Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Bullet Points: Chasing Down Leads Edition

I just returned from a few days away, spent in a place where (thank heavens!) I had absolutely no access to computers but plenty of opportunities to shop used bookstores. In other words, it was a most welcome break. But now it’s time to return to business, starting with this compilation of curious and interesting Web links.

• Lest we forget: “Friday is Global James Bond Day,” mentions Bill Koenig in The Spy Command, “the event that was invented six years ago for the 50th anniversary of the premiere of Dr. No.” One obvious way to celebrate this occasion is with a rewatching of the 1962 Sean Connery film based on Ian Fleming’s original novel. But Koenig suggests, instead, taking in a handful of episodes of Hawaii Five-O and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. that boast “significant 007 connections.” Not a bad idea.

• Peter Stone, author of the new young-adult novel The Perfect Candidate, has selected what he calls “12 Essential Political Scandal Thrillers” for CrimeReads. His choices include Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Jason Matthews’ Red Sparrow, and William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. They’re quite different from the books featured in another list, one that I put together for CrimeReads a few months back, of U.S. presidential mysteries and thrillers.

• This is certainly good news! New Mexico mystery-fictionist Steve Brewer (Cold Cuts) and his wife are preparing to open a new independent bookstore in Albuquerque this coming November. As he explains in his blog, “Kelly and I signed a lease yesterday for space in the historic Nob Hill Business Center on Route 66. In keeping with Nob Hill’s all-natural hipster vibe, the independent bookstore will be called Organic Books. Our two sons, Max and Seth, will work at the store, so it’ll truly be a family business.” Brewer says the store will “feature new books by New Mexico authors as well as a curated selection of thousands of used books.” (Hat tip to Mystery Fanfare.)

• January Magazine reports that Israeli actress Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) has joined the cast of Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile, his film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s 1937 Hercule Poirot novel of that same name. The movie, a box-office sequel to Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express (2017)—best recalled for Branagh’s scene-stealing ’stache—is set for release in December 2019.

• I confess, I haven’t yet watched any episodes of Strike, the BBC One TV series based on J.K. Rowling’s novels (which she writes as “Robert Galbraith”), featuring modern-day London gumshoe Cormoran Strike. However, I see in The Killing Times that more episodes of that drama, starring Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger, are to be made. This time, it’s Rowling’s Lethal White that will be adapted for the small screen, in four parts. The Killing Times explains that the plot finds “Billy, a troubled young man, com[ing] to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child … While Billy is obviously mentally distressed and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. Strike and Robin [his assistant, played by Grainger] set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside.”

• In Reference to Murder alerts us to news that “Emmy-nominated writer and producer Frank Pugliese (House of Cards) has been set as showrunner for TNT’s The Angel of Darkness, a limited series based on the sequel to [the] best-selling The Alienist by Caleb Carr. The Alienist’s lead cast, including Daniel Brühl, Luke Evans, and Dakota Fanning, will return for The Angel of Darkness with a new story line that finds Sara Howard (Fanning), who has opened her own private detective agency, enlisting the help of Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Brühl) and John Moore (Evans) to hunt down an elusive killer.”

• Eight years ago, I put together a small succession of posts for The Rap Sheet called “Killed in the Ratings.” My focus was on “American TV crime dramas that debuted with fanfare, but are now largely forgotten.” One of those programs was Griff (1973-1974), starring ex-Bonanza patriarch Lorne Greene as a Los Angeles police captain turned P.I. At the time, I was unable to track down the opening title sequence from Griff; I wound up including in my post just a short video clip from one of the episodes. But recently I finally found on YouTube the hard-charging theme from Griff. I understand it was composed by Elliot Kaplan, though the version at the link comes from John Gregory & His Orchestra. I’ll add this to my original post at some point.

• Speaking of YouTube finds, a poster calling herself Izolda Orlovskaya has uploaded there two hour-long episodes—to be found here and here—from the 1965 CBS-TV legal drama For the People. Broadcast a year before the debut of Star Trek, For the People also starred William Shatner, only in this latter series he had the role of David Koster, an assistant district attorney in New York City. Among the cast, too, was Jessica Walter, who played Koster’s wife, Phyllis (and would much later re-team with Shatner in the underappreciated 1974-1975 NBC Mystery Movie series Amy Prentiss).

• One more video treat:The Murder Game,” the December 15, 1972, episode of Banyon, a largely forgotten NBC-TV series that imagined Robert Forster as a gumshoe in 1930s L.A. “The Murder Game,” which guest-starred Skye Aubrey and Kaz Garas, was the 13th episode of Banyon; only 15 were shot in total. As I always recommend when dealing with YouTube, watch this show soon, because you never know when the YouTube police will find cause to delete it.

From Down These Mean Streets: “Of all the actors to play private eyes and gumshoes during the Golden Age of Radio, William Gargan may have been the most uniquely qualified. Ironically, while success as a detective seemed to elude him, he enjoyed a great deal of success by playing detectives on film, television, and radio. Chief among his sleuth shows was Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator—the adventures of a sardonic private eye that premiered on NBC today in 1951.” If you are interested, you’ll find episodes of Barry Craig by clicking here, here, and here.

• Although the Seattle Mystery Bookshop closed a year ago, members of its former staff continue to produce a blog—updated once a month, so far—that’s filled with mini-reviews and tidbits of interest to readers of crime, mystery, and thriller fiction. For instance, the October “newzine” passes along this link to a BBC story about how Agatha Christie shaped the way the world now sees Great Britain.

• Another once-a-month offering is Mike Ripley’s delightful “Getting Away with Murder” column for Shots. His October wrap-up includes word of CrimeFest’s move to a different venue in 2019; a crowd-funding project to republish Adam Diment’s vintage Philip McAlpine thrillers (e.g., The Dolly Dolly Spy); new novels by Dominick Donald, Robert Galbraith, and John Simpson; and forthcoming works by the likes of Jane Harper, Christian White, and Ben Pastor.

• Max Allan Collins is touting a brand-new edition of Primal Spillane: Early Stories 1941-1942 (Bold Venture), “a much expanded collection of Mickey’s comic-book filler prose stories, written in the early to mid-’40s, mostly for Timely, the precursor of Marvel.” I could have sworn that I owned a copy of the 2003 edition of Primal Spillane, which Collins edited with Lynn F. Myers Jr., but I’ll be damned if I can find it anywhere. I might have to resort to buying a copy of this revised edition, especially since Collins says that it contains a never-before-published Spillane filler piece.

• And while we’re on the subject of Mickey Spillane, let me point out that Evan Lewis has posted the Mick’s first two Mike Danger comic stories in his blog. He explains that they were “written in 1946, but unpublished until 1954, after Mickey had hit the Big Time.”

1 comment:

Craig said...

Oh man, I adored "Banyon" Also starring Richard Jaeckel, Joan Blondell and James B. Sikking! Thanks for the heads-up.