Thursday, November 08, 2018

Bullet Points: Post-Midterm Elections Edition

OK, that’s done. After putting the finishing touches on two different CrimeReads pieces—one of which should be posted tomorrow morning—I can finally return to my regular duties at The Rap Sheet. Let’s start off with a wrap-up of recent news.

• We’ve been talking for some while about the Staunch Book Prize, a brand-new commendation—proposed earlier in the year by author-screenwriter Bridget Lawless—to honor the best thriller novel “in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped, or murdered.” It wasn’t until this month, however, that a shortlist of nominees for the first such award was announced:

The Appraisal, by Anna Porter (ECW Press)
East of Hounslow, by Khurrum Rahman (HQ)
If I Die Tonight, by A.L. Gaylin (PRH)
On the Java Ridge, by Jock Serong (Text)
The Kennedy Moment, by Peter Adamson (Myriad Editions)
Cops and Queens, by Joyce Thompson (seeking publisher)

The Bookseller explains that a winner of the premiere Staunch Book Prize will be declared during a special ceremony “at Sony Pictures in central London on 26th November.” Stay tuned.

• The “social cataloguing” Web site GoodReads has launched the voting process for its 2018 Choice Awards competition, and we’re already into the semifinal round of selecting winners (which will run through this coming Sunday, November 11). Among the contenders in the Best Mystery and Thriller category are Sujata Massey’s The Widows of Malabar Hill, Stuart Turton’s The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, Tana French’s The Witch Elm, Joe Ide’s Wrecked, and Robert Galbraith’s Lethal White. Click here to cast a ballot. The final round of voting will begin on November 13, with winners in all 20 categories to be announced on December 5.

• Deadline Hollywood reports that Stephen King’s 2013 Hard Case Crime novel, Joyland, will be adapted as a TV series. The site reminds us that “Joyland tells the story of Devin, a college student who takes a summer job at an amusement park in a North Carolina tourist town, confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the way both will change his life forever.” Chris Peña (Jane the Virgin) and Cyrus Nowrasteh (The Stoning of Soraya M.) will pen the script.

• Holliday Grainger, the British actress I so enjoyed watching in the 2013 teleflick Bonnie & Clyde (you can see the trailer here) and the more recent BBC-TV crime series Strike, is preparing to star, with Callum Turner, in a BBC surveillance thriller titled The Capture. The Killing Times offers just a modicum of plot information:
When proud British soldier Shaun Emery’s (Turner) conviction for a murder in Afghanistan is successfully overturned due to flawed video evidence, he begins to plan for his life as a free man with his six-year-old daughter. However, when damning CCTV footage emerges from an incident in London, it isn’t long before Shaun finds himself fighting for his freedom once more, only with lies, betrayal and corruption spreading further than he ever could have imagined.

With DI Rachel Carey (Grainger) drafted in to investigate in what could be a career-defining case, she must discover if there is more to the shocking evidence than first meets the eye. Rachel will soon learn that the truth is merely a matter of perspective—before deciding what hers is.
• Meanwhile, here’s a short new trailer promoting the third season of True Detective. This latest iteration of Nicolas Pizzolatto’s crime anthology series is scheduled to debut in the States on January 13 of next year, with Mahershala Ali starring as Wayne Hays, “an Arkansas state police detective who can’t stop thinking about the two children who went missing 30 years before.”

• And January Magazine notes that HBO-TV has given the go-ahead for a film sequel to the fine 2004-2006 Western series, Deadwood. Viewers are told to expect that movie’s premiere next spring.

• Among the items in B.V. Lawson’s latest “Media Murder for Monday” post for In Reference to Murder is news about turning Howard Michael Gould’s 2018 debut novel, Last Looks, into a big-screen picture:
Mel Gibson is teaming up with Charlie Hunnam and Eiza Gonzalez for Waldo, the action-packed thriller from Brit filmmaker Tim Kirkby, best known for directing episodes of Veep. The film … follows the brilliant but disgraced former LAPD detective Charlie Waldo (Hunnam), currently living the life of a minimalist in the woods. His quiet life comes to a startling halt when he is roped back into working as a private eye to investigate the murder of an eccentric TV star’s wife.
• I was sorry to hear that prolific Illinois-born actor Ken Swofford died on November 1, at age 85. The Hollywood Reporter’s obituary mentions that in addition to his role as “stubborn vice principal Quentin Morloch … on the TV adaptation of Fame,” “the red-headed Swofford … portrayed the reporter Frank Flannigan on the admired but short-lived 1975-76 NBC series Ellery Queen, starring Jim Hutton, and he recurred as Lt. Catalano on several episodes of another sleuthing series, Angela Lansbury’s Murder, She Wrote.” Swofford’s other small-screen credits included roles on Surfiside 6, Columbo, Petrocelli, The Rockford Files, The Fall Guy, Remington Steele, and Diagnosis: Murder. He also played a major in the 1991 film Thelma & Louise. A clip of his performance in Ellery Queen can be enjoyed here.

• Wouldn’t you know it? Shortly after I assembled my revised (and unapologetically biased) rundown of the 95 best English-language crime-fiction blogs and Web sites, another worthy candidate came to my attention: Paperback Warrior. Trading in reviews of hard-boiled crime, mystery, men’s adventure, espionage, and western fiction, Paperback Warrior was launched during the summer of 2013 (which means I really should have discovered it sooner). Its author doesn’t sign his/her reviews, but clearly shares my taste for vintage paperbacks. The main blog and its associated Facebook page are well worth exploring when you have some free time.

• Emily Temple is one of my favorite Literary Hub writers, and she recently put together quite wonderful “list-icles” of books that defined every single decade of 1900s, as well as the first two decades of our present century. Crime, mystery, and thriller novels don’t show up often in the mix, but a couple—Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920) and Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon (1930)—receive paragraph write-ups, with others (such as Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time, and Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal) at least being name-checked in their respective decennia of publication.

• Lee Goldberg, who literally wrote the book on unsold small-screen pilot film projects, points me toward a 10-minute YouTube collection of scenes from Egan, a 1973 pilot commissioned by ABC-TV and starring prolific American actor Eugene Roche. As Golberg relates in Unsold Television Pilots: 1955-1989, that teleflick—produced by Thomas L. Miller and Edward K. Milkis (who also gave us Barry Newman’s Petrocelli)—was “based on the true exploits of NYPD detective Eddie Egan, whose adventures were dramatized in the Oscar-winning movie The French Connection.” The YouTube clips—embedded below—are rather blurry, but they show the authority-allergic Egan (a master of disguise) leaving Manhattan to become a police detective in Los Angeles. The scenes feature plenty of action and a great theme by Lalo Schifrin. Too bad that ABC didn’t pick up Egan as a series.



• Speaking of YouTube delights, the site’s TV Archive page recently posted complete episodes of Mr. & Mrs. Smith. That short-lived 1996 CBS-TV spy series starred Scott Bakula and Maria Bello as covert operatives who posed as a married couple and worked for a super-secret private security agency known only as “The Factory.” I remember the series fondly, even though it lasted a mere 13 episodes—all of which can be watched, for the time being, by clicking here.

• I also recall watching the 1983 NBC-TV series Casablanca, which gave former Starsky & Hutch co-star David Soul the unenviable task of playing World War II-era Morocco nightclub owner Rick Blaine, the role Humphrey Bogart had filled in the 1941 film of the same name. But I wasn’t even born yet when Charles McGraw featured in a 1955-1956 spin-off of Casablanca, which Roy Huggins produced, and that Mystery*File contributor Michael Shonk calls “a better than average TV noir drama for the early days of television.” Shonk includes a full episode of the show in this post.

Happy 10th birthday to the blog Pulp International!

• Halloween has passed, but you should still look over CrimeReads’ “25 Most Terrifyingly Beautiful Edgar Allan Poe Illustrations.”

• For anyone wishing to get better acquainted with Edgar Award-winning author Ross Thomas, Neil Nyren provides this handy guide to his novels about “con men, spies, politicians, and double crossers.”

• The Killing Times chooses15 essential spy TV series,” including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Alias, Callan, and The Sandbaggers.

• Crime Fiction Lover selects what it says are the seven best crime-fiction debuts of 2018. I’ve read a couple of those books already, but have still more reading to do before the year runs its course.

• For Criminal Element, author Tom Wood (Kill for Me) weighs in on “The Top 7 Cinematic Assassins,” a rogues gallery that embraces Nikita from La Femme Nikita, Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men, and Martin Blank from Grosse Pointe Blank.

• Another list: Kirkus Reviews picks nine thrilling page-turners.

• And I like Erica Wright’s picks of “9 Mysteries That Challenge Our Expectations of Crime Fighters.” Wright, by the way, wrote recently on this page about Charlotte Armstrong’s A Dram of Poison (1956).

On the heels of news that the release of Kenneth Branagh’s second Hercule Poirot movie, Death on the Nile, has been delayed until 2020, BookRiot has compiled a “definitive ranking of Agatha Christie movies.” I’m surprised at how many of the 25 I haven’t yet seen.

• Authors interviews and profiles seem to have popped up everywhere you turn on the Internet lately. The writers being questioned include Jonathan Lethem (The Feral Detective), Timothy Hallinan (Nighttown), Tana French (The Witch Elm), Leye Adenle (When Trouble Sleeps), Henry Porter (Firefly), Jon Land (Manuscript for Murder), Libby Fischer Hellmann (High Crimes), Martin Limón (The Line), and Tom Leins (Repetition Kills You!).

• If you wait long enough, every good idea can be used again. That’s certainly the case with a 1958 interview James Bond creator Ian Fleming conducted with Raymond Chandler, who’s of course best known for giving us private eye Philip Marlowe. I wrote about their conversation way back in 2007, but it was only this month that CrimeReads revisited their discussion, which covers “what the two authors thought of one another’s work, as well as how they believed the murder of [mobster] Albert Anastasia was carried out.”

• While we’re on the subject of Fleming, note that British author Anthony Horowitz—whose second Agent 007 novel, Forever and a Day, was released this week in the States—has composed a piece for Criminal Element about James Bond’s influence on him as both a reader and a writer. You’ll find that post here.

• In his blog, Studies in Starrett, Ray Betzner traces the early 20th-century revival of interest in Sherlock Holmes. Betzner proclaims this the opening installment in a multipart report. Watch for the follow-up. POSTSCRIPT: I believe this is the first sequel post.

• Really, do we need a Jonny Quest movie?

• Wow, Toe Six Press debuted just this last April, but editor Sandra Ruttan is already out with her 17th issue, “Living My Best Life.”

• Lynne Truss remarks here on her experience with—and the history of—Britain’s Detection Club. For more about that club, see Martin Edwards’ 2015 non-fiction book, The Golden Age of Murder.

In a post for In Reference to Murder, Jay A. Gertzman, professor emeritus of English at Mansfield University, tells about writing and researching his new book, Pulp According to David Goodis.

• Finally, while the results of this week’s U.S. midterm elections brought hope to many citizens who want Congress to finally reassert its vital oversight function and curb the more corrupt, anti-democratic antics of the country’s scandal-ridden prez, there were also cases across the country of voter suppression. How timely it was, then, that Curtis Evans should have written earlier this week about The Election Booth Murder, by Milton M. Propper, a 1935 novel having to do with Philadelphia’s “corrupt machine politics” and “the shooting murder of a reform political candidate on Election Day …”

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