Friday, August 09, 2019

A Few More Items of Interest

• For those who don’t remember it well, Bergerac was a 1981-1991 British television series set on the English Channel island of Jersey, in which John Nettles (later of Midsomer Murders) starred as Jim Bergerac, a rather unorthodox police detective who eventually became a private eye. Even 28 years after the program went off the air, Bergerac remains popular, so it comes as no surprise that a reboot is currently in the works. Deadline reported on that development back in February, and now The Killing Times brings word that “the scripts for a new show are 99 per cent there, and officials are hoping the green light could be given in September.”

• Karen Abbott, author of the new non-fiction book, The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America (Crown), revisits, in CrimeReads, the central conflict fleshed out in her yarn, between U.S. Assistant Attorney General Mabel Walker Willebrandt—charged with enforcing Prohibition during the 1920s—and “George Remus: teetotaling bootlegger, erudite madman, and, reportedly, a real-life inspiration for Jay Gatsby.”

• While reading Abbott’s book, I was reminded of a previous use of Remus as a character, in Craig Holden’s 2002 novel, The Jazz Bird, about which I wrote a favorable review for January Magazine.

• OK, I’ll admit it: James Ellroy’s newest historical crime saga, This Storm (Knopf), is still sitting quietly beside my desk, waiting to be read. I am just not yet ready to dive into another of Ellroy’s grim explorations of America’s violent, racist past. But pieces such as this one, from The Stiletto Gumshoe (an anonymously composed blog that focuses on crime-related artistic endeavors almost as much as it does books), might finally push me into its pages.

• Enjoy this new map of London literary locations.

• On the occasion of what would be Dorothy B. Hughes’ 115th birthday—tomorrow—Dwyer Murphy, my editor at CrimeReads, has collected “some of her finest, most unsettling lines” from Hughes’ many novels. “Together,” he remarks, “they offer up a glimpse of her dark world view, and they begin, but only begin, to capture that deep sense of dread that was such a trademark of Hughes’ fiction.” One of my favorites among these quotations comes from Dread Journey (1945): “She carried her head like a lady and her body like a snake.” You’ll find Murphy’s whole piece here.

• Scottish author Jay Stringer (Marah Chase and the Conqueror’s Tomb) writes in Do Some Damage about how he found his way back from a period of personal and professional darkness.

Was John Stenbeck once a CIA spy in Paris?

• Two more author interviews worthy of notice: Stephen Hunter (Game of Snipers) talks briefly with MysteryPeople; and Mysteristas quizzes Ann Aguirre, author of The Third Mrs. Durst.

• Finally, Nicolás Suszczyk offers a tribute, in The Secret Agent Lair, to Rhode Island-born actor David Hedison, who died on July 18, aged 92. Hedison may be best remembered, of course, for his roles as Captain Lee Crane in the ABC-TV series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964-1968) and as CIA operative Felix Leiter in the James Bond flicks Live and Let Die (1973) and Licence to Kill (1989). “Those who have met him …,”: writes Suszczyk, “talked about his sympathy and sense of humour. There are others who didn’t share that luck, but it just takes watching a few seconds of any of his performances to perceive that warmth and kindness that went through the screen. He made us feel that, besides being a friend of James Bond, he was almost a friend of ours. Maybe this is why, despite his advanced age, we are still surprised and saddened for his departure.”

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