Thursday, August 01, 2019

Bullet Points: Broad Scope Edition

• Sad news, indeed. The Bookseller reports that Marcel Berlins, the French-born lawyer and law professor who reviewed crime fiction for The Times of London for 37 years, died on July 31 from a brain hemorrhage. He was 77 years old. “Berlins started his career at the Times as a legal correspondent in 1971,” The Bookseller explains. “During his decade covering law, Berlins also wrote his first books, including Caught in the Act with Geoffrey Wansell (Penguin, 1974), a study of young offenders. His weekly legal column later moved to the Guardian.” The Rap Sheet’s Ali Karim says Berlins’ book critiques were “always insightful. … He was one of the greatest London critics, providing such elegance in his literary commentary.” And fellow critic Barry Forshaw offered this encomium in Crime Time:
I don’t have to talk here about Marcel being the doyen of British crime fiction critics (though he was French), writing for The Times for many years—all the many obits will talk about that. What I will miss most was a friend of many years: wry, alert to all the arts and always immensely knowledgeable. … I’ll also miss those phone calls when we’d both received proof copies from a publisher—he’d usually discover new talents ahead of me, and was the perfect early warning system: ‘Have you read X?’, he’d enthuse. ‘He/she is terrific!’ (‘Terrific’ was a favourite Marcel adjective.)

But finally, I can’t avoid saying what everyone who knew
him will say—however much of a cliché it is. The most distinguished of writers on crime fiction will be missed. Much missed, both for his personality and his championing of so many crime writers.
The City University of London, where Berlins had once been a Media Law lecturer, has posted this additional tribute.

• Also gone is Australian-born composer Barrington Pheloung, who, observes London’s Classic FM Web site, was “best known for his dark, hypnotic music for Inspector Morse, for which he was nominated for Best Original Television Music at the 1992 British Academy Television Awards. He also composed the themes for the sequel Lewis, and the prequel Endeavour.” (Listen to the Morse theme here.) The BBC recalls that Pheloung was “born in Manly, New South Wales, in 1954, … started playing the guitar at the age of five and moved to London in his teens to study at the Royal College of Music.” He was just 65 years old when he passed away yesterday in Australia.

• I missed mentioning earlier this week that the Australian Crime Writers Association has promulgated its longlists of contenders for three different 2019 Ned Kelly Awards. Vying in the Best Fiction category are The Rip, by Mark Brandi; Kill Shot, by Garry Disher; Gone by Midnight, by Candice Fox; The Spotted Dog, by Kerry Greenwood; Scrublands, by Chris Hammer; The Lost Man, by Jane Harper; The Other Wife, by Michael Robotham; Preservation, by Jock Serong; Under Your Wings, by Tiffany Tsao; and Live and Let Fry, by Sue Williams. Click here to see all three of the longlists.

• Meanwhile, London’s Goldsboro Books has announced its shortlist of nominees for the 2019 Glass Bell Award, which honors “compelling storytelling with brilliant characterisation and a distinct voice that is confidently written and assuredly realized”:

Snap, by Belinda Bauer (Transworld)
Our House, by Louise Candlish (Simon & Schuster)
The Puppet Show, by M.W. Craven (Little, Brown)
Vox, by Christina Dalcher (HQ)
Swan Song, by Kelleigh Greenberg- Jephcott (Cornerstone)
The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris (Bonnier Zaffre)

The winner is to be declared on September 16. He or she will receive “£2,000 and a beautiful, handmade, engraved glass bell.”

• In Reference to Murder brings word of the finalists for the 2019 Library of Virginia Literary Awards. They include James A. McLaughlin’s Bearskin, “which also won the Edgar Award for Best Debut Novel.”

• And let’s not forget the 2019 Amazon Publishing Readers’ Awards, which are designed to celebrate “the crime and thriller genre and in a UK festival first, recognize excellence in film and television as well as books.” Among the many finalists are novels by Philip Kerr, Manda Scott, Anthony Horowitz, Louise Candlish, and Laura Shepherd-Robinson. The victor in each of nine categories will be proclaimed on September 26, during London’s Capital Crime Festival.

• Happy 200th birthday today to author Herman Melville, who—thanks to works such as Typee and Moby Dick—became a literary giant of the 19th century, yet “died in obscurity” at age 72.

The New York Times has more on Melville here.

• Dan Moldea, a Washington, D.C.-based investigative journalist “specializing in organized-crime and political-corruption investigations,” has his own theories about what happened to American labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa 44 years ago this week, and he shares them with the news Web site Deadline Detroit.

• “The body of John Dillinger, the notorious 1930s bank robber from Central Indiana, will be exhumed from his Crown Hill Cemetery burial site in Indianapolis as part of an upcoming History Channel documentary.” The Indianapolis Star has that story.

• Episode 4 of the Paperback Warrior Podcast examines the brand-new Stark House Press release, The Best of Manhunt, and also considers the influence of the TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. on spy fiction of its time. Listen to the whole show here.

• Blogger B.V. Lawson mentions this development:
Jeffery Katzenberg and Meg Whitman’s Quibi short-form streaming service has picked up Skinny Dip, a comedy series based on Carl Hiaasen’s 2004 satirical novel. The project had been set up as a drama pilot at the CW in the 2018 cycle but did not move forward there. The series is described as a darkly comedic odyssey of revenge where a jilted woman miraculously survives a night in the open ocean after her husband suddenly flings her overboard on their anniversary cruise. Plucked to safety serendipitously by a retired cop, the two team up to gaslight her husband.
• Someday I want to visit Buenos Aires, which I’ve heard is a beautiful, European-styled city. For right now, though, the closest I can come to there is Paul French’s piece in CrimeReads exploring a range of mystery and thriller fiction set in the Argentinean capital.

• Max Allan Collins notes in his blog that he and co-author A. Brad Schwartz are hard at work on The Untouchable and the Butcher, a second non-fiction book about 20th-century law-enforcement agent Eliot Ness. The pair previously penned Scarface and the Untouchable: Al Capone, Eliot Ness, and the Battle for Chicago (2018).

• Finally, New Mexico’s Albuquerque Journal reports that Santa Fe author James McGrath Morris, “who has written books about newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, authors Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos and African-American journalist Ethel Payne,” is currently conducting research for a new biography of Tony Hillerman. Hillerman, who died back in 2008, was of course the creator of the “popular mystery novel series featuring Navajo tribal policemen Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee.” (Hat tip to The Bunburyist.)


Max Allan Collins said...

If I didn't make it clear, I should have -- UNTOUCHABLE AND THE BUTCHER is also a collaboration between A. Brad Schwartz and myself.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Ah, thanks for the clarification, Max. I have corrected my item about your forthcoming Eliot Ness book.