Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind, and subsequently edited Women Crime Writers: Eight Suspense Novels of the 1940s & ’50s, addresses crime and mystery fiction in her newsletter, as well as true-crime subjects, and always brings insight to her writing. You will find an archive of The Crime Lady here, and you can subscribe to it by clicking here.

• Speaking of Weinman’s bulletins, the last edition featured an interview with Mattias Boström, the Swedish author of From Holmes to Sherlock: The Story of the Men and Women Who Created an Icon (Mysterious Press). She describes his new book as a “narrative history paced like a suspense novel, and packed full of information about [Arthur] Conan Doyle, the early wild success of Holmes & Watson, and the century-plus since of how the characters were transformed in books, film, television, radio, podcasts, and fanfic.”

• Other recent author interviews worth your time: Augustus Rose talks with the Chicago Review of Books about his new novel, The Readymade Thief; Rose is also interviewed for the Speaking of Mysteries podcast by Nancie Clare, whose other latest program guest was Rachel Howzell Hall (City of Saviors); Mystery Playground chats with Karin Slaughter about The Good Daughter; Boston native Adam Abramowitz is quizzed by both DigBoston and Jewish Boston about his debut thriller, Bosstown; and MysteryPeople engages in conversation with Traci Lambrecht about Nothing Stays Buried, the last Monkeewrench gang yarn she co-wrote—under the pseudonym P.J. Tracy—with her mother, P.J. Lambrecht, who passed away late last year.

• Whodunit writer Bonnie “B.K.” Stevens died “suddenly” on August 14, according to The Gumshoe Site. It goes on to explain:
The former college professor had the old dream of becoming a fiction writer and started writing mystery short stories. The fourth story, “True Detective,” introducing Lt. Walt Johnson and Sgt. Gordon Bolt, was sold and printed in the June 1988 issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine (AHMM). She contributed a number of short stories mostly for AHMM and sometimes for Woman’s World, featuring Johnson & Bolt, female private eye Iphigenia Woodhouse, and temp secretary/amateur sleuth Leah Abrams. She published both her first novel, Interpretation of Murder (Black Opal Books), featuring sign language interpreter Jane Ciardi, and her second one, Fighting Chance (Poisoned Pen Press), a martial arts mystery for teens, in 2015. Her recent novella, “The Last Blue Glass” (AHMM, April 2016) has been nominated for Agatha and Anthony Awards.
Mystery Fanfare’s obituary of Stevens includes her husband’s painful Facebook announcement that “the greatest wife, friend, and companion a man could have” collapsed at the Suffolk, Virginia, Mystery Writers’ Festival “and never recovered.” Our sympathies go out to all of Stevens’ family.

• Art Taylor offers up his own fine remembrance of B.K. Stevens, in SleuthSayers. “Both professionally and personally,” he concludes, “Bonnie Stevens was one of my dearest friends, and her death is sudden and sharply felt—a loss to all of us in the mystery community. I will miss her in so very many ways.”

• Also gone is Brooklyn-born actor Joseph Bologna, who The New York Times said “looked like the quintessential tough guy but couldn’t seem to resist writing and playing sensitive male characters who longed for love and commitment in films like ‘Lovers and Other Strangers’ and ‘Made for Each Other.’” Over the course of his career, Bologna appeared as well on TV series such as L.A. Law, Burke’s Law, Marshall Law (do you detect a pattern here?), Everwood, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. He died on August 13 at 82 years of age.

• Now, that’s incredible! The underappreciated 1973-1974 NBC-TV drama The Magician—which I initially wrote about in The Rap Sheet 11 years ago—is finally set to receive a complete video release, according to TV Shows on DVD. The on-sale date is supposed to be next Friday, August 25. I don’t yet find it available on Amazon, but Toronto-based home video distribution company VEI has made the show available for “preorder.” As TV Shows on DVD recalls, this series starred “Bill Bixby … as master stage magician Tony Blake [originally Anthony Dorian], a playboy philanthropist who uses his talents as an illusionist to solve crimes and help others in need. After being falsely imprisoned, Blake escapes and uses his unjust imprisonment as a motivator to seek justice for others.” Only 21 hour-long weekly episodes of The Magician were made, along with a 90-minute pilot, and the show underwent serious mid-season adjustments, during which Blake lost his private Boeing 720 jet and relocated from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Still, I enjoyed Bixby’s series enough that several years ago I tracked down and bought bootleg copies of all the episodes. Should I now add the official DVD release to my collection of vintage TV shows? Click here to watch the pilot’s opening title sequence.

• “American movies changed 50 years ago, when two seemingly unassailable outlaws met a parade of bullets and became the ultimate antiheroes.” So writes Matthew Jacobs in The Huffington Post, noting it was on August 13, 1967, that the Warren Beatty/Faye Dunaway film Bonnie and Clyde opened in theaters. The violent, sexy yarn director Arthur Penn wove had only a scant relationship to the real story of small-time Depression-era outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. But as Jacobs asserts, it has become a “hip and bold” classic.

• Thanks to the podcast Serial, literary true crime/memoir hybrids are currently on the rise, according to Slate’s Laura Miller.

• I like to think of myself as being quite well read in the field of classic mystery novels, but this lengthy list from BuzzFeed reminds me that I still have more work to do.

• Mystery Tribune reports that television’s “Hallmark Channel is looking for original mystery and suspense manuscripts.” It goes on to note that “The channel is particularly interested in romances and mysteries that also celebrate friendship, family, and/or community ties.” Then it delivers this cause for head shaking: “All stories must have happy endings.” Yeah, that’s the Hallmark Channel for you.

• Philip Kerr’s The Other Side of Silence, his 11th historical thriller starring Berlin ex-cop Bernie Gunther, was originally released in hardcover in 2016. But the paperback edition came out this year—much to critic Jim Napier’s delight, as he explains in January Magazine.

• Bill Crider submits his new Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery, Dead, to Begin With (Minotaur), to Marshal Zerigue’s infamous Page 69 Test.

• Most book trailers are pretty lame, in my opinion. But this one, promoting Australian Sarah Schmidt’s creepy new literary look back at the 1892 Lizzie Borden homicides, See What I Have Done (Atlantic Monthly Press), is positively haunting.

For the Strand Magazine blog, Jason Pinter—the publisher of Polis Books and the author most recently of a well-received political thriller titled The Castle (Armina Press)—names half a dozen other works in that same subgenre that he thinks we should all read. And yes, David Baldacci’s Absolute Power is included.

• Finally, there’s still no word yet on whether Grantchester, the 1950s-set British mystery TV series that concluded its Season 3 run on Masterpiece Mystery! last month, will return with a fourth set of episodes. A blog called Telly Visions (yeah, I hadn’t heard of it before either) quotes author James Runcie (not “Ruchie”) as saying the problem lies primarily with star James Norton, “who has ‘gotten too popular.’ Speaking to The Sun, he complained that since Norton’s turn on [the BBC One crime drama] Happy Valley, the actor is now a ‘hot property.’” So we continue to wait on tenterhooks for updates.


pattinase (abbott) said...

What a lot of work went into this. Thanks!

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Absolutely! Thank you.