Monday, August 12, 2019

A Monday Morning Medley

• Double O Section brings word that, five years after its development was initially announced, the William Boyd-created, Cold War-backdropped series Spy City finally appears to be taking off: “Originally set up as a 10-part series at Gaumont, Deadline reports that Boyd’s vision will finally come to life as a 6-part series for Miramax and Germany’s H&V Entertainment and ZDF.” The show will star Dominic Cooper (of Agent Carter and Fleming fame) as “a British agent dispatched to Berlin in 1961 to root out a traitor in the UK Embassy or among the Allies, shortly before the construction of the Berlin Wall. ‘The city, declared by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev as “the most dangerous place on earth,” is teeming with spies and double agents. One wrong move could trigger the looming threat of nuclear war as American, British and French troops in West Berlin remain separated from their Soviet and East German counterparts by nothing more than an imaginary line.’” No debut date has yet been publicized.

• Maine author Lea Wait, who penned the Mainely Needlepoint Mysteries series, the Shadows Antique Print mysteries, and the Maine Murder Mystery series, died on August 9 of pancreatic cancer, according to this obituary in Janet Rudolph’s Mystery Fanfare. Wait was 73 years old. Her latest Needlepoint Mystery, Thread on Arrival, was published in April 2019, and she has another, Thread and Buried, due out this coming November. In The Gumshoe Site, Jiro Kimura recalls that Lea Wait was “the single mother of four adopted daughters,” and Shadows at the Fair (2002)—the first novel in her Shadows Antique Print series featuring Maggie Summer—was nominated for the 2003 Agatha Award for Best First Novel.

• Somehow, I missed seeing this news before: Brash Books, which has already published a couple of novels by the late British screenwriter and director, Jimmy Sangster (Touchfeather and Touchfeather, Too), is bringing back into print Sangster’s trilogy of hard-boiled thrillers starring former Scotland Yard detective and now self-styled beach bum James Reed. The first of those books, Snowball (1986), came out at the end of July. Hardball (1988) is due for re-release later this month, with Blackball (1987) to follow. Meanwhile, Brash paperback editions of Sangster’s two John Smith espionage novels, The Spy Killer (aka Private I, 1967) and Foreign Exchange (1968), should turn up in stores come September.

• Although he died in February 2018, author Bill Crider is far from forgotten. Designer Richard Greene notes in Facebook that Issue 104 of Paperback Parade (left)—currently being printed—features a tribute to the Texas creator of Sheriff Dan Rhodes.

Happy 10th anniversary to Do Some Damage!

• I learned this last weekend that publication of the non-fiction book Sticking It to the Man: Revolution and Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950 to 1980, edited by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre (PM Press)—a work to which I contributed a piece—has been postponed until October 1. Grrr!

• The Web site BookRiot is proving to be a useful cheerleader for Polis Books’ brand-new crime-fiction imprint, Agora, which it says will “focus on diverse voices, putting out between six and ten books per year.” Under the direction of Polis founder Jason Pinter and editor Chantelle Aimée Osman, the Agora line is being readied for a September launch. BookRiot takes a peek at some of those Agora titles due out this fall, as well as others for 2020—fresh works by John Vercher, Patricia Smith, Gary Phillips, and others.

• This is an unexpected turn. From In Reference to Murder:
In one of the biggest surprises this past pilot season, ABC’s NYPD Blue reboot did not go to series but was kept in midseason contention with a possibility for redevelopment. It now appears that particular iteration of NYPD Blue, a sequel to the original Emmy-winning series, is dead. However, it’s not the end of NYPD Blue’s comeback at the network, which aired the iconic 1990s cop drama series. According to ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke, “There are conversations about continuing it but possibly in a different iteration.” The recent NYPD Blue pilot starred newcomer Fabien Frankel and co-starred original cast members Kim Delaney and Bill Brochtrup. The sequel centers on Theo (Frankel), the son of Dennis Franz’s Detective Andy Sipowicz character from the original series, who tries to earn his detective shield and work in the 15th squad while investigating his father’s murder.
• Will Lee Child join the judging panel for the 2020 Booker Prize? The Bookseller quotes Child biographer Andy Martin as saying that the author of the Jack Reacher thriller series, who “also won Author of the Year at this year’s British Book Awards and has sold 13.2 million books for £80m, would be a ‘natural’ judge. ‘Lee’s a natural because he reads so many books already (300 a year roughly). Although he is a commercial writer, there is an intellectual, professorial side to him. As he says, he is “100% commerce, 100% art.”’”

• Editor Elizabeth Foxwell alerts me to the fact that the latest installment in her McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series—this one focusing on the works of Ian Rankin—is due out in February 2020. The volume, she explains in her blog, “provides a comprehensive examination of Rankin’s writing career, including short stories that the Scottish author had forgotten he had written and interesting sidelights such as the Rebus play Long Shadows.

• The sixth and newest episode of the Paperback Warrior Podcast examines “the mysterious career of author and publisher Peter McCurtin,” notes host Tom Simon. “We examine McCurtin’s Escape from Devil’s Island as well as [offer] two new reviews—[of] Duel in the Snow by German author Hans Meissner and the debut Malko novel, West of Jerusalem by Gerard De Villiers.” Listen here.

It was on this date in 1964 that “Ian Fleming, a World War II naval intelligence officer, journalist and author of the James Bond thrillers, died.” He was only 56 years old.

• Following last week’s news that the 1981-1991 British TV series Bergerac may be rebooted for modern audiences, World of Shaft author Steve Aldous has posted a short review of the original show’s first episode, starring John Nettles.

• Classic Film and TV Café revisits 1973’s “gritty, urban cop picture,” The Seven-Ups, starring Roy Scheider and featuring a 10-minute car chase that’s arguably “the best … in movie history.”

• In the wake of America’s most recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio—and Republican Donald Trump’s resistance to gun reformsThe Washington Post’s Ronald G. Shafer looks back in this piece to the 1930s, when a rash of gangsters wielding Thompson submachine guns convinced a very different president, Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, to champion what was known unofficially as the “Anti-Machine Gun Bill.” As Shafer recalls, “Rather than a federal ban on machine guns, the Roosevelt administration proposed taxing the high-powered weapons virtually out of existence. It would place a $200 tax on the purchase of machine guns and sawed-off shotguns. The tax—equal to about $3,800 today—was steep at a time when the average annual income was about $1,780.” Although “Congress eventually stripped the bill of regulations on pistols and revolvers,” it “passed the firearms act in June [1934[, and Roosevelt signed it into law along with more than 100 other bills.” Why do the White House and Congress today lack the same sort of courage to take decisive action in defense of American lives?

1 comment:

Lee Goldberg said...

Thank you for mentioning the Brash re-release of Jimmy Sangster's three "James Reed" novels -- SNOWBALL, BLACKBALL and HARDBALL. But the *big* news is that we have found a fourth, unpublished novel in the series, FIREBALL, among Sangster's papers! We'll be republishing the book in early 2020.