Sunday, April 14, 2024

Standing Out from the Crowd

I wasn’t able to attend this year’s Left Coast Crime gathering, but Bay Area author and photographer Mark Coggins was in attendance. He sent back several of his favorite shots from the four-day event.

(Above) Southern California writer Naomi Hirahara won the 2024 Bill Gottfried Memorial Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel for her most recent book, Evergreen.

Friday evening saw Christa Faust interviewing Guest of Honor Megan Abbott (right) on stage. During their wide-ranging conversation, Abbott revealed that she is working on a TV series adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest (1929) with the crew who gave us this year’s Monsieur Spade.

A Friday morning panels highlight was “There’s No Gum on My Shoe: The Modern P.I.” Left to right: Moderator Lisa Bush’s not-so-confidential informants on the subject were Tim Maleeny, Mark Coggins, James D.F. Hannah, and Pamela Beason.

Let’s Hear It for the Leftys

During a banquet last evening at the Left Coast Crime convention, being held this weekend in Bellevue, Washington (just east of Seattle), organizers presented the winners of the 2024 Lefty Awards.

Lefty for Best Humorous Mystery Novel: Cheap Trills, by Wendall Thomas (Beyond the Page)

Also nominated: Hot Pot Murder, by Jennifer J. Chow (Berkley Prime Crime); The Great Gimmelmans, by Lee Matthew Goldberg (Level Best); A Sense for Murder, by Leslie Karst (Severn House); Hop Scot, by Catriona McPherson (Severn House); and Dying for a Decoration, by Cindy Sample (Cindy Sample)

Bill Gottfried Memorial Lefty for Best Historical Mystery Novel (books set before 1970): Evergreen, by Naomi Hirahara (Soho Crime)

Also nominated: Night Flight to Paris, by Cara Black (Soho Crime); The Bitter Past, by Bruce Borgos (Minotaur); Death Among the Ruins, by Susanna Calkins (Severn House); A Newlywed’s Guide to Fortune and Murder, by Dianne Freeman (Kensington); and Time’s Undoing, by Cheryl A. Head (Dutton)

Lefty for Best Debut Mystery Novel: Mother-Daughter Murder Night, by Nina Simon (Morrow)

Also nominated: Play the Fool, by Lina Chern (Bantam); Scorched Grace, by Margot Douaihy (Gillian Flynn); Dutch Threat, by Josh Pachter (Genius); and The House in the Pines, by Ana Reyes (Dutton)

Lefty for Best Mystery Novel (not in other categories): Hide, by Tracy Clark (Thomas & Mercer)

Also nominated: All the Sinners Bleed, by S.A. Cosby (Flatiron); Odyssey’s End, by Matt Coyle (Oceanview); Everybody Knows, by Jordan Harper (Mulholland); Face of Greed, by James L’Etoile (Oceanview); and The Raven Thief, by Gigi Pandian (Minotaur)

Congratulations to all of the contenders!

Out in Front of the Field

It’s only April, but already George Easter, the editor of Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine, is busy compiling an extensive list of 2024’s best crime, mystery, and thriller novels. Those picks are based on recommendations from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers’ Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, and of course DP.

While Easter already proclaims Chris Whitaker’s All the Colors of the Dark—due out from Crown in late June—to be his “favorite novel of the year so far (having read 46 crime and thriller novels this year),” there are so many more new and forthcoming titles included in DP’s inventory. They range from Simon Mason’s Lost and Never Found (Riverrun UK), Mark Billingham’s The Wrong Hands (Atlantic Monthly Press), and Tana French’s The Hunter (Viking) to Thomas Mullen’s The Rumor Game (Minotaur), Michelle Prak’s The Rush, Tom Baragwanath’s Paper Cage (Knopf), Kim Hays’ A Fondness for Truth (Seventh Street), and Matthew Richardson’s The Scarlet Papers (Penguin).

Disappointingly, one of my own favorite reads this year, C.B. Bernard’s Ordinary Bear (Blackstone), isn’t featured. I can only hope that novel will gain a following and touch readers’ hearts as powerfully as it did mine in time to win mention on others’ best-of-the-year lists.

Go here to see Easter’s evolving roll of 2024’s top choices.

Many Happy Returns of the Day

Tax Day (April 15) is not ordinarily the cheeriest occasion for Americans. But it can be made considerably more rewarding with the injection into one’s Tax Day schedule of a crime novel having to do with finances, accounting, or April 15, in particular.

Blogger Janet Rudolph has updated her list of tax and accounting mysteries. There you’ll find everything from David Dodge's Death and Taxes and Rodney Sexton’s A Little Rebellion: April 15 Surprise to Kate Gallison's Unbalanced Accounts, Vincent Zandri’s The IRS Agent Came Calling for Blood, and Paul Anthony’s Old Accountants Never Die.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Positive Impressions

We’re still more than a month out from the start of the 2024 Capital Crime festival in London, but organizers have already announced the shortlists for this year’s Fingerprint Awards, in seven divisions.

Overall Best Crime Book of the Year:
The Murder Game, by Tom Hindle (Century)
None of This Is True, by Lisa Jewell (Century)
The Secret Hours, by Mick Herron (Baskerville)
In the Blink of an Eye, by Jo Callaghan (Simon & Schuster UK)
Strange Sally Diamond, by Liz Nugent (Sandycove)

Thriller Book of the Year:
Fearless, by M.W. Craven (Constable)
The Silent Man, by David Fennell (Zaffre)
The Rule of Three, by Sam Ripley (Simon & Schuster UK)
The Only Suspect, by Louise Candlish (Simon & Schuster UK)
The House Hunt, by C.M. Ewan (Macmillan)

Historical Crime Book of the Year:
Death of a Lesser God, by Vaseem Khan (Hodder & Stoughton)
The Square of Sevens, by Laura Shepherd-Robinson (Mantle)
The Murder Wheel, by Tom Mead (Head of Zeus/Aries)
The Good Liars, by Anita Frank (HQ)
The House of Whispers, by Anna Mazzola (Orion)

Genre-Busting Book of the Year:
Ink Blood Sister Scribe, by Emma Törzs (Century)
The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels, by Janice Hallett (Viper)
Killing Jericho, by William Hussey (Zaffre)
Murder in the Family, by Cara Hunter (HarperFiction)
The Looking Glass Sound, by Catriona Ward (Viper)

Debut Crime Book of the Year:
Death of a Bookseller, by Alice Slater (Hodder & Stoughton)
The List, by Yomi Adegoke (Fourth Estate)
Geneva, by Richard Armitage (Faber and Faber)
The Bandit Queens, by Parini Shroff (Allen & Unwin)
Thirty Days of Darkness, by Jenny Lund Madsen (Orenda)

True Crime Book of the Year:
No Ordinary Day: Espionage, Betrayal, Terrorism and Corruption—the Truth Behind the Murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher, by Matt
Johnson (Ad Lib)
My Girl: The Babes in the Woods Murders. A Mother’s Fight for Justice, by Michelle Hadaway (Penguin)
Vital Organs: A History of the World’s Most Famous Body Parts,
by Suzie Edge (Wildfire)
Unlawful Killings: Life, Love and Murder: Trials at the Old Bailey,
by Her Honour Wendy Joseph QC (Doubleday)
Order Out of Chaos: A Kidnap Negotiator’s Guide to Influence and Persuasion, by Scott Walker (Piatkus)

Audiobook of the Year:
The Running Grave, by Robert Galbraith (narrated by Robert Glenister; Oakhill)
The Blackbird, by Tim Weaver (narrated by Joe Coen, Brendan McDonald, Anjili Mohindra; Penguin Audio)
The Bedroom Window, by K.L. Slater (narrated by Clare
Corbett; Audible)
Conviction, by Jack Jordan (narrated by Sophie Roberts; Audible)
Over My Dead Body, by Maz Evans (narrated by Maz Evans; Headline)

Click here to vote for your favorite nominees in each of these categories. The winners are set to be declared on opening day of this year’s convention, Thursday, May 30.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

More Reasons to Flip on the TV

All hail The Killing Times, the British blog that today brings us three terrific batches of news about near-future TV productions.

It was more than a year ago now that we brought you word of streaming service Disney+ greenlighting a series based on C.J. Sansom’s popular novels starring Matthew Shardlake, a barrister who solves crimes and seeks to avoid political intrigues in 16th-century Britain. Today we learned that the four-part drama Shardlake, based on Sansom’s first novel, Dissolution (2003), will debut on May 1.

The program casts Arthur Hughes (from The Innocents and Then Barbara Met Alan) as Shardlake, a hunchback lawyer protagonist “with an acute sense of justice and one of the few honest men in a world beset with scheming and plots.” Sean Bean (World on Fire, Snowpiercer) will play Thomas Cromwell, chief minister to King Henry VIII and Shardlake’s employer, while Anthony Boyle (The Plot Against America, Masters of the Air) appears as Jack Barak, who assists Shardlake ... but may also be spying on him for Cromwell.

Here’s The Killing Times’ synopsis of the show’s plot:
Shardlake’s sheltered life as a lawyer is turned upside down when Cromwell instructs him to investigate the murder of one of his commissioners at a monastery in the remote [and fictitious] town of Scarnsea. The commissioner was gathering evidence to close the monastery and it is now imperative for Cromwell’s own political survival that Shardlake both solves the murder and closes the monastery. He leaves Shardlake in no doubt that failure is not an option.

Cromwell insists that he is accompanied by Jack Barak to Scarnsea, where the duo are met with hostility, suspicion and paranoia by the monks who fear for their future and will seemingly stop at nothing to preserve their order.
Here’s a 90-second trailer for Shardlake:

The Killing Times also reports that two more series of The Night Manager, which premiered in 2016 and was adapted from John le Carré’s 1993 novel of the same title, have been commissioned by BBC One. Tom Hiddleston will return to his role as Jonathan Pine, a former British soldier turned hotel night manager who, in the original tale, became involved with illegal arm sales. Adds Deadline: “The Night Manager Season 2 will begin filming later this year and will pick up with Hiddleston’s Jonathan Pine eight years after the explosive finale of Season 1, going beyond the original book ... Additional plot details are being kept under wraps and there is not yet confirmation as to whether [executive producer Hugh] Laurie’s Richard Roper, who was last seen in the back of a paddy wagon driven by arms buyers who were not best pleased with him, will return to star.”

Finally, we have further details about a second Death in Paradise spin-off, Return to Paradise. This show will be set in Sydney, Australia, and feature Anna Samson (Jack Irish, Home and Away) as tenacious Detective Inspector Mackenzie Clarke, “an Australian ex-pat who’s made a name for herself in London’s Metropolitan Police for cracking uncrackable murder cases. When she is accused of tampering with evidence, Clarke returns to Australia, back to the last place she ever wanted to be—her hometown of Dolphin Cove. Having fled the town six years ago, infamously leaving her ex-fiancé Glenn [Tai Hara, also from Home and Away] at the altar, Clarke is not welcome there. But with no other job options, and a unique talent for solving a mystery, no matter how challenging, a reluctant ‘Mack’ joins the team at Dolphin Cove Police Station.” We’ll see whether she settles into her new situation as comfortably as DI Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall) did in the previous Death in Paradise offshoot, Beyond Paradise, fresh episodes of which are currently rolling out in the States on BritBox.

Frustratingly, launch dates for Return to Paradise and the sophomore season of The Night Manager have not yet been announced.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Who’s Talking Now?

Is it simply my imagination, or has there been an extraordinary plenitude lately of interesting interviews with authors of crime and mystery noves? Endeavoring to collect them all would be a fool’s errand, but here are a few that caught my eye.

Don Winslow talked with both National Public Radio’s Scott Simon (my favorite morning host, by the way) and CrimeReads’ Nick Kolakowski about City in Ruins, the final book in his trilogy starring “Danny Ryan, who's been a Rhode Island mobster, dockworker and fugitive from the law, is now a pillar of the community in Las Vegas.”

In The Girl with All the Crime Books, journalist Louise Fairbairn questions Edinburgh author Philip Miller about The Hollow Tree, his second novel to feature investigative reporter Shona Sandison (following 2022’s The Goldenacre). Meanwhile, Miller tells Crimespree Magazine about “Five Things that Inspired The Hollow Tree.”

With her 22nd V.I. Warshawski novel, Pay Dirt, due out from William Morrow next week, author Sara Paretsky responds to queries from Robin Agnew of Mystery Scene about that Kansas-set tale.

• For her popular Murder By the Book podcast, Sara DiVello says she “is so excited” to chat with Robert Dugoni about A Killing on the Hill, his Seattle-based historical thriller that recalls “the shooting of a lightweight boxer at the Pom Pom nightclub by a gangster” on Profanity Hill. “The trial that ensued became the trial of the century.”

Crimespree’s Elise Cooper speaks with Mary Kubica about She’s Not Sorry, a work of suspense that focuses on an intensive care nurse who’s trying to figure out whether attempted suicide or attempted murder was behind a patient’s traumatic brain injury.

• And for The Strand, Andrew McAleer resurrects a conversation he had with Edgar-winning novelist Robert B. Parker back in 2006.

Monday, April 08, 2024

Bullet Points: Eclipse Day Edition

• The Columbophile Blog reports that David Koenig, author of the 2021 book Shooting Columbo, will be back in print next month with Unshot Columbo: Cracking the Cases That Never Got Filmed (Bonaventure Press), which “focuses on 19 murder mysteries that never made it to our screens—and outline why we never got to see them. ... [T]he many Columbo stories crafted but never filmed include 1970s tales by ‘murder consultant’ Larry Cohen and a young Brian De Palma, an aborted pilot for Mrs. Columbo that was reimagined for the good Lieutenant, and the legendary last case that Peter Falk desperately hoped would drop the curtain on Columbo’s televisual career.” Yeah, you should know by now that this is on my “preorder” list.

• North Carolina resident Ashley-Ruth M. Bernier, whose short stories have appeared in various magazines, and Audrea Sallis, a South Dakota technical writer hoping to expand her fiction portfolio, have been named as the 2024 Barbara Neely Grant recipients. This scholarship program, named for the late Barbara Neely (creator of the Blanche White mystery series), is designed to promote Black crime-fiction writers. A pair of winners is selected each year—one an already published author, the other a writer just getting started in publishing. More information about Bernier and Sallis can be found here.

• Mike Ripley expands his oft-amusing “Ripster Revivals” series for Shots with this piece looking back fondly at the oeuvre of Walter Satterthwait (1946-2020). Ripley calls him “an American with a passport, who knew how to use it. Not only did his nomadic existence find him living in numerous locations in the U.S., particularly New York, Santa Fe, California and Florida, but in Greece, Kenya and the Caribbean, with frequent visits to Germany, France, Holland and England. Along the way he wrote numerous short stories, a series of classic private eye investigations, a historical series set in the Europe of the 1920s featuring cameos from Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, Ernest Hemingway and Adolf Hitler (!), plus stand-alone thrillers and novels featuring Lizzie Borden and Oscar Wilde.”

• The annual CrimeFest convention, held in Bristol, England, has revealed its program lineup for this coming May. In attendance should be crime-fiction stars running from Laura Lippman and Ajay Chowdhury to Denise Mina and Abir Mukherjee. More details are here.

• Perhaps in anticipation of what would have been actor Rock Hudson’s 100th birthday coming up next year (he succumbed to AIDS-related illness in 1985), the celebrity magazine Closer recently profiled Susan Saint James, now 77, who starred with Hudson in the 1971-1977 NBC Mystery Movie series McMillan & Wife. The article begins with Saint James’ statement that “kissing Rock Hudson on the set … never felt like a hardship. ‘We were kissing all the time, and it was fun,” she tells Closer exclusively, calling her late costar “engaging, wonderful, friendly and sexy.’” It goes on to mention Hudson’s “gregarious, upbeat personality” and how he personally welcomed famous guest stars to the McMillan & Wife set. “‘He would send flowers to their trailer, and he’d go over first thing in the morning to say hello,’ recalls Susan, who notes that stars of hit TV series are rarely so gracious. ‘He had this kind of Old Hollywood courtesy and kindness.’”

• Speaking of Susan Saint James, I was contacted not long ago by northern Virginia resident Frank Gregorsky, a non-fiction editor specializing in economics and political history who, in his spare time, pens a free, PDF-formatted Web quarterly called Detective Drama Gems. He’s apparently been doing that—ever so quietly, and with no professional background in his subject matter—since 2020, long enough to have analyzed “roughly four dozen episodes” of vintage American crime and detective TV shows. “I look for plausibility of events; spectacular character clarity; and the power and precision of dialogue,” Gregorsky tells me. The reason he reached out to me was that he’d come across my 2011 Rap Sheet tribute to McMillan & Wife, and had referred to it while producing this enjoyable Gems recollection of “Point of Law,” a 1976 episode of the series—and the last to feature Saint James in the role of Sally McMillan (left), spouse to Hudson’s San Francisco police commissioner, Stewart “Mac” McMillan.

• By the way, I’d love to direct you to previous issues of Detective Drama Gems, but Gregorsky has (sadly) provided no easy way to access them. The first issue, focusing on episodes of Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator, Hawaii Five-O, and The Streets of San Francisco, can be enjoyed here. But after that, the Web addresses begin with, and you must change the number in that address each time to find the next one. There are 13 issues thus far, looking back at installments of everything from The Mod Squad and 77 Sunset Strip to The Name of the Game and M Squad.

• Here’s an episode that seems to have passed from my recollection: “In the final season of Perry Mason (1957-66), the intrepid attorney went behind the Iron Curtain for an adventure.”

• This is good news, indeed. New episodes of Beyond Paradise, the Death in Paradise spin-off series starring Kris Marshall, have just begun to drop on the streaming service BritBox. A Christmas special was shown in December, but only last week did a second ep suddenly appear. Here’s a synopsis: “As a steam train races through the Devonshire countryside, [Detective Inspector] Humphrey [Goodman, played by Marshall] and [Deteetive Sergeant] Esther [Williams, played by Zahra Ahmadi] join the Shipton Abbott Players for a murder mystery rehearsal. Though Humphrey is only playing a detective, things turn from amateur to professional when the actor playing the victim is found dead with a real knife in his back.” Wikipedia says six Season 2 episodes are in the hopper (and began showing in the UK in March). Marshall was my favorite among the fish-out-of-water British detective stars of Death in Paradise, and it’s nice to see him return in this rather different series, which will apparently find Goodman and his fiancée, Sally Bretton (Martha Lloyd) becoming foster parents.

• Meanwhile, American streamer Hulu has decided to end the cruise of Death and Other Details after 10 installments. “Now we’ll never know which poor soul these severed limbs belonged to,” observes Deadline. “Hulu has opted not to renew murder mystery series Death and Other Details for a second season. The news is not really surprising; the visually stylish series starring Mandy Patinkin and Violett Beane had a pretty quiet run, not able to break into Nielsen’s weekly Top 10 streaming ratings.”

• And if you missed seeing today’s total solar eclipse, visible in North America, here’s NASA’s broadcast of that “celestial spectacle.”

Friday, April 05, 2024

Revue of Reviewers: 4-5-24

Critiquing some of the most interesting recent crime, mystery, and thriller releases. Click on the individual covers to read more.

Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Keeping Things Short

The Short Mystery Fiction Society has announced its nominations for the 2024 Derringer Awards, in four categories.

Best Flash Story (up to 1,000 words):
“Sleep Rough,” by Brandon Barrows (Shotgun Honey,
September 2023)
“The Referee,” by C.W. Blackwell (Shotgun Honey, October 2023)
To Whom It May Concern,” by Serena Jayne (Shotgun Honey,
January 2023)
“Teddy’s Favorite Thing,” by Paul Ryan O’Connor (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, September/October 2023)
“Supply Chains,” by Andrew Welsh-Huggins (Black Cat

Best Short Story (1,001-4,000 words):
“Denim Mining,” by Michael Bracken (Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine,
May/June 2023)
“Dogs of War,” by Michael Bracken and Stacy Woodson (from Mickey Finn: 21st Century Noir Volume Four, edited by Michael Bracken; Down & Out)
“Last Day at the Jackrabbit,” by John Floyd (The Strand, May 2023)
“I Don’t Like Mondays,” by Josh Pachter (Mystery Magazine,
July 2023)
“Judge Not,” by Twist Phelan (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine,
May/June 2023)
“A Tail of Justice,” by Shannon Taft (Black Cat Weekly #114)

Best Long Story (4,001-8,000 words):
“Hard Rain on Beach Street,” by C.W. Blackwell (from Killin’ Time in San Diego, edited by Holly West; Down & Out)
“Reversion,” by Marcelle Dubé (Mystery Magazine, April 2023)
“Back to Hell House,” by Nick Kolakowski (Vautrin, Fall 2023)
“Troubled Water,” by donalee Moulton (Black Cat Weekly #75)
“It’s Not Even Past,” by Anna Scotti (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, September/October 2023)
“Good Deed for the Day,” by Bonnar Spring (from Wolfsbane: Best New England Crime Stories, edited by Christine Bagley, Susan Oleksiw, and Leslie Wheeler; Crime Spell)
“Ignatius Rum-and-Cola,: by Andrew Welsh-Huggins (Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, January/February 2023)

Best Novelette (8,001-20,000 words):
“Vengeance Weapon,” by James R. Benn (from The Refusal Camp: Stories by James R. Benn; Soho Press)
“Mrs. Hyde,” by David Dean (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine,
March/April 2023)
“The Case of the Bogus Cinderellas,” by Jacqueline Freimor (Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, July/Aug 2023)
Madam Tomahawk, by Nick Kolakowski (A Grifter’s Song Book 29, Down & Out)
“Catherine the Great,” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (from WMG 2023 Holiday Spectacular Calendar of Stories, edited by by Kristine
Kathryn Rusch)

The Derringer Awards take their moniker from the long-popular small handgun. SMFS members will choose this year’s winners, with the results to be posted on May 1.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Owl Finds a Perch

Marc Cameron, a onetime U.S. marshal, now an author living in Alaska, has won this year’s Spotted Owl Award for his 2023 suspense novel, Breakneck. The Spotted Owl is presented annually by the Portland, Oregon-based Friends of Mystery organization to celebrate crime fiction produced by writers in the Pacific Northwest (Alaska, British Columbia, Canada, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington).

Breakneck was Cameron’s fifth novel starring Anchorage’s Arliss Cutter, a deputy U.S. marshal. A sixth installment in his series, Bad River, is due out from ‎Kensington in this coming July.

A Friends of Mystery press release says the group considered 39 nominees for the 2024 prize. Runners-up were:

2. Dana Stabenow for Not the Ones Dead
3. Dana Haynes for The Saint of Thieves
4. Sam Wiebe for Sunset and Jericho
5. Jon Talton for The Nurse Murders
6. James Bryne for Deadlock
7. Haris Orkin for License to Die
8. Frank Zafiro for Hope Dies Last
9 (tie). Orlando Davidson for Baseline Road and J.A. Jance for Collateral Damage

Cameron’s victory was announced during the March 28 meeting of Friends of Mystery. The Spotted Owl Award was established in 1995. A list of previous recipients can be found here.

Friday, March 29, 2024

The Last of Mr. Gossett

I don’t even know where to start in honoring the life and seven-decades-long career of Louis Gossett Jr., the Coney Island-born actor who died earlier today in Malibu, California, at age 87.

Gossett picked up the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1982 for his performance as Sergeant Emil Foley, an uncompromising but not unfeeling Marine drill sergeant in An Officer and a Gentleman—“the first Black performer to win in that category,” says The New York Times. For his role as Fiddler, the compassionate mentor to Kunta Kinte (LeVar Burton) in the acclaimed 1977 TV mini-series Roots, Gossett captured an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor.

However, it was some of his less well-remembered appearances that came to mind when I heard he’d passed away. In the 1971 comedy-western film Skin Game, for instance, Gossett played a savvy con man who allows himself to be repeatedly sold as a slave by his partner, James Garner. He and Garner worked together again in two episodes of The Rockford Files, with Gossett then playing a guileful private investigator, Marcus Aurelius "Gabby" Hayes, and Isaac Hayes guest-starring as ex-con Gandolph “Gandy” Fitch. Rockford producers hoped to spin Hayes and Fitch off into their own weekly NBC-TV series, but it never happened. Gossett did, though, star in another short-lived crime drama, Gideon Oliver, in 1989, playing a Columbia University anthropology professor who uses “his knowledge of past cultures to solve crimes throughout the Western Hemisphere.” The show was based very loosely on Aaron Elkins’ Gideon Oliver mysteries. He later featured in two better-than-average TV mystery movies during the mid-1990s—Ray Alexander: A Taste for Murder and Ray Alexander: A Menu for Murder—portraying a San Francisco café owner who moonlights as a detective. James Coburn and Tracy Nelson joined him as principles in both of those.

Gossett’s credits on the Internet Movie Database extend all the way back to the late 1950s. They include roles in small-screen series ranging from Chuck Connors’ Cowboy in Africa and James Franciscus’ Longstreet to Mod Squad, McCloud, Petrocelli, Harry O, and Boardwalk Empire, plus films as diverse as A Raisin in the Sun (1961), The White Dawn (1974), Iron Eagle (1986), The Perfect Game (2008), and the 2023 version of The Color Purple. Louis Gossett Jr. didn’t always have an easy life; he contended with depression and a drug habit during his up-and-down career. But he always seemed at ease, or at least in command of his talents, when he stepped before the eye of a camera. For that fact, we should be grateful he once strode among us.

READ MORE:The Louis Gossett I Knew,” by Wil Haygood (The Washington Post); “The Late Great Louis Gossett Jr.,” by Terence Towles Canote (A Shroud of Thoughts).

Thursday, March 28, 2024

PaperBack: “The Lone Wolf”

Part of a series honoring the late author and blogger Bill Crider.

The Lone Wolf, by Louis Joseph Vance (Dell, 1943). This was published as part of the now-famous Dell “mapbacks” series, with a cover painting by Gerald Gregg.

Published originally in 1914, this is the first of Vance’s eight novels starring Michael Lanyard, aka The Lone Wolf. As The Thrilling Detective Web Site recalls, Lanyard began as “an English-born orphan of unknown parentage who endured a horrid Dickensian childhood after arriving at Troyons, a Parisian restaurant, where he was ‘raised’ by the cruel and disreputable ‘Madame,’ and trained in the criminal arts by the mysterious Irishman, Bourke, who had a ‘heart as big as all outdoors,’ and took the young boy under his wing. Somehow, Michael survived until adulthood, and became a charming sort of rogue, a European jewel thief who worked alone (hence the nickname), despite a soft spot for damsels in distress and a yearning for travel.”

However, the character changed as the 20th century progressed, and as his exploits were portrayed a couple of dozen times on the big screen, and later on radio and in a syndicated, half-hour TV series titled, appropriately, The Lone Wolf. That last starred British-American actor Louis Hayward, found Lanyard reinterpreted as an American private eye of sorts, and ran for 39 episodes (1954-1955). You can watch colorized versions of most of those TV installments here.

(Vance’s protagonist should not be confused with this very different Lone Wolf, created by “Mike Barry,” aka Barry N. Malzberg.)

Extolling Inclusivity

Organizers of the annual Lambda Literary Awards (aka the “Lammys”), which celebrate the best of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer literature, have announced their finalists for the 2024 prizes. There are 26 categories of nominees, including LGBTQ+ Mystery. The half-dozen novels vying for the prize in that division are:

A Calculated Risk, by Cari Hunter (Bold Strokes)
Don’t Forget the Girl, by Rebecca McKanna (Sourcebooks Landmark)
The Good Ones, by Polly Stewart (HarperCollins)
Transitory, by J.M. Redmann (Bold Strokes)
Where the Dead Sleep, by Joshua Moehling (Poisoned Pen Press)

In addition, Sarah James’ witty, 1940s mystery, Last Night at the Hollywood Canteen (Sourcebooks), is among this year’s contenders in the Bisexual Fiction category.

The winners of these commendations will be declared on June 11 during a ceremony at New York City’s Sony Hall.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Little’s Big Move

Have I really been watching the BBC-TV series Death in Paradise for 13 seasons? Hard to believe, but true. And I’m just two weekly episodes away from the concluding installment of the most recent season.

I am already aware, however—thanks to The Killing Times—that the program’s star, Ralf Little, who plays Detective Inspector Neville Parker, will give up his role at the end of this run, making him Death in Paradise’s longest-serving DI lead yet. What’s more, Parker gets to sail off with the woman of his dreams! Not a bad conclusion, if you ask me. According to The Killing Times, “the likes of Diane Morgan [Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe, After Life], Simon Bird [The Inbetweeners, Friday Night Dinner] and Mathew Horne [Bad Education, Agatha Raisin] have all been suggested as replacements” for Little.

Elsewhere in television news, In Reference to Murder reports that “Netflix is teaming up with Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø, whose Harry Hole crime novels have sold tens of millions of copies worldwide, for a new ‘Next on Nordic’ noir series, Harry Hole (working title). The project is based on Nesbø’s novel, The Devil’s Star, about the series’ titular detective, with Nesbø also writing the script. The story is set In the heat of a sweltering Oslo summer, when a young woman is found murdered in her flat—with one of her fingers cut off and a tiny red star-shaped diamond placed under her eyelid. An off-the-rails alcoholic barely holding on to his job, Detective Harry Hole is assigned to the case with Tom Waaler, a hated colleague whom Harry believes is responsible for the murder of his partner. When another woman is reported missing five days later, and her severed finger turns up adorned with a red star-shaped diamond ring, Harry fears a serial killer is at work.” The book The Devil’s Star debuted in English in 2005.

The Dove Has Landed

Congratulations to UK critic Barry Forshaw! From The Bunburyist:
The 2024 recipient of the George N. Dove Award for contributions to the serious study of mystery, detective, and crime fiction is British author, editor of Crime Time magazine, essayist, journalist, and commentator Barry Forshaw. The Dove Award, named for mystery fiction scholar George N. Dove, is presented by the Detective/Mystery Caucus of the Popular Culture Association; the chair of the Dove Award Committee is Rachel Schaffer (Montana State University Billings).
Previous Dove prize recipients include Martin Edwards, Douglas G. Greene, P.D. James, Christine Jackson, H. R. F. Keating, Janet Rudolph, and Clues magazine editor Elizabeth Foxwell.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Revue of Reviewers: 3-17-24

Critiquing some of the most interesting recent crime, mystery, and thriller releases. Click on the individual covers to read more.