Saturday, February 09, 2019

Bullet Points: Hunkered Down Edition

It’s been more than a couple of months since I’ve taken on the task of  compiling crime-fiction news bits that don’t necessarily merit posts of their own ... which means I have a lot of information to impart. Fortunately, Seattle is heavily socked in with snow today, so I have little interest in spending much time outside in the cold. Better to snug in with a cup of coffee and my computer keyboard. Let us begin ...

• Lisbeth Salander fans, take note: BookRiot reports that “An unseen investigation by Stieg Larsson, the late journalist and author of the Millennium Trilogy, has come to light and will be revealed in a new true-crime book. Larsson was a leading expert on antidemocratic, right-wing, extremist organizations.” The site goes on to synopsize the plot of the new book, which is due out from AmazonCrossing in October:
On February 28, 1986, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was shot dead in Stockholm. The crime is still unsolved today. It’s now known that Larsson began his own investigation into the assassination—continuing the search until his own death. In 2014, journalist and documentary filmmaker, Jan Stocklassa gained access to the 20 boxes of Larsson’s research into the case.
To quote from an Amazon press release:
In The Man Who Played with Fire: Stieg Larsson’s Lost Files and the Hunt for an Assassin, Stocklassa reveals new facts about the case and reveals the hitherto unknown research of the best-selling author in a fascinating true crime story. For the first time in many years, the police in Sweden have taken active measures to investigate a new suspect in the murder case and are pursuing leads based on the research revealed in Stocklassa’s book.
• What matters most is making money, right? The New Yorker reported recently that Dan Mallory, the book editor turned author who—as “A.J. Finn”—penned last year’s best-selling The Woman in the Window, has made a variety of false assertions regarding his health, his education, and his career achievements. Mallory has since sought to excuse his actions, but his deceptions have left many folks in the publishing industry wary of the author. In The Washington Post, critic Ron Charles wrote: “If James Frey taught us anything with his infamous memoir, it’s that autobiographical claims can collapse into a million little pieces of exaggeration and deception. Mallory’s situation is different, though, if more bizarre. How do we reconsider a work of fiction—or any work of art—when confronted with troubling information about its creator?” Despite all of this controversy, Mallory’s publisher, HarperCollins, says it is holding firm on plans to bring out his sophomore novel in January 2020—a San Francisco-set yarn The New Yorker describes as “a story of revenge … involving a female thriller writer and an interviewer who learns of a dark past.”

Julie Adams, an Iowa-born actress who co-starred opposite an amphibious “Gill man” in the 1954 movie The Creature from the Black Lagoon before going on to a long and prolific TV career, passed away in Los Angeles on February 3 at age 92. Among her many television roles were appearances on Hawaiian Eye, Perry Mason, Darren McGavin’s The Outsider, Ironside, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Ellery Queen, Mannix, Cagney & Lacey, Murder, She Wrote, and Diagnosis: Murder. An interesting tidbit: Adams’ fleeting first marriage was to Leonard B. Stern, a screenwriter and producer responsible for such memorable series as Get Smart, McMillan & Wife, and The Snoop Sisters.

Via Shotsmag Confidential comes news that Karin Slaughter’s 2018 novel, Pieces of Her, will become an eight-episode Netflix series directed—at least initially—by Lesli Linka Glatter. “The story,” explains the blog (quoting from a press release), “follows as an adrift young woman’s conception of her mother is forever changed after a Saturday afternoon trip to the mall together suddenly explodes into violence. As figures from her mother’s past start to resurface, she is forced to go on the run and on that journey, begins to piece together the truth of her mother’s previous identity and uncovers secrets of her childhood.”

• With Series 6 of Endeavour scheduled to debut in Great Britain tomorrow, February 10, ITV Magazine—a consumer periodical just launched last month by the show’s principal broadcasting network—has published a rather satisfying article about what viewers can expect from Endeavour’s latest four episodes. Chris Sullivan has posted scans of that piece in his blog, Morse, Lewis and Endeavour. Meanwhile, he has embedded a new morning TV show interview with a bushy-bearded Roger Allam, who plays Detective Chief Inspector Fred Thursday on the program opposite Shaun Evans, starring as Detective Sergeant Endeavour Morse.

From B.V. Lawson’s In Reference to Murder:
USA Network has picked up to series its drama pilot Dare Me, based on Megan Abbott’s 2012 novel of the same name. Set in the world of competitive high school cheerleading, it follows the fraught relationship between two best friends (Herizen Guardiola and Mario Kelly) after a new coach (Willa Fitzgerald) arrives to bring their team to prominence. While the girls’ friendship is put to the test, their young lives are changed forever when a shocking crime rocks their quiet suburban world.
• Lawson also reports that “ABC has ordered the drama pilot Stumptown, inspired by the graphic novels published by Oni Press. It follows Dex Parios, a strong, assertive, and unapologetically sharp-witted Army veteran working as a P.I. in Portland, Oregon. With a complicated personal history and only herself to rely on, she solves other people’s messes with a blind eye toward her own.”

• As an unflagging fan of Lou Grant, the 1977-1982 CBS-TV series starring Ed Asner as the sometimes crusty city editor of a fictional Southern California daily newspaper called the Los Angeles Tribune, I was pleased to discover at least the vast majority of that show’s episodes are available for free on YouTube. The picture quality is sometimes less than ideal, but until I drop the dough for Shout! Factory’s DVD releases of all five seasons, it’s probably the best I can expect. If you want to learn more about this drama series—which was a spin-off from The Mary Tyler Moore Show—check out The Canonical Lou Grant Episode Guide. And I’ve added the main title sequences from the first three seasons of Lou Grant to The Rap Sheet’s YouTube page.

• Speaking of vintage shows, The Spy Command alerts me to the fact that La-La Land Records will soon release “Jerry Goldsmith[‘s] music to a mostly forgotten 1975 TV show, Archer.” Wikipedia explains that this is “a limited-edition soundtrack containing the one episode … Goldsmith scored (paired with a re-issue of the score to the film Warning Shot, from newly discovered better elements).” If you, too, have difficulties remembering Archer, let me point out that it was a short-lived NBC mid-season replacement series starred Brian Keith (Family Affair) as L.A. private investigator Lew Archer, the character so masterfully developed over three decades by Ross Macdonald. Keith’ show wasn’t awful, without ever being really good; I much preferred Peter Graves’ portrayal of the same protagonist in an unsuccessful 1974 TV pilot based on one of Macdonald’s later yarns, The Underground Man. And though, as one TV critic observed, Keith was mustered up “weary cynicism” enough to play Archer, he did not seem to respect the source material. In fact, Keith even had visions of moving the series’ setting from the City of Angels to Honolulu! Regardless, I’d like to get my hands on the six episodes of Archer that were originally broadcast, if only for nostalgic reasons. I might even be willing to purchase La-La Land’s presumably high-quality cut of Goldsmith’s Archer theme, if only because the version I have—and which is featured in The Spy Command’s post—is terrible.

(Above) J. Kingston Pierce and Chelsea Cain enjoy a bit of fun at Bouchercon 2011, high above St. Louis’ Gateway Arch.

• I have many fond memories of attending Bouchercon 2011, which took place in St. Louis, Missouri. But one of the few captured on film was my meeting with Portland, Oregon, author Chelsea Cain, who turned out to be personable, downright funny, and nowhere near as dark-spirited a woman as her fiction might suggest. So I was pleased to read that her 2014 novel, One Kick, has been adapted as a 12-part TV series titled Gone, scheduled for broadcast on WGN America, beginning on 9 p.m. ET/PT on Wednesday, February 27. Deadline Hollywood sums up the plot this way: “Gone follows the story of Kit ‘Kick’ Lannigan ([played by] Leven Rambin), survivor of a highly publicized child-abduction case, and 20-year veteran Frank Novak ([Chris]Noth), the FBI agent who rescued her. Years later, he recruits her to join a special task force dedicated to solving abductions and missing-persons cases. Paired with former Army intelligence officer John Bishop (Danny Pino), Lannigan uses her intuitive wit and martial arts skills to solve cases and bring victims home.”

• Yet another Agatha Christie yarn appears due for big-screen treatment, with a possible 2020 release date. The Killing Times reports that UK screenwriter Sarah Phelps (The A.B.C. Murders, Murder by Innocence, And Then There Were None) “has signed up to adapt Christie’s [1961] stand-alone novel, The Pale Horse.”

• Also to be filmed: Stephen King’s Mile 81.

• Ann Cleeves closed out her nine-volume Shetland Islands/Jimmy Perez series with last year’s Wild Fire. Fear not, though, for EuroCrime says she’s “turning her hand to a new series set in Devon.” The first of those new books, introducing Detective Matthew Venn, will be The Long Call, due out from Minotaur in September.

• Two other far-off releases to watch for: Kate Atkinson’s Big Sky (Little, Brown), her fifth novel starring Cambridge private eye Jackson Brodie, is scheduled for publication on both sides of the Atlanticin June; and Anne Perry will inaugurate a brand-new, pre-World War II series, starring “intrepid photographer” Elena Standish, with the September release Death in Focus (Ballantine).

• Before we leave Ann Cleeves too far behind, a reminder should be issued that Series 5 of Shetland, starring Douglas Henshall as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez, will debut in the UK on BBC One next Tuesday, February 12. There’s no word yet n when those six new episodes will become available to Netflix users in the States.

• Among the digital audio series CrimeReads contributing editor Emily Stein showcases on her list of the “8 True-Crime Podcasts to Listen to in 2019” is The Murder Book, which premiered on January 28, and which Stein says “is the first podcast produced by bestselling crime novelist Michael Connelly.” She continues:
In Season 1, “The Tell Tale Bullet,” Connelly returns to his roots as a crime beat reporter to investigate a real, 30-year-old cold case of a fatal carjacking in Hollywood, and of a murderer who walked free. Connelly promises that every season of Murder Book will end with a crime solved; to get there, he employs a wide array of sources, including court recordings, wiretaps, and interviews with witnesses and detectives.

Complete with hardboiled narration and a jazzy soundtrack,
Murder Book is the perfect podcast both for fans of true crime, and fans of classic noir. It also takes a serious look at the limitations and flaws of our criminal justice system, which leaves the listener with the unavoidable impression that in the past three decades, far too little has changed.
Listen to Connelly’s episodes on the Murder Book Web site or via Apple Podcasts. Full transcripts of each installment are also available on the Web site. New episodes drop every Monday for 10 or 12 weeks.

• One podcast that isn’t mentioned in Stein’s wrap-up is We Never Solved Anything. No, I’d never heard of it either, until its hosts e-mailed me an invitation to listen. As they explain, “It is a funny podcast where we explore a new unsolved mystery theme each week such as serial killers, spontaneous human combustion, and medical mystery stories.” Find the 11 existing episode here.

• Literary Hub’s Emily Temple chooses10 Contemporary ‘Dickensian’ Novels,” including Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch (2013), Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith (2002), and Peter Carey’s The True History of the Kelly Gang (2001).

• “A great teacher is a gift. A great line editor is a miracle,” declares Nick Ripatrazone, a staff writer for The Millions.

• The Winter 2018/2019 edition of Mystery Readers Journal—built around the theme “Mystery in the American South—“is available now as a PDF and will shortly be available in hardcopy …,” writes editor Janet Rudolph. “We had so many articles, author essays, and reviews, that we had to split this themed issue into two.” A list of contents for this new issue, plus info on buying a copy, can be found here.

• I periodically like to revisit episodes from the classic NBC Mystery Movie series Columbo. Knowing whodunit, and sometimes remembering exactly how the rumpled Los Angeles police lieutenant pins the blame, doesn’t spoil the re-watching one iota. Not long ago I came across this piece The Columbophile, revealing which four among the almost 70 episodes of that show were star Peter Falk’s favorites. “It might come as a surprise to fans,” writes the blog’s anonymous editor, “that pivotal episodes ‘Etude in Black’ and ‘Murder by the Book’ don’t feature here—particularly ‘Etude,’ which starred Falk’s BFF John Cassavetes. Instead, all of Falk’s personal favourites come from Seasons 3 or 5, when the show was more firmly established. Notably, three of the four are from Season 5 alone. What does this tell us? Well for one thing it suggests that Falk was at his happiest in the crumpled raincoat once he had a couple of full seasons under his belt.”

• As we prepare for the June release of James Ellroy’s This Storm (Knopf)—book two in his “Second L.A. Quartet” (following 2014’s Perfidia)—Steve Powell, a British student of that author’s work, feels compelled to ask, “is James Ellroy losing his touch?” Writing in his blog, The Venetian Vase, Powell continues: “I’ve decided to broach the subject as the critical response to Ellroy’s last novel Perfidia was mixed, as were the reviews for his novel before that Blood’s a Rover. … I’ve sensed a certain weariness about Ellroy’s recent efforts when I talk with fans of the author. … So Ellroy cannot expect his new novel, This Storm, to be met with universal acclaim as critical opinion has started to shift. In fact, the opposite may be the case. Ellroy may have to win back some critics who are getting cynical about the author’s once unassailable reputation.”

• What a terrific couple of short-story titles, from classic crime-fiction magazines found here and here. On top of that, both of these publications feature cover art by the great Norman Saunders.

• Mystery Tribune chooses the “45 Best Cozy Mystery Novels.”

• New York bookshop proprietor and anthologist Otto Penzler continues to count down what he contends are the “Greatest Crime Films of All-Time.” Most recently he has considered The Ipcress File (1965), The Kennel Murder Case (1933), and The Glass Key (1942). Keep track of this developing series here.

• While we’re on the subject of Penzler, it should be mentioned that he will be partnering with Pegasus Books to launch Scarlet, an imprint “specializing in psychological suspense aimed at female readers.” Publishers Weekly explains: “The new venture has [tapped] Luisa Smith, longtime buying director at Book Passage, a Corte Madera, Ca., bookstore, to be Scarlet editor-in-chief. Nat Sobel, founder of the Nat Sobel Associates literary agency, will act as a consultant to the imprint. Scarlet will launch in winter 2020 with six to eight titles. The Scarlet list will be distributed by W.W. Norton, which also distributes the titles of its parent companies, Penzler Publishing and Pegasus Books.” Although there’s been some grumbling about the name Scarlet being applied to a literary line intended to promote women’s fiction and female authors (shades of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter!), and Penzler’s heated objections to the Mystery Writers of America’s decision to deny Linda Fairstein a Grand Master Award due to her involvement in a 1990 New York City rape-case prosecution left some authors questioning his compassion toward women, I look forward to seeing what Scarlet can contribute to the already rich field of psychological suspense novels.

• A similarly promising venture comes from Polis Books, which has announced the creation of Agora, an imprint designed to “focus on diverse voices, putting out between six and ten books per year.” Chantelle Aimée Osman will serve as the editor of this line, which plans to begin releasing books in the fall of 2019. Read more here.

• I’m not a big social-media user, but over the years I have established a Rap Sheet presence on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Google+. Now it appears that last page is set to vanish forever. I was recently given this warning:
In December 2018, we announced our decision to shut down Google+ for consumers in April 2019 due to low usage and challenges involved in maintaining a successful product that meets consumers’ expectations. We want to thank you for being part of Google+ and provide next steps, including how to download your photos and other content.

On April 2nd, your Google+ account and any Google+ pages you created will be shut down and we will begin deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts. Photos and videos from Google+ in your Album Archive and your Google+ pages will also be deleted. You can download and save your content, just make sure to do so before April. Note that photos and videos backed up in Google Photos will not be deleted.

The process of deleting content from consumer Google+ accounts, Google+ Pages, and Album Archive will take a few months, and content may remain through this time. For example, users may still see parts of their Google+ account via activity log and some consumer Google+ content may remain visible to G Suite users until consumer Google+ is deleted.
I don’t remember when I signed up for Google+, but I know I only did so because fellow blogger Bill Crider already had. Thankfully, my contributions to The Rap Sheet’s page there have been minimal. I’ll keep updating it for as long as possible, but if you notice that the Google+ link available from the right-hand column of this blog disappears in the next couple of months, you’ll know why.

• In its latest look back at Edgar Award winners of the past, Criminal Element revisits one of my favorite private-eye novels of the past: 1958’s The Eighth Circle, by Stanley Ellin. Sadly, critic Joe Brosnan is too rigid in applying our modern social and sexual sensibilities to a work that was penned more than six decades ago.

• TV fandom is no crazier today than it’s always been. According to this 1959 newspaper report, overenthusiastic followers of the 1958-1964 ABC private-eye series 77 Sunset Strip flocked to the Los Angeles site that stood in for the agency’s offices.

• Finally, here are a few author interviews worth checking out: Jane Harper talks with The New York Times about her new Australia-set crime novel, The Lost Man; Christobel Kent chats with CrimeReads about What We Did; Speaking of Mysteries host Nancie Clare goes one-on-one with H.B. Lyle (The Red Ribbon), Val McDermid (Broken Ground), and James Rollins (Crucible); Ronald H. Balson answers questions from Crimespree Magazine’s Elise Cooper about The Girl from Berlin; and Laura K. Benedict discusses The Stranger Inside with Criminal Element’s John Valeri.


Ali Karim said...

WoW, lucky for us the weather was bad, as what a great update of goings on in Crime and Thriller, thanks Jeff

Kevin R. Tipple said...

My Google+ deal vanished the same day earlier this week when they announced they were killing the links. I am more than a little annoyed with this decision as I had made a point of using it for my stuff as well as stuff I do on behalf of SMFS and otehr things like your pieces. It definitely made a difference in bringing viewers/readers.

I had noticed that just in the last couple of weeks how far less content was on there and figured that folks had started leaving the sinking ship.

Hope you keep your power and have no issues with the snow event. Such things here in DFW always cause power issues.

Mike Doran said...

Since I don't always trust my memory, I double-checked the Shotsmag link.
Lesli Linka Glatter is a director, and will occupy that position on Pieces Of Her.

As a lifelong Chicagoan, I do not wish snowfall on anyone anywhere; I hope Seattle is free of this scourge soon.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Whoops! Thanks for catching that error, Mike. It's corrected now.

And thus far, the snow in Seattle has been fun--at least from my perspective, as someone who has not had to drive anywhere this weekend. We don't often get heavy snowfalls like this, and we have more of the white stuff predicted to fall over the next couple of days. I'm only sorry for local folks who have long commutes to make.