Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Bullet Points: Bonus Edition

• Let us all bid a fond farewell to Edd Byrnes, who played wisecracking, comb-wielding hipster and wannabe private investigator Gerald Lloyd “Kookie” Kookson III on the ABC-TV series 77 Sunset Strip. He passed away at age 87 on January 8. As Terence Towles Canote explains in his blog, A Shroud of Thoughts, “Edd Byrnes was born Edward Byrne Breitenberger on July 30, 1932, in New York City. His father died when he was 13 and he took the name of his grandfather, a New York City firefighter. He eventually took an interest in acting and following his graduation from high school he worked in summer stock. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting. Mr. Byrnes made his television debut on [a 1955] episode of Crossroads.” TMZ notes that he later played a teen-dance show host Vince Fontaine in the 1978 film Grease.

• First television gave us Hannibal (2013-2015), featuring the depraved forensic psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter from Thomas Harris’ 1988 novel, The Silence of the Lambs. Now, according to the Web site Deadline, “CBS has just closed deals for Clarice, a crime-drama series project based on the famous Thomas Harris character Clarice Starling, which is set after the events in The Silence of the Lambs. The project, written and executive produced by Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet, has received a big series commitment. … Clarice is set in 1993, a year after the events of The Silence of the Lambs. The series is a deep dive into the untold personal story of [FBI agent] Clarice Starling, as she returns to the field to pursue serial murderers and sexual predators while navigating the high stakes political world of Washington, D.C.”

• Here’s an intriguing question, addressed by philosopher Daniel C. Dennett: “Did HAL Commit Murder?” You will, of course, remember that HAL 9000 was the artificial intelligence antagonist in the 1968 science-fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

• I keep forgetting to mention that blogger Evan Lewis has been posting, since November 1, installments from the 1956-1958 newspaper comic strip Nero Wolfe, based on Rex Stout’s famous detective series. Click here to see them yourself.

• This comes from B.V. Lawson’s In Reference to Murder:
Synchronicity Films has optioned Craig Russell’s “Lennox” book series and will adapt the period Scotland-set thrillers for TV, with Robert Murphy (DCI Banks, Inspector George Gently, Vera) attached to handle the adaptation.

The series is set in tough inner-city Glasgow in the 1950s where the titular Lennox is a private eye billed as “a damaged man in a hard city at a hard time,” who finds himself caught between three Glasgow crime bosses.
• Los Angeles sure was a smoggy place before 1970, when “President Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency, which led to air pollution regulations, and allowed California to make even stricter provisions within its state.” It’s hard to believe that Donald Trump is now moving to relax government requirements that have for so long kept the air Americans breathe both cleaner and safer.

• It’s equally incredible that someone went to the trouble of putting together this 25-minute video “compilation of all guest star introductions from the television series Cannon” (1971–1976).

• Author Jess Nevins is offering, in his blog, this excerpt from his forthcoming book, Horror Fiction in the 20th Century: Exploring Literature's Most Chilling Genre (Praeger).

• Meanwhile, BOLO Books carries this extract from Hilary Davidson’s Don’t Look Down (Thomas & Mercer), due out in February.

• Did you know that author Steve Hamilton has a new Alex McKnight short story, Riddle Island (Blackstone), awaiting release to e-readers on February 4? Yeah, neither did I.

• CrimeReads recently posted Paul French’s survey of crime fiction (and some true-crime books) set in Saint Petersburg, Russia. One of the titles he includes, and with which I was previously unfamiliar: “Andrei Bely’s Petersburg (first published in serial form in 1913 and then as a revised edition book in 1922). Sadly not much read these days but considered by Vladimir Nabokov as one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century, after Joyce’s Ulysses and Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and before Proust.”

• The Killing Times assembled this lengthy rundown of TV crime and mystery dramas set to debut in Britain during 2020. Some, though, not the entire assortment, will likely also become available to U.S. viewers. I’m particularly interested in watching the eight-part adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s award-winning novel, The Luminaries, and the small-screen version of Ian McGuire’s Arctic historical thriller, The North Water, both of which are coming from BBC Two.

• The literary magazine NB (short for New Books) has published a fine overview of the three novels British screenwriter Jimmy Sangster wrote about James Reed, described as “an ex-Scotland Yard detective who became the bodyguard, then lover, then husband, then ex-husband of Hollywood superstar Katherine Long.” The first of those titles, 1986’s Snowball, was republished last summer by Brash Books.

• As the latest James Bond film, No Time to Die, is being readied for distribution to theaters in April, the car company most closely associated with Agent 007, Aston Martin, “faces a lot of [financial] uncertainty,” says The Spy Command.

• Finally, Shotsmag Confidential has posted this incomplete inventory of “crime fiction bookish events” taking place in the United Kingdom between now and June 1.

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