Thursday, October 24, 2019

Bullet Points: Barbie and Bangor Edition

• Among the six shortlisted nominees for this year’s Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-fiction are two books familiar to true-crime fans: Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, by Casey Cep; and The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper, by Hallie Rubenhold. The winner will be announced on November 19. Victory brings £50,000 in prize money.

• Mystery Fanfare’s Janet Rudolph spreads the sad news that nurse, artist, and author Bette Golden Lamb has died. “Bette and [her husband] J.J. Lamb,” recalls Rudolph, “have written novels that include a female serial killer who thinks she’s on a noble mission to save barren women from a life of despair (Sisters in Silence) and the Gina Mazzio RN medical thriller “Bone” series (Bone Dry, Sin & Bone, Bone Pit, Bone of Contention, Bone Dust, Bone Crack, Bone Slice, Bone Point). … Bette’s most recent novel, The Russian Girl, was based on a true story of a woman who escapes from a high-security nursing home during the hottest day of the year. Her delirium reveals a harrowing story of a young immigrant Russian girl forced to come to America in the early 1900s. Her turbulent life is filled with upheaval, lost love, and activism in a crushing, brutal 20th-century journey.”

• Farewell, too, to prolific actor Jerry Fogel, who may be best remembered for having co-starred in the sitcom The Mothers-In-Law and in the later drama The White Shadow. Terence Towles Canote notes, in A Shroud of Thoughts, that Fogel died this last Monday, October 21. He was 83 years old and “had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2008.” In addition to the aforementioned two series, Fogel won roles in The Bold Ones, The New Perry Mason, Police Story, Barnaby Jones, Ellery Queen, and Lou Grant.

• A story from earlier this week, about Mattel teaming up with National Geographic magazine to produce “Photojournalist Barbie,” put me in mind of Bouchercon 2019, which will commence in Dallas, Texas, on Halloween. So what’s the link? A distinctive but quite peculiar version of America’s favorite female doll, “Bouchercon Barbie” (below), that I chanced across recently. That unique plaything was evidently auctioned off 16 years ago to benefit the French Red Cross. A photo cutline identified it as “part of the Barbie Jewelry 2003 Collection,” and described it this way: “A water nymph with a serpent necklace of white gold set with diamonds and sparkling emerald eyes, a black gold serpent bracelet set with emerald and diamond eyes. The entire assembly required 250 hours of work in the Place Vendome Workshop.” Has anyone else heard of this? And the 2003 Bouchercon convention was held in Las Vegas; what did that have to do with the French Red Cross?

• Max Allan Collins reports that his next collaboration with the now very late Mickey Spillane, Masquerade for Murder—Collins’ 12th Mike Hammer novel—will be published next March. “This is the second Hammer I’ve written from a Spillane synopsis,” Collins explains, “with only two scraps of Mickey’s prose to work into the book (including the opening, however). That’s an intimidating prospect, but I think it came out well. The novel takes place in the late ’80s and is a follow-up (not a sequel) to Mickey’s The Killing Man. Like the preceding Spillane/Collins Hammer novel, Murder, My Love, the synopsis may have been written by Mickey as a proposed TV episode for the Stacy Keach series. This means I had fleshing out to do, and I hope I’ve done Mike and the Mick justice.”

From In Reference to Murder comes this item:
In a New York Times profile, author John le Carré revealed that his sons’ production company, The Ink Factory, is plotting an epic new TV series about his most famous character, spymaster George Smiley. The Ink Factory now plans to do new television adaptations of all the novels featuring Cold War spy George Smiley—this time in chronological order. Le Carré says that his sons are interested in casting the British actor Jared Harris (Chernobyl, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.). Harris was originally cast in Tomas Alfredson’s 2011 le Carré adaptation, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, as MI6 chief Percy Alleline, but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, in which he played Professor Moriarty.
• I, for one, have fond memories of NBC-TV’s Ghost Story. For more about that short-lived, Sebastian Cabot-hosted series, click here.

• The Library of Congress blog carried a story this week about how James M. Cain’s most famous crime novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934), started out with the “limp noodle” title, Bar-B-Q.

• Was Michael Crichton “the Arthur Conan Doyle of the 20th Century”? Brian Hoey endeavors to make that case for Books Tell You Why.

• Members of Britain’s Detection Club have conspired to produce Howdunit, a book “about the art and craft of crime writing,” slated for publication by HarperCollins next June. Martin Edwards explains: “The contributors will include almost all the current members of the Detection Club, including Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Ann Cleeves, Mick Herron, James Runcie, Peter James, Sophie Hannah, Peter Robinson, Felix Francis, Elly Griffiths, Peter Lovesey, Mark Billingham, and Len Deighton, to whom the book is dedicated—given that this year, Len celebrates 50 years as an enthusiastic member of the Club. They will offer a marvellous range of insights into the writing life, including personal reminiscences, practical tips for aspiring writers, and an insight into the realities of being a writer—there are terrific pieces, for instance, about ‘imposter syndrome’ and ‘improvisation techniques’ as well as thoughts on social media, writing for radio, and the experience of having your work adapted for TV and film. … The book will also include shorter pieces by a number of illustrious Detection Club members of the past, from G.K. Chesterton onwards.”

• Thanks to a bit of rezoning, Stephen King’s Victorian mansion in Bangor, Maine, has been cleared to become an archive of the author’s work, with an adjacent writers’ retreat. Rolling Stone magazine quotes King on Facebook as saying: “We are in the very beginning of planning the writers’ retreat at the house next door, providing housing for up to five writers in residence at a time. … We are one to two years away from an operating retreat. The archives formerly held at the University of Maine will be accessible for restricted visits by appointment only. There will not be a museum and nothing will be open to the public, but the archives will be available to researchers and scholars.”

• Is crime fiction really “Melbourne’s biggest export”?

• A few interesting stories from CrimeReads: Paul French examines Berlin as a mystery-fiction setting; Michael Gonzales showcases a little-known crime novel by Richard Wright, of Native Son fame; Neil Nyren offers a primer on Dorothy L. Sayers’ work; and as the full scope of Donald Trump’s impeachment-inspiring Ukraine scandal becomes clearer, Noah Berlatsky compares it to Richard Nixon’s equally notorious Watergate scandal, so well examined in All the President’s Men (1974), by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

• For the vintage illustration lover on your Christmas list: Eva: Men’s Adventure Supermodel, edited by Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle. It’s described as “a lushly illustrated book that showcases the unique career of the blonde Swedish model and actress Eva Lynd, … well known to fans of men’s adventure magazines (MAMs) as the model for scores of [mid-20th0century] MAM cover paintings and interior illustrations.” Ron Fortier adds, in a review, that “What is captivating here is Ms. Lynd actually narrates the book in her own words as she recalls many of her experiences vividly with charm and melancholy. It truly was a simpler time in many ways and she describes it with an honest sincerity that infuses the volume with a special, elegant grace.”

• “George Lazenby, the one-time film James Bond, is returning to the espionage genre,” writes Spy Command blogger Bill Koenig. “Lazenby stars as Dr. Jason Love in an audio adaptation of author James Leasor’s [1964 novel] Passport to Oblivion.”

• Finally, a few author interviews worth checking out: Jake Hinkston talks with Criminal Element about his new novel, Dry County; Thomas Pluck questions Joyce Carol Oates on the matter of the latter’s new anthology, Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers (Akashic); MysteryPeople converses with Mark Coggins (The Dead Beat Scroll), Martin Limón (G.I. Confidential), and L.A. Chandlar (The Pearl Dagger); The Big Thrill quizzes Robert J. Randisi about The Headstone Detective Agency; and Lori Rader-Day goes one-on-one with Elizabeth Hand, the author of Curious Toys.

1 comment:

Kristopher said...

That not a Bouchercon Barbie - although this does bring to mind many, many options for such a thing. Imagine the possibilities: Cozy Barbie, Noir Barbie, and more. LOL

That is the 2003 Boucheron Barbie. Boucheron is a luxury French jewelry business and also the name of a high-end perfume.