Thursday, August 16, 2018

Bullet Points: Post-Getaway Edition

So I have finally returned to Rap Sheet headquarters after an almost two-weeks-long train journey through western Canada, mostly touring Banff National Park and Jasper National Park on the British Columbia/Alberta border. The relaxation time was much needed; I didn’t touch a computer or cell phone the whole time I was away, and only read a newspaper twice. I’m feeling rested and ready to gather my latest assortment of crime fiction-related news items.

• Five years after Elmore Leonard passed away, his son Peter is set to reinvigorate one of Leonard’s best-recalled series characters, Raylan Givens, in Raylan Goes to Detroit, which is due out next month from Rare Bird Books. Here’s the plot synopsis offered by Amazon:
After an altercation with his superiors in Harlan County, Kentucky, Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens is offered two choices. He can either retire or finish his career on the fugitive task force in the crime-ridden precincts of Detroit.

Acting on a tip, Raylan and his new partner, Deputy Marshal Bobby Torres, arrest Jose Rindo, a destructive and violent criminal. Rindo is also being pursued by the FBI, who arrive shortly after he is in custody. Raylan bumps heads with a beautiful FBI agent named Nora Sanchez, who wants Rindo for the murder of a one of their own.

When Rindo escapes from the county jail and is arrested in Ohio, Raylan and FBI Special Agent Sanchez drive south to pick up the fugitive and bring him back to stand trial. Later, when Rindo escapes again, Raylan and Nora―still at odds―are reunited and follow the elusive fugitive’s trail across Arizona to El Centro, California, and into Mexico, where they have no jurisdiction or authority. How are they going to bring Rindo, a Mexican citizen, across the border without anyone knowing?
• While I was away on vacation, I received word from publisher Eric Campbell that the fourth edition of Down & Out: The Magazine is now ready for purchase. Featured among the contents of this issue: a new Inspector Kubu short story from the writing team of Michael Stanley; a vintage yarn by Frederick C. Davis; new fiction by Arthur Klepchukov, Lissa Marie Redmond, and Brian Silverman; and my latest “Placed in Evidence” column, which surveys the extensive field of Jack the Ripper novels—just in time for the 130th anniversary of that murderous fiend’s rampage through London.

• By the way, I just noticed that Kevin R. Tipple has reviewed the first two issues of Down & Out: The Magazine in his blog, Kevin’s Corner. Look here for his Issue 1 assessment, and here to see what he said about Issue 2. I am pleased to learn that he’s enjoying my “Placed in Evidence” contributions.

• This week’s release, by William Morrow, of Scarface and the Untouchable: Al Capone, Eliot Ness, and the Battle for Chicago has brought with it a spate of associated Web postings by co-authors Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz. In CrimeReads, for instance, the pair look back at Capone’s fondness for self-publicity, while on the Strand Magazine’s Web site they compile “10 Surprising Facts About Al Capone and Eliot Ness.” The authors fielded questions today from Reddit users. And in a piece for History News Network they try to make sense of Donald Trump’s bizarre effort to compare Capone with his indicted former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.

• Who will play Perry Mason now? Deadline Hollywood reports that Robert Downey Jr., who’d long hoped to portray Erle Stanley Gardner’s highly successful criminal defense attorney on screen, doesn’t have time enough in his schedule to star in an HBO-TV series that “reimagines” the protagonist. Deadline Hollywood adds, though, that “Robert and Susan Downey, who developed the project, remain executive producers along with Joe Horaceck. Team Downey originally had a Perry Mason feature reboot set up at Warner Bros. six years ago with Downey Jr. attached to star.” Also stepping aside from this project is Nic Pizzolatto, who had been on board to write the Mason series, but is now devoting himself to Season 3 of HBO’s True Detective.

• Nancie Clare’s most recent guest on her Speaking of Mysteries podcast is the frequently funny Chicago novelist Lori Rader-Day, who has much to say about her new novel, Under a Dark Sky.

• Happy 16th birthday to the Literary Saloon blog.

• Canada’s Globe and Mail carries a good profile of Linwood Barclay, emphasizing his interest in scripting films and TV shows.

• I missed this news during my holiday travels. Fortunately, B.V. Lawson picked it up in her blog, In Reference to Murder:
Sisters in Crime Australia announced the winners of this year’s Davitt Awards at the annual awards dinner this past weekend. Best Adult Crime Novel was won by And Fire Came Down by Emma Viskic; the Readers’ Choice winner was Force of Nature by Jane Harper; Best Debut, The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey; Best Non-fiction Book, Whiteley on Trial by Gabriella Coslovich; Best Young Adult, Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield; and Best Children’s Novel, The Turnkey by Allison Rushby. The awards are named after Ellen Davitt, author of Australia’s first mystery novel, Force and Fraud (1865), and as of 2018, are sponsored by Swinburne University of Technology.
• Meanwhile, Mystery Fanfare has posted the list of finalists for the 2018 Silver Fanchion Awards, to be dispensed during the Killer Nashville conference in Tennessee (August 23-26). The categories of contenders include Best Mystery, Best Thriller, and Best Suspense.

• The Detroit Free Press bids a fond farewell to Aunt Agatha’s. After 26 years in business, that popular Ann Arbor, Michigan, bookshop will close its doors for the last time on August 31.

• In mid-July, editor and scholar Steven Powell wrote in The Rap Sheet about his latest book, The Big Somewhere: Essays on James Ellroy’s Noir World (Bloomsbury Academic). More recently, he excerpted the opening chapter from that work in his blog, The Venetian Vase. As he explains, it “examine[s] the influence of Raymond Chandler’s writing on Ellroy’s work.”

• Speaking of Chandler—and following on from my July 26 piece for CrimeReads about how other authors have “revived and reinterpreted” his series private eye, Philip Marlowe—note that Open Letters Review features a thoughtful critique of what it calls “one of the summer’s least likely and most fascinating volumes”: The Annotated Big Sleep, edited by Owen Hill, Pamela Jackson, and Anthony Dean Rizzuto (Vintage Crime). Kevin Burton Smith supplies his own generally favorable comments about that notes-heavy version of the first Marlowe novel in The Thrilling Detective Web Site, together with some unexpectedly laudatory remarks about Only to Sleep, Lawrence Osborne’s new tale imagining Marlowe as an older gent investigating an insurance scam in 1980s Mexico. Smith’s bottom line: “what works best in this book is all the ways it’s not Chandler, but merely Chandleresque.” I couldn’t agree more.

• A books and culture site I’d never heard of before, called Signature, has posted a worthwhile rundown of what it claims are the “100 Best Thrillers of All Time.”

• Not to be outdone as a cultural arbiter, National Public Radio has compiled a list of its “100 Favorite Horror Stories.”

• Oh, and cable-TV provider AMC has slated November as the broadcast month for its mini-series adaptation (co-produced with the BBC) of John le Carré’s Little Drummer Girl.

• Finally, the Columbophile recently asked its readers to choose their favorite episodes of Peter Falk’s 1971-1978 NBC Mystery Movie series, Columbo. Not surprisingly, the top 10 list resulting from that poll includes 1974’s “Exercise in Fatality” (guest starring Robert Conrad) and “Negative Reaction” (with Dick Van Dyke), along with 1973’s “A Stitch in Crime” (featuring Leonard Nimoy) and “Any Old Port in a Storm” (also from 1973, with Donald Pleasance as the murderer). It’s a shock, however, to not see on this roster any eps guest starring multiple offenders Robert Culp (who appeared in three installments) or Patrick McGoohan (who featured in four).

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