Wednesday, July 17, 2019

A Midweek Mixed Bag

• Sad news from The New York Times: “Andrea Camilleri, who took a late-career stab at writing a mystery novel and came up with the Inspector [Salvo] Montalbano detective series, which became wildly successful in Italy and was the basis for a popular television series, died on Wednesday morning in a hospital in Rome. He was 93.” (This comes a month after the author experienced cardiac arrest.) The International Crime Fiction Research Group calls Camilleri “one of the most influential authors of crime fiction in Europe. With his novels widely translated and adapted across the continent, he has come to represent the quintessential European Author.” Mark Lawson, in The Guardian, recalls that Camilleri “considered it his duty to speak out against the dark politics by which his country was often seduced, regularly appearing as a pundit on Italian TV shows where he was torrentially opinionated, intelligent and witty. Camilleri became so recognisable that, unusually for a novelist, he was impersonated by satirists and comedians.” Lawson adds: “There will be at least one more novel. In our [2012] interview, he told me that—as Agatha Christie did with Hercule Poirot in Curtain—he had deposited with his publisher Riccardino, a final novel in which Montalbano is ‘finished off’ that was to only be published posthumously.”

• Our condolences go out, too, to the family of Seattle resident and writer Andi Schecter, who passed away earlier this week at age 66 as a result of glioblastoma. Editor-blogger Janet Rudolph observes: “Andi was a powerful force in both the mystery and science fiction communities,” who had chaired both a Bouchercon convention (in Seattle in 1994) and two different Left Coast Crime gatherings (in 1997 and 2007). January Magazine editor Linda L. Richards, for whom she wrote several book reviews over the years, offers this remembrance. (Hat tip to The Gumshoe Site.)

• Florida journalist Craig Pittman has an excellent new piece in CrimeReads, which looks back at the 1984-1990 NBC-TV series Miami Vice and how changed the future of the city in which it was shot.

• Late fall, I mentioned here that screenwriter Todd Alcott had assembled a gallery of “digital mash-ups” combining vintage paperback covers with classic songs by David Bowie, Elvis Costello, and others. What I failed to notice was that the Web site on which those covers appeared, Open Culture, later posted a second set of reimagined covers, based on Bob Dylan songs such as “Like a Rolling Stone” and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” Check those out here.

• In May, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine contributor Kevin Mims examined author Herman Wouk’s contributions to the legal-thriller genre. Now, Mims has posted a remembrance of Arkansas author Douglas C. Jones and how he created the “alternate history trial novel.” To learn more about Jones’ career, see this entry I wrote about him for the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture.

• Bouchercon 2019 is still more than three months away (October 31-November 3, in Dallas, Texas), but word is already out that Jenn and Don Longmuir will receive the 2019 David Thompson Memorial Special Service Award during that convention. “The Longmuirs have been fixtures in the crime fiction community for more than a quarter-century,” reads a news release carried by Mystery Fanfare. “The couple owns and runs Scene of the Crime Books in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, and they have been book room organizers, book sellers and attendees at mystery conventions across North America. Don also served on the Bouchercon Board for five years.” The David Thompson Award, named in honor of a Texas bookstore owner and crime-fiction publisher who died in 2010, will be presented to the Longmuirs during Bouchercon 2019’s opening ceremonies, on Thursday, October 31.

This comes from In Reference to Murder:
There’s a call for papers for “The Absurdity of Racism: an International Chester Himes Conference” to be held June 4-5, 2020, at the American University of Paris. As the organizers note, “always controversial, combative and daring, Himes carved a niche for himself in the worlds of crime fiction and protest literature while negotiating the ‘quality of hurt’ of his black American and European expatriate worlds.”

Abstracts of 250 words, accompanied by a very brief bio, should be sent by October 15.
• You knew something like this was inevitable, right? “In a competitive situation,” reports Deadline, “Amazon has landed the rights to develop a script-to-series drama based on the Jack Reacher character from Lee Child’s bestselling book series, from Scorpion creator Nick Santora. The project will be a co-production of Amazon Studios, Skydance Television and Paramount Television.”

• The Killing Times says Luther creator “Neil Cross, has had a new drama commissioned by ITV. Because the Night is described as a ‘chilling and suspenseful four-part story of murder—and perhaps ghosts—which exposes the quiet terror of a man trying to escape his past.’ The series is inspired by the novel Burial, also written by Cross.”

• And Episode 2 of Paperback Warrior’s new podcast recalls “the origins of the paperback book in 1939. Our feature is the widely successful publisher Fawcett Gold Medal, a cornerstone of crime-noir in the ’50s, ’60s and early ’70s. We also look at Black Wings Has My Angel, by Lewis Elliott Chaze, and the debut ‘MacMorgan’ novel by Randy Wayne White.” Listen here.

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