Friday, July 12, 2019

Bullet Points: Lots o’ Links Edition

• In The Rap Sheet’s last news wrap-up, I noted that Season 4 of Grantchester will premiere in the States this coming Sunday night, July 14, as part of PBS-TV’s Masterpiece Mystery! lineup. Now comes word, courtesy of The Killing Times, that ITV, the British network behind that cozyish historical crime series, has renewed Grantchester for yet another year. “The show’s fifth season,” says The Killing Times, “is set in 1957, the year Prime Minister Harold Macmillan told the British people that they had ‘never had it so good.’ For many of the residents of Grantchester, it really will feel like they’re in a delightful new Eden, but for all the talk of paradise on earth and faith-in-action, Geordie Keating (Robson Green) knows that trouble is never far away.”

• American film director Brian De Palma (Carrie, Scarface, The Untouchables, The Black Dahlia, etc.) will release his first novel—to be published by Hard Case Crime—in March 2020, according to Entertainment Weekly. Titled Are Snakes Necessary?, and co-authored with Susan Lehman, the book is said to be a “‘a blistering political satire’ that doubles as a female revenge thriller.” Hard Case provides this plot brief:
When the beautiful young videographer offered to join his campaign, Senator Lee Rogers should’ve known better. But saying no would have taken a stronger man than Rogers, with his ailing wife and his robust libido. Enter Barton Brock, the senator’s fixer. He’s already gotten rid of one troublesome young woman—how hard could this new one turn out to be? Pursued from Washington, D.C., to the streets of Paris, 18-year-old Fanny Cours knows her reputation and budding career are on the line. But what she doesn’t realize is that her life might be as well …
EW quotes Hard Case editor Charles Ardai as calling Are Snakes Necessary? “not just a great crime story, it’s a sharp, ruthless look at the state of affairs—both political and extramarital—in our turbulent modern era.” That certainly sounds promising.

Margery Allingham’s renown lives on, thanks i part to a decision regarding the future of an annual short-story competition named after her. This note comes from Shotsmag Confidential: “The Margery Allingham Society has agreed with the [British] Crime Writers’ Association that the popular short mystery competition will run for at least another five years, until 2024. The Society, set up to honour and promote the writings of the great Golden Age author whose well-known hero is Albert Campion, works with the CWA to operate and fund the writing competition that opens for entries in the autumn on the CWA’s website and closes every February.” It was only this last May that the winner of the 2019 Margery Allingham Short Story Competition was announced: Ray Bazowski, for “A Perfect Murderer.”

• Blogger, genre historian, and author Curtis Evans seems more than moderately thrilled by news that Freeman Wills Crofts’ Golden Age mysteries starring Inspector French are the inspiration for a forthcoming TV series. “I have read the script of what is to be the first episode,” Evans explains in The Passing Tramp, “based on a Crofts novel which I write about extensively in my 2012 book about Crofts, John Street, and JJ Connington, and I am excited about the whole thing. Crofts readers will be able to tell just from this article that there are changes being made for the adaptation, changes which will be forthrightly aired here, but I think fans of the book will be pleased, as well as mystery fans more generally.” In a follow-up to that original post, Evans interviews Brendan Foley, the program’s writer.

• With Donald Trump’s outrageous and dangerous “nationwide immigration enforcement operation … targeting migrant families” apparently taking place this weekend—his latest ploy to gin up support among his radical base, no matter the damage it does to families as well as America’s reputation—it seems an appropriate time to point readers toward Oline H. Cogdill’s list of “mysteries that include immigrants in their solid plots.” Included among her choices are works by Ragnar Jónasson, Denise Hamilton, and Dennis Lehane.

• And while we’re on the subject of lists, check out Mystery Tribune’s picks of the “Top 10 Great Brazilian Crime Fiction Books.” Several of those works were composed by two authors well represented on my own bookshelves: Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza and Leighton Gage.

• Oh, and author John Galligan offers this CrimeReads piece identifying “8 Novels You Won’t Find in the Crime Section,” but that nonetheless belong there, given their subject matter. Yes, Jim Harrison’s Brown Dog (2013) is among them.

HBO has chosen September 9 as the date on which its gritty George Pelecanos/David Simon-created drama series, The Deuce, will return for its third and final season. As Deadline explains, the show “chronicles the establishment of the porn industry in the decidedly pre-Disney Times Square of the early 1970s through legalization, the rise of HIV, the cocaine epidemic and the big business of the mid-1980s, with the changing real estate market about to bring the deadly party to a close.” James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal star.

• A premiere date has been set, too, for Stumptown, the ABC-TV detective series I wrote about not long ago. Based on graphic novels by Greg Rucka, this hour-long show stars Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother, Friends from College) as Dex Parios, “a sharp-witted army veteran who becomes a private investigator in Portland, Oregon.” ABC will premiere Stumptown on September 25, at 10 p.m.

• Way to kick a dead man while he’s down! In its newest installment of a series revisiting Edgar Allan Poe Award winners from the past, Thomas Wickersham recalls The Rheingold Route, Arthur Maling’s 1979 “espionage novel without spies.” Wickersham remarks: “It is a pity when a book’s place in history is to languish all but forgotten besides its title on a list of awards. It is sadder still to revisit such a book and find that its place in obscurity is earned.” Maybe, though, as Wickersham himself suggests, The Rheingold Route “was a book of its time.” Back in ’79, Kirkus Reviews was much more generous to the novel, calling it “tautly plotted, distinctively populated, convincingly romantic—perfect material for a Hitchcock film or an all-in-one-sitting late-night read.” Author Maling passed away in 2013.

• The Staunch Prize, launched last year to salute thriller novels “in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped, or murdered,” has been criticized recently by authors objecting to organizers’ insinuations that their fiction may bias rape juries and trials. In the UK’s Guardian, prize-winning author Sarah Hilary (Never Be Broken) calls the Staunch Prize “not a prize so much as a gagging order,” and she goes on to say: “Violence against women takes many forms, perhaps the most insidious of which is censorship. We’re discouraged from going to the police in case we’re not believed, taught to expect resistance to our version of events, silenced by shame or fear. This prize reinforces all those negative messages, and ignores the very real good that crime fiction can do by reflecting the violent reality of many women’s lives.” Meanwhile, Edinburgh’s Kaite Walsh (The Unquiet Heart), who was herself raped as a younger woman, opines: “I can’t write about a world without rape because I don’t live in one. I won’t sanitise my writing in service of some fictional, feminist utopia. And while I indulge in fictional universes that let me escape, write the world the way I wish it was, my work lies in marrying my imagination with the ugly truth, challenging myself to explore the friction in the places where they collide. I wanted to write someone whose story didn’t end with rape, or even begin with it—but included it as just another bump in the road that has to be dealt with, worked through and lived with.”

• I wouldn’t normally bother with the right-wing “news” site Breitbart. But Gigi Garner, daughter of the late actor James Garner, recommended this Independence Day Breitbart tribute to her father, which touts his 1974-1980 NBC-TV series The Rockford Files as “the most American television show ever made.” Contributor John Nolte lays out a variety of reasons why he believes Garner’s private eye, Jim Rockford, was “TV’s great American,” including:
He’s a gentleman and chivalrous to the ladies—a real Neanderthal who opens car doors, lights cigarettes, steps into harm’s way to protect them, and yet still treats them as equals.

He’s a reluctant hero who keeps his virtues to a minimum “because they’re easier to keep track of.” In other words, he’s not a pompous virtue-signaler. …

Above all, Jim Rockford is first, last, and always his own man. His independence, his unwillingness to conform to anyone’s idea of how he should live his life, work his profession, or bow to authority is as American as it gets. He doesn’t tell anyone else how to live their life, and as long as you don’t cross that busybody line with him, there won’t be a problem.
Nolte goes out of his way to suggest that Rockford was one of those government-hating “real Americans” Sarah Palin was always spouting off about. I wonder if he realizes Garner was a self-described “‘bleeding-heart liberal,’ one of those card-carrying Democrats that Rush Limbaugh thinks is a communist. And I’m proud of it.”

• OK, a show of hands: Who remembers actor George Kennedy’s 1975-1976 CBS-TV series, The Blue Knight, based on Joseph Wambaugh’s 1973 novel of the same name? I just noticed that five of that program’s two-dozen episodes are available on YouTube. It’s best to watch them now, before they’re scrubbed from the site.

Registration is already open for readers and writers hoping to attend the 2012 Left Coast Crime convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Guests of Honor that year will be novelists Mick Herron and Catriona McPherson. Don’t forget about LCC 2020, either, which is scheduled to be held in San Diego, California.

• In advance of the Veronica Mars TV revival series, which begins airing on July 26 on Hulu, the Web site Vox chooses the best and worst episodes from among the show’s original, 2004-2007 run; the 2014 film based on the program also joins the ranking. When you’re done reading through all of those, look back at Cameron Hughes’ 2008 piece about Veronica Mars, posted in The Rap Sheet.

• Finally, a belated (and posthumous) “happy birthday” to composer Earle Hagan, who “would have turned 100 years old on July 9,” as Variety notes. Among his many contributions to popular culture, Hagan gave us the themes for The Andy Griffith Show, I Spy, The Mod Squad, and The New Perry Mason.


Max Allan Collins said...

DePalma did co-byline a novelization of his Dressed to Kill. I am looking forward to this, because he was for many years my favorite contemporary director, and still ranks high with me. Phantom of the Paradise is among my most watched movies. Terry Beatty and I saw it in the theater on its initial release probably a dozen times.

The Passing Tramp said...

Rockford Files used to have a lot about business corruption, as I recollect, and whenever Rockford visited small town California there was always trouble!